This article was updated on April 8, 2019.
In many industries, it may seem foolish for smaller operations to try and go toe to toe with larger, established competitors. For those in the telecom space, it can be daunting to look at the market landscape and see a handful of major players dominating the industry. According to figures aggregated by Statista, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint accounted for 84 percent of the U.S. wireless market alone. And the wireline market isn’t far off when it comes to parity among service providers.
With companies like AT&T laying claim to such large chunks of market space, one may wonder if there’s any room for smaller local service providers in the telecom world. These organizations should not be dismayed by the disparity between the Tier 1 telecoms and the companies below them. There is a great opportunity for local service providers to carve out their own space in the telecom industry in the current market environment.
The trick is to not become preoccupied with the strengths of a Tier 1 company, but instead focus on its weaknesses. Businesses have been taking this approach for years, and it can even be traced back to the famous Chinese military tactician, Sun Tzu. By taking advantage of a competitor’s weaknesses, businesses that appear to be in an undesirable position can succeed. This is no different when it comes to the telecom space. With that in mind, here are three advantages local service providers have over the big guys:
Because Tier 1 telecoms have such a stranglehold on major markets, they typically view less populated regions as afterthoughts. In some cases, they may not offer services to a particular area at all. Local service providers can fill those gaps and provide offerings to businesses that may otherwise be left out in the cold.
Even when larger companies do supply to a rural area, service quality is often compromised. Furthermore, users may be hit with a surcharge for being located in a more secluded region. These practices demonstrate a degree of indifference toward rural markets, as Tier 1’s are clearly making no effort to tailor their offerings to benefit this client base. In contrast, local service providers can afford to really get to know their clientele and thoroughly understand their pain points. They can customize their service packages so they meet a rural business’ specific needs, instead of punishing it for being out of the way. This translates to happier, more satisfied customers who are more likely to stick it out with their current provider when it’s time to scale up.
Large telecoms are famously difficult to deal with when a problem arises. From indifferent customer service representatives to ambiguous service times, Tier 1’s have cultivated quite a reputation for missing the mark in this area. Rural clients typically run into even more problems than their urban counterparts when a network issue arises. Local service providers are in a phenomenal position to offer a more personalized and considerate approach to their customer service. Because they are in the same area as their clientele, local providers can send out technicians and have them on-site to diagnose and address a problem without delay.
There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than listening to a service provider representative pass blame around when a performance problem occurs. Tier 1 organizations typically come across as faceless entities that don’t particularly care when something goes wrong or even seem willing to own up to their own mistakes. Local service providers are in a position to operate on a more face-to-face basis with their customers, building relationships and trust. By holding themselves accountable when an issue arises, local providers can further develop goodwill with clients.
Establishing those relationships matters a great deal for smaller service providers looking to find a foothold and make a name for themselves within a particular local market. As Broadview Networks marketing communications specialist Emily Swartz noted, vendor experience is perhaps the most critical factor to consider when selecting a VoIP provider. If businesses are unable to meet the needs of their target audience and clearly differentiate themselves from Tier 1 organizations, those potential customers will go elsewhere.
Local IP telephony providers are in a fantastic position to capitalize on the weaknesses of larger players in the telecom space. They simply need to offer the custom, personalized services that have traditionally been lacking in the industry.