New VOIP players hamper growth in South African market
The VOIP industry and technology has rapidly evolved over the last few years and continues to do so, with no signs of slowing down. While the adoption of VOIP solutions may have had a difficult start due to its unfortunate reliance on past sub-par Internet connections, the current array of quality connectivity options at the VOIP reseller's disposal makes VOIP easier to offer, sell and manage.
The misconception that VOIP does not work and ideas that VOIP is only cheap because it's an inferior service is slowly and rightfully beginning to fade away, much like business's reliance on copper to make phone calls.
Disappointingly, while the technology has vastly improved and many doubtful minds have been changed, certain human factors still hinder the real growth potential. As new resellers enter the VOIP space, more established providers are now having to deal with different challenges. On the back of overcoming connectivity shortcomings, established service providers are faced with an array of new reseller and installer types using old and sometimes dishonest tactics to get into the market.
These new installers may fit into the profiles below, but there are so many more.
Quick buck Chuck
These guys are all about making the quick money and moving on. The client is left with a new, overwhelming, expensive technology without training. If training is provided, it's one hour, and that time is split into quick sessions in the various departments. While the solution may 'work', the after-sales support is almost non-existent, and the contact number on the business card provided has a mailbox that cannot take any more messages because it's full.
I'll do it Stewart
We have all come across a company that has an onsite IT guy who simply says he will do it himself. He just needs an SIP account and will find some software that can do the job. We also know that, more often than not, the client ends up believing that VOIP doesn't work and the chances of getting that client to try a VOIP service again is slim.
Sadly, there are still companies purposefully using unnecessary jargon to simply convince and sometimes intimidate clients into taking a solution that costs far more than it should. There is no real consideration about what the client really needs. The client is persuaded to take everything and two kitchen sinks, when all the client wanted was a telephony solution.
Technology is evolving, but there are still many cases where clients are given products that are virtually outdated. The installer simply dusted off the PBX, brushed off the cobwebs and presented the client with its 'new' solution. The installer is content with using the same product for years, without any real consideration of the new features new technology can offer the client.
Competition is great for any industry, but the wrong type of competition can negatively impact the clients and the industry. If we all agree to provide a business-grade solution and remain transparent about the technology and the services we supply, we will all benefit. Let us not allow a few individuals or businesses to hold us back and taint the view the customers have of VOIP , especially after we have fought so hard to get to where we are.