10 Things You Need to Make VoIP Work for You

With VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, you can bring a series of changes to your company, from unifying communications to connecting with remote workers across the state, the country or the world. Although a hosted solution is a simpler set up than a traditional equipment-based PBX, there are critical elements that need to be address to ensure good voice quality and functionality.

This is why we’ve compiled a list of the 10 things you need to consider to position your company for a successful implementation.

Check out our list below:

 

1. Evaluate Your Call Flow and Identify Any Areas That Need Improvement

The first step is to look at the way your call flow works now and identify any
issues or bottlenecks in communication.

Is your Auto Attendant easy to navigate or is is bogged down with too many selections? Can employees reach each other easily – even when out of the office? Often making a “wish list” is a good idea, as very few things are impossible anymore.

 

2. Examine Your Internet Bandwidth Package

Although phone calls do not take a lot of bandwidth, you still need to consider your bandwidth.

DSL connections are usually not adequate for VoIP – best to upgrade to the next level that your ISP offers. This would also be indicated if you are experiencing slow performance or any other internet issues.

 

3. Inventory Your Network

Even if your network is working fine, there are new requirements for a VoIP system. If you currently do not have a network switch, you will need one that has the PoE (Power over Ethernet) feature.

Your new phones will need to be powered by the switch – the other alternative is to use transformers and plug your phones into an electrical outlet, which is not recommended. Another feature, QoS (Quality of Service) which allows the voice traffic to be prioritized so that phone calls will be clear if there is bandwidth contention.

Note the make and model of any internet modems or any other equipment connected to your network. We have found that some providers work better with some modems and routers than others. Certain equipment provided by ISPs has shown to be troublesome. Present all of your network hardware to your sales person for review.

 

4. Consider the Handling of Confidential Information

One relatively new option is the Voice Mail to Email feature. This sends your voice mail messages to your email account with a .wav file attachment. It becomes a lot easier to store and forward voice mail messages.

Often this can create a problem for companies that have confidential customer information or those that have HIPPA
considerations. Think about the process you currently follow and see if this needs to be updated.

 

5. Have a Backup Plan

If your network goes down or your internet service is down, be aware that your phones will be down too, however your voice mail system will still answer calls and take messages.

If it is determined that the outage is going to last for several hours, you can call us and have your main lines and DIDs forwarded to cell phones or other destinations.

With mission-critical companies like call centers, you may want to set up a backup internet connection which will step in when your main ISP has outages.

 

6. Incorporate Peripheral Devices, Such as Fax Machines and Printers, When Possible

There are adapters that can convert these devices for use with a VoIP system, however, based on our experience so far, if any of your ancillary devices are mission critical, it is best to keep them on an analog line.

We constantly reevaluate this stance and have still taken the position that these adapters are not extremely reliable.

Ask about a fax portal or internet-based credit card verification for functionality that does not require hardware integration.

 

7. Choose Your Endpoints

The majority of providers offer Polycom phones because they were one of the first to sell reliable VoIP phones, however if you see a phone that you like from a different manufacturer, bring it to the attention of your sales person.

Often the provisioning of the phone will need to be done differently, but will still be usable on your system. There are now VoIP cordless phones, software-only phones and audio-conferencing
phones.

 

8. Confirm That You Will Have Onsite User Training

Everyone is busy and it may seem a waste of time to attend a training session on how
to use a phone. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t want to wait until you have an important client that needs to be on a conference call or an appointment requires you to twin your extension with your cell phone before you quickly try to learn how to do it. It is surely not rocket science but neither is the TV and DVR remote, but you still have to know which buttons to push.

 

9. Plan Your Deployment Timeline

Once your network and internet bandwidth is ready to go, it’s time to decide which phone numbers you need to keep. Your main line of course, and perhaps your fax line and any 800 numbers or private numbers that you may have would be kept.

This is a good time to look at each phone line you pay for and make sure you know how it is used. Once a number is disconnected, it can be difficult to get it back.

Many companies have used certain numbers for so long, they forget what these numbers were for – until they are disconnected. Keep in mind that we are at the mercy of your phone company as far as a timeline goes.

Typically allow two weeks for your provider to allow us to “port” your number to our service. There is some paperwork and authorizations that have to be completed before there is a go-live date.

10. Pick Your Partner

This is so important because there are ever-increasing VoIP providers out there offering quick contracts and shipping of phones with a “plug and play” presentation. Unless the company has discussed your needs and your network, in detail, you may be headed for disappointing results like dropped calls, a loud echo or features on your phone that just don’t work.

Ideally, a representative would come out and meet with you to discuss all of the considerations. At Merlin Communications, we would not do it any other way. Our “white glove” installations will guarantee that you know how to use your system and that you understand how it works. We are always only a phone
call away to address any concerns.

Contact us today to request a free quote!

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