What to Consider When Selecting a Hosted PBX Vendor

More businesses aiming to adapt to their evolving communications demands are turning to hosted PBX. SMBs and enterprise organizations can all take advantage of the variety of features that cloud-based phone systems offer, gaining flexibility and improving cost management for today and into the future.

But selecting the right hosted PBX vendor can be a challenging process, as the number of vendors and service options continues to grow. As you begin to evaluate your own company’s communication needs, it’s imperative to carefully qualify prospective providers to find the best fit.

Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a new hosted PBX vendor for your business.

Understand what you need…and what you don’t

Like most purchase decisions, it’s best to start with an honest assessment of your current situation and the type of solution that can improve it. Hosted PBX systems offer a range of benefits like built-in voicemail, conference calling, and mobility as well as easy scalability and minimum on-site equipment requirements to help keep costs down.

At the same time, hosting your phone system elsewhere means relinquishing control, being subject to potential quality of service (QoS) issues, and variance in available features. Create a list of your organization’s priorities–cost savings, scalability, service reliability–to determine what you’ll look for in a vendor and make sure the primary decision-makers in your organization fully understand the ins and outs of hosted PBX solutions.

Compare features and integrations

Most every buying decision you make comes down to features and benefits. Hosted PBX systems are no different. Despite having a number of high-profile, established PBX vendors at your disposal, choosing the right one ultimately comes down to how well their features match your business needs.

Features will often vary by vendor. Some might include what you need in their base package, while others may offer particular features as add-ons. Use a vendor comparison list to get create a side-by-side comparison of vendors of interest. Beyond voicemail, conferencing, and other conventional telephony features, you may also want to factor integration capabilities with customer relationship management (CRM), content management systems (CMS), or customer support applications into your decision making, if any is an important part of your business.

Listen to others, not salespeople

Recent studies suggest that over 60% of technology buyers rely on peer recommendations as a component of their decision-making process. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential vendor for references, case studies, or testimonials. Understanding others’ experiences–especially companies that operate in similar industries to yours–can provide great insight into what you can expect if you became a customer. And if a vendor is hesitant to provide references, it may be a sign they cannot produce the same quality they promise in their marketing materials or sales pitch.

Keep it simple

If you’re planning to spend valuable resources on buying a new phone solution, it’s a good idea to make it one that everyone will use. As you might imagine, user adoption of new technologies depends heavily on how easy to use or how complex they are.

While virtually every vendor offers FAQs, how-to lists, or other product materials, the best way to evaluate if a system is a good fit for your team is to see it in action. Most vendors will offer a demo video on their website, but pushing to schedule a live demo can provide a more hands-on experience and allow you to ask specific questions about the system to get a better feel for the user experience.  

Customer Support

Few things are as damaging to a business as being out of contact with customers because of technical difficulties. Understanding the scope and level of support available from a vendor should be an essential component to your decision. After all, no one wants to sign up for service if there’s limited or no help once it’s gone live.

Make sure to review each vendor’s customer support availability, including hours and the various channels you can use to contact someone in the event of an issue with your phone system. This is also an ideal time to inquire about a vendor’s Service-level agreements (SLAs), a contract with the vendor outlining your expectations of uptime/system availability, QoS, and bandwidth after implementation.  

Finding your fit

While there’s no shortage of reputable hosted PBX vendors to choose from, it is important to keep in mind that the vendor you select offers the features you need, reliable support, and scalability at a price that makes sense for your business.

"We absolutely LOVE working with CSG and feel we can trust her explicitly in all matters telecommunications. She is always there for us when we need any sort of guidance or support – whether it be vendor choices, carrier/circuit issues, communications and network infrastructure. That means a lot to Catalina Express – honesty, integrity, and respect are essential in any relationship, working or otherwise."
- Jill Montgomery, Catalina Express
"What I appreciate about Carrier Solutions is the holistic approach of understanding our entire phone needs, then matching the best carrier for those needs, and then helping us execute and integrate the system into our offices! Liane was extremely patient, over communicated every step of the way, and helped us with several issues that we could not have anticipated. All of this was done in the most professional manner. It is hard to find business partners that a small businesses can rely upon, and Carrier Solutions exceeded our expectations."
- Kelly Marks, Zeppos Law Group
Over the years, Carrier Solutions has been our trusted resource for all our data/telecom needs. Their depth of expertise and excellent customer service has made us a client for life.
- Ken Hodges, Western National Group
"Very pleased with the relationship CO-OP has with Carrier Solutions and Linda Gattis. Linda and the Carrier Solutions team have gone above and beyond with every project we have had, in making sure our needs are addressed. Would recognize them as a top channel partner and a leader in the industry."
- Ron Norys, Director of Networking CO-OP Financial Services
"CSG helped us search, analyze and negotiate favorable telecom agreements and successfully implement a new Enterprise WAN infrastructure utilizing the SD-WAN technology. They are very competent and knowledgeable, always willing to work with the provider we’ve selected on our behalf to benefit us."
- Romy Coronel, SCE
"Carrier Solutions Group helped our organization to negotiate favorable telecom agreements and to implement a new WAN infrastructure utilizing MPLS technology. Their ongoing support of our voice and data service has helped us to streamline our communications and reduce our overall expense."