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Cheap VoIP + Oversea’s Call Center = FAIL

If there’s one thing us arrogant American’s hate more than anything it’s not being able to understand a foreigner.

Forget tolerance. Forget patience.

We want our shit now damnit!

If you run any business that requires a call center to service your customers remember this formula:

Cheap VoIP + Oversea’s Call Center = FAIL

We get that you want to save money. We do too.

However, you need to make sure that your customers can understand your service and sales departments.

It’s worth the extra money. Trust me.

But don’t take my word for it. This survey says it all.

How the Internet Distrupted the Channel

This is the second in a series on the VoIP equipment channel designed to educate, bring transparency and inspire change for the good of all channel members. You can read part one here.

Scale.

It’s something every manufacturer is concerned with when introducing products into a marketplace. Especially those who manufacturer products for use primarily by businesses (aka prosumers).

Manufacturers need to reach and sell their product into enough businesses to reach the required economies of scale in order to turn a profit on the product. They need to do this as effectively and efficiently as possible since there are costs associated with selling.

Prior to the advent of the Internet the most effective way to do this was to build out a sales channel for the product.

This channel – at least in the telecommunications space – is most often a two tier channel. In a two tier channel there are four major players:

  • Manufacturer – Responsible for product creation, global marketing, tier three support and technological innovation
  • Distributor – Responsible for product warehousing, logistics, var recruitment, second level support and marketing/business development assistance.
  • VAR – Responsible for integrating and or selling the product into the business or end user, as well as on-going support and maintenance.
  • End User/Business – Responsible for purchasing the product.

This two tier channel model created a rather rigid and protective model.

Manufacturers sold to distributors. Distributors sold to VAR’s. VAR’s sold to the end customer.

There were of course exceptions, but in general this is how the channel operated. It was effective and efficient for almost everyone.

Then came the Internet. And with it came a new way to reach businesses.

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Time to Change the Channel

This is the first in a series on the VoIP equipment channel designed to educate, bring transparency and inspire change for the good of all channel members.

As a kid I was addicted to cartoons.

I remember every day for lunch I followed the same routine. I would turn the TV to the Flintstones.

Mom would bring me a  peanut butter and jelly sandwich and big class of milk. For the next hour I’d laugh aloud and mow down my meal.

All was good in my world.

This wasn’t always the case. Every now and again the snow would come.

I’m not talking about the white stuff that Buffalo is known for. I’m talking about the blizzard that takes over your screen when your signal sucks.

Fred and Barney lived in Bedrock, not the North Pole.

Not one to subject myself to an obstructed view I would reluctantly and often with great sadness sulk my way to the TV and change the channel.

Fast forward 20 plus years and I find myself watching another channel suffering from obstruction and a sucky signal – the VoIP channel. Except this time I can’t just change it.

Changing this channel is no one man job.

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Quality Vs Reliability

Late last week while enjoying some fantastic Mexican food for pal Cory Andrews‘ birthday, a discussion about high definition (HD) calling broke out.

Likely spurned by the recent completion of VoIP Supply’s own internal HD voice implementation, the discussion centered on the current applications and future promise of the technology. You’re sure to bet that we’re high on the HD voice.

However it isn’t the promise of HD VoIP calling that is left ringing in my head days later. It’s a statement that Cory made in regards to quality versus reliability.

Given a choice most people would choose call reliability over call quality.

It’s still ringing in my head because if this is true –  and personal experience tells it is – it means customers will choose the most reliable service over one that sounds the best. In other words,

Given a choice most people would choose the reliability of the PSTN over the great sound of HD VoIP (all other things constant)

Perhaps a bit extreme, but  today VoIP service reliability is still an issue.Yet it’s the thing most people look for first in a service.

Which makes me wonder why there isn’t more enthusiasm from the industry at large around delivering more reliable VoIP service (and a missed opportunity to maximize wideband telephony’s potential).

After all doesn’t 100% reliability really sound the best?

5 Trends Spotted at IT Expo West

There was a lot going on last week at IT Expo.From the interesting talks about smart grid technology to well trafficked expo floor it was evident that the industry at large is still alive, kicking and poised for more growth.There were also a five trends that I spotted after three days of meeting and conversing.

  1. Service Bubble – The show was dominated by VoIP service offerings- wholesale and retail alike. Yes there is money in VoIP services, but how many VoIP service providers can survive? Surely not as many as there are right now.
  2. Microsoft OCS – Looks like all of the advertising, trials, betas and prodding is starting to work for Microsoft. Especially in the education sector. Seems like every CPE manufacturer is quickly trying to figure out their “OCS strategy.”
  3. Creative Growth – Companies are growing, but the fast growth for most is coming through creative avenues. Case in point PAETEC’s announcement that they’re getting into the energy business. A $200 million plus per year revenue opportunity for them (that’s just through existing customers).
  4. Fax Over IP – There are plenty of new entrants into this space. Unfortunately it seems that the same complications and issues that have plagued the technology still exist. One promising player is FaxSIPIt, which offers it’s own IP-based FAX network. Hopefully someone will get Fax over IP right one of these days!
  5. HD VoiceWideband Telephony support is no longer a luxury. Everyone has it. Well everyone except you and I. But at least all new VoIP equipment will support it.

At the show and see something I missed? Let me know about it in the comments.

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