Partners for Voice – and for the Future: Usability, Expandability Key to Choosing a Provider

August 19, 2014

This is Part 6 of a six-part series on hosted voice for your business. You can read Part 5 or download the entire guide.

The best hosted voice providers aren’t just vendors for your business – they’re like business partners. Offering cutting-edge communications tools, after all, is just a starting point. Features have to be accessible to users and easily managed and expanded. That means interfaces that are sophisticated yet simple to learn. It means readily available support and training. And it means a robust infrastructure that covers a wide footprint – as well as some contingencies.

No matter how compelling a hosted voice provider’s solution appears, you’ll want to do your due diligence before signing up for service. Cover the following points to help cover your bases:

  • How intuitive is the user interface? Advanced features can be a big plus for a hosted voice system, but their value can quickly decrease – dramatically – if they are too hard to use. By taking a close look at the user interface – and, ideally, even testing it with a representative group of employees – you can avoid products that really are too good to be true.
  • What type of training is available? Even with an easy to use interface, the system may involve complicated training. Some providers will help your employees get up to speed on a range of topics, from the basics to advanced uses. But it’s not just the breadth of training that’s important. Users get the most out of these sessions when they are convenient and readily accessible. Comcast Business, for example, offers multiple options for Business VoiceEdge™ users, including Web-based sessions.
  • What management tools are provided? One of the great advantages of cloud-based voice is that maintenance and upgrades can be managed by the vendor – not your business. Yet that doesn’t mean you have to be completely hands-off. At times you may want to manage features, add users, reset passwords, and check usage and billing, among other tasks. Here, too, ease of use is key. Many providers will offer convenient tools such as online management portals.
  • What support is offered? Even with best-of-breed voice systems, you may have questions. And when you do, you’ll want answers, not waits. You’ll also want to rest assured that any problems that may crop up are quickly identified and corrected. Customers want support that is both proactive and reactive. That’s why Comcast Business offers 24x7x365 monitoring of its network, backed by support teams for business customers.
  • What does the provider’s track record, footprint, and future plans look like? Your voice system is a crucial business asset. As such, it needs to be available and operating efficiently. It also must be able to support any growth you may have down the road, whether you are adding new users or new locations. A provider with a geographically extensive footprint, and who can deliver robust service, will be in the best position to meet your needs, and your plans. Ask, too, about the vendor’s roadmap for the future. Cloud-based voice is just getting started, and you’ll want to be sure your provider can support all the latest features. With the right partner, the potential of hosted voice – and your company’s potential – can be unlimited.

The best hosted voice providers aren’t just vendors for your business – they’re like business partners. Offering cutting-edge communications tools, after all, is just a starting point.

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