The time is right for telecommunications companies to embrace SMBs

The Canadian economy is heavily dependent on the success of small-medium sized businesses. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, SMBs account for approximately 75 per cent of companies in Canada, pointing to their importance as a source of growth and employment for many across the country. And although these companies are diverse in their service offerings, they all rely on sound infrastructure that enables them to successfully and smoothly run the day-to-day operations of their businesses.

SMB owners know they need reliable and innovative telecom options to stay competitive and meet the demands of their customers. However, it can be a challenge to find a telco partner that will grow and adapt with smaller businesses, and offer flexibility in service bundles and pricing.

Also to consider is an SMB’s need for higher and more frequent touchpoints. Because smaller corporations don’t have the same in-house capabilities, they depend on reliable systems with the same IT solutions available to their larger competitors, but delivered cost-effectively in a higher-touch way.

The question for the telecommunications industry is how we continue to service large businesses without losing focus on the specialized needs of SMBs? And how do SMBs find the service provider that fits best with their business model?

The CRTC reports that the Canadian telecommunications industry is dominated by 10 large companies, with its five largest providers accounting for an 84 per cent market-share. This monopoly has made it harder for independent providers to thrive, leaving fewer options for the SMB market segment.

As the gap in competitive service offerings widens, it will become increasingly important for SMB owners to proactively seek out telco providers that offer products and services tailored to them that can seamlessly connect their internal and external communication.

Where Independent Telcos Can Make an Impact

While we are constantly exposed to new communications technologies and the cutting edge innovations available through Canadian telcos, it is easy to forget an essential communication for the SMB category: the telephone.

With limited resources, SMBs need to rely on tools that will better enable them to improve performance in projects such as new product development, customer relationship management and quality initiatives. A reliable telephone system will serve as an effective conduit for collaboration between different departments and will allow for efficiency in day-to-day operations.

Further, from a customer relationship-building and retention standpoint, employing an effective telephone system will better enable employees to care for their customers with services such as call routing and forwarding and the ability to answer calls more quickly.

Beyond the benefits of telephony, cloud-based telecommunications systems are transforming how businesses operate -- from convenient and secure data storage to hosted business applications and telecom services. The cloud also offers endless possibilities for small-medium size companies to improve productivity and match the service levels of larger enterprises.

Additionally, cloud-based unified communication systems are especially cost-effective for small businesses because it eliminates the need to pay for the installation and maintenance of a traditional phone system.

By employing unified communications systems, businesses can expect to see a return in their investments in the form of productivity from staff and increased customer satisfaction.

With efficiency features such as customer service applications that route and forward calls, enabling staff to answer in less time, they will have the ability to engage with more clientele. Moreover, interactive intelligence features will help ensure calls are directed to the right employees while presenting the call handler or agent with info regarding the call.

In Closing

In order to continue to remain competitive in the Canadian economy, as well as internationally, small business consumers need reliable, well-priced telecommunications offerings that are underpinned by excellent customer service.

As an industry-leading provider of unified telecommunications systems, Panasonic understands the importance of providing top-notch services to SMEs and provides business customers with the advantages of a carrier-grade advanced IP communications system, without the significant investment.

It is the responsibility of the telecommunications industry to evolve and adapt product offerings to this very lucrative yet underserved segment in order to ensure our small-medium sized businesses are sufficiently supported.

Brian started in the Canadian telephony industry in 1983, working many different roles ranging from Sales, Sales Management, Business & Product Development, Marketing and now as a Director of the Business Solutions Group at Panasonic Canada Inc.