How to Choose a Hosted PBX Service Provider:
5 Important Factors to Consider
A cloud-based telephone system connects an off-site server to your business premises via a high bandwidth internet connection. Hosted phone systems offer small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa the benefits of an affordable and scalable PBX system, without the cost of a normal enterprise, on-premise PBX, or the need for support technicians to manage and maintain the equipment.
When selecting the correct hosted PBX solution it is critical to choose the right service provider for you and your business. As with any service-based operation, you need to be sure that your hosted voice services are performing at optimum levels at all times.
Understanding and assessing a cloud telephone system solution, and subsequent cloud service provider, can seem like a complicated task. To assist you in this task, we have created this simple guide below detailing the five key criteria that businesses and decision-makers should consider when choosing their hosted PBX service provider.
1. Service Plan Options
A services provider is only as good as the service offering available to your business. Some cloud PBX providers offer a standard, pre-defined group of service plans; while others create a new, customised solution for each business that approaches them. Both carry certain advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately your hosted phone system plan should cover all the features and services that you need for your business telephony, with allowance for flexibility and, most importantly, reliability.
When assessing cloud PBX service plan options, be sure to pay attention to the details regarding call and extension usage, and any additional charges that may come up. These can sometimes include but are not limited to, remote support, call recording, and per minute call charging (as opposed to per second call charging).
Try to find a cloud phone system provider who is willing to create an all-inclusive solution that isn’t going to incur additional charges if you do something beyond what your plan allows. While details of usage and additional charges are rarely included sometimes omitted from quotations, some service providers have been known to sneak these additions from time to time. Ask your potential hosted PBX service provider to clearly define and explain these all charges to you.
2. Customer Service and Communication
With a cloud telephone system, you have to rely on a service provider to maintain and service your hosted PBX system. Your business phone system is used for communicating with customers, vendors, and others within your network. Organisations cannot afford to compromise when it comes to customer service and availability on the product. If you cannot rely on your hosted service provider to guarantee your business-critical communications services, you need to look for someone else.
When problems do arise, the service provider should be readily available to assist, through multiple avenues of communication, such as remote desktop support complemented by e-Email, telephone and chat support. Continuous (24/7) availability is advantageous if offered, but not necessary. Your cloud service provider should also be equally committed to readily assisting with non-critical queries and routine communications.
Finally, assess your provider’s online reviews or ask for a few testimonials to guide you on this supplier checkpoint.
3. Integration into CRMs and ERP Systems
Some VoIP hosted services are standalone solutions that make use of unique software and applications not designed for heavy integration. Alternatively, “all-in-one API Ready” hosted PABX solutions are designed to be integrated within existing applications, such as your business’ CRM software. By integrating the two, you can effortlessly track and manage all your communication and customer service needs in a single solution. Check whether your chosen cloud PBX service provider is able to seamlessly integrate with your business-critical software such as CRM systems or ERP systems to ensure you receive maximum productivity from the system.
Cloud PBX systems that offer only a few features bundled into their business phone solutions typically still include some of the best features that you could ask for in a business phone system. The convenience of integrating voice services with CRM software and other technology is one of the most significant selling points of these scalable services hosted PBX offering for just about every business that converts to hosted solutions.
4. Available Technology – Disaster Recovery, Updates and More
Leading hosted voice providers should be able to provide you with information about the technology and hardware that they utilise to for their VoIP services. You should always look at those providers who offer the latest and most reliable technology to ensure that your communication tools are up to date and delivering what you need.
It is recommended that you find out how often your service provider performs updates on software and hardware, and query what kind of security systems they have in place, both physically and virtually. You should also ask what technology-based and on-site measures they have in place to assist your business with disaster recovery.
5. Costs Included in the Quote
Quotations can sometimes be vague or misleading in the way that they are presented. In choosing your hosted service provider, you need to ensure that you get a quote that provides a detailed explanation of all charges, as well as why any additional charges are necessary. Ask your cloud provider to clearly define cancellation fees, call rates, setup fees, and all other costs that you could expect to be charged for.
Additional Questions to Ask
Although many variables can impact your choice of a hosted telephone provider, we believe that the five key items of consideration discussed above, are most important for your business. There are, however, additional basic questions you may want to ask when searching for the best cloud PBX service provider, such as:
- What is the service provider’s cancellation or contract termination policy?
- Does the service provider support remote work?
- Who are the current customers of the service provider?
- How much management and maintenance is required with a hosted system?
- Are usage costs included or charged separately?
Moving Forward with your Hosted PBX Service Provider
Once you have defined the voice solution features that you deem essential for your business operations, make a checklist of factors you want to achieve from your service provider, and ensure that any provider you consider checks all these boxes.
If you’re ready to get started with a hosted telephone solution, contact our specialists today. Our team is standing by to assist with your hosted PBX and other VoIP needs and can help you create the perfect solution for your business. You can reach us at [email protected] or call us now at 086 001 8101.