In my position I normally purchase IT equipment and have someone on my staff configure it and train all the users who need to be trained, and then we maintain all of the equipment ourselves. So, usually there is little need, nor do I have the time, to write about “pros & cons” of a company’s product(s) especially when we do most of the leg work. However, I have to give praise to Visual Systems Group Inc, and their WorkSmart platform.
As anyone in IT will tell you, the traditional PBXs are slowing going out the door and CEO’s, COO’s, and CFO’s are all coming to the IT people with the buzz word of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and asking if the cost savings are 1. I, recently, experienced just this with my CEO and his board on being given this task. The first question comes to whether or not to have a premise based IP PBX or to take an option of having a Hosted PBX. This task is about as easy as figuring out what NASA’s budget will be in the next few years. I needed to look into International Long Distance, Intra Long Distance, per minute charges regarding toll-free, wiring of each office, number of handsets, ATAs, etc, etc.
I went to several companies, Packet 8, Jive Communications, Vocalocity, Shoretel, XO, Verizon, and Qwest to name a few. I was shocked to hear some of the companies’ responses to my questions and concerns about their networks, service, pricing, and structure. I even had one company, which claims to be a “1 Business VoIP Provider”, with a hosted solution that is located on the West Coast tell me that if my phones went down it would not matter because everything would be routed to my cellular phone. We have over 120 employees and if we, as a company, had to purchase cell phones and pay the bills on them then our costs would sky rocket. Needless to say that company was quickly cut from my list and to this day that company still calls me stating my original inquiry back 9 months ago.
VSGi’s staff was not at all like that. I was first contacted by a salesperson and he sent me some overview information. To be honest, my first thoughts were that VSGi and their WorkSmart product would not be a good fit; I was seriously mistaken. The next step VSGi did was to arrange a meeting with my IT team and about 3 people from their VoIP department. There was little discussion about the sales portion of their product, but more of what our needs would be and what we wanted to accomplish. VSGi broke down IP Premise vs. Hosted with cost comparisons, break-even-points, features & functions, and maintenance for even next five years. VSGi’s techniques are rather ingenious because they earned our trust, by educating us where a premise solution would be more advantageous and where a Hosted solution would become more beneficiary. Their aim is to have educated customers and know what questions to ask during an evaluation process.
We decided to go ahead and use a Hosted solution for our newer office with about 52 users and have an additional number of remote users. VSGi again prepared a solution which technically beat the competition. Competitors would break costs down to simultaneous lines, to multiple add-ons, and “unlimited” truly didn’t mean unlimited, etc, yet when it came down to it, VSGi’s proposal was straight up front. There were no hidden costs!! VSGi is the only provider to offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA) on their VoIP phone service; no other company could guarantee their service, not even Qwest and Verizon. The phones we purchased don’t have a code that locks them out if we ever plan to leave. The phones don’t lose features if I chose to switch carriers or are not secretly proprietary. VSGi took the time to answer all our questions and work with us to ensure a very smooth transition. Their proposed solution was higher in price than the others; however, after looking at demos, viewing other companies’ “T’s & C’s”, realizing the hidden costs, and experiencing other’s service and calculating what it would cost to move; VSGi was the safe choice. Our QoS NxT-1s were ordered through VSGi, the pilot test they allowed us to have, the porting of numbers, purchasing of switches to DIDs, and even setting up voicemail boxes was done in such an unmatched professional manner that there is no doubt VSGi is truly a leader in Advanced Communications. They are re-writing the book on Customer Service for telecommunication companies.
Being a member of the board for my state’s Information Technology council I am often approached by smaller businesses asking me about VoIP. My first response is to make them aware of the number of charlatans out their and the 0 promises one can hear. My second response is asking them what matters about their phone service. Depending on their response I usually will send them to VSGi. I do warn them that price is not VSGi’s most competitive trick in their bag, but that customer service, attention to detail, reliability, quality of service, and desire to ensure their solution they propose will surpass my needs, are part of their everyday business practices.
We have been up and running for three and half months and as my subject title stated, my 60 plus users are happy with our new phone service which in turn makes a delighted VP of IT. Thank you VSGi