Being stuck in a lengthy telecommunications contract has long been a major pain point for businesses. Companies feel locked in, stuck, unable to move to a different provider even if they find a better deal.
“Traditionally, it’s not uncommon to see 36-month and 60-month contracts still in place,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “In terms of technology and how communications are changing, that’s an eternity to wait for new and better services.”
Today’s businesses need flexibility and choice to move with the speed of technology. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functions as a software service that is nimble, movable and changeable, and typically doesn’t require long-term contracts.
Smart Business spoke with Desberg about the differences in telecommunications services in today’s evolving business market.
How has the industry progressed in its delivery of telephone services?
Since the technology in VoIP is developing and changing so fast, we’ve seen a lot more non-regulated services that don’t fall under normal tariffs, and now it’s offered like a service. So there is no reason for it to be contracted, other than choosing the provider that serves you best. If you’re not happy with that service, you should have the opportunity to move, change, and find someone that serves you better and not have to wait to the end of a contract.
Why are short-term offerings a good option for businesses?
Over the years, people have learned to hate their phone companies because they have to wait until the end of their contract to find someone else that they might like. If an offer sounds good, the company switches providers and after three years, they may realize they don’t like the new vendor either. The contract world has taught businesses to suffer through a term until they can find someone better. And that doesn’t help the end user because the technology will change within three years. If your business is not being served well by your telephone company, they don’t deserve your business anymore. On the other hand, if a telecommunications company has customers for 10 years who are not on contract and can leave at any time, but choose to stay, that’s a sign of serving the customer well.
How is the industry driving technology and service improvements?
A parallel can be drawn to the cell phone world. The cell phone industry drives technology with newer devices that have new features and enhancements. Whatever company carries the better device can garner more business. The same thing is true in the VoIP world. As companies in this space offer new services and customers demand new technology, the industry is coming out with options and features that are customized to businesses.
The goal of VoIP companies is to offer best-in-class technologies and stay ahead of what the customer wants. This way they can retain any customer looking to make a switch. VoIP providers offering old technology that doesn’t get updated may as well be a traditional telephone company. If a provider comes up with something new and the competition hasn’t figured it out yet, the provider can pick up the competition’s customers the moment the customer decides to switch.
How does the hardware come into play with the fast-paced technology updates?
Many times, organizations view their phone systems and their phone providers as a linked entity, thinking they can’t move to a new phone company because they have an old phone system. Moving into the VoIP world releases companies from that legacy hardware, that outdated phone system that can’t do a whole lot in terms of what’s available on new technology. That can be a big step for a customer as well — to cut the old phone system off the wall and go with the new VoIP technology on their desk. The move is typically a fraction of what it was to purchase a new phone system since you’re only buying the phones on your desks. VoIP phones are fairly universal, so you can move them from one VoIP provider to the next and take advantage of the upgrades, updates and technology without having to buy new hardware. ●
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