Communication is the backbone of keeping a business healthy. And the best way to facilitate communication with staff, clients, customers, and leads is with a proper business phone service. There are many options when it comes to business phone services. Here's what you need to consider.
What Does a Business Phone Service Do?
Business phone-service providers vary in their offerings and features. In the end, this is more about what you need than what's offered. A business phone-service provider can offer you many or all the following.
- Local and long-distance phone services
- Internal business phone services
- Company-wide business phone services
- Toll-free services
- On-site VoIP Solutions
- Hosted VoIP Solutions
With most of these business phone solutions, you will also receive useful call features such as voicemail, caller ID, and other familiar add-ons. You can also opt for advanced features like hunt groups and advanced call forwarding. If those services include VoIP, you can add various data features as well, such as video conferencing and messaging.
Narrow Your Choices—What Do You Need?
Since there are so many options, you need to start narrowing down the choices. Your goal is to find a business service that offers you what you need while staying within your budget. You may want to veer more toward scalability if you're a growing business. Conversely, you may just want something simple and internal for a handful of people.
Consider the type of calls you plan on making and receiving.
- Are you mostly outbound or inbound?
- Do you call outside of your area code?
- Do you call outside of the country?
- How many calls do you think you will take?
- Do you want a data solution or a landline?
The closer you can get to identifying your specific needs, the more informed a decision you can make when seeking a phone service provider.
Understand How Your Potential Phone Provider Bills
Different service providers use different pricing methods and schemes for voice. For business phone, it's still possible to pay for a bucket of minutes, much like with cell phones. You can also pay for a set number of calls or find unlimited options.
Some providers charge per call, with the price based on the distance of the call and its duration. This should go to show you that the more you can pinpoint exactly what you want, the better off you will be as far as budget goes.
In addition to whatever plan you choose, you will also have to pay a number of fees for your business phone service. It's important that you question your potential providers about exactly what these fees consist of. You will likely see fees for
- federal, state and city taxes,
- state and city surcharges,
- carrier-access charges,
- the Universal Service Fund fee,
- and 911/emergency-response fees.
There are various other charges, some of which may only represent administrative fees levied by service providers themselves. Don't be shy about asking which is which. These charges and fees can turn a good monthly deal into something surprisingly expensive if you're not careful.
More General Tips for Choosing a Business Phone Provider
In general, you should show care when choosing your provider. There are a lot of them out there, from large telecom companies to almost nameless entities. When considering your choices,
- always read the fine print,
- know exactly what you're paying for,
- know how to reach their technical support,
- dispute any charge, even small ones, that you don't recognize,
- and consider keeping a redundant backup provider for emergencies.
Also, make sure that you choose a phone system that works well with your provider. Your phone equipment needs to take advantage of the service. This is especially true if you choose a mostly VoIP phone solution. Keep these tips in mind when seeking a phone-service provider for your small business.
Talk to companies like A-Teck Telecom Inc to find a provider that is right for you.