Telecom Upheaval – buyer beware

You may have become aware of what is going on in the telecom provider space, or you may
not be, depending on how close you are to the industry or your provider. This is not a doom
and gloom article, but it is a warning to choose your provider carefully.

As Covid rolls on and the economy struggles with what to do with itself in the weight of
Covid hangover, inflation, world events and labour shortages, many industries and
businesses are seeing their support companies also struggle. In particular difficulty are
those providing cloud phone services and Hosted PBX services. This evidence will increase
as companies finally deal with the debt burdens that have grown over the last few years due
to low profits and unsustainable pricing models, now that the government benefits
supporting businesses have ended, and the price of everything is going up. Some
businesses will not survive due to these recent developments. And some of these
developments, long in the making, may not be recent, but they have most definitely been
exacerbated by Covid, inflation and labour shortages.

Pricing is one of the greatest challenges marginal businesses face. As all business owners
know, the race to the bottom of price competition is thick and is a fool’s game. In the
telecom environment, we see this when potential customers come to us with claims of lower
pricing for the same perceived product. Ahh, is it the same? Are all hosted cloud phone
systems the same? And most of all, what of the companies behind these services…are they
all the same? The answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT. Any google search will show you the
many companies promising cheap services. But what happens when you need changes or
support, or replacement sets, or some tailored services, or have billing questions, or
disagree with something, or need more training, or the service is spotty and not what was
advertised, or service blackouts are occurring with alarming frequency? Most likely, if you
call (if there is a number at all to call for support) you hear, “Due to increased call volumes
during this time, your wait may be longer…” as in, never to be answered because we are
understaffed. Or you are advised to open a chat window, which is also mostly unmanned, or
unmonitored or sparsely at best, meaning you may be waiting a long time. We have had
some customers come to us, claiming that the promises given by their last provider went
unfulfilled when the provider could not meet their needs. Why? Because they had a habit of
selling their services so cheap, they could not sustain and support their business.

You need to cover your costs and make profits so you can support the employee base you
need to service your customers and remain financially healthy. However, when businesses
give in to the stiff competition and sell only on price, they lose. Eventually, all those
undersold phone services have to be supported. You need money to do that. Selling too low causes
problems for everyone. I’ll state that again: Selling too low causes problems for
everyone. But, out of desperation low selling companies think they can capture enough
market share to offset the low pricing they offer. When that doesn’t turn out to be the case,
the customers lose and lose big. There have been many fledgling telco companies
launched in the last few years as it became easier to provide a slim web storefront, set up
shop and offer Cloud Phone Services. We see a lot of those unable to continue. We see
established competitors also unable to continue, partly because the marketplace was
damaged from low-priced competitors. Unable to compete, they also lower their prices and
then the vicious cycle begins. Lower and lower and lower the price goes until there is no
profit to support themselves. Customers see and feel the lack of support and in the worst
case, end up with no service, no one to talk to, and nowhere to turn but to switch providers.

Well, our pricing is largely competitive, and yes, you will find others that may be cheaper,
but be sure of what you are getting. For our Cloud Phone Services, we have many trained
techs, a trained IT department, a trained Service department staffed with long-term CSRs,
and many other long-term employees in warehousing, sales and marketing, finance and
executive positions. We know how to implement a new service for a new customer properly,
on time, and on budget. We know how to proof a customer’s internet service to verify that
the voice services will run as promised. We know how to acclimate new customers to the
myriad of cloud service options and configurations, so they get what they say they need
when they need it. We proudly sell Avaya, NEC, Smart Talk, and many other industry-
proven solutions and technology and configure your system properly and competently for
the best service experience you can get in your price range. We have been here for over 50
years. We have seen the competition come and go. We have seen the ills of “too low”
pricing which cause business defaults for providers and customers alike. We actively
choose not to play that loser’s game. We remain strong, solid, and able to meet our
customers’ and business needs.

Just ask us the hard questions if you want more background. We know what we are good
at, we know how to support our customers, we know why we price our Cloud Phone
Services where we do, and you can be assured that we will be here to support you and the
services we offer for many years to come. So Buyer, Beware of whom you contract your
phone services with. Look at their history, and if the price just seems too good to be true,
you may very well pay that price twice.

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