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10 Questions You Should Ask Potential Voice Applications Providers
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a key component of any business. Having the ability to communicate with coworkers and customers in a secure and efficient way is considered a top priority in every industry. There are a ton of options and providers for UCaaS solutions on the market, which makes it difficult to know which one will be the correct fit for your business. To make these decisions you will need to ask providers questions about the products to ensure that they will have the functionality and integration abilities you need. We have found that many of our customers struggle with asking the right questions because they aren’t sure what they need to be asking. While there are a ton of unique circumstances for each business, we have compiled a list of 10 general questions to help you start the conversation.
- How many solutions do you offer? Would you be willing to go through them with me?
The response to this question will vary depending on the provider you are having a conversation with. Matrix-NDI has many solutions for both on-premise and cloud-based voice services so when posed with this question we will dive into a response by first figuring out which type of system will work better for you. We don’t try to fit square pegs into round holes, we want to ensure that the product you chose is going to be the perfect fit. If at any point a provider starts pushing a product in your direction that you feel uncomfortable with, speak up! You know your business best and you will be the one using the product in the long run.
A trustworthy provider knows that the first step in any implementation is the discovery call or meeting. When a customer comes to us with a project, our first step is to listen to them. We want to hear every goal, concern and restriction you have with voice and data services. We don’t use a pre-constructed “checklist” of features to convince you that a solution fits your needs. We have questions based on our vast experience with various industries and customer size that we will ask you. The discovery stage for choosing a provider should always be a two-way conversation. If you feel that a salesperson is reading a list of questions that don’t pertain to you, make sure to slow them down and gain a little more control of the dialogue. It is about you after all!
- Which manufacturers do you provide? Can you help me decide which would fit my needs?
As with most things, there are a lot of different brands and manufacturers offering UCaaS solutions. Here at Matrix-NDI we offer a multitude of products from different manufacturers that can be customized to your business. The provider that you are discussing a project with should help you decide which products will work best in your space, and within your budget. If a provider is only focusing on the most expensive products and ignoring the concerns you have, they might not have your best interest in mind. Remember when I mentioned listening being the first step for us when helping a customer with a project? It applies here as well. Your provider should listen to your needs before they start throwing products at you. Providers and customers should form a relationship that will last a very long time, these types of implementations should not be viewed as a single transaction.
- What features are available?
As the customer, you are not expected to be an expert on UCaaS product features. Always ask what features are available with each product you are interested in. You probably have a rough list of requirements that you would like to have, and the provider that you choose should be able to provide those features to you as well as discuss some that you may not know you need. Voice features are constantly advancing and changing so chances are there are features that you are unaware of on the market. Having the traditional features along with newer, more advanced features such as mobility, contact center, and meetings is the key. You may not know what specific features to ask about, but you can ask questions to explore some possibilities:
- What are other companies in my industry using?
- What features are businesses of similar size requiring?
- What can I use to be more efficient?
- Do you have any current customer references that I can review to help with my decision?
- Are there any features that can help me collaborate with team members in different geographical locations?
These questions will also help the provider tailor their product recommendation specifically to you. If you are asking these questions and the provider can’t answer them effectively, they may not have the ability to serve your business needs.
- Does the new UCaaS integrate with my existing technologies?
Gaining new features and functionality is great but if it doesn’t integrate with your existing CRM, ERP, ticketing system, etc., it may become more of a problem than a solution in terms of efficiency. You should always discuss your existing technologies in the discovery conversation with a provider so they can narrow down their recommendations. The last thing you want is to get to the final discussion stage or implementation and realize that a paramount technology at your company will not integrate with the new tool. The goal is to increase efficiency, not create confusion within your processes.
- Do you have project managers who will be assigned to my installation?
Once your project has been designed and planned with a provider, the implementation will begin. In most cases, you have a few people on your team who will be involved in the project. Who will they be working with from the provider? There needs to be a designated project manager from the provider’s side to ensure that the correct resources are scheduled, everyone is up to date on project details (and changes that may need to be made), as well as packaging all documentation for on-going requirements. This is of upmost importance for a successful installation. If the provider does not have a person who will be dedicated to your project, how is it supposed to run smoothly? You are paying for a solution, which should always include dedicated support.
- Will my account manager/sales representative remain involved in my project?
We see it all too frequently. A salesperson sells a product or service and disappears immediately after the paperwork is signed. You should never feel as though you are being passed around repeating yourself to a bunch of different people. Your account manager should remain involved in your project for its entirety while supplementing project managers and technicians to perform the installs. If an account manager or sales rep for a provider cannot tell you what their role will be in the project, you may want to consider taking your project elsewhere. Our sales team stays involved for the entire implementation and provides on-going support after the install. This standard has proven to increase customer satisfaction and reduce stress during the process.
- We have multiple locations around the country, do you have a solution that will work seamlessly across each of them?
If you have multiple locations around the country (or world) you will need to choose a provider that has the capacity to serve every region. This is especially important for businesses who have different departments or business functions housed in different locations. You will want to find out if they have local technicians available in other places, or the ability so provide virtual support so that each location has proper implementation and training on the tool.
- Are you able to abide by my industry compliance standards?
Every industry has different compliance standards depending on the nature of the business and location. This can include HIPPA, HiTrust, PCI, SOC, and many others depending on your industry. If these are important to you, you should ask the provider for the security levels the solution meets. The provider should have knowledge on implementing UCaaS solutions that comply with your industry standards, this is very important when it comes to communication because you may be discussing or transferring confidential information on the platform.
- During the installation, what will be required of my team?
Regardless of the size of the project, your team will need to be involved in the implementation. You will need to provide information regarding the end users in your organization along with your communication infrastructure details. You will want to know what is needed from your team during the planning process so that you are able to put a plan together internally. If you’ll be asking the provider to place physical phones or assist with on-site testing, what is required for technicians to enter the facility? If you require special badging or background checks before technicians enter your site, your provider will need to know the details. If the project is scheduled to start after hours and the technician cannot enter the site, the project will be delayed. Always discuss your team’s responsibilities with your provider to ensure that preventable obstacles don’t arise.
- What happens when something goes wrong or needs to be updated down the road?
This might be one of the most important questions to ask a provider during the vetting stages. Will the provider continue to support you after the project is completed? Will they provide day 1 support to get your team familiar with the new functionality? What about warranty on hardware from certain manufacturers? Technology is ever evolving and will need to be maintained, make sure the provider you choose is going to be your partner for the long run. If you chose a cloud-based solution you will want to know what updates and software maintenance looks like. Choose someone who can continue to support you year after year, not someone who just wants to take your money and send you off with a thumbs up.
UCaaS projects can very complex and unique to each business. This question list barely grazes the surface of the things you should be asking before choosing a provider, but we hope that it helps you start a conversation. At Matrix-NDI we pride ourselves on being our customer’s partner for the long run. Our goal is to increase efficiency for you and stick around to help you in the future.
Remember: the number one thing a provider should do is listen to you. You know your business better than anyone, so your questions and concerns should be at the forefront of the conversation.
We want to help all of you (whether you are a current customer of ours or not), make the best decisions for your business. We are here to answer your questions and help you with any UCaaS needs you have.
You can reach us by emailing ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com or call 763-475-5500