Last month I decided I needed to do something about the phone situation for my business.
You see, I used my cell phone for work calls throughout most of 2012, but I didn’t really like giving clients my personal number. I hated getting calls after hours, and I really hated not knowing how to answer the phone when I got a call from a number I didn’t know. There’s nothing like answering the phone with a mouthful of food, thinking it’s a telemarketer, and realizing a potential client is on the line. (True story, unfortunately.)
My cell service at home is also questionable in terms of quality, leading to more than one call where a client kept saying, “Can you turn your head another way? You’re cutting out. Hello? Are you still there?” Oh yeah, super professional.
I first looked into having a landline put in, but I gave up on that idea when I found out how much it would cost. Even though the phone would have the exact same features as a residential landline and would actually be installed in my home, the fact that it was a “business” plan made it more than double the price. The rep also kept trying to upsell me on features I didn’t need or want. No thanks, AT&T; you get enough of my money as it is.
Next I considered VOIP. My dad uses Vonage in his home office, but I’d noticed that sometimes his voice gets choppy depending on his internet connection quality. Not exactly the best solution since I have the same internet provider, as well as a long history of trouble with my connection. I did some searching and wound up requesting quotes from several VOIP providers specializing in small business, including Vocalocity.
Why Vocalocity Won
A day or two after I requested my quotes, the calls started pouring in. Several were robocalls: “You have received this call because you requested a quote from us. Please press 1 to be connected to a member of the sales team.” Nah, don’t think I will. I got other calls from salesmen who either (1) had a limited grasp of the English language or (2) talked so fast they sounded like those disclaimer voices at the end of car commercials. They were reluctant to give me firm numbers or exact details of their phone plans, preferring to repeat things like “limited time offer” or “amazing features” over and over until I got mad and hung up.
Then I received a call from a Vocalocity rep. I was delighted to hear a southern accent on the other end of the line (I’m from Kentucky) – Vocalocity is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and as far as I can tell, their staff members are local. That in itself was impressive in an age where so many companies outsource phone support.
After answering some basic questions about my business and my phone needs, I was transferred to the guy who would become my personal account rep, David Gray. He talked with me for quite awhile about everything from my business to NCAA basketball, making me feel like I was finally speaking to a real human being. We discussed my business phone needs and the plans Vocalocity offers, and I was surprised that he offered me the exact cost of the plans including tax without being asked.
David almost lost me when he recommended a phone that costs more than $200. “Whoa, wait a minute!” I said. “I’m a one-woman show – don’t you think that might be a little too much phone for me?” No problem! He instead pointed me toward a $40 VOIP phone that was perfect for my business and my budget. A quick web search showed that Vocalocity’s claim to offer discounts on VOIP phones was accurate; the same phone retails for nearly double what I paid.
I had plenty of time to ask questions and David was able to answer all of them without reading from a script or putting me on hold. I was especially excited to learn that my phone would function even when my internet connection is slow, as long as I have a tiny bit of bandwidth flowing my way. By the end of the call, I had no reservations about becoming a Vocalocity customer.
Pros of Vocalocity’s Service
- My phone arrived just a few days after I ordered it
- Setup was a breeze and only took a few minutes
- My call quality is excellent, even when my internet connection is slow
- Features like a “virtual receptionist” that answers and routes my calls, simultaneous ring to my cell phone, a mobile app that allows me to make calls from my office number on my cell phone, an online interface to set up and manage my settings, ability to set office hours and send after hours calls straight to voicemail, hold music (which I love because I’m a nerd)
- Available addons like conference calls, fax service, and toll-free numbers
- Excellent customer support – I’ve called twice and got prompt, friendly solutions both times
- Tons of online tutorials and articles to help with setup
- My plan has unlimited local calling and unlimited long distance in the US and Canada for just over $40 a month
Cons of Vocalocity’s Service
- As with any VOIP provider, if my internet connection is down, my phone doesn’t work
- The online interface is very slow and a little confusing – it took me awhile to figure out where the options were and how to set things up
- Unlike VOIP providers like Vonage, Vocalocity does require the purchase of a VOIP-specific phone
- The phones that included a cordless handset were out of my price range, so I’m tethered to my desk (unless I answer the calls on my cell phone instead)
- The mobile app doesn’t offer a lot of options other than making calls and checking voicemails
- There was a small snafu and I was originally given a phone number with a prefix for a town an hour away from here, but it was fixed quickly
- It takes awhile for the business name to be listed with the number; until then the number will show with “Unknown” when I make calls
My Overall Impression of Vocalocity
It’s been a month since I signed up for phone service with Vocalocity and I couldn’t be more pleased. Once I got past the initial confusion of setting everything up (and to be fair, I could have called customer service but opted not to), I have used my phone daily with no issues or problems. My calls are crystal clear, I’m not paying for features I don’t need, and my consultations with clients are much more professional.
I feel confident that any questions I may have in the future will be answered by Vocalocity staff, and I know that my phone service can grow as my business grows. For those reasons, I can recommend Vocalocity’s VOIP phone service wholeheartedly. If you decide to give them a try, let them know that Nuts and Bolts Media sent you!