There are many different types of phone service. With our technology today, you can literally have your pick of a variety of service providers that will fit your particular business the best.
Given that advanced technology, however, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems are beginning to trail behind because the virtual phone systems available now have everything you get with VoIP, but better and more versatile.
There are still applications where VoIP has value, for sure. The only problem with them, though, is that you can get more while investing less with a virtual phone system. If you’re in the market for a VoIP service provider, here’s why you may want to reconsider that.
There May Be More Cost than You Bargained For
Where a virtual service usually just needs you to sign up, and be up and running in an hour at most, a VoIP service isn’t that simple. The first issue you could run into is that additional equipment might be required for the service to work. Specific phones or other hardware might be necessary. You may need to upgrade your Internet service.
You may have to install a dedicated Internet line that is used only for your phones, and to have uninterrupted service for your VoIP phones, you’ll probably also need new equipment for that line. And not to rub it in, but many VoIP providers charge just as much as the local phone company.
Relies on Your Internet Connection
As VoIP works over the Internet, your phones won’t work without it. When you have the perfect setup, it’s perfect; sound quality is crystal clear and it gives you a very good connection. Unfortunately, issues with your call connection can frequently arise, especially if you don’t take special measures to make sure you’re properly set up for it.
For example, something you’re probably already painfully aware of is the bandwidth issue. Whether you’re working out of your home or in a regular office, it can be tough when a bunch of people are taking up bandwidth on a shared Internet line because you can’t control when they’re downloading videos while others are trying to make a call over the same line.
Low bandwidth can affect call quality, cause calls to have audio interference, and even result in dropped calls from time to time. As we mentioned previously, this is just the reason that a separate, dedicated line might be necessary. Another thing is that VoIP is hardwired just like a landline, and that hardline has physical infrastructure for Internet that needs to be maintained.
That means you need IT personnel for maintenance and upkeep of the system, on site. A VoIP phone system can definitely work, or else none of the providers would stay in business. The point is that, for it to work reliably, you’re probably going to need to invest more money and energy into it than you initially expected.
Can’t Go Mobile
Being able to run your business from anywhere is pretty important for any business today, and that’s generally not possible with VoIP phone systems. As they are modeled after traditional office systems that were built around landlines, VoIP are usually confined to the premises without the option to receive calls on any other phone.
It’s ideal for offices but doesn’t really extend outside of that location because you’re forced to stay in that physical space where the phones are. Now that business owners need to manage calls and run everything from their cell phones, it’s crucial that you can take it on the road whenever it’s called for.
This is where a cloud-based virtual phone system is highly effective because you can run the business from anywhere, from any phone.
Most Providers Ask You to Enter into a Contract
In exchange for the VoIP service, it’s likely that the provider will require a commitment from you in the form of a contract. Usually a 1 or 2-year term contract, and sometimes even longer than that, the VoIP service providers are famous for making it mandatory to sign a contract that can be extremely tough to break if you decide to cancel.
That might even be reasonable if they were forthcoming about what you could expect from the provider and the service was highly reliable, but many times, it’s not as reliable as they let on.
So, if anything goes wrong, or if you’re dissatisfied with it for any reason, you’re basically up the creek because their contracts are iron clad and very tough to break. If they even allow you to get out of your contract, there’s probably going to be a hefty fee to discontinue service. Many businesses have fallen victim to this.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t know if it’s going to work for you until it’s too late, as there isn’t always a trial period, and even if there is, it won’t likely even be a long enough trial to be able to tell if it’s a good fit for your business. At that point, you’re already stuck in an expensive contract with a service provider that you barely had a chance to test for quality.
If you really want to try out a VoIP service for your business to see if it’s going to be a good fit, then make sure that they give you ample time to try out the service before you commit–and definitely don’t sign anything until you’re ready. VoIP phone service can be really good; it unfortunately just takes a lot of effort and probably some extra equipment to make it function at 100%.
Again, you can get all the features of a VoIP system, at a much lower cost and a fraction of the time to set up, with a virtual phone system. At the very least, it’s absolutely worth trying out a virtual service like Talkroute to see how it will work for your business.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.