If you’re researching voice over Internet Protocol options based on the latest “business choice award,” you might think business VoIP boils down to a shortlist of corporate behemoths. And choosing your organization’s ideal provider—it would seem—is just a matter of comparing the largest, most well-known carriers.
Not so fast…
Fortunately, carriers like Verizon and Comcast aren’t the only word in business VoIP. Cloud VoIP services are readily available through regional, managed service providers (like us), who work closely with a much smaller customer base and integrate best of breed providers. Our model ensures that your voice and data system is robust, reliable, end user-friendly. And theirs? Well let’s just say, here are four reasons why working with a national carrier could lead to unpleasant surprises:
1. Patchy Installation and Training Services
If you’ve ever relocated or expanded your business, you know what a hassle voice and data implementation can be. Getting up and running starts with hands-on project management: database collection (outlining users, inbound protocols, automated attendant settings, etc.) and coordination of timelines/cut-overs. Installation also requires the engineering piece—actual programming and deployment. Throughout the process and post-installation, your team members need different types of system training, too.
The big carriers won’t be much help in these areas. Sure, they’ll get you a dial tone and assume some of the coordination, but don’t expect a lot of hand-holding or consultative set-up support. Don’t expect comprehensive, onsite training for your employees or system administrator. And don’t assume your phone lines will be ported over exactly as scheduled. After all, a carrier with hundreds of thousands of customers is bound to blow a few deadlines.
2. Limited Failover Capability and QoS
National carriers deliver voice over IP/SIP trunk service via a standard circuit that they provide. It’s not dedicated to your business, which can create quality of service (QoS) issues if and when the pipe becomes oversubscribed. In the event that a carrier circuit is unavailable, calls must be redirected to standby, analog phone lines. This means your failover capability is limited by the number of backup lines you’re willing to keep… and pay for.
Our ipConnect ShoreTel Cloud model is different. We have complete control of our circuits; we’re able to provision and control both sides of a T-1 for example, so if there is mixed traffic, your QoS never suffers. Further, the brains of our system live in a fully-redundant, cloud-based data center. You don’t have to pay for backup lines or worry about business continuity.
3. Customer Service from the Cloud
In the Age of Information, everyone’s customer service record is on display, for good or ill. According to a 2013 Forrester report, positive customer experience is more important than price, in terms of building loyalty. That’s why businesses like yours prioritize smooth, seamless communication.
When you’re in the customer seat, and your UC system is having hiccups, your business VoIP provider should maintain the same UX priority. But the big carriers don’t because they can’t, which compromises your service reputation and your future business prospects.
Carriers simply aren’t structured to build one-on-one relationships or deal with field-level issues. In fact, most of these business VoIP providers got into cloud services because they don’t have the capability to offer on-premise solutions. Instead, they route your questions to giant call centers, staffed by mediocre support techs who provide generic, scripted recommendations. Wouldn’t you rather work with an engineer who has actual field experience, and knows who you are?
4. Multi-Tenant Platforms
Most of the big carriers offer what are known as “multi-tenant” platforms for unified communication. Any time the underlying software gets upgraded, every customer on the platform is affected—all at once. This is problematic for your business in two respects. First, you have no control over when your IT people will need to stop and address the latest transition. Second (as a kind of consolation prize), multi-tenant platform providers know the upgrade issue is frustrating, so they don’t make very many improvements. They avoid delivering smarter business solutions because they only way they can deliver them becomes a pain point for most customers.
At Barry, we give every customer their own discrete instance of the ShoreTel platform. When upgrades come to market (as is happening now, with ShoreTel Connect version 15), we can manage the transition at different times for individual clients. We can provide retraining for administrators according to their schedules. Ultimately, you still get a best-in-class business VoIP solution, but you’re never at the mercy of a forced migration.
What are you looking for in a new phone and data network system? How do clouds and VoIP figure into better business communications? If you aren’t totally sure, we have a resource that might help. Check it out: