1. Falling for Bundled Minute Packages
Telecoms suppliers love bundled minute packages because 80% of their customers use less than 20% of their included minutes. True value from bundles can only be achieved by using almost exactly the amount of minutes included (but let’s face it, most people buy bundles so they can completely forget about paying attention to call spend all together). Get it wrong by using too much, and you’ll pay extortionate out of bundles rates. Oh and are 0845’s included? Are the minutes included per line, or per account? Bundles introduce confusion, complexity and the opportunity for telecoms suppliers to catch you out. In the telecoms world, if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is.
2. Assigning Telecoms Responsibility to the Wrong Person
Far too often procuring telephony is thought of as just another “on or off” utility, however get it wrong and you could find your business in the dark for weeks. Get it right, and telecoms could help develop many areas of your business giving you the edge over your competitors. Only a handful of large corporations have job roles dedicated to management and delivery of their telephony. So for the rest of the business world, where should responsibility lie? With your accounts or IT manager? It’s not just a stereotype, but nine times out of ten a person working in an accounts role will succeed in finding the cheapest deal. But is the cheapest deal the right deal? A person working in IT will no doubt buy the flashiest bit of kit, but will it be configured to add any value to your business? Ultimately, a decision this significant should be made by someone with a detailed understanding of your businesses challenges and opportunities for the foreseeable future. Someone motivated by value, not cost. Someone able to gather information from experts in their field, and make an informed decision.
3. Overlooking Nasty Billing Tricks
Next time you sign up for a landline call package, keep an eye out for these nasty tricks often used to increase the charges on your bill: Call connection fees, large minimum call charges, capped rate call packages, per minute rounding, call commitments, bundled minute packages, out of bundle usage charges, existing contract buyouts and non direct debit payment charges.
4. Dealing with Multiple Suppliers
Communication is the life blood of business. Trusting your business telecoms to more than one supplier introduces confusion, unnecessary complexity and countless opportunities for things to go wrong. Ever experienced an issue where fingers are always pointing somewhere else? Dealing with a single supplier for your telephone lines, calls, system and connectivity allows you to assign ownership and clear responsibility for ensuring your business remains connected. Find someone who will visit your office and ask questions. Where has your business come from, what are your challenges and what are your plans over the next few years? If your telecoms supplier has not asked these questions then how can they possibly understand what’s right for you?
5. Allowing Staff Free Reign with Calls
Directory enquiries, premium rate and personal calls can drastically inflate your business phone bills. Is there really an excuse for spending £3.50 to a 118 number when a quick Google would have done the job? Define an acceptable use policy within your business for telephony usage or you’ll continue to sign blank cheques. If you’re still struggling to bring costs under control, find a provider who will bar destinations at network level, or ask your business telephone system maintainer to setup a “class of service” to limit which handsets or members of staff can make calls to high cost destinations.
6. Not Making Use of Statistics
Almost every telephone system in the market place can deliver statistics to help you run your business, and it’s surprising how few people use them. Which staff or departments are taking too long to answer the phone? Instead of hiring more staff, monitor average call length and take steps to bring it down. Spot trends in busy periods, and adjust shift patterns to suit. Monitor line usage and scale up or down as required. Advertise a different DDI telephone number on your marketing activities to track return on investment. Find out which of your customers are taking up the majority of your customer service teams time. Spot how many missed calls you’re receiving, at what time and to whom. Why not build a set of telephony KPIs and display them on a wallboard in the office – you’ll soon find staff start managing their own telephony practices.
7. Being Unaware of New Technologies
It’s not just the mobile telephone world that has developed new technology over the last few years. There have been plenty of developments and innovations in traditional landline telephony. Your competitors are probably taking advantage of them, so perhaps it’s time you did too?
- Any Number, Anywhere – With the adoption of VoIP (telephone calls over the internet), numbers from any area code in the UK, or even any country in the world can be delivered anywhere with no redirection fees.
- Remote Handsets – Desktop handsets installed in a completely different geographic location to your business telephone system that present and ring with your office telephone numbers.
- Linked Sites – Turn multiple sites into one fully integrated telephone system. Dial internal numbers and pay no redirection fees. Have full visibility on the status of every handset across your organisation, regardless of where they are.
- Mobile Extensions – Forget having three different telephone numbers. Advertise a single telephone number that will reach you on your desk phone, mobile or laptop wherever you are in the world.
- CTI – Computer Telephony Integration bridges the gap between your phone and PC. Automatically open a customer account in your CRM when they ring, or prompt staff to update records after a call has completed.
8. Training your Team on Everything but the Telephone
Make sure you cover telephony as part of your induction process with new staff. There are hundreds of powerful features that can really help your business function, but as a starter for ten ensure staff can complete the following: blind transfer, attended transfer, call parking, call pickup, monitor, barge, conferencing, call forwarding, DND, and voicemail. Cover your acceptable use policy for calls, and set expectations for answer time, standard greeting script and usage of the above features. If you’re not sure yourself, ask your telephone system provider to pop down and spend 30 minutes going over everything.
9. Leaving Things Too Late
Many actions in the telecoms world are time sensitive; drop the ball and you’ll find yourself playing catch up or incurring unnecessary expense. Acquire your telephone system via a lease? Don’t forget to notify the leasing company of your intentions a couple of months before expiry or you’ll end up paying secondary rentals. Porting of landline numbers between providers is a black art, and can take anywhere from a few days to a few years (if it’s possible at all)! Don’t forget to record your holiday message and upload it on to the telephone system. If you need your supplier to do this for you, give them a couple of days’ notice at least. Moving premises? Start talking to telecoms suppliers way sooner than you would think is required, a couple of months is best to make sure everything happens as smoothly as possible. Analogue lines can take between two to three weeks to go live. Broadband to go on top will take another 10 working days (unless you’re able to get a simultaneous provide where both go live at the same time). ISDN2 lines will take four to six weeks, and an ISDN30 will take eight to ten weeks. Throw an MBORC in to the mix (Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control –BT Openreach declare these whenever there is really bad weather), and the standard lead times go out of the window.
10. Having No Backup Plan
Technology always fails. If you’ve managed to escape any form of communications’ down time in the past few years, you’re in the minority. Here are our top reasons why things go wrong:
- Theft of copper cable between the local exchange and your business premises.
- Flooding of underground ducting or local telephone exchange.
- Accidental damage of external cabling due to construction work.
- Power surges and total power loss.
- Complete or partial failure of local telephone system, handsets, routers, switches and cabling.
- Deliberate or accidental cancellation of required services.
- Planned maintenance.
- Poorly planned migration to new suppliers.
- Loss of service due to upstream suppliers entering administration or failing to pay their bills.
Your ability to access effective support with a predictable amount of effort and time can make all the difference. So first on the agenda is making sure you’re working with a single supplier who will take responsibility when you need help. How long could your business survive without telephones or internet access? Can a reseller of a reseller truly look after you as well as a tier one provider? If your lines go down, where should your network supplier redirect calls to? Will a single mobile phone do? To cover hardware failure, any system maintainer worth their salt should maintain a stock of hardware to replace any part that’s required to keep you up and running (even for equipment that’s long since been discontinued by the manufacturer). Having the spare part however, is only one piece of the puzzle. Access to fully trained engineers with detailed knowledge of your business, telephone system and its configuration is just as important. For power, consider running your telephone system and associated equipment via an uninterruptable power supply or UPS. A UPS includes components to protect devices from power surges, and battery packs to supply enough power to keep things running for short periods of time without mains supply. Spending just five minutes understanding your options before things go pear shaped can save you so much trouble. If you’re out of your depth, lean on the experts and come up with a plan together.