What to Look for When Shopping for a VoIP Phone
Shopping for a VoIP phone is an essential part of getting your VoIP service started. There’s a wide variety of different options out there, so how do you know what’s right for you? You will need to consider carefully what types of service you’ll need and what phones might help you the most with meeting these needs. Your vendor will likely be able to provide great help, too, if you need to determine what types of phones are compatible with your VoIP phone plan.
VoIP phones are available in many different designs, types, and models. They can meet a variety of different needs. In fact, there are usually multiple ways to provide the same functions and services, so you will probably have several different choices when you shop for a VoIP phone. As you look, you’ll need to be aware of what you need and what is compatible with your vendor and plan. Your vendor may have a special deal available or may be able to arrange for a discount if you decide to buy equipment, although renting is also typically an option. There are several important factors to consider if you’re thinking of getting new equipment or bringing older equipment into a new plan.
Keep reading, and we’ll talk about what you need to look for when you shop for a VoIP phone. We’ll take a look at what makes for a high-quality, great VoIP phone and what these phones can do for your business and your phone system.
- Starting the Shopping Process
- What to Look for in a VoIP Phone
- Getting Started with VoIP Service and Implementing New Equipment
For many businesses, this is a simple process with the guidance of a VoIP vendor. Listen carefully to their experience and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about the equipment and service they offer.
1. Starting the Shopping Process
Okay, so you’re getting ready to choose a VoIP phone. If you don’t have a vendor yet, the type of phone you get may partially depend on what vendor you’re working with. So it is important to have your vendor involved in the process as you choose a phone. Just starting to shop for a vendor? That’s fine! Be prepared to change your plans before you settle on a phone type. Keep in mind that it’s often easier to wait to purchase or rent equipment until you commit to a specific vendor and plan.
2. What to Look for in a VoIP Phone
VoIP phones come in all shapes and sizes, and compatibility types and features. So it’s important to have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Here are some guiding questions:
- How many incoming calls will each phone need to receive at once? Is there a queue controlling how these calls are distributed, or do you need phones that can help you accomplish these tasks?
- Who’s using the phones? Do the users prefer specific handsets, headsets, or softphones? Try and involve the people who will be using the phones in the process of choosing VoIP phones for the company. This will help make the process easier, and you will probably have more success if you decide to use phones that actually fit the expectations and needs of your phone users.
- What features and functions does the person using each phone actually need? Are there specific features that would make that person’s job easier? Are different features important to different departments, roles, or jobs within your organization?
- How often will the phone be used? Is it going to be in use constantly throughout the day, or just occasionally as calls come in to specific people? How much time will individual users typically spend using these phones?
- Do your phones need Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality to provide power to your phone systems and minimize wires involved?
- What is your budget for phones and what do you ideally want to spend on new phones for your business? How does this compare with your phone service budget?
- Would you prefer to own your phones or rent them from your vendor?
- What other equipment do you expect to use with your phone system?
- What codecs do your phones need to support? What software and integrations do you expect to use with these phones?
- Do you need your phones to have routing capabilities?
- Do you expect to use these phones differently than how you used your old phones?
To these questions, you could very easily add others. This is why you’ll need to do your own research and carefully come up with a list of questions and ideas for your vendor. Keep researching options until you find a few vendors who are viable contenders. Ask them to recommend phones and then consider whether these specific phones will meet your needs or not. In most cases, vendors are able to work with more than one phone system and can provide other choices if the first options aren’t as great for your business. If you need to bring your own phones, make sure you upgrade their firmware if you can and use them with compatible networks and computer equipment. Upgrade whenever you can to get better features and keep your devices secure.
3. Getting Started with VoIP Service and Implementing New Equipment
To start out, you’ll want to get your vendor’s advice on how to proceed with implementation. We recommend doing a trial or test run of the service, particularly if you are thinking of undergoing a large implementation with 100 users or more. These larger VoIP phone systems can sometimes need extra time and testing to ensure that everything is as successful as it needs to be.
Keep in mind, if you do make the wrong decision and pick a plan that’s not right for your organization, you can often upgrade later or make adjustments to the features you have. Many systems have a degree of built-in flexibility because vendors know that there can be changes in demand. If, for instance, your business experiences variance in call volume, then being able to adjust up and down to different levels of service and even different features can make a difference. Some businesses are seasonal in nature, experience sudden increases in calls after a major event or tradeshow, or grow quickly after making changes or gaining new business.
If your business is relatively small, you may choose the flexibility of a no-contract plan that operates monthly or yearly. In that case, making upgrades and changes is easy. You can readily adjust your plan and not worry as much about making a commitment to a plan you may not use for longer than a year. Consider getting equipment that you can carry with you into another plan if you need to; you’ll want to find phones that are largely compatible with different vendors and systems. Bring your own equipment (BYOE) vendors allow you to take your phones with you from another plan–although, they may not provide technical support for the particular type of phones you choose, so keep this in mind as you make your choices.