It’s a Small World After All (Bicom in Montenegro)

bicomAs many of you know, last month we held our annual Bicom Systems conference with staff and partners in Budva, Montenegro. Part of the weekend was spent cruising around the beautiful Bay of Kotor.

Funny story – while on the boat, someone noticed that the safety equipment was from the North of France – near where another staff lives. It seemed quite a coincidence. But then a partner from Italy, also on the boat, noticed that it was manufactured by an Italian company (Eurovinil Survitec Group). Just a week beforehand, Eurovinil had signed up for PBXware.

Small world.

Speaking of Montenegro – our 2017 Conference was a blast. We got down to business the first day and all attendees say they learned more than ever before. (You can now view and download our conference presentations.) The weekend was spent seeing the sights, relaxing, and getting to know one another. We hope you will join us next year!

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Breaking the Silence on Skyswitch

skyswitchThough we have discussed our competitors a number of times on this blog, it is never something that I like to do. I am a firm believer in “rising above,” especially in a professional setting. But the “marketing” efforts coming out of a company called SkySwitch have pushed even me to the point of breaking my silence.

SkySwitch is again using the search phrase “Bicom Systems” in an attempt drive traffic to their website. (A piece of advice – if your own brand name is not bringing in enough traffic, there are thousands of industry-relevant keywords to focus on before resorting to other companies’ brand names.)

This time they are proclaiming that “it’s time to cheat on Bicom Systems.” At the risk of stooping to their level of using immature, inflammatory language in what should be a professional setting – dare we throw out the phrase “if they will cheat with you, they will cheat on you.” Of course business partnerships are not really like marriages, but trust is an important part of both. Our advice to you: choose a partner that values integrity and trust.

As far as I can tell, SkySwitch is claiming that subscribers of all major communications providers (the document I was given is clearly not specific to Bicom Systems) should switch to them on the basis of nine reasons. I will respond to each of these as concisely as possible and include evidence so you can come to your own conclusions. (Yes, we are confident enough in our own solutions and partners to transparently discuss potential issues.)

1. “You know there are problems before you (SIC) provider does”

Their first claim is that your business may be in trouble and no one will notice. Bicom Systems developed SIP Monitoring and SIP Security modules for this exact purpose. Issues will not only be identified, but even fixed automatically.

2. “No escalation procedure in place”

You can see our escalation procedure here: www.bicomsystems.com/support (I guess SkySwitch didn’t do their research before putting pen to paper.)

We whole-heartedly agree with their claim that “problems happen”. No provider is perfect and bugs will arise with Bicom Systems or SkySwitch or any other provider. However, after 15 years of experience, our team of technical support engineers and telecommunications experts responds to support tickets quickly and efficiently. But don’t take our word for it – check out our customer reviews here: blog.bicomsystems.com/customer-reviews.

Going one step further, SkySwitch claims that your platform is “connected to many carriers and third-party providers.  While most problems within your service provider’s own platform should be easily solved, those that originate outside their platform may require cooperation among a number of companies.” On the contrary, Bicom Systems partners typically do not require other carriers or third-party providers as we have all of the pieces in-house, thus avoiding many compatibility issues in the first place.

3. “Poor Processes = Poor Performance”

“There are reasons to have solid procedures in place when customers report issues or open trouble tickets.” Again, see our support procedures here: www.bicomsystems.com/support

Our support team put together efficient support and escalation procedures years ago. This is not something that occurs naturally in a company, but rather something that needs dedication, organization, and experience to perfect.

4. “Poor SLA Delivery”

We sign an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with all of our partners. You can see it here: www.bicomsystems.com/files/public/corporate/SLA.pdf.

May we also point out that we have more staff in our Support Department than SkySwitch has total staff. Our support team is spread across three continents for maximum reach and availability.

5. “Data Leakage Among Clients”

SkySwitch expresses a concern that data may be leaked between partners in the absence of a true multi-tenant platform. Fortunately for us and our partners, Bicom Systems actually developed one of the first multi-tenant platforms with unlimited extensions and tenants. We guarantee 100% scalability and elasticity to our partners and resellers, so of course we have the same capacity internally by default. Learn about our Multi-Tenant platform here: www.bicomsystems.com/products/multi-tenant-pbx

See our Privacy Policy here: www.bicomsystems.com/legal/policies/privacy_policy

6. “Tax Compliance Failure”

Our partners typically use our in-house billing software and integrate it with the Tax Provider of their choice. Again, we are more than happy to work on an individual basis and develop custom solutions when necessary. Read more in our TELCOware manual.

7. “More Iron to Support Growth”

SkySwitch points out an interesting difference between hosted and cloud solutions. “In a hosted solution, there is often hardware and servers specifically dedicated to servicing a particular client. Servers may need to be added to address the growth of that client or support premium features such as on demand call recording.” Not to worry, Bicom Systems offers true, high-availability cloud solutions that support scalability – both up and down – with just the click of a button. Read our definition of “cloud” here: blog.bicomsystems.com/what-is-cloud-communications

And we’ll add here that we are not limited to the cloud, but also have hosted, premise, and even Key Systems. Growth can happen however is best for your company.

8. “Insisting on Long-Term Contracts”

We offer our hosted and rented solutions with 30-day contracts. It never occurred to us to make them longer – to date no one has stopped paying.

9. “Provider Diversity is Met With Dismay”

On the contrary, many of our customers come to us from legacy situations. We always value the knowledge gained by working with other providers. With partners around the globe, diversity is no stranger to Bicom Systems and we have developed custom solutions to ensure compatibility with third parties many times.

In conclusion, if you are interested in Bicom Systems or already a partner and experiencing any issues or discontentment – just give us a call. To date, we have not lost any of our partners to SkySwitch. We are happy to chat about what’s going on and work together to a solution. It is not unusual for us to develop custom solutions for individual partners to ensure they are getting exactly what they need. Check out some examples here: blog.bicomsystems.com/category/custom-work 

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Can Your Mechanic Do An Oil Change? (Thirdlane Support)

thirdlaneWe have been working with a company that was wavering between PBXware and Thirdlane. They have demos running of each option and are testing all of the features before making a final decision.

When testing inbound faxing (fax-to-email), the company ran into an issue on the Thirdlane demo. They reached out to Thirdlane support – it is worth mentioning here that their support department is just one person – who had no idea that their system even included inbound faxing. So much for troubleshooting the issue.

Fortunately, the testers were savvy enough to resolve the issue themselves, but left with a feeling of wariness about the utility of Thirdlane support.

Our Account Manager on the case made this poignant comparison: “If you bring your car in for an oil change only to find that the mechanic didn’t even know your car had an oil filter, you will be peeling out of there faster than you can say ‘rip-off’.”

In all seriousness, no platform is perfect and you are going to need support well beyond the initial purchase and installation. Don’t settle for anything less than an experienced, knowledgeable, and dependable team of support professionals.

3 Steps to Telecom Success: Part 3 Customer Loyalty

customer loyaltyIn this series, we have been going through three indispensable goals to telecom success:

  1. Sustainable growth
  2. Increased profit
  3. Loyal customers

First we talked about scalable platforms and how to future-proof your business; then we looked at how added-value solutions are the key to increasing profit. Today we’ll cover the final goal to telecom success: earning customer loyalty.

The drawbacks of the dreaded “customer churn” are clear: loss of revenue, lost opportunities for growth, a damaged reputation, the task of re-marketing, etc. So how can we avoid these things and increase customer retention? There are a few ways.

The first step is to provide a complete solution. If you provide just one piece of your customer’s end solution, they are not wholly committed to you. They will be relying on other providers for the other pieces and could be wooed away by any of those without greatly interrupting their service.

Contrarily, if you provide all the pieces they need, your customer will commit fully to your company and solution. There will be no compatibility issues and no other providers with sales pitches or lucrative offers. Best of all, if they are getting everything from you, switching providers would be a radical and disruptive change that they will not want to make.

So what are the “pieces” we are talking about? Anything that goes beyond basic telephony. Starting with VoIP and going on to UCaaS, mobility, billing, security, etc. (See also: One More Card for Your Hand).

The biggest mistake that we see telecoms making with their customers is neglecting them after the initial sale. Once you have them committed to your complete solution, do not assume that they will glide along happily for years. Customers become partners when you invest time and energy into them. Excellent customer service must extend beyond the sale. And not just when they have problems or need technical support; by then it may already be too late. If you do nothing else in this series, this is vital to keeping your customers: Call them before they call you.

Check in with your customers on a regular basis. Ask how things are going, what their latest goals are, what issues they are seeing. By nurturing your customers before they have trouble, you are practically guaranteeing that they will remain loyal when the problems do come. No technology is perfect and issues are inevitable, but if you are a consistent source of support, advice, and inspiration, they will stick with you.

There are more strategies to earning customer loyalty, but they are too numerous to cover all of them in this series. If you would like to learn more, watch our (free) video presentation on 5 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty for ITSPs & Telcos at www.bicomsystems.com/customer-loyalty

Concluding this series on goals to telecom success, we would like to invite anyone that wants to pursue one or all of these goals to give us a call today. We are happy to chat with you – no strings attached – about your business goals and ideas and how to attain them today. Whether you have a thriving business or nothing more than a dream, we have something for you. Contact us at: www.bicomsystems.com/contact