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Unify, ALE Tops on VoIP Phone, SBC Support

Never mind that you’ve been following all the new SIP providers with catchy names and beautiful products. Here’s a news flash: Two of the best providers of customer support are tried-and-true household names. Unify, for SIP phones, and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), for session border controllers (SBCs), could be the right choices for you. Our newest surveys spell it all out. Customers tell us each of these companies delivers the best after-sale support for its particular product category.

Customer satisfaction surveys are a business tentpole at the Eastern Management Group. We profess faith in the customer’s opinion and get reports from thousands of customers about the vendors’ products they’re putting to use. Customers judge purchases on 10 customer satisfaction measurements in our studies.

My experience is that customer support is by far the most challenging customer satisfaction measurement to score high. It’s a cradle-to-grave vendor-customer relationship that begins with the honeymoon and ends with the RIP. So, while a product must be right -- table stakes -- for building a durable relationship, support is more significant in my opinion.

Customers are harsh -- but fair -- judges of what they bought and expect. If the hammer comes down, support scores often draw the most blood.

Best SIP Phone Support Comes from Unify

How’s this for a catchy brand message: “Anything you need. Anytime. Right here.” That’s not spiel; it’s Unify’s tagline, and the company delivers, according to customers. Our report, “VoIP Phone Customer Satisfaction,” shows that Unify ranks #1 in multiple customer satisfaction measurements, not just for support.

Because Unify is a global company, it’s able to sell and support SIP phones everywhere. But there are two other vital points. First, Unify’s channel is mature. Partners have been with Unify for a long time. As a class, the dealers are a best-of-breed -- well trained, and well endorsed by customers. They’re like watchdogs. Second, Unify built the company by focusing on mid-market and enterprise customers, where expectations run high. Therefore, supporting all customers, notwithstanding the SMB, is doable. The dealers are all the same.

Unify puts the right tools to work. I’ve seen many examples of Unify’s attention to detail catering to the channel partner and customer. Benchmark partner training abounds for selling, supplying, and supporting customers. And then there’s granularity. Try this: Videos for customers on how to place a call three different ways; videos on various methods to answer a call; or a white paper on built-in call completion support for the phone.

Best SBC Support Comes from ALE

SBCs come from a lot of good companies, but only one, ALE, is tops for customer support in our “2018 Session Border Controller Customer Satisfaction,” report. No one else comes close. ALE is the Eastern Management Group’s only four-star winner in the category of SBC support.

Particularly noteworthy is that our customer interviews find ALE ranks #1 in more than one SBC customer satisfaction measurement, so support doesn’t stand alone among the accolades.

It can be easy to overlook ALE as an SBC provider. According to our recent study, “2018-2024 SIP Market 7-Year Forecast and Analysis,” ALE has a modest share of the SBC market in comparison to providers like Cisco and Avaya. As with Unify, customers may be looking for the new shiny object for SBCs when an old standby is best.

What makes ALE best in support reflects the company’s history of catering to demanding enterprise IT managers. The distribution channel is deep and global. Channel partners are trained to the highest degree to support the OpenTouch SBC. While there are training courses from ALE, so too is there mobile learning for a smartphone, a learning portal, video demonstrations, and a contact tool to put customers in touch with technical advice centers for -- well -- whatever.

Could anything be more challenging than support to keep the customer happy? Never.

In an upcoming article, I’ll report on customer satisfaction with PBX and SIP trunk support. In these product categories, the best providers of support are Vertical Communications for PBX, and Twilio, 8x8, and Flowroute for SIP trunks.

For more information about the Eastern Management Group "2018-2024 SIP Market 7-Year Forecast and Analysis" report or our 2018 Customer Satisfaction studies, please ask our researchers or contact John Malone directly [email protected].