Come with me for a short stroll down memory lane so that I can explain why you should never, ever pay for phone lines again. ;-)
The year is 1999 and I am in the process of purchasing my first business phone system. After reviewing multiple vendors, I choose an NEC phone system from a local telecom reseller. In parallel, I work with Bell Canada to purchase phone lines to tie into my new phone system, making sure I purchase extra so that my customers won’t get a busy signal.
Little did I know that I was setting myself up for so much pain and angst.
It wasn’t an issue with NEC or Bell Canada per se, it would have been the same whether it was Nortel, Avaya or Panasonic equipment, and it really didn’t matter if you were dealing with Bell, Telus, Allstream or Rogers. This is how most businesses purchased phone systems back in the day, and much like travel agents, music stores, and print newspapers, it was an industry that was ripe for change and renewal.
Over-Sold and Poorly Sized
As other entrepreneurs can most probably relate to, I ended up with an over-sold and poorly sized phone system. Being very enthusiastic and just a little optimistic, I overestimated both the number of lines and the number of extensions that we needed; yet it was nearly impossible to determine actual line use and was therefore impossible to right-size our investment. Once I had purchased the telephone system, I wasn’t able to easily change it as the business evolved and we learned what we really needed.
It was painfully clear that traditional phone systems – and traditional phone companies – simply weren’t able to address my needs as a business owner. We desperately needed a different way of thinking.
Historically, and even today with the majority of providers, you’re forced to choose how many phone lines you will require. Most businesses overestimate the number of phone lines they will need and then fail to revisit that decision over time. Why should a business-owner keep expensive phone lines in service that go unused for months at a time? I think the real question to ask yourself here is why traditional providers have made it so hard for businesses to manage this cost.
With Versature, you pay per extension, not phone line. Versature manages the number of lines so that you can continue to be productive on your busiest day, without worrying about your customers receiving a busy signal. Most customers start out with between 5 and 20 incoming lines (depending on size) and we manage that resource for the customer. It’s something that we can dynamically change on the fly. What’s more, outbound calls don’t count against these lines (outbound calls are unlimited), so you always have those lines available for incoming customer calls. This makes it much easier for us to manage and for our customers to benefit.
We believe it’s time to change the conversation. If your phone system provider is asking you how many lines you need, you need to move on. Pick a phone system provider that is forward-thinking and will manage your line usage, so that you aren’t choosing too few lines (causing your customers to receive busy signals), nor are you choosing too many lines and bleeding your hard-earned revenues out through your telecom expense for no reason.
While you’re at it, choose a provider that doesn’t lock you into a 3 or 5 year contract with auto-renewal .. ah, I digress, that is a blog posting for another day.
In closing, I’ll just ask when was the last time you booked a hotel through your travel agent? That ship has sailed and so has the need to pay for phone lines.