All of the signs are now in front of you. You are beginning to lose customers to competitors providing Hosted VoIP phone services. You thought to focus only on your core technology products and services, but your competition decided to own the customer’s phone business as one more step in obtaining the one-stop solution customers were ultimately looking for. The competition was correct.
But don’t worry, you can turn it all around and quickly become the best hosted VoIP provider for small and large businesses. The important part is to prepare yourself and choose the correct hosted VoIP platform partner. Once that is in place, you can begin to offer hosted VoIP services and retain your customers. The following are important topics to review and consider:
- Building or using a cloud-based Hosted VoIP platform – This may seem like a choice but in most cases, there is an obvious decision that can save you a lot of time, energy, worry and late night hours. It’s true you can take an open source approach to save money in the short term and build it yourself, but what does the future hold for you and your customers? It comes down to infrastructure, redundancy, high availability, security issues, toll fraud protection, choice of carriers and most important, scalability. If any of these are compromised or missing, you will eventually run into major downtime for your customers and churn of your hard-earned customers. This is not conducive to becoming a high-quality hosted VoIP service provider. You will also have to deal with scaling beyond 30-50 customers which may not seem so apparent with only 5 or 10 customers. In the end, you will most likely move your customers at some point to a professional Hosted VoIP provider if your business grows. This can be a very painful and possibly expensive process, but necessary. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience required to build a reliable, carrier-grade Hosted VoIP platform that will allow you to keep your customers over the long run. Think about it deeply before going down this road unless you have the resources, time and experience.
- Picking an experienced Hosted VoIP platform provider – It may seem like every Hosted VoIP provider is a possible choice to partner with, but it’s not. You have to choose between White /Private label or partnering with competitors, The majority sell directly to the end users or the same customers you are targeting. Many will pay you a one-time small commission or over a short time period and typically you are sharing your customer at best. From your customers perspective, they typically know who is providing the service and support. For some, this is as much as they want to be involved and do not care about promoting their own brand. With true white label or private Hosted VoIP providers that only work with the channel, they allow you to leverage their experience and knowledge of a properly built platform providing best quality VoIP phone service, maintain your company brand, provide high-profit margins and recurring revenue over the life of your customer. The true white label hosted provider can also be instrumental in providing advice on sales, marketing, and technical issues since they work with so many other providers. Be careful of your choice, many hosted VoIP platforms are built by startups with minimal experience, investment, and resources with many of the issues discussed in the first bullet point.
- Technical support and resources – One of the most important aspects of providing Hosted VoIP services is your phone related support service. Your customers expect to have their issues or problems resolved quickly and professionally. If you have the technical staff and resources available, you are all set on this subject. If you do not, then you may want to utilize the resources of your Hosted VoIP platform provider since they may be capable of white label support to your customers at an affordable rate. If you are able to provide initial customer contact support, you may be able to utilize the support between you and your platform provider until you ramp up. If you work with a competitor, they will typically provide direct support to your customer under their brand. Whichever way you go, ensure that it is done professionally and with the least amount of customer wait time. Another issue to consider is onsite installation and support presence. With the proper platform and resources it is possible to ship pre-programmed phones to the end customer and let them plug the phones in, but in many cases, the customer would prefer someone to install at their physical business. You should come up with a plan to address this issue either by possibly utilizing the platform provider or hiring 3rd party installers.
- Hardware provider – In many cases, your customers will require new VoIP Phones or devices with your service. You should secure a quality provider of VoIP related hardware and devices since this part of the business can add additional revenue and profit. Your Hosted VoIP platform provider may be able to provide the hardware or recommend a partner they trust. It is not uncommon for VoIP providers to lease or rent the phones and devices. The hardware that is rented and returned can provide very high margin revenue over time. The hardware provider can also be very helpful in recommending and providing other solutions such as VoIP routers, overhead paging, and VoIP initiated door access and entry. The proper equipment can help you maintain the best quality VoIP service.
- Marketing, websites and obtaining customers – Depending on the size and resources of your company or organization, you will need to address several issues in regards to marketing your new VoIP business. The first issue surrounds the use of your existing company name. Some providers choose to create a new company name for their VoIP Services with the intent of separating from the main company in the event of a devastating disaster or vent that results in the loss of their customers. They do not want to affect or associate their core business product or service. A large part of this decision is based on your choice of building your own platform or choosing a quality, carrier-grade platform provider. The website is important to convey a professional and larger image to your customers and prospects. If you do not have the in-house resources or talent to create or add-on to your existing website, depending on your capabilities you may be able to buy a premade generic website with a VoIP Phone services template. The website/template provider may also offer services to create the website. In some cases, the Hosted VoIP platform provider may provide you with some material to copy or use. They may also furnish marketing materials you can edit with your logo and company information. The marketing materials should be at least a PDF document on your company mixed with your platforms features and backbone. There should also be a separate PDF for pricing and features that align with what you advertise on the website. Obtaining customers should start with going after your core business customers. Secondary should be targeting and visiting new businesses. Obtaining business from your website should be your last resource since it tends to bring in potential customers based solely on pricing which is not a good long-term strategy. Please see our previous blogs that expand on this subject.
With the proper focus and attention, you can add Hosted VoIP services to your product mix, increase revenue, fend off competition and be successful. Leverage your quality Hosted VoIP platform provider! They can help you obtain a high-quality VoIP service.
This is where Talking Platforms comes in! Contact us today at 202-747-0064 and let us help you become the best hosted VoIP provider for small businesses.