SIP Trunks: Creating a Local Presence
The ease of working with competitors to gain this benefit could serve as an example for traditional telephony providers.
For the business that wants to fast-track local presence in another city with or without vanity DID numbers, SIP trunks offer an easy connection to test your marketing.
I put my provider to the test on a weekend, and customer service delivered a form needed to process the request. Adding an address for the location I needed and then the desired NPA-NXX with a signature isn't what I'd call complicated.
The response on the next business day noted that numbers cannot be guaranteed, and the following day I had my local number. It was easy to log into the host system to redirect the new number to a dial plan that would route calls to where I wanted, in the way I wanted them treated: Automated Attendant, queuing, overflow routing or just pointed to a device or ring group.
Traditional telephony providers could harvest some lessons from the ease of the process, but I doubt that they will, or that they even care to improve their business model. I don't mean to disparage telcos--I've found myself stuck between the customer and telcos over the many years I've been in this business. It's just that I loathe their antiquated business processes, and so do many of their customers.
Granted, I was able to easily gain a local calling presence using virtual DID numbers, and behind that ease are teams of people engaged in making all this come to fruition. Whatever their process, I do admire it; as the recipient of the service for which I gained and paid little to achieve, they have won my telephony heart.
My second request for another location in an entirely different area took maybe four business days, and again, my effort was to simply point the virtual DID to the dial plan for the call handling that I wanted--again a couple of minutes.
Obtaining call statistics is always a good thing for new or even existing business ventures. Once again, my provider thought way ahead by including management reports that are more than adequate to reveal all inbound and outbound calling activity for each new location.
Next, I thought about business continuity. I decided to add failover routes to each DID including our DIDs within the office. Mapping out each DID and then planning a failover route proved worthy of the exercise. Keep in mind that my hosted service front-ends my Panasonic PBXs, and the dial plans are integrated between both PBX and hosted services.
The provider handles alternative routing for the SIP trunks between their own data centers. My concern is over areas in which we have a local presence; calls are easily re-routed to our office in Maryland during disasters and severe weather experienced by these remote locations. Then, while I am visiting another office location, I can receive my calls at that location with little effort.
While I am a small business and I don't want to minimize the effort involved, everything I did was on the fly and meets my needs today. That's another point about SIP trunks and hosted services that needs to be emphasized to truly understand the value. In the SMB space, needs change just as quickly as they develop. That's the flexibility that SMBs enjoy; and given the power of SIP trunks or hosted services, it just feels great to accomplish something with such little effort that once required more work, more money and more tolerance while waiting in a telco's call center queue, hoping to get someone who could process the order. Delivery of what was ordered was also sometimes erratic; that process hasn't been any great experience either.
As for cost comparison: The $1 or $2 per month additional charge that was added to my bill should compare favorably against any telco. Not only is the cost of doing business less, it's substantially less, and the provider made it easy to do business. For those still engaged in the old process, it's just that: an old worn-out process that the telcos don't appear likely to change or even want to change. The value received from SIP trunks and hosted providers is much greater than what I am paying for, and this is a huge difference in the way we can do business. In meeting my needs, the process was painless and easy.