Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP) have to prove excellence in many areas of business and technology. Mastering every single aspect of VoIP services in-house can be a strain, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel if you outsource some of those tasks to competent providers.
Sourcing direct inward dialing (DID) numbers is a lot easier if you buy them in from a specialist. There are many DID number providers available and finding the right one for your business can be very time consuming. Narrow down the field by using this guide to distinguish the best providers of DID numbers.
You might think that the best DID number provider for your business is the company with the best prices. And although it’s true that low prices can be a good indicator, there are more important factors to consider before cost.
You’re likely to get the best deal if you can establish a long-term partnership with all of your suppliers. You don’t want to get shackled to partners who aren’t on the ball; a slow or badly organized supplier will drag out your lead times and lose you customers. Your business may also suffer from working with a provider that isn’t able to keep track of orders and takes payment without updating their stock availability lists.
In telephony, a mistake by your DID number provider could have serious consequences. If you promise a customer a specific telephone number, they may start preparing all of their publicity for the changeover. Imagine what a problem it would be if you’re not able to deliver on that new number.
Low-cost, fly-by-night operators can get you into trouble because they don’t always have closed-loop systems in place. This means that they’ll process your payment in one piece of software and then need to switch to another system to allocate the numbers that you ordered. If the operator gets distracted between these two actions or if there’s a delay between systems, they could easily lose track of or mismanage your order.
A provider with a disjointed sales processing system could very easily promise you a specific number and then allocate the number to a different client. When that happens, you could lose your customer (and even risk getting sued).
Past customers will warn you of any problems, so look for reviews of potential DID number providers to check on their reputation and performance.
Visibility and Accountability
It’s common sense, but for your company to be successful, you need to work with reputable, established vendors – not some operation that turns out to be nothing more than an overachieving kid working out of his bedroom.
Look for well-established corporate entities that have been in business for a long time. A strong presence on the web is a good sign. DID number providers that appear at the top of your search engine results pages have invested time and money in their presentation. But once you’ve identified the most viable options in your search engine results, you still need to look a little further.
A sophisticated website that follows good design principles is encouraging. Look around the site for an “About Us” page and check through the “Contacts” page for an actual address. You should be able to spot the name of the company that operates the business – not just its trading name.
A company that is traceable to an address and an actual registered company name can be researched. Additionally, some of the big DID number providers are registered on the stock market, which makes it even easier to investigate their reputation.
When you’re reselling, a fast turnaround is essential. If you can’t immediately provide answers, prospective customers will shop around. By the time you get back to them, they may have already encountered a better-prepared rival and signed a contract.
A self-service portal is a great tool for resellers. Traditional businesses value personal contact and service quality, but when you’re in a hurry and need to close a sale fast, working with other people may slow you down. A DID number provider that has a knowledge base that you can search through in order to advise your own customers can be a great time saver.
Being able to see the status of your account to place orders and make payments yourself will help you close sales. Simply put, you need to be able to process a transaction without having to rely on an operator or email system.
See IDT Express’s self-service platform in action by signing up for a free trial.
At the same time, you still need your DID number provider to provide access to a real person that you can get through to when things go wrong. You need to know that your problems can be dealt with immediately.
In the global business of internet telephony, you may be dealing with companies on the other side of the world in completely incompatible time zones. Your DID number provider needs to be available at least during your business hours, though the best option is a provider that has a customer assistance team available around the clock.
If you’re signing a contract for the long-term, phased delivery of a bulk order agreement, make sure that acceptable support response times are a condition of the relationship. You don’t want to be stuck with a commitment to a DID number provider that isn’t obligated to deliver a timely service.
Be particularly cautious about entering into an agreement with a provider that outsources its support system. The last thing you want is to be stuck on support calls, listening to operators read out pages from the provider’s website that you’ve already read yourself.
Cost and Bulk Deals
If your choice comes down to two equally reputable providers, then cost may be the tie-breaker. If there’s a big price difference between an expensive, reputable DID number provider and a cheaper unknown newcomer, you’ll need to weigh whether the potential cost savings justify the risk.
Make note of whether a potential provider sells numbers direct, as well as through intermediaries. If they do, make sure that the price you pay is sufficiently lower than the retail price so that you can undercut it and still make a profit.
DID number providers that compete with their own partners present a big problem. If you can get a good enough deal out of a provider, make a note of their direct price and try to find a provider that will enable you to price your sales lower.
Free Trials and Money-Back Guarantees
If you’re prepared to take a leap of faith and choose a cheaper challenger over the established market players, try to negotiate a free trial or money-back guarantee offer.
A free trial gives you the time needed to judge possible partners for yourself. Even the best services in the world get bad reviews from time to time. The bad reviews that you read could have spurred the provider into fixing those problems. It’s better to check out the current performance of a company if you can do so risk-free.
A money-back guarantee or a free trial offer is also a sign that the provider has a high degree of confidence in its service and is prepared to put it to the test. Most business owners agree that you can only ever truly have faith in a system after you’ve tried it.
DID Number Scope
Look for a DID number provider that has global coverage. With such a partner, you’ll be able to provide numbers all over the world without having to search around for and coordinate multiple partners. The ability to provide numbers that are in the mobile pool is also a great benefit.
Make sure that your new DID number provider is also able to manage toll-free numbers. An inventory that includes plenty of vanity numbers may help drive your business forward, so look for a provider that has numbers ready to go and a fast delivery system to port them.
Emergency Services Calls
The provided numbers should also be compatible to make emergency service calls. This is a complicated requirement with different conditions in each country.
In some countries, the ability to make emergency service calls from a number is a regulatory requirement. So, numbers that don’t have that capability are no use at all – and you don’t want to buy numbers that turn out to be useless. A system that’ll notify the number owner by other channels, such as email, when emergency calls are made is also a useful service to look out for.
Finally, keep in mind that geographic numbers should have caller ID support (CNAM, ANI-II / OLI) when evaluating providers.
Secure and Reliable
Data breach news headlines in recent years have left prominent organizations all over the world red-faced and facing possible prosecution. Choosing a DID number provider that has extensive system security in place is a very important requirement.
VoIP businesses are interdependent and share legal liability when the security of a supplier is not satisfactory. A compromised number or client information disclosure could ruin your business.
Account security is another issue that your CIO will alert you to. You don’t want hackers getting into your account with the DID number provider. A security failure in the access portal could lead to your company’s financial details getting stolen or rivals hacking into your account to see what business you’re doing.
Security concerns extend to protections against inappropriate use of data by the provider’s employees. What procedures and training does the company have in place to prevent account managers from disclosing details about your activities to rivals in an effort to win new business? Make sure that the provider’s customer relationship management system doesn’t allow for operators to check on your details when talking to their other customers.
Confirm that you your DID number supplier is discreet and reliable. Its staff should be available whenever you need them. That availability should be facilitated through a range of channels including phone, email and chat facilities.
The allocation of a dedicated account manager is a bonus. You may not be able to deal directly with that manager for all of your needs, but it’s still good to have an advocate within the provider’s organization.
Making a Decision
Ultimately, you need to have confidence in your DID number provider. This is an essential supply to your company, and you can’t compromise on quality. Prioritize reliability and professionalism, and you’ll be able to establish a lasting and profitable business association.
Looking for a partner you can count on? As a world leader in DID number provision, IDT Express is standing by to support your business. Take advantage of our free trial now to see our industry-leading service in action.