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Workplaces have evolved.

In 2023, according to McKinsey & Company, 90% of organizations had some form of hybrid work environment in place. Even those employees working in the office are often dispersed across different locations, sometimes around the globe.

And with the workplace changing, the way businesses communicate is changing as well — with more online meetings, calls on the go and messaging across teams. Which is why many businesses are moving to flexible Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions to meet those needs.

But what should you look for when considering a VoIP solution? Here are five steps to take as you move through the decision-making process.

1. Put Together a List of “Must-Haves”

First up: what do you need VoIP for? In other words, how do you want it to enable your team? Are you looking to improve online meetings and remote collaboration? Do you want to empower your call centre team and/or make calling easier for sales staff? Do you want messaging capabilities and group chats so that dispersed teams can easily communicate? Finally, how many users and what types of call volumes must you accommodate?

Your overall needs are going to be unique, depending on how your team works together, the size of your business and how your organization operates. Understanding those needs — and the must-haves you know your business requires — is a good way to start a search for the right VoIP solution.

2. Research Provider Performance

But a list of features isn’t enough. You also need a solution that can perform. That means looking for well-established brands like Webex that have already proven themselves in the market. But it also means finding a service provider that will give you the performance you need. A fast, reliable connection means fewer latency issues that cause delays or lags during your meetings or calls.

To ensure you have the connection quality you require, look for Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that offer guaranteed uptime, and/or sign up for higher broadband to ensure fewer latency issues. A backup connection can also make sure your team is able to stay online even during a network emergency.

3. Consider Customer Support

If your entire organization is relying on your VoIP system to empower their calls and meetings, it will play a critical role in how you get things done. That means you want any issues or challenges with onboarding the system to be dealt with in minimal time. Your provider’s customer support team will play an important role in making sure that happens.

But not all providers offer the same level of customer support. Having to wait in line for service, or for business hours to begin, could one day hold your team up. Look for priority support, 24/7 access, or live chat or texting options to keep you on track.

4. Don’t Forget About Security

Security is critical for any online service you consider, and VoIP isn’t any different. After all, you could be using it to share information that may be critical or proprietary to your company, or private to your users. You want that data to be safe, and the right security protocols will ensure that.

So, when searching for a VoIP solution, ask what security offerings are in place to keep your information safe. Geo-redundancy will ensure your critical data is backed up. End-to-end encryption will help keep it secure. Multi-factor authentication will control access.

Together, these types of security measures will ensure your VoIP system continues to run smoothly and safely.

5. Now Think of Your “Like-to-Haves”

Finally — once you know your “must-haves” and find a VoIP service that can meet your performance, customer service and security requirements, it’s time to start considering the “wish-we-could-haves” as well. That is, what are the features that are going to improve your team’s overall experience and performance?

These could be as simple as having the ability to mute individual contributors during meetings, or being able to record those meetings easily for people who haven’t been able to join. It could mean being able to integrate your VoIP service with other applications or being able to combine multiple calls.

Whatever the case, these are the features that are going to wow your users and really get them excited about using your VoIP service — and ensure they employ it to its fullest capacity.

Getting it Right

The right VoIP solution will create the foundation for communication and collaboration within your business, as well as with outside customers and contacts. Choosing the right tool, then, is critical. Following these five steps will help ensure you have a full picture of the services you’re choosing from — and put you on track to getting everything you need out of your VoIP solution.