We often find that subagents are missing the mark when setting expectations with customers about how the hosted voice process is going to go. That lack of communication can result in unhappy customers. The hosted experience is different than the traditional way of selling and implementing hardware, so we believe it’s important for partners to review the two ways of bringing voice solutions to customers in order to properly prepare customers for change.
How it used to be
In “the old days,” the customer would conduct research on hardware options. Once they found a product — say from Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, etc. — they would have to track down a VAR or reseller of that product to get a formal quote and make a decision. The customer then had to spend a bunch of money all at once to pay for the phone system up front, hoping the install would happen and that support would be long-term.
With the equipment ordered, the VAR would then:
- send in a technician to plug in the network equipment
- make sure every phone worked
- make sure customers were trained on how to use the product
- become the support entity post-installation
If the customer had a problem, it was time to call the phone vendor. This model worked just fine — in fact, most people like the personal touch of talking to the actual phone vendor who comes out to train the customer. And it’s that personal touch that most hosted companies are lacking.
The downside of that model is the large capital expenditures required of the customer — something resolved with the hosted scenario, which comes with its own bag of worms.
How it is today
The customer finds a broker representing multiple hosted companies, and they have a conversation about what the business needs. When the customer narrows it down, he or she works through the broker to sign the contract, and that’s where the differences really start fleshing out.
The customer needs to be prepared to do the work. With hosted voice technology:
- No one comes to set up the phone
- The customer is responsible for making sure that the phone connects to the right number
- If the phone doesn’t work, the customer might have to check his or her LAN
Doesn’t sound as nice, right? There’s no hand-holding like there is with the old way. But considering the cost benefits and capabilities that come with hosted voice (instant message, chat, video and audio conferencing, fax-to-email, etc.), it’s almost a no-brainer for some businesses.
What can agents do?
Good agents are already doing what they should: setting the expectation with customers that the hosted implementation may not be 100% smooth sailing. But with the right point person at the customer’s business to step up and learn how to work the new solution, the process will be easier. With more responsibility on the customers, agents must arm them with the knowledge they need to effectively learn their new systems.
Here at Innovative Business Solutions, we’ve got the resources and the people to educate and help agents’ customers. We help set the expectations so everyone ends up happy. Call us today to find out more about how we address customer needs.