Versature ConVERSAtion Blog - How to Spot a Pop-Up VoIP Shop

How to Spot a Pop-Up VoIP Shop

At Versature, we’re proud of our company culture. With daily foosball showdowns and team events to go axe throwing and play archery dodgeball, we’re a pretty fun bunch. Since we’re such a young-looking company compared to a lot of other VoIP providers, many people are surprised that we’ve actually been in business since 2003. That’s a long time to be in the VoIP game! We’ve been focused on investing heavily into our back end to ensure we can support your business, which is something that a lot of pop-up VoIP shops either don’t or can’t do. Let’s set the record straight and tell you what a pop-up VoIP shop is, how to spot one, and why you should be choosing a more established provider.

What is a pop-up VoIP shop?

Anyone can start a company that provides VoIP service.

Seriously, you could start one in your mum’s basement if you wanted to. Pop-up shops are companies that haven’t been around that long and have a few similar characteristics. First of all, they’re probably very small, only a couple employees, and they’re also very localized. So if you’re in a smaller city and there’s a VoIP provider that just services your city or immediate area, chances are it’s a pop-up shop. Not only that, but these small VoIP providers usually have only a single data centre, which means a single point of failure. If that basement floods, your phone service is down.

How can I spot a pop-up shop?

Sometimes it can be hard to spot a pop-up shop. The website is clean and modern, and you can’t really tell anywhere from a first glance that the company doesn’t look legitimate. Here are the top 8 things to look out for when searching for VoIP providers.

Overall professionalism

Does the company look professional online? Do they use generic stock images everywhere, or can you see some of the company’s employees in the imagery? Are there typos in the website copy or other obvious mistakes like default text?

Are the people you speak to when you call in knowledgeable and friendly? Are other forms of communication (like email or web chat) prompt, professional, and without spelling or grammatical errors?

Address

Search for the company on a map. If the location comes up in a residential area, then this is probably someone running the business out of their home instead of an office, which means they’re a pretty small operation. (Remember mum’s basement?) You can even use features like Google Street View to get a look at what their office looks like from the outside. (Side note – here’s what our office looks like!)

Review websites & Social Media

Did you know that there are review websites dedicated to just VoIP services for businesses? Well, now you do! Versature is listed on many of these major websites, like GoneVoIP and WhichVoIP and even simply Google. Check to see if the company you’re researching is listed on these sites, and if so, how are the reviews?

Larger, more established companies will also have a consistent and professional image on social media, highlighting not only their offerings but also communicating with those in their community and industry.

Case studies & referrals

Does the company you’re researching have testimonials or case studies on their website? Can you ask your representative for referrals to businesses similar to yours? (You do have a representative, right?) Case studies show a proven track record of success. Unhappy clients won’t agree to be featured on a website or to take the time to be interviewed for a case study. Think about it from your own perspective – you wouldn’t want your picture as the face of a restaurant where you got food poisoning, right? Of course not! You’d leave a bad review on Yelp, tell your 800 Facebook friends, and call it a day.

Unclear core business

Many companies offer VoIP just because they can. For example, they might be an IT Support company that could technically also provide VoIP service and Internet, but it’s not their main focus or area of expertise. These companies probably don’t have a high level of knowledge about VoIP, and wouldn’t have the backend structure to support a high volume of calls. How many other services does your VoIP provider offer in addition to VoIP?

Limited features & functionality

Many new clients that come to Versature are amazed by the amount of features that we offer, even the seemingly simple features (to us at least) like call transferring and extension to extension dialing. If the VoIP provider you’re researching has very limited features, there’s a chance that you’re not getting all the features you could be. Same thing goes if you know you have access to these features, but have no knowledge of how to set them up or use them in day-to-day operations.

“Too good to be true” pricing

There’s the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’, and this is definitely true with VoIP service. If a company is boasting ridiculously low prices, then you’re definitely not paying for knowledgeable and accessible technical support representatives, white-glove onboarding, or stellar quality hardware. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You wouldn’t expect designer quality goods from a dollar store.

Service Level Agreement

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a guarantee a company makes about uptime, and the consequences they will face if they don’t meet the expectations. Usually, this involves a compensation to their clients for downtime. Literally, it’s the company “putting their money where their mouth is”. Does your VoIP provider offer this kind of guarantee? Do they even tell you when their service is down, and what steps are being taken to resolve the issue?

Why is it important to choose a grounded & Stable VoIP provider?

You wouldn’t trust your brand-new Mercedes with “Joe’s car mechanic & donut shoppe”, would you? (You probably also wouldn’t be purchasing any donuts there either.) Your business is just like that Mercedes – extremely valuable and important to you.

Your business needs a VoIP provider that will be there for you, in more ways than one. First, the actual phone service they offer should function like it’s supposed to (your calls shouldn’t cut out or disconnect), and it should be protected in case of failure with multiple data centres and redundancies. Even if something happens to a part of their business, your business’s phone service should not be affected.

Not only that, but you should be able to call your VoIP provider and talk to someone immediately, no matter what your question or concern. The person on the other end of the line should know what they’re talking about and be able to help you, without transferring you to three different people first.

Your VoIP provider should also have your back when your business scales, and be able to provide you additional phones and service without charging you a ton of extra fees and higher rates because you’re a bigger company now. That’s not celebrating you for expanding, that’s penalizing you. Your business should also be valuable no matter if you’ve only got 5 employees or if you’ve got over 200.

Finally, your VoIP provider should be in it for the long run. Just like you wouldn’t keep dating people who are only interested in “something casual” if you want to settle down and have a family, you shouldn’t choose a VoIP provider that won’t or can’t meet your needs years from now.

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Talk to one of our knowledgeable Product Experts today and learn how invested Versature is in your business’s success, no matter what your history or number of employees.

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About Bryan Vaughan

Bryan Vaughan is a Senior Account Executive at Versature, with over 7 years of experience helping Versature clients choose the best VoIP solution for their business. When he's not at the office or networking in the Ottawa community, Bryan can be found on the golf course, hockey rink, or dance floor.