The world is smaller than it has ever been. The ability to connect to friends, family and colleagues on the other side of the globe instantaneously, with no lag or interruptions is a privilege which opens up possibilities never before available to us. It has also levelled the playing field from a business standpoint - global enterprises have always had the resources to expand into new markets, but now smaller, newer companies have a global outlook, the tools are available for them to scale globally and instantly.
The quality of your communications provider will, nine times out of ten, dictate the success of overseas business expansion. In fact 98 per cent of European cloud and IT decision makers believe that top quality communications is vital when expanding overseas. However, while instant global scale is a nice aspiration to have - and plenty of cloud comms providers say they provide the means to do this - in reality it is not as easy as just having the tech capabilities in place. A top quality communications provider is about so much more than simply technology.
So, if you have big dreams of taking over the world and taking new markets by storm, there are some particularly important areas that your cloud comms provider needs a strong track record in.
Imagine growing your business to the point where you expand overseas, open a new office, officially ‘launch’ your operations, only for all your local numbers to be shut down with little to no notice. This is the risk and inevitable fate of non-compliance. Most companies that are non-compliant are so because they may not be knowledgeable about different local regulations, therefore it’s easy for businesses to overlook this element when expanding into new markets.
We have seen tens of thousands of numbers shut down in the last year alone because when organisations are notified of their non-compliance by regulators, they will be presented with edicts to comply in a very short time frame or simply have their numbers turned off.
Considering how easy it can be to get shut down, it is pretty surprising that, according to Voxbone’s data, less than half (46 per cent) of businesses look at comms compliance before they’ve made the decision to enter a new territory.
Granted, being compliant is easier said than done. It is complicated and labour-intensive to be constantly abreast and informed of the rules. It doesn’t help that regulations are only increasing as governments look to crack down on number ownership for national security reasons.
Look for providers who already have the processes locked down, and established relationships in the region you’re looking at. The best providers will have the biggest legal teams, consisting of linguists and local experts to advise you on how you should set up your comms before entering new territories.
Locality should be a common thread through every service your cloud comms partner provides. Consumers, who receive an average of 23 unknown calls per week, value a local presence and are less trusting of international numbers. If your business is local, everything about it, including your phone numbers, should be too.
Despite this, some providers under appreciate the importance of having a pseudo-presence to the people they are providing to. This is a mistake. Voxbone’s data shows that consumers are 3 times more likely to answer the phone if the number is from their geographic area. Your business needs local numbers to be competitive, so you should make sure your provider has a local presence.
A local presence doesn’t just mean providing local numbers, it means being able to provide the support when it is needed. If you have an urgent issue that needs sorting, the last thing you want to do is to have to wait until your providers’ HQ comes online in a different part of the world. What’s more, network problems are usually localised, which require local expertise. It adds that extra layer of unnecessary complexity if the problem needs to be figured out thousands of miles away.
Essentially, make sure that if your comms provider has an international presence, make sure they are also sufficient ‘national’ providers in all the ways that count too.
As well as having the infrastructure in place to make sure that your business is suitably supported locally, it’s also very important that you get the assurances you need around the level of ownership of communication infrastructure that your business is supplying.
You’ll want to look for a provider that owns all its routes. In the telecoms industry, this is called a ‘true carrier’. By using a true carrier that owns its own traffic, you can be confident in the knowledge that all of your channels you use to communicate with customers have the stability and reliability you wouldn’t get by using a 3rd party provider - or a ‘traffic aggregators’.
Traffic aggregators might be seen as an easy solution for organisations operating in multiple territories. However, they usually aren’t worth the risk - they buy their routes from other providers, who will in turn buy from other providers at each stage of the process. Aggregators will make the decision on which provider to use based on the lowest possible cost - often with little to no regard for quality. This means they are often cheap and tempting, but may have inconsistent and low quality call delivery paths with no sense of ownership. This is all fine when it works well, but inevitably turns into a finger pointing nightmare when something goes wrong along the delivery path.
Ultimately, the quality of your comms provider is one aspect of your expansion plan that you can’t afford to get wrong. For an effective partner that can support you in multiple territories, they will need to be a national provider in the market you want presence, have strong relationships with the regulators, and own their own private network and number ranges in order to guarantee the quality you need. This platform will give you the best possible chance to make a success of your global expansion plans.
Matt Brown, VP of Product, Voxbone