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7 Questions You Must Ask Your Virtual Phone Service Provider

Mar 4, 2008
If you have researched virtual phone services for your business lately, you will most likely have noticed one major glaring fact. They all appear to be the same.

If you took the top 3 or 4 providers and compared them side by side, there would be very little difference between them. They would have similar feature offerings at competitive pricing. That being the case, how do you pick which one to go with? You have to dig deeper than features and prices. Underneath, all providers are not the same and to uncover the best one you have to ask the right questions.

Here are 7 questions you must ask when choosing your virtual phone service provider.

1. How long has the provider been in business and how many customers do they have? Check to see how long a provider has been in business. There are going to be companies that have been in this business a long time and others that are just trying to jump into virtual phone service because they see it is a growing industry. The company that has been in business since the beginning will have the best infrastructure, the best experience, will have laid down their foundation, have established a large customer base, and will not be going anywhere soon.

2. What steps has the provider taken to ensure you don't experience any interruptions in the quality of your service? You don't have to know a lot of technical jargon or understand how the back end of your virtual phone service works to find out if a provider is right for you. All you need to know is whether they have taken the steps to make sure your service stable. A provider that is serious about providing quality and reliable service will have taken the steps to make sure there are redundant systems and back ups just in case they have problems with their servers and equipment.

3. How is the provider's customer service? Call the provider and rate their customer service on friendliness, helpfulness, and availability. You don't want to be stuck with a provider that is not there for you after the sale.

4. Can they customize a system to suit your needs? Not all businesses are the same. Your virtual phone service needs may differ slightly, or even greatly, from the provider's standard offerings. If that is the case, ask what they can do to accommodate your specific needs.

5. Does the provider allow you to easily upgrade, or even downgrade, your service as your needs change? Businesses change over time and this means that their telephony needs can change too. This is especially crucial for a small business just starting out that has plans to grow in the future. Issues such as usage, features, and the number of users make scalability an important factor when considering a virtual phone service provider.

6. Does the provider have a number portability policy? Nearly everything in technology is portable nowadays. Your virtual phone number should be too. A confident provider will give you the option of taking your number with you should you choose to leave their service. A company that is not confident in their service may resort to holding your virtual phone number hostage in order to keep you from going elsewhere.

7. Does the provider offer a money back guarantee or free trial? Again, a confident provider will offer you the chance to try the service without risk. Take them up on it. Then if the service does not perform as you had expected, you are free to move on without having lost anything.

Choosing a virtual phone service provider can be confusing. Not because they are all so different, but because they all appear to be the same. Asking the right questions will help you uncover the best provider for you and your business.
About the Author
Brandi Cummings, an expert author on the unique issues facing small and home based businesses, recommends checking out Freedom800.com, www.freedom800.com, a leading provider of virtual phone services.
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