Are you in the market for a new business phone and internet provider and not sure what to look for? Don’t worry, we know it’s a minefield of information out there and we’ve got your back!
Check out our list of 13 things you should know before signing up with any business phone and internet providers. It’s important to do your research before making a decision that could affect your business.
Read on for more information.
1. Business Phone and Internet Providers Prices
This is obviously a major factor for most businesses and signing up for a service with the wrong company can be costly and frustrating, so don’t let that happen to you.
You want to make sure you have all the information you need before choosing a provider so that you can make the best decision for your company.
So the first step is to make sure to compare prices between providers and see what deals they have available. Every provider offers different features, so be sure to compare and see which ones are important to you.
For example, some small business phone and internet providers offer unlimited calling plans while others don’t. Some providers also require contracts while others don’t.
If you’re not comfortable with a contract be sure to choose a provider that doesn’t require one but be aware that if there is no contract in place there will often be a larger setup cost to offset the service provider’s risk.
This is another important factor, especially if your business relies heavily on the internet. Make sure to ask providers about their speeds and what they can offer you.
Also, make sure they tell you the minimum speed they will commit to as a part of their service contract with you. Some providers like to talk about speeds in terms of what is possible and not what is probable.
It is so important for you to know the realistic speeds you can expect from the proposed service.
Again, compare speeds between providers to see who can give you the best service. It’s quite incredible the difference in the speeds available from one service provider to another!
Speed is king when it comes to the internet and it is the same for voice-over-internet phone systems too. This brings us nicely to the subject of bandwidth which is a huge dictator of speed.
Bandwidth is especially important if your business relies heavily on the internet. Make sure to ask about the provider’s bandwidth capacity and whether they can accommodate your needs.
Some providers have limited bandwidth, so be sure to ask about this before signing up. When you are talking about bandwidth, you have both download speeds and upload speeds.
Downloads speeds will always be much faster than upload speeds but in fact, the upload speed capability is crucial if, for example, you are regularly uploading large video files.
It is also just as important if you are running a voice-over-internet phone system (VOIP), as quality is paramount.
The upload speed will be a crucial factor in the time it takes to upload a large video file and will have a massive effect on the quality you experience with your VOIP phone system.
You don’t want your phone or internet to go out during an important call or meeting. Make sure to ask about the provider’s reliability and whether they have any guarantees in place.
This really goes for any business service or system that affects the productivity and end results of your business.
So, when shopping for a new internet provider or VOIP provider, you should always do due diligence and check with previous and/or current customers to see how their experience has been with your potential new service provider.
So you’re probably wondering “are there business phone and internet providers in my area”? Well, the truth of the matter is, not all providers have coverage in all areas.
Make sure to check which providers are available in your area and see if they meet your needs.
And when checking this, look for the guaranteed minimum service levels that they stand by rather than the figures they will project into the marketplace to get new business.
These figures are often over-optimistic and if you base your purchase on these, then you are most likely in for some disappointment.
So as always, do your due diligence when researching the options available to avoid such disappointment.
Each provider offers different features, so make sure you compare what each one has to offer. This can include things like voicemail, call forwarding, and call waiting.
If you shop around, you will be able to find some stunning deals with many features thrown in as standard that would cost you additional fees if purchased elsewhere.
So again, it’s worth taking the time and trouble to see what’s available with all potential providers before making your choice.
This marketplace is highly competitive and so you stand a very good chance of getting a super deal if you have the patience to spend the time hunting for that deal.
The good news is, its competitive nature has another major benefit to the customer too…
The best-in-class phone and internet providers are really good because they have to be to stand out in the industry. So you can expect a wonderful customer experience if you choose your provider carefully.
7. Contract Length
Many providers require you to sign a contract, so make sure you know how long the contract is and what the penalties are for breaking it. Most of the time internet service providers are looking for a minimum term.
This is usually 12, 18, or 24 months for the initial contract and the same can be said of business phone providers. However, once again there are some no-contract deals out there too.
In most cases though, there is an upfront deposit and this reduces as the contract term is increased. It’s up to you and your business budget to decide which approach is best for you and your business.
Some providers will install the phone and internet for you, while others allow you to do it yourself. Make sure you know what the installation process entails.
As with all things that make life more convenient though, this will push the initial setup cost up.
However, the plus side of that particular coin is that you will know that your system has been set up properly and the work will be guaranteed, so you need to weigh one against the other.
You pay your money, you make your choice!
9. Customer Service
This is another important factor to consider. Make sure to ask about the provider’s customer service and how they handle problems or complaints.
There is nothing worse than not being able to get support when you have an issue, especially when the issue you are facing is having a knock-on negative effect on the service you are providing to your clients or customers.
This could impact your brand negatively in the eyes of your customer base and that cannot be tolerated.
You should for a service provider that can guarantee their support and more than that, pride themselves on the level and quality of support they supply to their customers.
This will give you peace of mind when it comes to your own business performance.
Some providers require you to purchase your own equipment, while others provide it for you. Make sure you know what you need to supply and what the provider will supply.
This can also change according to what you are paying for the service you are purchasing. Here’s the thing, my preference is always to have the necessary equipment included in the price I am paying for the service.
That way, the equipment is covered for repairs in terms of both labor costs and parts in most cases.
The equipment will also be updated at no further charge whereas, if you purchase the equipment, you will be liable for the cost of upgrading when and if necessary.
You will also most likely need to have extra insurance to cover the equipment for failures or breakdowns after the guarantee period has ended.
It’s incredibly important that you spend some time considering all of the potential repercussions and eventualities associated with your decision.
11. Data Limits
If your business relies heavily on data, make sure to ask about the provider’s data limits and what happens if you exceed them. Ok, now this is a biggie and you don’t want to fall could of not asking the right questions.
And of course, you require the right answers to these questions before committing yourself to a new service provider.
There are some companies out there offering what seems to be incredible deals but when you scrape away the exterior veneer of the offering you find that you are being restricted on the amount of data you can use.
Oftentimes, if you exceed this limit, you will be charged in some cases an extortionate amount!
I would always advise that you purchase a plan that gives unlimited data wherever possible so you can budget for a certain amount each month without any nasty surprises.
Many providers also offer e-mail services, so make sure to ask about that as well. The main priority with business email though is server reputation and deliverability.
Be sure to check the statistics for this service if you are considering it. Commercial email doesn’t have the open and click-through rates of a few years ago.
But email still delivers big time if done in the right way and with the right balance between value and offers being made.
At the time of writing email still delivers approximately $42 for every $1 spent on marketing which is staggering and way better than with most other formats of marketing you can think of!
Make sure to ask about the provider’s security features and how they protect your data. It seems these days that are more concerned with security than ever and not without good cause!
There have been many stories circulated in recent years about some of the big social media companies holding data that is intrusive when it comes to its members’ privacy.
In Europe, there has also been the introduction of GDPR to stop this from happening, and all companies that hold data have to comply with these regulations.
In short, you have every right to expect your details to be kept private and secure at all times and any reputable company that you are considering using should be able to comply.
But more than that, they should be able to give you clear evidence of how they protect your privacy.
If they cannot prove that they treat your privacy with the utmost respect then I would respectfully suggest that you go elsewhere.
So, Are Your Ready To Get Started with VOIP?
Whether you are in the market for new business phone and internet providers or just want to be better informed about your current service, it’s important to do your research.
By taking the time to read our blog post on the subject, you have already put yourself ahead of the game.
The key here is to do your research and hopefully, this article has gone a long way towards giving you some guidance on where to go and what to ask before committing to a new service and new service provider.
If you have any more questions that remain unanswered then contact us here and we’ll be delighted to help!