Five steps to choosing the right telecoms for your business
By Dave Millett, Equinox — Communicating with customers, partners and suppliers is essential for all businesses. So, ensuring you have the right solution for your business at the right price, without any nasty surprises, is certainly worthy of management time.
Here are the five things you need to watch out for before you sign:
1) Are they a member of the Ombudsman scheme? A list of members can be found at http://www.ombudsman-services.org/memberlists/communications/. If the company you are considering is not a member – take your business elsewhere.
2) A business line vs. a residential line? Whilst you may save a few pounds on monthly rentals with a residential contact, what you are losing is priority if there is a fault. How much revenue would you lose in a day if a potential customer cannot contact you?
It is a similar story with broadband; don’t just buy on price. Look at contention ratios, network capacity, quality of ‘free’ routers and customer service. Again, it is important to ask what is the cost of a day’s lost internet?
3) Be wary of eye-grabbing lowest price promises and long contracts which claim to offer to offer a better deal. These savings are usually more than offset by higher call charges. Or, even more sneakily, there are hidden charges such as minimum call charges, call set up fees and call durations being rounded up to the nearest minute. All of these will inflate your overall bill.
4) There is quite a bit of protection for small businesses but many are not aware of it and some unethical suppliers rely on that ignorance. For example, auto renewal of phone contracts for small businesses was banned several years ago yet many suppliers still try to get away with it.
Also watch out for price rises post the start of the contract. As a small business you should be given notice on any price rise and given the option to cancel within 30 days. But many suppliers hide the notification in bills or on their website. So, the only way to be sure is to check the bill regularly against the contract and insist on an additional contract clause that should you spot a price rise at any time you have the right to cancel.
5) Another common mistake for small businesses is think; ‘I will just use my mobile number’. Plenty of research has shown that most consumers and businesses trust companies with only a mobile number far less than those that appear to have a landline number. The appear bit is important as it is now very easy and cost effective to have a landline as an app on your mobile. This can help your company appear bigger than it really is, as well as helping business owners separate their work and personal lives.
Finally, don’t be completely convinced by the review sites. These can act as a guide but, be aware, not all are as independent as they seem. For example, Trust Pilot are owned by same company that owns Verastar (previously Unicom). They were fined £200,000 by Ofcom for miss-selling. And there are regular instances where people who have left negative feedback on Trustpilot find that it has disappeared later on.
Dave Millett runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. He works with many companies, charities and other organisations and has helped them achieve savings of up to 80%. He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions. http://www.equinoxcomms.co.uk