There are decided advantages to a hosted PBX solution but before you make the switch stop a moment to consider these factors and then pick the right hosted PBX provider.
You have a triangle with three corners to consider when you choose to go down the hosted PBX solution path:
- The hosted PBX service provider
- The IP PBX software offered by the service provider
- The server where the services are hosted
The server does make a difference to the quality of PBX services from your hosted PBX providers. Providers could choose data centers with older servers but a caring provider will choose fast servers with a strong and high-speed connection to the internet backbone, assure high uptime, provide backup and redundancy. Before you choose a provider do ask him about the servers.
The IP PBX software
You have a scenario in which a VoIP service provider may obtain a third-party multi-tenant hosted IP PBX solution and you have a scenario in which the developer of the hosted PBX solution offers services. In the case of the former, you do not know the quality of service because the VoIP service provider relies on the software provider. In the case of the latter, you can check reputation, record upgrades, and services. In any case, how the software service is offered also makes a difference. Typical IP PBX software solutions these days are inclusive, covering omnichannel features, auto-attendant, intercom, Direct inward access and DID, and the capability to handle hundreds of concurrent calls. Then you have additions such as SMS broadcast and voicemail as well as WebRTC audio-video call and conference. You could have mobile access to the software as well as VoIP mobile dialer apps. Do you have choices or do you have to opt for the whole bundle? If you do not use certain features then you are paying unnecessarily for things you do not need. It is a tug of war. Providers wish to maximize revenues. You, the end-user look at getting the most for the least.
The hosted IP PBX service provider
The provider arena has big names on one side. Then there are equally competent providers who are not so well known but provide even better service. In any case, here is a checklist of questions to ask and resolve before you sign up.
Features: As stated in the previous section, you could be offered an older IP PBX solution or a more modern one that has a number of modules in a UC environment. Typically, providers use multi-tenant hosted IP PBX with modular features and subscribers can pick only those they need.
Current customers and testimonials: You cannot go by what the provider promises. Take a look at their reputation in the market by checking for reviews on forums, complaints users have, and current customers.
Support: When you opt for hosted IP PBX the service and support part is crucial. A provider may tie you in with a complex SLA and you find you have to keep paying extra. It is important to look at the fine print or even negotiate your own service structure. In one sense support could be interpreted to mean the inclusion of a provision of IP phones in the package though this is not necessary. In any case, look at 24×7 support.
Policies: Your agreement could include a few services and a scale to start with. You may wish to ramp up or ramp down. In this case, you should expect the provider to allow it and charge accordingly instead of asking for various changes and modifications to the agreement.
Usage cost: In order to know which hosted PBX provider offers the best rate you may have to get quotes from a few. You will then know that usage costs vary. This is crucial to determine since you will keep paying on a monthly basis and end up paying more each year if the usage cost structure is not clarified. The typical rate structure is on a per-user basis with voice usage charge extra for the barebones voice service. If you opt for UC packages and add-ons like SMS broadcast or WebRTC then you could end up paying more. Most providers do offer annual plans, monthly plans, bundled plans, and unlimited plans to pick from.
Integration is important. The IP PBX does not work in an isolated way. You will need integration with your existing hardware and with your CRM. If you have social media channels, SIP phones, and fax machines, you need to integrate all of them into the hosted PBX solution. Some providers charge extra but those who are eager for your business and wish to establish long-term business may offer basic integration for free or charge a nominal amount.
Now that you know you can pick the right hosted PBX provider with confidence.