Buyers Should Ask

Questions you should ask when buying services

Telecommunications

There are different components of a telecom service you need include in your telecoms assessment. These include phone systems features such as the number of extensions you require, is audio/video conferencing, call recording or intelligent call monitoring required. What management of VoIP services is offered and is it as an on-premises
business managed systems or hosted phone systems? Is internet connectivity with
fiber or other types of Ethernet or wireless connectivity required?

Reliable service delivery: You must be confident that your service providers up time meets industry standards and has the support structures in place to ensure they are able to restore the service as fast as possible if it goes down to mitigate any business loss.

Network security: Due to increasing Cyber-attacks, the system you select must be able to withstand attacks from cybercriminals. It must fully conform to the latest standards in cybersecurity.

Flexibility: Telecom technology is ever-changing, and the service provider you choose needs to be flexible enough to provide timely upgrades and inform you about them as they become available.

Customisation: The service you choose should provide the ability to select only the services relevant to your business and perhaps offer customized inclusion.

Customer support: This is a very important aspect of your service and you must know how fast your service provider responds to your need and how they are able to understand your changing requirements and provide clear reporting when required.

Best value for money: In business, a higher price doesn’t always imply the best service and you therefore need to find the telecom service provider who offers you the best value for money for your specific circumstances.

Things you need to take into consideration when selecting the right VoIP and Internet Services are:

  • What phone, Internet or VoIP service are you currently using?
  • Do you have 4G redundancy for your internet connection?
  • What are the features needed in your VoIP and Internet services?
  • Are there features, and security levels required for these services in your company depending on the job function or position?
  • Type of phone service needed whether standard phone, Soft-Phone and/or IP phone with routing capabilities?
  • The budget that is available for the service?

A managed VoIP system is more expensive initially as the entire set up will be installed in your premises, you will need to provide a secure and airconditioned environment, need to protect your equipment, be prepared to troubleshoot issues that need immediate attention and be effectively responsible for the management and maintenance of your VoIP setup. Whereas with a hosted set up the entire equipment
and service will be managed by the service provider or a third party.

Look for a VoIP system that comes with mobile integrations as the world moves to
mobility. It will give you and your workers with the ability to participate in video
conference calls and answer direct calls even when they are outside your office
improving productivity.

QoS is an essential feature that prioritizes internet traffic for voice over data traffic to
maintain voice quality.

The quality of the VoIP system depends on the quality and type of internet service you
use. This will test your current internet speed. Ascertain from them if your connectivity
is adequate or requires improvement.

Your internet connectivity will need to be matched to the size of your operation. You
may be connected to the NBN or have a bandwidth which will do the job for a 15 – 20
person office and the type of work that office does. You may also employ a call centre
that requires Fibre connectivity or you may need to use ethernet to connect to a local
exchange for a first mile or last mile solution. The cost of these solutions will affect the
cost of any solution.

This should come out at the proposal stage but you need to get a ballpark idea of the cost
you may need pay for the VoIP service as part of your short-listing process. This includes
connectivity costs, the cost of equipment and installation and other service-related
expenses. Are you going to be charged for managing and maintaining your system in
addition to the call charges? Check if they are adding some unneeded services as a part
of the package and adding more to your overall costs. You need to decide if this provider
is realistically within budget.

When you are expanding, your VoIP system also must expand to provide the required
level of service. Ascertain if the service you are selecting now is cloud-based and can
be scaled up to your required level at any time. Again, check if future expansion plans
will suit your connectivity requirements.

As maintaining high-quality calls on your VoIP service is necessary, it would be very
helpful if a shortlisted company could provide any application or equipment to test and
check the quality of service as part of the management of the ongoing service.

This is to check if there is a real cost advantage of going for a VoIP service over using the
regular phone service. Do the comparison you may find that sticking with your current
set up is in fact your best option.

This will provide you with the features that come bundled with the service package and
help you determine that the service you are selecting has all the necessary features
required for your business. This may include reporting and advanced analytics for calls
center solutions.

This is an essential part of your contract and will help you exit the service if you do not
want to continue with your VoIP service provider.

Check if they are going to charge for the equipment you have used when you cancel the
service and implications of any other terms.

This will give the main terms of the service you are getting from the provider.
Understand payment terms for cash flow requirements and warranties for service
delivery redress. Don’t avoid checking the detail as there is real money sitting in those
terms.

Portability is the ability to move a number from one carrier to another. Understanding
portability is essential. Is your number tied to a number block limiting number
portability? There are categories of number for porting purposes both CatA, a standard
port and Cat C, more complex port. Be prepared to allow 20 plus business days
minimum if you have a CatC port with multiple numbers that may be tied to a hunt
group. CatA is a simple port that can be completed within a week or two.

This is an opportunity to reduce add-on costs. You can avoid paying more for some of the
features that you will only be using occasionally.

This will help you continue your business communication without any downtime while
the an outage is being fixed ie internet auto changes to 4G.

Your provider will include VoIP phones that are specially made for VoIP services. This
will address operational costs, the total cost of ownership and cash flow. A VoIP router is
also necessary equipment for allocating the right bandwidth to your VoIP service and
maintains quality of calls.

This relates to the situation when you are forced to change the providers, as equipment
including phones can range from a couple of hundred dollars to well over one thousand
dollars per phone dependent on your requirements.

This will help you understand the pricing your provider is going to charge you, and the
discounts, coupons and freebies available to you that will add more value to your
service.

Are they providing 24/7 customer service through technically qualified people and
what is their level of commitment for very high uptime and what is their contingent plan
for rectifying any outages at the earliest possible time?

This gives the reliability factor for your service. Is it 99.999% uptime and do you need
99.999% for your type of business.

This is to know the service escalation points or “go to” people in an organisation based
on issue severity and to maximize response levels.

Ask this question to find a product or service that has not been offered in case they
have an undisclosed offering that may be a better fit.