The fact is that analog-based business phone systems and service are becoming a dying breed. Many businesses are waking up to the fact that their phone service company has given them little reason to remain a long-term and loyal customer. As businesses have made the switch to VoIP phone service throughout the last decade, traditional phone service providers have been grasping to hold onto their margins and their customers. Let's examine the evidence:
Term contracts - Contracts are a relic of the old approach in the telecom industry. Those providers who offer term contracts indicate that it is to get the best rate on the bundle of services they offer. It is evidenced by price differences between the lengths of the contract term offered. The only real benefit goes back to the provider, as they are able to hold on to their margins with these business customers for a little while longer. There are viable alternatives to the traditional phone company. In today’s marketplace, most providers of VoIP phone service do not require a term contract to secure pricing.
The dreaded auto renewal - Hand in hand with term contracts are auto-renewals. These are usually buried in fine print or even referenced on terms and conditions not immediately reviewable on the order, but on a website. There's nothing worse than being ready to make a switch in phone technology and service providers and finding that your contract with the current provider auto-renewed. If you are thinking about switching to a VoIP business phone service, be sure to examine the fine print of your term contracts and save the date for making the switch on your calendar.
Price increases - As more and more analog business lines are moving to a VoIP Business phone service, traditional telephone companies have raised the monthly rates on their lines. It should be noted that very little investment is taking place on the core analog technology by these providers. Raising rates is a tactic to preserve margins and not to recoup investment.
Technology stagnation - Within the VoIP phone service platforms there are numerous features and benefits to advance the communication practices of your business. Analog technology is old and systems left supporting that platform do not have the flexibility of where phones are physically deployed and do not have a robust set of features to match the technology of VoIP platforms. No one likes to be in a stagnant relationship, and traditional phone providers have all the incentive to hold on as long as possible.
Remember, it's not you, it's them! Break up with your phone company! There are gems of VoIP service providers in the marketplace who are set to provide cutting edge features, and have raised the bar in terms of customer service. There are a few steps you can take to prepare your business to break up with your current carrier:
- Examine your current carrier contract. Look for your contract end date and be wary of auto-renewal provisions.
- Review your internal network for VoIP readiness. VoIP phones run over your office Ethernet network. If your computers are connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, you are good to go.
- Evaluate your bandwidth utilization. A VoIP call does not require that much bandwidth. Frankly, internet speed availability has increased dramatically over the last several years that this is not a great concern. If you haven't upgraded your internet speeds recently, you should make sure that you are not saturating your current circuit with your data usage.
- Research and select a VoIP Business service provider. The alternatives are many, so be sure to capture references. The best answer isn't always a known national brand, but going with a local provider requires careful research and consideration. There are great ones to work with.
- Work with your selected provider for porting numbers. You will want to time your install and number porting in context with your contract term expiration date. If your current provider requires notice, you will need to provide it relative to the timing of the install and port.
Isn't it time to work with a phone provider that loves your business? Experience how refreshing and different that relationship can be!
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.