Dear Hosted IP Provider, or as your Marketing Department might say, Managed IP Provider:

I realize that you believe Hosted IP is the hottest product to hit the world of telephony since Centrex was introduced in the mid 1960’s. It does have great potential if it is proposed correctly to the appropriate client. If you take the approach that since this technology is awesome one size fits all, disaster awaits. Doug Allen, senior editor of PHONES+ magazine addresses this quite eloquently. See http://www.channelpartnersonline.com/articles/2010/11/hanging-up-on-hosted-voip.aspx These are some of the issues I’d like to address concerning your Hosted/Managed product.

  • Stop focusing on the technology and tell me what it means to me. I can’t get excited that it’s “cloud technology.” Wasn’t my AOL dial-up cloud technology? In those days we were much more modest and called it “web-based.” If Hosted/Managed IP will increase productivity and add to my bottom line, please explain how. Calling it “Software as a Service” is not the answer I’m looking for.
  • Taylor your solution to the way I do business. If I want unanswered callers to ring back to the receptionist instead of going into voice mail, don’t tell me that’s not the way it should be done. My goal is to talk to every incoming caller and see if we can sell them something or solve their problem. Work with me.
  • Self Administration should not mean, “Here’s the website, now go find out how to do it.” If I’m trying to designate my cell phone to take incoming callers in the event my Hosted/Managed IP system crashes, tell me how. Don’t send a tech to do on-site training if all he’s going to do is fumble through your website while charging me $200 an hour.
  • I appreciate the fact that you’re always upgrading the network to better serve me. Do you mind doing that after business hours? When my calls are dropped or my phones and programming reverts to factory defaults, don’t tell me that you were installing a remote patch and I’m the first one ever to complain.  If I can’t make, take or hear calls coming in, we’ve got a problem.
  • Show me the warts. For example:
    • Can we send and receive faxes or will I need another analog line for that? What about a credit card machine?
    • Must all phones be wired with Cat5 computer wiring or can I use the existing twisted pair wiring?
    • If I have single line phones in a shop or warehouse, can I use them?
    • I want to page over our overhead horns and speakers. Will they integrate or will I have two phones on my desk?
    • Can I just put a call on hold and have someone else pick it up?
    • If my internet service goes down will my Hosted/Managed IP system go down too?
  • Don’t make me sign a 5 year contract. Technology is changing so rapidly and prices keep dropping. How much have the prices for flat screen TV’s dropped since 1996? How can you cost justify your solution if you don’t know the competitive costs for dial tone in 2016?

Don’t get me wrong. Hosted/Managed IP is feature rich and a perfect fit for many a clientele but not every clientele. Focus on what’s important to me and stay away from the “state of the art” discussions. If this is not a good fit, let me know and let us part as friends.

Respectfully,

Mike Bayer

P.S. Every example was based on my or a customers’ personal experience with Hosted/Managed IP. As I tell my children, “I don’t have to make stuff up.”

If you have experiences with Hosted/Managed IP, good, bad or imaginary; we ask you to share them with us. Good products with exemplary customer service sold and implemented correctly are in everyone’s best interest. Please share.

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