Businesses have more choice than ever when it comes to telecommunication — landlines, smartphones, email, chat groups, online forums, wireless connections, Bluetooth connections, cable-cord lines, in-the-cloud — and they’re all synced by a burgeoning internet of things (IoT) introducing ever-more options. The only problem? With more choices comes more challenges.
You know how it goes. In the hope to simplify old telecom network problems and modernize the office, your business adopts a new piece of software, hardware or even a brand new network. What happens, though, when those new systems end up introducing more problems than they solve?
If this all sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Offices of all sizes encounter speedbumps on their way to a contemporary telecommunications suite. In fact, we’ve seen and heard so many telecom issues and network problems over the years, we’ve compiled the top 10 telecommunications complaints businesses experience into one list.
What Are the Biggest Telecommunications Problems for Businesses Today?
Organizations today balance a number of challenges when choosing, implementing, managing and scaling their telecom systems, but here are the top 10.
1. High Telecom Costs
Both wireless and cabled telecommunication networks require extensive, cost-intensive infrastructure. Maintaining that infrastructure involves investment, capital and geographic reach that bars many organizations from entering the wireless and wireline industry arena, so it’s dominated by only a handful of major players.
These telecom conglomerates parent a delta of regional operations, which, in turn, break down into smaller subsidiaries. Independent telecom providers that do wish to provide phone and wireless services must often create partnerships with these larger companies to access and use much of the telecommunications’ pre-built infrastructure, such as fixed lines or wireless hotspots.
This bottom-down infrastructure is the foundation of telecom services’ high costs. What’s more, telecommunication providers must account for other factors today that drive up their operating expenses:
- Rapid technological change: Frequent advancements in telecommunications technology means telecom companies must prepare for shorter and shorter upgrade cycles to bring the latest technology to the masses. For example, consider what the burgeoning reality of 5G will require, with new infrastructure necessary to truly alter the IoT.
- Changing consumer tastes: Consumers, both private and commercial, want the best of the best — the best smartphones, the best wireless devices, the best data packages and the best interconnected, convenient apps and features.
- Continual network expansion: Telecom providers must also continually increase their networks’ capacities to handle more traffic, particularly due to today’s demand for data in both developed and emerging markets.
So what does all that mean for you? From the average business’ perspective, these concerns may seem like the phone company’s problem, not yours. However, as technological infrastructure advances more quickly and more complexly, it’s the customers — i.e., you — who pay the difference. High commercial telecom costs are a direct result of:
- Expensive contracts and high fees: Customers bear the brunt of the bill for today’s rapid developments in wireless, 5G, VoIP phones and other services. Telecommunications companies often pass on or make up their increased operating costs with contract rate hikes or by upping the amount of service add-on fees.
- The inevitability of legacy technology upgrades: Businesses must also face the reality that the technology they rely on today will be outdated tomorrow, triggering their own expensive hardware and software upgrades.
2. Coverage Outages
Coverage outages present a significant pain point for businesses that rely on phone, wireless and internet services daily. While some large companies may have back-up systems in place during outages, the vast majority are at the whims of properly functioning lines, cables and data signal transmitters, as well as other mechanical and human systems. Phone and internet capabilities are temporarily lost if any of those systems are damaged or interrupted.
Coverage outages can halt work and bring a company’s operations to a standstill. Within commercial businesses, these leading causes of coverage outages for phone and internet services are:
- Network congestion: Too many devices accessing the same network at the same time can cause a digital traffic jam. Network congestion is the leading cause of internet coverage problems today and is more common on wireless networks than any other telecom technology.
- Equipment failure: Improperly grounded fiber-optic or phone lines, fried or damaged circuits, infected computers and smartphones or otherwise malfunctioning chips, devices and hardware also lead to network outages that stymy office operations.
- Inclement weather line damage: Rain, wind, snow and storms can damage the fiber-optic cables that provide internet as well as conventional phone landlines.
- Change process crash: Failed launches of data migration programs, cloud deployments or converting to new technology from a legacy system make up another common reason for coverage outages. Often, these crashes come down to a mix of human or operations errors, from a lack of integration testing to even incorrectly configuring the company’s network firewall.
3. Poor Customer Service
Poor customer service presents the next major telecommunication problem for businesses. There are many examples of poor customer service plaguing clients as they interact with their carriers to resolve telecom issues:
- Long customer-service hold or wait times
- Unexpected rate hikes
- Opaque or deceitful answers to account-related questions
- Frustrating back-and-forth to resolve disputes or receive account solutions for your account ticket
- Automated or robo-generated responses to customer service phone calls, emails, online chat boxes and social media posts.
- Disingenuous, poorly received and near-identical customer-centric advertising
- A general culture that puts cost-reductions and profits over authentic customer service
As the proverbial bane of the telecom industry, many of today’s wireless, phone and even cloud providers are notorious for their poor customer service. Many of these megacorporations have spent years — and millions of dollars — trying to resurrect this aspect of their brand’s PR, yet they remain plagued by many of the industry issues listed above.
4. A Large Number of Invoice and Billing Disputes
Above-average billing errors — for both voice and data contracts — consistently haunt customers of telecom carriers, and this more than likely contributes to that poor customer service reputation. Businesses large and small are likely to experience one, if not many, of the following disputes:
- Inaccurate or deceitful rates: This is the leading cause of invoice billing disputes among companies and their telecommunication carriers. Inaccurate rates are almost always in the carrier’s favor, with invoice totals misaligned with what the customer was quoted or contracted.
- Unexpected rate hikes: Businesses frequently cite receiving invoices for their standard service package, yet prices have suddenly jumped without any apparent warning.
- Missing renewal or new-service discounts: Businesses promised certain credits or discounts could sometimes wait three to four billing cycles to see that credit applied.
- Continued billings after the stop-bill date: Continued billings strike even when businesses have proof of their cancellation, with evidence like disconnect request confirmations, dispute ticket number and the stop date committed in writing.
- Obscure third-party add-on fees: Businesses may be charged for things like network-security surveillance or voicemail transcription services they weren’t aware they received. This obscurity leads to invoice discrepancies plus many disgruntled phonecalls with your provider.
- Charges for services you don’t receive at all: Perhaps most frustratingly, it’s not uncommon for companies to be billed for telecom services they don’t even have in their contracts — complicated further by contract audits, overly complex bill reviews and reimbursement procedures.
5. Implementing Telecom Solutions in New Locations
Say your business wants to expand from its East Coast origins and open a regional office in the Midwest. Great! Does your current telecom carrier cover that new area?
If they do, what will billings for your extended services and state-jumping coverage be? If they don’t, can you thoroughly manage two or more carriers and still receive stable services, consistently and safely connected devices and the same suite of telecommunication functionality — voicemail-to-text transcriptions, online faxing, secure data sharing and network linking, just to name a few?
These are only a few scenarios where the logistics of multi-location business telecommunications grow complicated. While company expansions into new locations is a hallmark of success, it introduces inevitable process headaches and telecom issues that, at the very least, may require:
- New cloud-hosted and cloud-integrated services
- Custom collaborative intranet and software platforms
- Expanded long-distance conference call capabilities
- Software-as-a-service tools accessed through paying a monthly servicing fee
6. International Travel Costs and Services
Businesses used to spend significant time and money sending representatives overseas to conduct business. Meetings were done in person or over the phone — the latter of which held such exorbitant fees on special, per-minute international rates that it rendered such calls unfeasible for many.
The internet has altered this landscape, making international telecommunications more affordable and accessible, but not necessarily problem-free. Telecom issues particularly strike over global data sharing and network access and security.
Businesses today require a unified telecommunications suite that connects multiple devices in multiple locations onto the same server, giving individuals access when appropriate to your network, software and data. What’s more, that unified telecommunications suite can’t forget the basics that make contacting and connecting across borders intuitive, from audio, video and web-based conferencing to hybrid systems featuring all these capabilities.
7. Managing Telecom Inventory
Telecom inventory consists of all the hardware, propriety and licensed software, phones and digital assets a business uses to conduct daily communications. In total, that telecom inventory for the average company today might incorporate many of the following:
- Wireline phones and devices
- Wireless phone, smartphones and devices
- Voice over internet phones
- Software licenses
- Telecommunications network hardware
- Network surveillance and entry technology
- On-premise, hosted or hybrid cloud services
When managed cohesively, businesses can unlock competitive advantages, and, therefore, cost-savings, through more synchronized communication systems. When not managed effectively — or siloed altogether — businesses have a harder time performing basic operations, from holding meetings and transcribing customer service calls to sharing documents with remote employees and approving carrier billings and invoices.
The most common telecom inventory pain points include:
- Too many or too few communications programs/options in place
- Legacy telecommunications technology, including software
- Inventory ownership gray areas
- Complicated, individual invoices and billing cycles for each category of inventory
- Expensive billings due to lack of bundling
- No clear way to scale systems
- Increased risk for data breaches, insecure network endpoints
- Increased fraud exposure
8. Using Too Many Carriers — or Remaining Unsure of Which Telecom Provider to Use at All
Similar to the issues that come with managing telecom inventory, organizations today can face choice paralysis regarding which carriers to work with. Many end up stretching themselves too thin, partnering with numerous specialized carriers to outfit cloud, VoIP, software, wireline and wireless solutions in individual or regional offices.
Too many carriers for your business’ telecom inventory can also be a byproduct of time. More established enterprises may have opened offices when wireline phones and audio conference calls were all the technology they needed. Across the years, management may have secured ad-hoc technologies, without much exploration into the advantages of streamlined telecom expense and inventory management. Serious process gaps, employee headaches and misappropriated budgets are the inevitable results.
On the other side, a business can fall down the opposite rabbit hole: telecom carrier indecision. Carriers may seem to make similar service promises, offer indistinguishable technology and guarantee near-identical contract terms and rates. It can be overwhelming to determine which telecom carrier is right for your business, then feel confident, without any buyer’s remorse.
9. Selecting and Changing Telecom Service Plans
Anyone who’s ever attempted swapping their own phone, cable or internet carriers knows how cumbersome the process can be. Now scale that cancelation to cover an entire company’s communication suite — meaning voice, data and/or internet services. The results are, understandably, frustrating.
Companies shopping around for new telecom carriers frequently experience various degrees of problems, from getting out of their old contracts to acquiring the actual level of telecom services they need:
- Improper internal audits: Many companies forgo conducting a detailed telecom audit to see which communications platforms and channels they actually use, plus how billings charge for that usage.
- Ignoring bulk or consolidated services: Getting as many services from a single vendor will cut telecom costs as well as simplify inventory management, but businesses can’t consolidate when they don’t have a telecommunications audit informing package decisions.
- Trading long-term improvements for short-term discounts: Telecom carriers may dangle huge discounts, credits or package price-slashing quotes to entice your business to make the switch. Perform due diligence, ensuring these aren’t false promises that distract you from the smaller service offerings, difficult integrations or billings that end up being higher than what you paid before.
- Still being billed by your old vendor even after the cancellation stop date: Mentioned earlier, it isn’t uncommon for businesses to see billing overlaps between old and new carriers if their old telecom provider mismanages stop-date schedules.
10. Tracking, Managing Current and Unused Phone Lines
Both used and unused phone lines carry the same problem for businesses: If you don’t know which is which, how can they ever be improved?
For something that seems so simple, when was the last time your organization performed an in-depth telephone audit? These analyses can be performed wholly in-house or with the assistance of an independent auditor, who is likely to look for:
- Little or incomplete data on phoneline inventory
- Frequent errors in telephone billings and invoices, which could be costing organizations thousands every year
- Contract gaps or overcharges, where a business pays for phone features they don’t use or didn’t know they had
- Wireline and wireless phone questions without a clear answer or accountability chain-of-command
- Infrastructure analysis to determine which lines get used, for how long and by whom
What’s Your Business’ Top Telecommunications Pain Point? DenMark Can Help
Are any of the problems included above all-too-familiar for your office or business? Got a few unique telecommunications pain points of your own?
If so, the telecom acquisition and management experts here at DenMark Business Solutions want to help.
It’s no secret businesses have more tools than ever connecting their people and processes. It’s also no secret that carriers can hurl promises, packages and systems your way that glitter but may not be gold. We’re here to build your business’ peace of mind, offering a range of auditing, hosting, management and consulting services for organizations to maximize their telecommunications operations and minimize headaches. Contact us with your questions or pain points today to see how.