The general idea of the Internet is to reach more people – and then reach more people than that. Expansion is the name of the game. Established Internet communicators realize, however, that the best way to get big is to think small. The gatekeepers of attention on the Internet – the major social media sites, the major search engines – all work around a concept of localization.
What does localization mean in terms of business?
Simply put, you win over your neighborhood before you gain access to your city. You win the city to expand nationally. You win at the nationwide level to get pushed into the international space.
Start small. Focus on the people who are right next door to you.
This is an easy concept to apply to marketing, but it applies to the infrastructure that a business uses as well. The VoIP system that you choose must be used in a localized way in order to access its full, global potential. This is the true advantage of the communication. VoIP has the ability over PBX to bring a highly precise, specialized and localized form of communication to your business.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the VoIP technologies that are allowing business to expand into the big time by focusing on the small stuff first.
One of the most important aspects of digital communications is the ability to understand the other person technically. When it comes to the virtual workspace, you never know who you might be working with. One person may come from halfway across the world from another with two completely different native speaking skill sets.
The modern VoIP that advertises itself as an entryway into the global space must first create a clear linguistic path between users. Everything else builds from there. The best systems allow for localization based on the location of the user. If User 1 is in Germany, he will see a German interface. If User 2 is in the United States, then he will see a user interface in English.
Countries with international populations may localize to more than one language. For instance, Skype gives the option of an English or a Spanish interface in major cities around the United States.
Many of the best VoIP systems will also have an option for added languages that are not supported by the underlying operating system. Windows seems to be the system that allows for the most unhindered expansion. While VoIP systems in Linux seem to have some advantages, expanding into certain languages is not one of them. Some VoIPs are not able to detect language files within a Linux system.
If you are doing business in a country that does not have a major language as a secondary option, you may want to invest in translation memory scripts for your clients. It is a nice touch that will fill out the user interface and allow for easier communications. If you are using a VoIP that allows for language files to add to the current translation application, they should be a priority for you.
Another seemingly cosmetic but important thing to consider is having a localized ringtone for your globally distributed clients, partners and investors. In some countries, the way that a phone sounds is completely different from other parts of the world. If you do not have a VoIP system that changes as necessary, you may miss out on an important communication because your ringtone sounded like someone’s toaster or alarm clock!
Continuity Through Geography
There is nothing more confusing for a client than to deal with a business without geographic business continuity. For instance, it is very important to have the same phone number for your devices if you are traveling overseas on business. Getting a SIM card in a new country and telling everyone to call you on a new plan is not acceptable any more! International clients, vendors, investors and partners expect a seamless experience, and it is up to you to give them one.
Does your VoIP offer a desktop software package and a mobile application that synchronize with each other? Believe it or not, this is not a given for the majority of companies. If this is not a feature of your VoIP, then you will not be able to seamlessly move between devices in order to maintain calls if you are traveling from an office to a transport location. Imagine having to stay in one place for the duration of a call while you are trying to accomplish other things with your day. If this seems impossible to you, then you need to choose the VoIP system that allows you to do business the way that you want to do it.
You must also consider that your international business partners may be as busy as you are. If they are taking your calls of any length, they may need the option to move through multiple locations. If you are the one selling (and especially if you are the one who recommended the communications system), then you need to be the one who knows the right VoIP system to use.
Continuity also means a consolidated messaging platform for internal and external use. There is no reason to switch between devices and apps to try to find the best path to communicate with a colleague. Some of your associates prefer group messages, and others prefer IM. Still others prefer vid chat and can never be found on any other type of service. The VoIP that you choose should have all of these options in one app so that you do not have to do any switching regardless of who you need to reach that day. Unified communications is the buzzword to look for – it combines web conferencing, webinars, audio conferencing, presence, contact center, instant messaging, chatting, meeting, group chat, content sharing and video conferencing.
At this point, VoIP systems do not carry emergency services as a rule, but that trend is quickly changing. As the business community begins to utilize VoIP as a mainstream source of communications rather than the outlier, telecommunications companies are beginning to recognize the need for basic services as well as all of the bells and whistles that come with VoIP.
Emergency codes are different in different parts of the world. For instance, the United States’ emergency number is 911, while the European Union uses 112. There are many other services, such as directory assistance and automatic call back, which also have different codes in different parts of the world. However, the functions themselves are utilized commonly across the globe, meaning that VoIP systems must be able to localize to a geographic area so that all users have access to these essential functions at all times.
The current generation of VoIP has a problem with the 112 service in general. The majority of emergency services in the continent of Europe are only reachable through mobile networks or public switched telephony landlines. Although VoIP systems provide a higher level of service on almost every other level, PSTN POTS networks are actually better in finding a call’s location when it comes to connecting European emergency services. In the case of the traditional telephone system, the location is as simple as a database lookup. Mobile network GPS is technically a less accurate way to locate a call. What does this mean for you? You may get a response to the wrong location if you dial for a European emergency service from a VoIP service provider. This should never be an issue if you are lucky, but it is always good to know.
Currently, the EENA (European Emergency Number Association) is trying to change European regulations to fit in with the growing VoIP clientele that is making its way into the continent.
Quality Between Devices
We have already touched on the fact that your business partners may be on the move when they talk to you. You need a VoIP system that allows you to switch between devices seamlessly. However, you need a system that maintains the quality of the communication when the switch is made.
In five years or so, the only competitive VoIP providers will be the ones that allow for top quality communications while switching devices. 5G infrastructure and mobile devices will also be a mainstay in the business world across the world, which will allow for exponentially better video chat and multimedia functions.
Quality between deskphones, softphones and mobile phones is essential. You must also consider that these devices may be on different hardware and operating systems. Is your VoIP ready for both Mac and PC? Can it function on top of iOS devices and Android devices? Does it incur hiccups when it encounters a softphone app and a device that is not a native phone device? If it does, then you may want to look for another option. You never know what kind of system your client will be accessing your communication from, so you need to be ready for all of the major systems just to be safe.
In some instances, you may have members of a call who need to use a phone to dial into the meeting. Does your VoIP have audio conferencing features that will allow for other types of technology to work on the call? You may have to buy an additional license, but the feature should be available so that you are never limited in the types of calls that you can take. Remember that people in other countries may not have the infrastructure that your country has.
Localized Auto Attendants
Does your VoIP system have the ability to create auto attendants in different languages? Are the scripts for your attendants transcreated or just translated? If you are writing a script in English for an attendant that is only translated into German, then the message may (at best) provide a message that can be misconstrued, or (at worst) provide a message that offends your potential business partner.
Unless you have an in house translator who can create personalized auto attendant messages (that is somewhat of an oxymoron), you need to have a VoIP system with a robust translation system and ability to expand its language scripts. Otherwise you miss losing good business before you really have a chance to convince others to give you a chance.
Many countries have restrictions that do not allow for calls to be made free and clear. For instance, if you are dialing out to free phone numbers or toll-free numbers internationally, you may run into regulations from certain countries or even an area within a country. As an example, if you are located in the United States, you may not be able to dial toll-free numbers in Brazil. Brazil has a regulation that only allows calls that originate from within the country to Brazilian toll-free numbers. No matter how good your VoIP system is, it will not be able to overcome these types of regulations through technological force.
However, the right system can and should give you options to get around these kinds of restrictive regulation. Most of them are in place not because they want to stop business calls, but because certain countries simply do not have the infrastructure to accommodate what you are trying to do. Politicians in this kind of a country may not even understand exactly what they need to do in order to make commerce easier. In this case, you want a VoIP provider that has done the research to find a way around the regulations for you.
Having a localized calling experience is essential to building a global business. Make sure that you are using a VoIP system that gives you the ability to dig down into the local cultures you are doing business with. Choose an adaptable system that understands its location. The result – your company looks professional and prepared, and you can do legitimately better business because you can communicate more thoroughly to your prospects, clients, vendors and partners!
Are you interested in learning more?