There are 500+ hosted phone solutions and 200 things to consider when buying a Hosted Phone Service. But, I am going to provide you with the key areas to look at when investing in cloud phone technology. Here are 7 key features to consider and why they’re important:
Other things to consider:
- What tools do you have at your fingertips to make changes?
- Typical MAC-D (move, add, change, and disconnect) should be at your disposal through the portal
- How user-friendly is the interface?
- What level of internal technology expertise will you need to make changes?
- How is call routing integrated? Does it include office, call center and call flow? Can calls be routed from other locations if needed (i.e. if someone needs to work from home?)
3. Bandwidth = Call Quality
It might go without saying but, Hosted Phone Service is run over data packets (private networks such as MPLS or Internet Access). Often, what was once its own separate network for voice traffic is now converged with the client’s data network. Therefore, traffic management is vital. Bandwidth analysis is often the least considered component of a hosted phone solution because the provider isn’t providing that bandwidth (BYOB – bring your own bandwidth). When choosing a vendor, understand how much bandwidth each call will take and how the provider will manage the data to ensure a quality phone call.
When evaluating bandwidth, consider who is managing the traffic on the network. Do not rely on the hosted provider’s bandwidth assumptions. You need to manage traffic today (prior to installation) and tomorrow (after installation), as your network will continue to evolve. It is important to understand how the provider evaluates bandwidth at your location. How do they understand the quality of your wide area network as well as quality and stability of your connection? Not all networks are automatically ready for cloud technology.
4. Installation, Implementation, and Training
Cloud services bring quicker rollout and evolution than premise-based services do. With Hosted Phone Services, make sure that ongoing training and feature adoptions are in place as a service commitment from the vendor. These features can help enhance how your company reorganizes your work processes.
Resiliency is how fast you can recover. The very notion of downtime is becoming unacceptable to many clients. If you are an e-commerce business, the second your “store front” goes down, you start losing customers that you may never get back. Downtime costs are staggering. What does an hour of phone service downtime cost? What can be done to eliminate downtime? How does your hosted phone provider develop your business continuity plan? How easy is it to recover in a down situation? In 2015, the Ponemon Institute suggested that the cost of downtime per minute was $5600. That is a bill that adds up quickly.
7. Hosted Phone and CRM Software Integration
With the integration of hosted phones and cloud-based CRM, organizations can gather all information for both internal and external employees. This data helps keep the activities within the organization noted within the CRM, so you can know all “Touch Points” on a given account. Software solutions such as Skype for Business, SalesForce, MS Dynamics, Clio, NetSuite, Bullhorn, Act, Sugar, and many others can also be integrated with hosted phone solutions.
- Gives the ability to the inside support team to identify callers automatically and look for any open cases on an account. This integration has allowed clients to save up to 60 seconds per call in identifying callers and identifying the respected case.
- Reporting with Hosted Phone Systems and CRM allows an easy way to obtain important data which can be massaged or sorted, allowing management to better understand client data, company needs, as well as provide better input for training to CSRs.
- Reporting on internal and external staff members can be identified, which makes staff / client touch points much more effective.