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How CSPs Can Meet the Evolving Needs of Businesses with UC&C Solutions and Enhance Customer Engagement

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes
"Return-to-Office Full Time Is Losing. Hybrid Work Is On the Rise." That's the headline from a article from May 23rd, 2023, 12 days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared that COVID was no longer a public health emergency in that country. According to a survey supporting Time's claim, nearly 30% of interviewed employers had moved from traditional office space to full flexibility in office policies by the second quarter of 2023, while almost a third offered a structured hybrid model for their workers. In the meantime, the number of employers reluctant to leave their office buildings decreased from 48% to 42% during the first six months of 2023. So, even if facemasks and elbow bumps have more or less disappeared from our daily lives, online meetings and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) are here to stay.

Motivations of End Customers in Seeking Unified Communication Solutions

UC&C tools have become part of daily business life, and that has led to increasing requirements for the technology. End users who were previously satisfied with simply being able to connect with their colleagues are now concerned about communication efficiency. They want their UC&C solutions to increase business productivity and to be seamlessly integrated with their apps and services. Plus, they want to reduce costs.

Customizable notifications, online presence status, screen sharing, video conferencing, messaging, and recording—these are all out-of-the-box features in the UC&C market. To differentiate their products, some over-the-top (OTT) providers have also added all sorts of gimmicks to make their offerings stand out, such as blurred backgrounds, stickers, filters, voice masking, and so on. But CSP-led services have a real edge over these competitors: Telephone networks.

While OTTs typically mention "telephone" as one of their features, most services provide a limited voice-over-IP (VoIP) option because, according to them, nobody needs the "old-fashioned copper and optic-fiber networks" of CSPs. But what they fail to mention is that the mobile phones their apps require to make those VoIP calls need the same "old-fashioned" telephone networks to connect to the internet.

Using telephone networks, CSP-led UC&C services can offer real phone calls to end customers, even in locations where an internet connection is not possible. That’s important, because even developed countries such as Spain, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Serbia had not yet reached 85% penetration of 4G networks by 2021, according to Speedchecker. Besides the power of their phone networks, CSPs can also offer tailored services to individual groups of customers. These range from simple UX/UI individualization of white-labeled solutions to industry- or company-exclusive add-ons such as contact centers, hunt groups, IVR, conversational commerce platforms, single sign-on (SSO), and unified billing. Overall, CSPs can deliver tools that are tailored to the specific requirements of their customers in a way no one-size-fits-all product provider can.

Enhancing CSPs' Service for Different Niche Markets

Tailored solutions also open the door to market-specific configurations and services. Due to their proximity to local markets, CSPs are in a perfect position to understand the unique requirements of business customers and deliver their unified communications services as customized packages. Public-sector offices may have specific security requirements. SMBs might require specialized features that are not available through the one-size-fits-all products of OTTs. Or SoHos from niche markets (healthcare, finance, retail) might need an offering with fewer features. CSPs can satisfy all those needs and give their customers a reason to switch to CSP-led products.

In addition to their close connections with local markets, CSPs have another ace up their sleeves: Contextual information about locations collected from customers and partners. This data, kept securely inside national borders and properly anonymized, can provide valuable insights for enterprises looking to understand their customers.

Challenges Faced by End Customers When Acquiring New UC&C Solutions

CSPs planning to offer their own UC&C solutions must consider the challenges their prospective customers are facing when acquiring a new UC&C solution.

Technology buyers rely on much more than specifications and product features when selecting UC&C vendors, from detailed information about possible integration complexities to available training and adoption tools. CSPs need to be one step ahead of their customers’ needs and be prepared to provide plentiful and concise documentation (videos, fact sheets, user manuals, webinars) in answer to the most frequently asked questions about their products.

When acquiring a UC&C solution, end customers expect to simplify their array of business communications and have everything under one single application, including phone, messages, mail, and meetings. They expect their sensitive data to be properly handled and stored. And they expect service with the highest availability and reliability.

Importance of CSPs Strengthening Their Competitive Position with Unified Communications

The UC&C market is extremely competitive and dominated by huge brands bundling their solutions or offering trials and free accounts to quickly gain market share. But there is a catch: Even if OTT products have no entry price, the cost per user quickly escalates once customers are inside their ecosystems. This opens up an opportunity for CSPs to offer a better price for end customers and gain higher revenues for themselves, compared to the reselling of standardized OTT solutions.

It should be noted that even if CSP brands are household names in telephony, they are nevertheless challengers in the UC&C market. Innovation and product differentiation will be the key to gaining a competitive advantage, attracting and retaining customers, and boosting customer satisfaction.

New Opportunities for CSPs with Their Own UC&C Solution

CSP-led solutions, when empowered with Telecoms Low Code, open the door to increased revenues. With the ability to individualize products and implement them entirely within the telephone network, CSPs can provide added value that is reflected in gross margins. In fact, CSPs can achieve margins that are five times higher than they would get from reselling OTT solutions. With these types of margins, they have an opportunity to reach profitability even if they do not achieve dominant market penetration.

Adding Value in the Enterprise Communication Market as a CSP

Security is a big topic for UC&C, and for good reason. Regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aim to give individuals more control over their personal data while requiring that their information be processed and stored within a certain territory. This is fertile ground for CSPs.

CSPs are among the most trusted sectors in the eyes of consumers, according to recent studies. They have safeguarded sensitive data for many years, and they have been strictly regulated and monitored by the authorities of their respective countries. Their data is already within the appropriate national borders, and they are already accustomed to working under some of the strictest service-level agreements (SLAs) of any industry. After all, CSPs not only provide telephone lines to police departments, fire departments, and emergency services, they also offer highly scalable and resilient services. Overall, CSP-led UC&C solutions can be one of the most secure options in the market.

Supporting Customers That Face Mobile Workforce Challenges

COVID might be long gone, but it has had a lasting effect on our working habits. We no longer need to "go to the office." We collaborate remotely. We work simultaneously and asynchronously. We are part of virtual teams with people we have never met in real life, and we enjoy the occasional face-to-face meeting. As they open up a new world of possibilities, these new working habits bring with them new challenges for which UC&C providers should be prepared. Fortunately, CSPs are well-positioned to take on these challenges.

ECT Editorial Team
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