Strategies to rapidly scale your voice services without spending big
In the current climate, many cloud communications providers have enjoyed a huge influx of customers, as businesses scramble to get their employees online and equipped with the tools to collaborate remotely.
But with a painful and potentially drawn out global economic downturn on the horizon, there is a strong chance that, for many platforms, this recent growth will at best plateau and at worst reverse as businesses a) return to the office or b) spend more time considering their long-term options for cloud communications.
So one of the most effective strategies for growth open to service providers remains global expansion – both to better support existing customers as they scale their operations and to bring in net-new opportunities.
Check out these compelling statistics from Cavell Research, which reveal the size of the opportunity for cloud comms providers considering international expansion as well as the biggest markets in Europe for prospective customers in terms of international-facing organizations.
Obviously, given the state of the economy, this is not the time to take on big capital expenditures. But there are cost-effective ways to rapidly scale your presence. Below we take a look at some of the strategies available to you and your platform.
Simplifying your SIP service
By choosing what Cavell Research calls the ‘Extend’ model of international expansion – entering a new market by working with a wholesale operator instead of acquiring a local platform provider or building and managing your own local infrastructure – you’ll be able to scale quicker and easier with lower upfront costs, less admin and reduced time to market.
And if speed is at all a concern for you, then you’ve already decided to look at cloud-based SIP solutions for your telephony needs rather than working with legacy operators.
A no brainer
The elastic nature of cloud provisioning, not to mention the ability to provision phone numbers and services centrally and in near-real time via an online portal, makes this a no brainer – especially now that there are viable cloud alternatives to the PSTN that offer all these benefits in addition to feature parity with legacy phone services.
But even between cloud providers, there can be a big difference in lead-in times. Here are some things to consider when you’re looking for the right partner to enable rapid deployment.
Ease of integration
You need a SIP solution that will interface with your platform as easily as possible.
This means supporting the same standards and codecs around which your platform is built, in addition to compatibility with any CPaaS, SBC or PBX you might be using.
Documentation detailing how to perform these integrations is also crucial, as is a trial to be able to test it out before committing to a contract.
Going one step further, identifying a provider that will give you direct access to the pre-sales technical support you need to fully onboard is crucial to ensuring you are in a position to start making money in a new territory as quickly as possible.
Some providers will expect you to get there on your own or leave you relying on community resources to find the right solution to your problem.
This is a big one. As you add coverage, how much additional management resources are required, both during the onboarding phase and then as an ongoing concern?
With some cloud providers, you need to setup and maintain separate trunk configurations for each market.
On the other hand, if you work with a provider that allows you to share configuration and even capacity across markets, then you’re in a position where scaling to a new market can be as quick as provisioning a phone number.
Moving into low regulation markets
When building out your coverage, it really pays to understand the regulatory landscape of any countries in which you wish to establish a presence for your services.
Not only will this be crucial in ensuring that your platform is operated in full compliance with local restrictions, but it also gives you a pretty accurate indication of how quickly you can launch in a market.
If you don’t have this expertise available – your options are to hire local legal counsel; work with managed service providers or third-party consultants; or to find a SIP trunking provider that already has extensive experience and existing relationships with carriers and regulators in these markets.
The latter option is by far the quickest to set up and the cheapest, but it means being able to identify a trusted provider in an increasingly competitive market. But such a provider will be able to advise you on the markets that are most welcoming to new players.
New countries – New rules
If you’re based in the US and looking to come into Europe, for example, the United Kingdom is an attractive jumping in point because of the lack of language barriers and also the fact that there is very little red tape facing cloud communications providers.
But it’s certainly not your only option if you’re looking for markets where you can start selling your services straight away, without the worry of long lead-in times before you are in a position to deliver service.
Some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when assessing a market’s regulatory environment are:
- Requirements to notify regulators of your activity
- Mandatory sharing of end user information
- Restrictions on reselling electronic voice services
Sidestepping language and cultural barriers
Another potential hurdle in choosing markets are language barriers. You have to ask yourself, if you have no localized marketing, sales or support in place, are you really ready to make that leap into a new market.
This is a reason why companies typically target same-language markets first. For a US company expanding beyond the nation’s borders, Canada, the UK and Australia are the sorts of high-value, high-potential markets across which existing operational resources can be shared.
Keep an eye on time zones
If you pride yourself on rapid responses to sales queries or instantly available support, then make sure you have the available assets at your disposal before targeting somewhere like Australia that might be on a completely different business cycle to the northern hemisphere.
An equally important consideration are the cultural barriers that can still exist even between countries with language commonality.
In the US for example, companies and their customers are much more likely to speak on the phone if they can’t in person when compared with somewhere like the UK, where consumers have more of a predilection for text-based channels.
It’s always important to understand a market and how your customers might wish to consume your services before launching. But identifying those with cultural similarities to places where you have existing coverage can certainly help ease the friction of market entry.
Adopting an agency model with BYOC
We’ve talked at length about how enterprises are increasingly demanding the ability to bring their own carriers to their communications platforms of choice.
By decoupling the infrastructure and platform layers, they are able to achieve full visibility into the underlying telephony services on which their cloud communications solutions are running – for greater control over cost, quality and compliance.
So it’s no surprise to see the growing numbers of service providers opening their platforms to support BYOC.
To some, it may seem counterintuitive, a move that decreases the ‘stickiness’ of your platform by visible ownership of a major component within your service to a third party.
But in this age of high-quality CX as arguably the number one differentiator between increasingly commoditized cloud services, it actually has the opposite effect – freeing you up from the low-margin game of bundling coverage and enabling you to divert resources into the development of class-leading platform features that will actually drive positive stickiness and retention.
Remember, you want customers to stay with you because they want to, not because it’s difficult to leave. Because then they’re much more likely to be engaged and increase their spend with you over time.
Particularly with cloud business models, acquisition of low-spending customers is not enough. You have to drive a high ARPU.
BYOC for instant scale
BYOC (Bring Your Own Carrier) remains the quickest way to instantly open your platform up to new markets without any of the time sinks or headaches associated with establishing coverage in those locations under your own name.
You just integrate with the right partners then point your customers to them if they wish to launch in those markets.
The SIP provider will also be the one responsible for providing support around any coverage outages or other issues affecting the underlying availability of voice services.
So you can keep focused on making your platform the best it can be.
Easy way to expand to new markets quickly
These are just a few of the strategies that you can use to rapidly expand the scale of your operations in order to bring in more customers.