Everyone wants to make sure they’re getting the best deal, value for their money, and overall highest quality experience. I’m no exception to this – I won’t check out a new restaurant or go see a movie before reading reviews online first!
The drive to vet our options fully before making a decision is alive and well for consumers and business buyers alike. And software review sites have made it possible for technology buyers to access high quality, detailed customer feedback about almost all types of software. Think TripAdvisor or Yelp reviews, but for your ERP, content marketing software, or cloud-based business phone system.
While the democratization of reviews is definitely a good thing, it also creates some unexpected problems. Most notably:
- There are now HUNDREDS of reviews for you and your coworkers to read through.
- There are also HUNDREDS of different products available for you to choose from.
Given the sheer amount of information out there, it can be hard to make sense of it all and figure out where to start. Even if you’ve managed to whittle the list of VoIP products you’re considering down to 5 or fewer options, coming up with a list of the most important buying criteria – your VoIP ‘deal breakers’ – can be just as time consuming.
We realize this can be one of the biggest headaches going into product evaluation and selection, so we surveyed over 200 VoIP end users to see what they had to say about it.
Top 5 VoIP Buying Criteria
When asked what their most important buying criteria were…. it turns out that the majority of buyers looking for a VoIP solution care the most about 5 key things:
- Ease of use
- Reliability of service
- Call quality
- Access to 24/7 support
Every business still has needs unique to their own circumstances to consider. But when it comes down it it, the average buyer cares most about how products compare in terms of affordability, usability, reliability, call clarify, and accessible customer support.
Don’t take my word for it, see what VoIP users had to say about these 5 requirements:
“We look for low cost and ease of use for end users.” ~ Google Hangouts user
“Cost is one major determinant, but also reliability of service and flexibility of features.” ~ 8×8 Virtual Office user
“Above all, rock solid reliability. A service can offer all the features and functionality in the world, but if I don’t have confidence that the service will work every time I need it, it’s a non-starter. Then I look at value: what are the features and functionality offered for the cost?” ~ RingCentral user
“Reliability. That is the biggest thing. If a product is not reliable, people will not use it.” ~ MiCloud Connect user
“Ease of use, ease of implementation, excellent mobile integration, easy price point to swallow.” ~ Grasshopper user
“Strong customer service, reliable (!!) service, cost-effective service, and easy to use.” ~ Jive Hosted VoIP user
“Affordability, reliability, call quality, ease of use in setting up and managing administratively” ~ Google Voice user
“Cost – the cost has to be justifiable for the feature set and comparable to similar competitors.” ~ Fuze userFuze user
Most Important Buying Criteria By Company Size
If you’re anything like me, you want to get your hands on as much info as possible before making a big purchase. For example, I was looking to purchase a new cell phone and mobile plan recently. Not only did I want to know which devices and carrier networks were rated the best overall, but I also wanted detailed feedback from users like me who only needed an individual phone plan (not a family plan), and who would probably only be using about 4 GB of data per month.
This applies to business technology purchases too. Not only do companies want to make sure they’re getting the best product or service overall, but they want detailed feedback from businesses that are similar to them regarding company size, industry, how they’ll be using the software, etc.
In terms of buying VoIP software, one key factor that plays into business requirements is company size. We segmented our survey results by company size to uncover what the top 10 buying criteria were for small businesses (1-50 employees), midsize businesses (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (1,001 or more employees).
The table below lists the top 10 buying requirements for each company size in descending order:
Unsurprisingly, price, reliability of service, ease of use, and call quality made it into every business segment’s top 5 criteria.
Small businesses cared about price the most; 50% of small business respondents listed affordability as one of their main buying criteria. This is also not a shock – as small businesses typically have smaller budgets to work with than midsize companies or enterprises when making technology purchases. Yet, price was still an important factor for respondents from midsize businesses (39%) and enterprises (45%).
However, the more interesting results appear lower in the table.
While features like voicemail services and mobile applications make the cut for small businesses’ top 10 buying criteria – they don’t for midsize businesses and enterprises. Conversely, things like security, range of integrations, and whether or not the VoIP software is embedded in a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform are more relevant for midsize businesses and enterprises.
While things like price, usability, and reliability fill needs that all businesses have, midsize companies and enterprises have additional needs associated with scale and security that businesses with 1-50 employees typically don’t need to worry about. This helps explain why these 3 criteria made onto the list of top 10 buying criteria for companies with over 50 employees, but not for small businesses.
Here’s a closer look at these 3 concerns:
#1 Embedded in a UCaaS platform
Midsize businesses and enterprises often need access to a range of online communication capabilities (e.g. video and audio conferencing, instant messaging, presence technology, and VoIP services) within one platform. Having a VoIP solution situated in a UCaaS platform makes sharing information from conversations that take place over instant messages, video calls, or voice calls easier since all communication is taking place within one place.
#2 Additional security
Larger companies also typically need a baseline level of security for internal information sharing and/or to match industry security standards. For example, companies that handle medical/patient information have to ensure all of their communications and record keeping is HIPPA compliant. To help ensure information is shared shared safely internally, companies may need advanced user permissions to secure user profiles and dial plans, or may want to encrypt certain voice traffic. Certain companies may also need access to on-premise or self-hosted cloud deployment options if internal or external communication is highly sensitive and needs to be regulated.
As businesses grow, their communication and organization needs grow as well. The need to integrate various types of software to ease the flow of communication and facilitate document sharing therefore becomes more important. Compared with small businesses, larger companies are more likely to require that any new software they purchase can integrate with the other products in their tech stack.
Other VoIP Research Resources
Looking for more resources to use while evaluating and selecting new VoIP software? Our VoIP category page gives you a quick rundown of the ins and outs of voice technology, a list of 122 available VoIP providers, and 5,900+ reviews to read of individual products.
If you’re a little further along in your product search, our Buyer’s Guide to VoIP Providers gives a spotlight to 7 leading VoIP products. It includes reviewer demographic information, top 5 reviewer industries, and most common pros and cons for each of these products.
Talking with vendors about their products and services can be another great source of information. And if you consult reviews first, you’ll be ready to read between the lines and ask the hard questions up front.
Got a tip for your peers based on your own experience with VoIP products, or want to write a review of solution you helped purchase? We’d love to hear from you.