By Scott Southron, Chief Financial Officer at FreeConferenceCall.com
Free isn’t exactly low quality. Many people get that mistaken.
Recent advances in software and connectivity have finally made it possible for mission-critical business services to be delivered at much lower costs. So why is it that so many businesses continue to pay way too much? It could be the fear, uncertainty and doubt in the market created by more expensive competitors hoping to protect their margins.
Here are five of the most commonly believed myths about low-cost or free services finally debunked:
1. You Get What You Pay For
This old adage is quickly going the way of the dinosaurs. Changes in business and product delivery models have drastically lowered the cost of providing innovative, high-quality services to global business.
FreeConferenceCall.com recently ended this discussion once and for all with an outside analyst firm (Wainhouse Research) survey of IT decision makers and conference call power users that proved our services are on par or better than our competition. This research goes to show that products being sold on the market may have alternatives that are either low cost or completely free.
2. Nothing is Truly Free
Consumers and business buyers are a cynical bunch who believe nothing of value can truly be free. The increasing popularity of the freemium business model–where a basic product is offered free as an incentive to users, and then extra features are added at a cost–has only made consumers more guarded. They have become convinced any free service must include advertising, hidden fees or a loss of control over personal information.
At FreeConferenceCall.com nothing could be farther from the truth. Our services are completely free with no advertising, gimmicks or data collection. Further, even if services like DropBox or MailChimp offer an upsell, it’s good to remember that their basic, free offerings are still pretty darn good.
3. Free Vendors Won’t Be Around For Long
Clearly every successful business with an ample history requires a source of revenue. The trick behind many of today’s most prosperous business service providers is finding more effective and less costly ways to deliver value.
Think software as a service, web-based service delivery or the shift to cloud computing versus purchasing and maintaining costly proprietary servers. Great examples include Salesforce.com, which has been in business since 1999, or Basecamp, which started in 2004. These companies may not have decades of history like Oracle or IBM, but they also don’t have the overhead, and they show no signs of slowing down.
When a business can keep their cost low, they can offer their customers much more affordable, even free, options.
4. Free Service Companies Don’t Provide Great Customer Service
Great customer service is a result of real commitment, ongoing training and company culture. Customer service can be just as good at a company that offers free products as it can be truly horrible at companies charging way too much.
Any business selecting a new service partner should ask about its customer service policies. If 24/7/365 live global service isn’t included, look somewhere else. Nothing is more frustrating than needing help and being stuck in an endless voice response chain. Unfortunately, that happens all too often at companies of all sizes that lack customer focus.
When Dave Erickson started FreeConferenceCall.com, he knew the customer service experience would have to be not just good, but much better than what was offered by his higher priced competitors. He invested early and often in quality service and legions of surprised and delighted customers helped the business become a viral sensation.
5. Free Service Companies Don’t Need a Chief Financial Officer
You might wonder what the CFO for a free conference calling service does all day. FreeConferenceCall.com generates revenue from network fees and use of its worldwide telecommunications network by customers accessing our applications.
Our revenue is built one or two cents at a time, but that all adds up quickly when you’re carrying 18 billion minutes across nearly 190 countries per year. Tracking that revenue, managing infrastructure investments and creating financing models for future expansion requires the same time and expertise necessary to be the CFO at any other large, growing company–even if our product is offered to consumers and businesses for free.
Scott Southron is the Chief Financial Officer at FreeConferenceCall.com, the second largest conferencing and collaboration company in the U.S. and one of the top five in the world with more than 800,000 business customers connecting via conference calls and online meetings in more than 190 countries.