Choosing the right SIP Trunking Partner
Your business has decided that moving to SIP Trunking will be beneficial. It will help prepare your company for future growth, make you more responsive and allow you to scale up and down your operations as you choose.
Great news all around.
Now that you’ve come to this decision, you face a potentially tricky choice: choosing a reputable SIP Trunk expert from the many, many SIP Trunking Providers out there.
We’ve prepared a quick guide to things you should look out for when selecting your Business SIP Provider:
- Plain English
It doesn’t matter what level of understanding you have, any Telecommunications partner you pick should speak to you in straightforward, plain English. This industry is rife with lengthy acronyms and technical lingo that some companies can hide behind. This is fine if your knowledge of business communications is razor sharp, but not so great if you have been tasked with finding a company who can handle all your communications solutions for you, especially if you don’t have an engineering degree or 10 years of industry experience. Either way, a good SIP provider will clearly explain what they are selling, how it works and what is included in the service they are offering, and all of this in an easy to digest manner.
- The hard sell
It goes without saying that you should be wary of a provider who tries too hard to sell you a SIP Trunking service without taking the time first to listen to your actual business requirements. The conversation should be a two-way one, with you being able to detail exactly what your business challenges and objectives are, what you hope to get out of a move to SIP Trunking, any past experiences you had that were not positive and your concerns, and anything else you consider relevant. If you can’t get a word in edgewise, then the chances are that the company you are speaking to might not be that interested in your business as a long-term partnership prospect, but see you more as a quick revenue source.
- PBX Compatibility
There is a chance that your existing PBX might not be compatible with SIP Trunking. A leading SIP Channel Provider should perform regular compatibility and interoperability testing, and inform you at an early stage of whether or not your existing hardware is compatible with SIP.
If your PBX is not compatible, it might not necessarily be the case that you have to invest in a brand new SIP-enabled PBX. You should check with your current PBX manufacturer as to whether there is a SIP Gateway available that essentially ‘upgrades’ your PBX to make it SIP friendly.
You might even consider whether you wish to host your PBX in the cloud instead of on-site.
Be aware of this when chatting to a potential SIP provider, as they may try and make you upgrade your hardware unnecessarily. One of the benefits of SIP Trunking, although not as important as other, more strategic benefits, is the potential to save your business some money- so don’t be put off by the idea of investing in costly PBX hardware until you know whether this will actually be necessary.
- Cost isn’t everything
Although we have just talked about money, saving cash is not really what SIP is about any more. Providers of SIP Trunks who harp on about cost-savings and reduced call rates, free calls between sites even internationally, reduced line rental costs and so-on are not wrong, but they are missing the point. Most adopters of SIP look to implement SIP Trunking because of the incredible business benefits to be had, benefits like the ability to scale your business up quickly by simply adding more trunks, like the resilience SIP can offer and the help it can provide with drafting a Disaster Recovery Plan. SIP can help you embrace Unified Communications, rationalise your telephony if you operate on a multi-site basis, and enable you to take advantage of having multiple DDIs depending on your customer service needs, sales and marketing strategies . You can set up numbers based on a geographic area such as a certain city, and host those numbers from a site in a different location, meaning that your business can have a local presence even if calls are handled elsewhere.
The point is that SIP is now a strategic solution to many common business problems to do with customer service, sales and resilience- it is not a simple cost-saving exercise. A SIP provider who focusses too much of their conversation around the money saving benefits is likely to be behind the times when it comes to their attitude to SIP.
- Connection is Key
Your existing broadband connection will determine how easy it is to move to SIP if you don’t currently have it. Have this conversation with your SIP Provider at an early stage, to determine if you need to upgrade your connection at all. SIP Trunks can be delivered over dedicated voice connections, Assured Broadband or a Leased Line to ensure that the number of calls you want to go in and out of your site can be carried properly.
- Account Management
Migrating over to SIP if you have an existing ISDN service is not complicated, but does need to be handled by a company who understand the importance of planning and the time-scales involved.
Ideally what you want is an end-to-end service. You want a telecom partner who will stay with you from project initiation, to instillation and afterwards. They should work with you to help define requirements, define improvements, put together a testing plan, oversee installation and configuration, handle all number porting and DDI ranges, and more. They should be able to work through any instillation hiccups and arrange alternative measures if anything goes wrong.
Having a dedicated Account Management team and in-house Engineers is a must and means that any queries you have are likely to be handled in a timely and expert manner.
- Recommendations and Research
It is perfectly acceptable to do some Detective work before you make contact with a company that specialises in SIP Trunks. Are there any positive reviews online? Do they come recommended by another company or a partner you currently work in, such as your IT Company? Do they have readily available Case Studies and Testimonials? Do they have any resources you can easily download from their website that answer a lot of your questions about SIP Trunking? These are all marks of a provider who will work with you as a long-term partner and value your business.
- The finer details
It is worth trying to get clarity around some of the nitty-gritty elements of moving over to SIP. Primarily:
- Will calls to emergency services and directory enquiries be supported?
- How easy will it be for us to scale up or down as required? Will we pay on a per-channel basis?
- Do you work to any Quality of Service guarantees for our peace of mind?
- What Resilience measures are in place?
- What fraud protection measures are in place?
This is a quick list, but the idea is to get as rounded a picture as possible of the service you will receive. Asking questions is a very good way to determine a provider’s attitude to you as a customer as well.
- It’s all about You
Does your prospective SIP Trunk Provider understand your business? Do they show knowledge of your business challenges, and display an awareness of your top line business objectives? Do they know how your staff prefer to work, where and when? Do they know which business processes and operations are business critical for you? Do they have an empathy with any rigid customer service metrics you have to commit to?
Many people roll their eyes at the prospect of a company who ‘understands’ you, but with SIP it really matters- it will determine how SIP Trunking is delivered to you, how it is configured, which hardware is necessary and any other factors like whether or not you need added resilience.
Hopefully this post will be useful to those of you looking to dive into the world of SIP. Remember, ultimately it’s about you and what your business needs, not just about the money. Whilst no-one can deny that it’s nice to save money, User Experience is worth so much more than the savings you’ll make on line rentals.
Don’t forget: if you want to learn more about moving from ISDN to SIP, then you can download our Expert Whitepaper here.