Choice is one of the primary benefits of living in the U.S. Whatever you might want or need, seemingly endless options are available. You have to research to determine the best option, but usually you’ll find something that suits you well.
However, the range of choices being offered isn’t always as varied as it might initially seem. Conference call providers, for example, frequently outsource their services to other companies. So, while you think you might be comparing Adigo to a wide variety of companies like Sprint, AT&T, Century Link, and PGI, you really might only be comparing it to a few of the same outsourced services advertised under different brand names.
In addition, conferencing industry consolidations happen frequently and seem to have been taking place more frequently in the last few years. Some of the recent ones are:
- 2011 — Level 3 acquired Global Crossing
- 2012 — PGI acquired Soundpath
- 2013 — NTT (Japanese carrier) acquired Arkadin
- 2013 — PGI acquired ACT Conferencing
What are the likely results of all these conferencing industry consolidations? Most companies look to ensure their shareholders are pleased with their quarterly results and other metrics for profitability. This is a reasonable stance, but not at the expense of the customer. Workforce “realignments” and “restructuring” typically mean fewer live agents to service customers. In recent publicly filed SEC form 10-Qs from a large public company exclusively focused on providing conferencing services, we saw 50 positions eliminated in 2012, 165 in 2010, and 500 in 2009! That’s 715 fewer people. Accordingly, automation is often increased, which is less flexible and less responsive for customers.
Additionally, consolidating various functions among the companies being merged means fewer choices for the customers’ conferencing needs. As market share is consolidated to a few providers, innovation typically slows in favor of more generic solutions that are easier to implement across a massive customer base. Prices stabilize, then eventually start to rise.
Less personal service, more automation, fewer choices, and higher prices aren’t good for conferencing clients, even if they are good for shareholders.
We at Adigo are passionate about maintaining a people and partner-centric connection. We know that we’re here to serve and benefit our customers, first and foremost. We’re not driven by quarterly results, so we can afford to take a long-term view to customer service. Efficiency matters, but not at the expense of customer satisfaction. For example, we continue to utilize our own call bridges rather than outsourcing them and we continue to innovate constantly.
Our goal is to provide the most productive calls for our clients. One great example is the exclusive VIP accounts we offer. With a customized 800 number exclusively for the specific call, speedier entries since no ID is required (callers drop right into conference), and complete host control, these accounts are designed to designed to streamline the process and allow busy executives to get their calls underway quickly and easily. The VIP service, as with many of our services, is a response to our customers’ requests. We think having a direct connection to our customers helps us to help them.
In light of all these conferencing industry consolidations, when you’re considering providers, it may be in your long-term best interest to investigate what their top priority is. Is it you, the customer? Or is it their shareholders?