When we were kids and we’d go trick or treating on Halloween, there were always different types of houses. The lights off at 6pm house, the full-sized candy bar house, the one piece of candy only house…you get it. I never would have guessed that when I entered the VoIP industry that the same experience would lay waiting for the customers I would interact with. I’d hear them come back to me with tales of what other vendors would do or offer. “Trick or treating” with different hosted vendors is a necessary and frankly recommended part of the buying process. You never know what solution is best for you if you don’t interview and shop around. Hopefully I can shed some light on the 3 different types of haunted hosted vendors to avoid.
The “Bait and Switch” Vendor: Be wary of the vendors that showboat all the features they have and everything that you get as a customer, but when it comes down to signing on the line, they only include the basics (voice, voicemail, basic support). They will charge you extra for the features you really need or you might have decided you will need while browsing their site. Reporting, recording, contact center/call center functionality, and softphones are just a few of the features that this type of vendor may charge extra for. Unfortunately, this can be quite common in the hosted VoIP industry, so make sure to ask upfront what all is included and ask for a breakdown of features and their respective costs.
The “High and Dry” Vendor: For this haunted analogy I’m going to liken this vendor to the house that turns their porch light off super early. Similar to the huge letdown this was for all of us as kids, this type of vendor will roll out the red carpet to acquire you as a customer, but then “ghost” you afterwards, leaving you in the dark with a new hosted phone system. Training and support go hand-in-hand after buying a new system. Make sure you ask the vendor how they will support you after the sale. Do they have free training or a knowledgeable local partner who can come out and help as needed? These details are crucial for an enjoyable experience.
The “Our Way or the Highway” Vendor: This vendor has a way of digging their claws in deep and forcing you to use only their proprietary products. Fortunately for you, most vendors have moved to a “standards based” model, allowing you to use any SIP standard IP phone or device with your system. Make sure to ask if you can BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) before getting too involved with this vendor. If they say “no” and only allow their own devices, it could be redflag since there could be other devices out there that better suit your requirements. Just proceed with caution and make sure to compare your options if you find yourself with a proprietary vendor’s quote. You shouldn’t be forced to use a device that doesn’t meet your needs…like an apple or flavorless popcorn ball instead of candy!
Fortunately, Sangoma is treating you to a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the customer buying experience. We have a blog dedicated to asking the tough questions, as well as a buying guide to help you navigate not only questions to ask these vendors, but also a helpful checklist to make sure you don’t leave anything out when moving away from your legacy system to the Cloud. Buying the system is the first step, but learning how to truly harness the power of the phone system with confidence is the real measure of success. If you find yourself ready to have a conversation, don’t be afraid to reach out. Our sales team is here to help and we promise we won’t bite!