If you’ve been working in the telephone industry for a while, it can be easy to reminisce about the good old days. Remember when long distance calls were a surefire profit winner? Each call cost fourteen cents a minute and was pretty much guaranteed to make your company money. When you combine the steady evolution of telephone technology with the globalization of business and social communities, you end up with a serious shift in customer expectations. Long distance no longer works as a pricy add-on. Customers expect it to be included in a larger bundle.
Bundles are the not-so-new reality. Any telephone company not currently offering services in bundles is going to have a hard time competing. As larger cable and telephone companies expand into new areas, the companies that used to be able to count on that business have to evolve to compete. That means offering competitive voice, video, and data bundles with features like long distance thrown in for good measure.
You Can’t Skimp
Of course, this new reality creates a challenge: long distance is no longer a revenue generator for independent telephone companies, but it’s still a cost you have to take on. It could be tempting to stop worrying about quality and just spend as little as possible, but clearly that’s not a viable solution for any company that cares about its customers.
While just one part of the larger bundle, long distance is a very visible part of it. You will hear from unhappy customers if their long distance calls are of lower quality. They will blame you (not your low-cost provider) for their failure to connect with loved ones or make important business deals.
Your customers won’t pay extra for long distance any more, but they will continue to demand high quality. Telephone companies must figure out how to accommodate the expectations of customers without losing too much overhead on the deal.
Find the Happy Medium
Building a competitive bundle with services that work well enough to satisfy customers is definitely a challenge for independent telephone companies, but it’s not impossible. You need to find a long distance provider whose services meet that happy medium: affordable enough not to dip into your profits, but providing a level of quality that won’t lose you any customer loyalty.
A long distance provider that understands the independent telephone industry well enough can offer deals that speak to your particular challenges by using cost-reduction measures like least-cost routing that don’t result in lost quality.
You have to stay on top of the changing landscape of telephone services and customer expectations if you want to stay afloat in today’s economy. Building the right partnerships with companies that understand your needs and can help you meet them is one of the smartest moves you can make.