We all know that all businesses these days need to “think global and act local.” But when it comes to selecting the right VoIP vendor, this wisdom needs an adjustment: “think global and buy local.”
Let’s start with the first part of this advice: think global.
What this means is that small and mid-sized businesses should ensure that they get the same enterprise-grade telecommunications features enjoyed by large multinational firms, such as: auto attendant, live call forwarding, call transfer, automatic call distribution, online message access, call queuing, call announce, company directory, hold music, voice and fax email messages, message notification, and call analysis, and reporting. And of course, the system must be quick to learn and easy-to-use.
Now for the next part of this advice: buy local.
Choosing a local VoIP vendor — and in this context, local can also be defined as regional (e.g. Midwest, Southeast, etc.) — is vital for the following 4 key reasons:
1. Pre-Sales Consulting
A local/regional VoIP provider will visit your business on-site — possibly multiple times — to assess your needs, consult with your different user groups (e.g. executive, technical, infosec, operations, etc.), analyze your infrastructure, and provide you with a solution that is custom crafted to fit your needs and align with your budget.
National vendors put the bulk of their resources into sales — not into pre-sales. And so while you may get some videos to watch or brochures to read, you shouldn’t expect someone to physically come on-site. And even in the few instances where this is the case, the person or team that arrives will have their “contract signing” pen at-the-ready, and will do everything they can to seal the deal — not objectively assess your needs.
2. Expert Installation and Configuration
Many businesses that choose “mass market” nationwide VoIP vendors quickly recall the old addage: you get what you pay for. Or in this case, you don’t get what you don’t pay for — because installation and configuration is a tedious, time consuming and complex process that can last for weeks. Quite often, many businesses that head down this path end up paying a consultant to clean up the mess, or they pay their VoIP vendor exorbitant “professional services” fees, which more than offset any cost-savings they hoped to realize.
Thankfully, the above isn’t a risk when choosing a credible local/regional VoIP vendor. That’s because their in-house experts — who understand the technology inside and out — will handle all installation and configuration details. And since they’ll have carefully assessed your needs (per the pre-sales consulting described above), you can look forward to a smooth, streamlined and stress-free experience.
3. 24/7 Responsive Support
The importance of 24/7 responsive support cannot be underestimated — not because you should expect something to go wrong with your VoIP system, but simply because your business isn’t static and fixed: it’s dynamic and evolving.
For example, at some point in the future — and it could be sooner than later — you may need to equip employees with IP phones that they can use from their home offices. Perhaps you’ll want to provide your sales reps with mobile apps so they can stay connected to colleagues and customers while on the road. Or, you may want to launch a remote call center to handle a surge in customer inquiries.
Whatever the scenario, you can be assured that a local/regional VoIP vendor is ready, willing and able to respond. This simply isn’t the case with most large vendors. When you need assistance, they’ll either refer you to a FAQ or some other (useless and confusing) resources, or they’ll sell you a very pricey maintenance package.
4. Pay Less to Get More
Many businesses that expected to save big by choosing a nationwide vendor discover that the opposite is true: they’re paying more and getting less than if they went with a local/regional vendor.
This is why nationwide VoIP vendors are popular acquisition targets these days: they’re cash cows. Customers think that they’re saving money and getting a better deal, when this simply isn’t the case. When you compare applies to apples, the numbers don’t add up.
The Bottom Line
Thinking globally and acting locally is a critical business paradigm. But when it comes to choosing the right VoIP vendor — which is one that will provide you with the shortest path to value — then it’s all about thinking globally and buying locally!