As an IT or telecom professional, you may already know that phone number provisioning can get hairy if you’re working for an international business with employees and offices in various markets.
The stakes for managing these complex tasks are high: 58% of contact center leaders say communication silos and system complexity negatively affect customer satisfaction.
Manual phone number mapping and managing siloed carriers hinder your business’s operational sustainability and bottom line. In this article, you’ll learn how number management software can eliminate the problems of multi-carrier provisioning and simplify your team’s inventory responsibilities through enhanced digital tools and unified interfaces.
5 common problems of manual number mapping across carriers
Problem #1: Juggling too many contacts and contracts
Managing multiple carriers and telecom vendors siphons time and energy away from your core goals of optimizing your network for the best customer (and employee) experience. Three main issues come with having too many carriers:
1. Operational inefficiencies
Working across different carriers creates operational inefficiencies that hold back your team’s (and call center’s) productivity. This is because:
- Each carrier likely comes with several points of contact, and keeping track of who to reach out to at any given carrier takes extra time and organization.
- Once you reach the right person, having your issue resolved quickly and without disruption to your other platforms becomes another challenge.
- Some provisioners may not offer the same level of customer service and support for your call center as others. You might resolve one disruption only to find the solution has caused an issue in another layer of your tech portfolio, and you’re back to square one.
2. Keeping up with multiple contracts
Managing different carriers’ documents is another pain point for call centers that engage multiple vendors. Every vendor has a unique contract – examining and understanding them can be a full-time job in itself! You need to be sure you’re using all the services you’re paying for, and that a carrier hasn’t accidentally billed you for equipment or services you didn’t sign up for in the first place.
3. Difficulty staying organized
Then there’s the necessity of organizing and filing all those documents in a way that offers easy access in case of an issue or employee turnover.
You may have contracted with different carriers to enjoy advantageous pricing. But if someone from your team or accounting department has to spend extra time becoming fluent in multiple billing and contract languages, your financial advantage evaporates in the form of that person’s paycheck.
Problem #2: Time-consuming and frustrating number mapping
If you’re still requiring your IT team to track employee numbers and extensions with manual tools like spreadsheets, you probably have some very frustrated colleagues.
Manual multi-carrier number mapping tools are incredibly time-consuming and inefficient. As your business scales up or down, tracking who owns which numbers and ensuring they’re correctly set up through your PBX or your carrier-specific SIP trunks takes a lot of work. And mapping and executing these changes without cloud software simply isn’t the best use of time.
Furthermore, if you’re requiring employees to maintain call flows across multiple carriers, they’re spending too much time cross-referencing carrier documentation and available numbers to ensure compatibility across your network.
Adding lines, reassigning numbers and rerouting call flows are necessary, but manually managing these processes takes away time that they could spend addressing call quality issues or researching new technologies. Not to mention, becoming stuck in an endless stream of monotonous manual tasks inspires burnout and leads to higher-than-average turnover. In short, working with multiple communication carriers can stunt your overall business growth.
Problem #3: Out-of-control costs
When you can easily measure your total cost of ownership in terms of phone lines and call rates, you can more easily optimize your usage— and thus your costs—on a scalable level.
With traditional phone lines, the more you need the more they cost, of course.
But when working with multiple VoIP carriers whose setup fees and rates vary across geographic regions, it’s also easy to lose track of what your real costs per line are.
With several invoices to track every billing cycle, you’ll likely run into the need for a full-time position to track, analyze and fulfill each invoice. The number mapping involved with managing your coverage can become another full-time position, depending upon the complexity and reach of your operations. Investing in your tech stack can save on these niche positions, allowing you to reinvest those savings into growing your teams with a wider or deeper range of skills.
Problem #4: Lack of process efficiency
Working with multiple carriers stunts your call center’s efficiency because it forces your team to work in silos centered around each vendor. You must manage your phone lines and number inventory at the vendor level and not across your entire business at once.
Your call flows and call quality management also become siloed operations because issues that creep up remain specific to the carrier and not something you can address across a unified communications platform. Your teams lose productivity as they wait for disparate carrier support teams to resolve malfunctions.
What does a lack of process efficiency do to your business? Not only does employee productivity suffer, but so does customer satisfaction. It can lead to:
- Employee burnout
- A chaotic tech stack that becomes progressively harder to manage
- Customers getting frustrated with your agents and your business as they wait for your employees to access information and relay it via their support chat or call
None of these outcomes are ideal, and they all boil down to an inability to control your communications from a single vantage point.
Problem #5: Call quality reporting gaps
90% of customers say that customer service is one of the most important factors in their decision to support a business. This means that knowing how well your communications systems are meeting customer expectations is paramount to survival. Monitoring call quality is an essential component of offering superior customer service.
But such monitoring becomes more difficult when working with multiple telecom vendors.
Different vendors will almost certainly offer varying types of reports— and not all reports will offer the same amount or data quality. Some could be very basic and lack reporting about noticeable voice quality issues such as MOS, packet loss, or jitter. When you can’t track these potential problems, you lose a large window into why your customers are dissatisfied with your communications-based support.
Working with multiple carriers all but prevents business-wide, real-time analysis of the Quality of Service (QoS) plus the employee-powered quality of calls, slowing your progression toward customer experience and call center operations targets.
Business benefits of phone number management software
You could build a communications tech stack from scratch with every part customized exactly how you want it. But it may take more additional time, resources and outsourcing costs than you’re willing to spend. By consolidating your services provider, you can enjoy a platform that makes operations, reporting and cost control much easier. The benefits include:
1. Remove manual processes
Phone number management software removes the manual, siloed processes of network management, number porting and provisioning, and call monitoring out of the hands of your many carriers and placing you back in the driver’s seat with a full, holistic view.
2. Improve operational efficiencies
A CPaaS or unified communications (UC) provider expedites phone number procurement and mapping, call quality metrics and call management into one easy-to-use digital interface. This type of VoIP-enabling software lets teams manage accounts and scale their communications with fewer paperwork and errors. As a result, you improve your operational efficiency and prime your business for growth.
3. Reduce total cost of ownership
3. The total cost of ownership is another reason to switch. Cloud-based and unified platforms are all-inclusive. You get setup, maintenance and infrastructure updates at no extra charge. It comes with one point of contact for support, troubleshooting and training. Your teams don’t have to spend time searching for the right person to speak with about telecom issues when you could be optimizing your networks instead.
What to look for in a number management system
There are numerous phone number management systems on the market— an overwhelming amount. So, how do you know where to start? Consider the points below for your ultimate checklist. If a carrier meets these criteria, rest assured that your organization is in good hands.
Moving your phone number mapping to a cloud-based communications platform lets you manage all phone numbers in one intuitive interface. Everyone on your team can access the same information instantly, eliminating the chances of double-booking numbers or lines and reducing manual errors. Your IT agents can add lines, manage documents and update bulk call flows with just a few clicks, massively reducing their time spent on these types of tasks and freeing up their mental space to focus on core technology goals. What’s more, all cloud communications companies back up your numbers, phone records and recording data on their geo-redundant servers. This safeguards your business continuity in the face of cyberattacks and security threats.
2. Global inventory
Working with one carrier that offers access to phone numbers around the world, either through their extensive inventory or by liaising with carriers in different markets, is easier than coordinating multiple carriers on your own. VoIP-based platforms use their depth and global reach to negotiate better rates on phone numbers in almost every country. Thanks to their size, the companies behind these platforms can sometimes access local numbers that even local carriers don’t offer. You don’t need to worry about appearing as an imposter in global markets. Most cloud-based carriers offer local caller ID/CLI so your business can carry out more outbound calls and encourage more returned calls.
3. Free number porting
You may have a bank of already-provisioned phone numbers that you don’t want to change. That’s no problem with a cloud communications platform! Some providers offer free phone number porting over to their systems. They’ll guide you through the short, digital-based process of porting domestic and international numbers over to their network. This means fewer hours spent changing carriers and fewer costs.
4. BYOC capabilities
In addition to your existing numbers, you may want to keep some or all of your local carriers. That’s okay, too. Some companies want to upgrade their phone system to the cloud without severing ties with a preferred carrier. Other call centers want to gain more control over their communications infrastructure without rip and replacing their PBX. Still other businesses need to save money on call rates by operating through a VoIP carrier that is cheaper than traditional phone lines. All of these are great reasons to BYOC (Bring Your Own Carrier) with a cloud-based, VoIP provider. This means your calls originate through a SIP trunk but still terminate over the local carriers’ networks. Your VoIP provider manages your local carrier relationships and is often able to negotiate better call rates on your behalf across all PSTN networks.
5. Voice quality monitoring
Another benefit of phone management software is the voice quality monitoring tools that come with it. Especially as your call center scales up operations, you need call quality to remain top-notch to avoid misunderstandings and processing delays. Customers get frustrated when calls are full of static or dropped entirely. Keep those Mean Opinion Scores (MOS) high with tools like QoS and SIP monitoring, included with most phone management software.
No UCaaS or UC platform covers every single number provisioning need. That’s why you’ll want to adopt a platform that offers APIs. APIs let your business hook up third-party tools to your phone management software that enable simplified actions your business wants to provide its customers. Some call management platforms offer established libraries of API-enabled tools. Others come with community-powered API libraries where users share the tools they’ve programmed to connect with the software and expand its capabilities. This flexibility is important for call centers and businesses that want to expand their global footprint and will require a variety of specific digital tools to effectively serve their varied markets.