Last year, Alan Masarek made news as he left Google to become Vonage’s new CEO.
Being involved in the VoIP industry is much like being in any other industry. It takes dedication and perseverance and there’s just no secret to becoming successful, or is there? At VoIP Innovations we believe we’ve formulated a strategic plan of attack that can make anyone successful. What our strategy comes down to is BackOffice support, something we like to call the Achilles Heel of the VoIP Industry. There are three parts to this: Provisioning, Service Support, and Billing.
Let’s start by defining provisioning. It is the act of on-boarding a new customer or turning up a new service. This could be adding a new sales order or simply adding services to an existing customer. To initiate the on-boarding process, a sales team needs to be brought on to start targeting their customer’s wants and needs. They have the challenge to those customers that your company is the best thing since sliced bread. This is part where things can go wrong if your company does not have good communication.
The sales team is working hard and making promises to the customers that they will receive great services, features, and timeframes from your company. If the operations staff can’t follow through with those promises, then you’re in trouble. At VoIP Innovations, we follow two rules to ensure the operations team delivers what the sales team promised. You should first make your entire team speak the same language and be on the same page. Everyone should be aware of the products and what they can actually offer. The second rule is to develop a process that is repeatable and scalable allowing for easy documentation and execution. If your organization follows these rules, there will be accountability and predictably throughout the provisioning process.
Provisioning is meant to be a quick and painless process so customers are not intimidated by your company. If you stick to the two rules we provided, then your company will run like a well oiled machine that provides great services. Once the provisioning is taken care of, you can then move on to service support.
Having outstanding service support is what will make your company stand out from the rest. This sounds like something that should be easily taken care of by all companies, but it’s not. To reach a level of outstanding service support, your company has to go above and beyond the normal processes and procedures that are used to satisfy a customer wants, needs and problems. At VoIP Innovations, we call this “WOW” support and we’ve built a team with innate skills who are fantastic at providing service support.
We base our hiring off of a technique called “Top Grading” that is designed to weed out those who don’t measure up so that only “A” players get hired. These top notch employees make up only the basic foundation that is required to achieve that “WOW” status. The rest is comprised of the non-human elements that are made by those “A” players. Non-human elements are things like your phone system, trouble ticket system, documentation, and troubleshooting tools. The majority of customers would rather solve their issues with these elements themselves and contact their service support team as a last resort. If your “A” players are developing the best non-human elements they can, then your customers will be satisfied, continue their services through your company, and they will spread the word that your organization knows what they’re doing. Now that you have the secrets to providing quick and painless provisioning and expert service support, it’s time to reveal the last piece to the Achilles Heel of the VoIP Industry which is billing.
This is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to being the best Wholesale VoIP provider in the industry. When you consider a billing system for any telecommunications company, you’re considering a great deal of complexities and this is the element of the industry that can make or break your customer base. As a VoIP provider, you need to constantly be aware of the millions of termination and origination minutes that need to be billed to your customers and without having a scalable billing system, managing these can be nearly impossible. On top of managing all the minutes, you need to be aware of billing CDRs (call data records), MRCs (monthly recurring costs), and NRC’s (no-recurring costs) and it doesn’t stop there! You also have to manage databases, scripts, processes, late payers, shutoffs, and disputes. If any of these components are left unattended, it could prove disastrous for your company.
At VoIP Innovations, we’ve already been through the trial and error phase of building a great billing system. We’ve narrowed it down to four key elements that are necessary to cover when building a solid billing platform. Your company needs to have processes, accuracy, robust reporting, and complete transparency. When talking about billing processes, it’s imperative to have a standards and procedures for each process. That includes holding a single person or group accountable for managing the process. That brings us to accuracy which involves, as we mentioned before, the management of the millions of origination and termination minutes as well as all other aspects of the billing system and billing your customers correctly.
Next, you need to make sure that you are offering complete transparency when it comes to billing. For example, in our BackOffice billing dashboard we allow our customers to see their key performance billing indicators in real-time. Lastly, we can talk about robust reporting when it comes to managing vendor costs. In most cases these costs are managed monthly and, more often than not, companies are hit with costly surprises. To avoid this, simply find a trustworthy provider who has more insightful reporting methods.
To bring this article to a close, working in the Wholesale VoIP Industry is no different than any other industry. If you’re just starting out or even if you’re a seasoned veteran, understanding the inner workings of Provisioning, Service Support, and Billing and how they together make up the Achilles Heel is essential. It’s never too late to make changes within your organization that could optimize your provisioning tactics, ramp up your support strategies, or even create more seamless billing system that all make the customer experience top notch.
VoIP Innovations is an Inc. 5000 company that specializes in providing the largest DID and termination VoIP footprints in North America. Their network includes over 500,000 DIDs in stock in over 8,500 rate centers in the US and Canada. Recently, VoIP Innovations expanded their footprint to include DIDs in over 60 countries and now offers A-Z termination. VoIP Innovations is owned by ABG Capital and is based in Pittsburgh, PA.