We hear this question a lot from customers and potential customers. Some of them have old, antiquated phone systems, others have somewhat up to date premise-based phone systems. Either way, the question remains: Should I switch to a hosted phone system?
Is the answer as simple as “Yes” or “No”? Of course it is! But not right away. Not before the right questions are asked to determine if you business’ infrastructure, connectivity, culture, budget, can handle a hosted phone system or not.
If you’ve investigated hosted phone systems for your business before you have no doubt encountered a litany of options. Most of them are between $20 – $30 per “seat” per month depending on what option you want. Some can cost more, if you have advanced features, or a call center setup. Did you get a chance to meet with a sales rep in person? Did they go through qualifying questions to make sure the implementation and ongoing operation and service of the system won’t be a complete disaster? Hopefully.
If you do talk to one of the dozens – if not hundreds – of hosted providers, do me a favor; ask them if they’re certain a hosted system is right for your business. See what they say. These companies have one option and one option only… hosted. If you were trying to find the best pickup truck, would you go to a dealership that only sells Ford and expect to get an honest assessment of Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Nissan trucks?
At McEnroe Voice & Data, we have 4 main products. Mitel premise-based, Avaya premise-based, Mitel Hosted (MiCloud), and Star2Star hosted. We intentionally have 2 strategic options in each category because they are all reputable and quality manufacturers whose product(s) offer slight variations that allow us to uniquely qualify each customer. We are the dealership that offers Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Nissan. This allows us to be a true consultant and figure out the best product for your company, instead of trying to fit your company into one product.
Back to the question we posed at the beginning. Should I get a hosted phone system for my business? My advice is this; deal with a company that has multiple offerings, but if you’re talking with a one-trick-pony hosted provider ask the following qualifying questions:
- How much bandwidth per call does your solution require? (most will say 92k)
- Will I need a dedicated circuit for this hosted solution? (most will say maybe or yes. Some can do BYOBandwidth, if it’s enough bandwidth)
- How do you implement QOS (Quality of Service)? (if there is no mention of an edge device that does ‘traffic shaping’ and separates data and voice traffic, proceed with caution)
- How many users are on this product? or – How many seats do you have in the marketplace? (if it’s anything under 250,000 users, proceed with caution)
- What happened if somebody has to come on-site to troubleshoot, who do you send out? (hosted companies will swear up and down they can troubleshoot everything remotely. Really? What if there’s a faulty jack, faulty cabling, user error, POE switch issues? There’s no possible way to troubleshoot everything remotely, but they’ll do anything possible to avoid incurring the cost of sending an on-site technician – which most of them don’t have anyway)
There are a bunch of other questions to help qualify a hosted solution, but those will give you a good start.
My best advice is to seek out a reputable, local company who has multiple offerings and a good track record. Our goal is not how many users per month we can sign up. Our goal is the right product, the right technology, for each unique customer.