Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The 5 Critical Questions that will save your business money on telecoms

It’s fair to say that when setting up and running a veterinary practice, telecoms is recognised as essential, yet how much effort do you really make to find the best solution when there is so much else to do? Not only is this a business critical service, it’s an area that can cost dearly in the long run if not chosen wisely.

Unfortunately it’s still true that the major brands are the ones we turn to first, but although they have established reputations, they may not necessarily provide the most appropriate service and support. Major brands only sell their own products – whereas more agile companies like Merlin Telecom have access to the whole of the UK’s telecoms services and technology to offer the very best arrangement, cost-effectively tailored to each Practice.

We’ve been “conditioned” by the industry over many years that entering long term contracts is the way to access the best products and prices. Did you know that this arrangement serves your supplier much more than it serves your business?

In such a heavily regulated industry, all suppliers are regulated by Ofcom to protect customer interests and adhere to standards set by telecoms Ombudsman Otelo, to provide a continuous and reliable service. Here are some facts that will help you appreciate the telecoms landscape to help your business.

  • Business calls last on average only 2 minutes in duration, with the vast majority being significantly less than this. By “capping” calls, suppliers can create perceived value, when genuine real value is rarely offered. Usually, contracts are cleverly constructed to make it look like you are getting a great deal, but over the duration of the contract, the supplier makes BIG profits from the way the deal is structured. Typically 95% of businesses are worse off from capping calls. 
  • In the traditional sense, vets are unattractive customers in telecoms because most calls are in-coming, so vets don’t represent revenue generating potential through calls, so suppliers are more interested in selling services to meet their needs not necessarily yours. 
  • Contracts are not needed to access the best prices and services. You can access really flexible, totally reliable services at a fraction of the cost of major brands if you look for them. 
  •  Contracts are not needed to ensure highly reliable service. The infrastructure is the infrastructure. A contract will not affect actual service performance, however it may determine the level of response you receive in the case of a service-interruption. 
  • You could save 40% or more by switching to a different supplier from the mainstream brands. 
  •  Most systems are not precisely tailor-made for your business, which means you’re possibly paying for services and lines that you really don’t need. 

Discussions with vets have shown that the profession generally doesn’t know what to look for when choosing a telecoms provider to serve their business.

Merlin Telecom provide 5 Key Questions to ask your Telecoms Supplier:

  1. Why do I have to have a 12/18/24+ month contract? (nb There is no requirement on your supplier to be contracted into their telecoms infrastructure supplier– which is the likely response you’ll receive). 
  2. How do I know if my line provision is adequate and I’m not missing business critical calls from customers? (This happens much more than you imagine – let us share how to prevent this happening to your practice). 
  3. How flexible is my system? What happens if my needs change over the next 12-24 months? Will I be paying for services I no longer need? How do I avoid overpaying? 
  4. What can you do to enable cost-effective call handling, to ensure that my-out-of-hours service works well for me and my customers? 
  5. What happens in the event of a power failure/system crisis? How quickly can you restore my business to full operation? (There are new ways that this can be solved very quickly but not all suppliers treat this as urgently as you will need in the event of it happening). 
The telecoms industry is undergoing dramatic change at the moment, with significant improvements in service and reliability all being possible at massively reduced cost. This is a win-win for all businesses involved. There is also an increasing migration to “cloud” telephony – which has significant benefits vs. traditional telecoms systems. It will almost certainly pay your business to find out more about this in the coming months.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Using VoIP on your mobile phone: Can it Really Save You Money

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology makes the use of smart phones much more flexible and cheaper to run VoIP applications.

Using VoIP on a smart phone requires the use of a SIP client or app that can be downloaded and run on the handset giving you an added tool in your communications arsenal. You may not be aware of how easy it is to integrate VoIP technology onto your mobile phone giving you added benefits and advantages.

Many users of modern smart phone do not realise is that they can use their handsets as a wireless VoIP handset. VoIP software has been available on smart phones running the Android or Apple operating systems for some time.

A good example of the ease of setting up a VoIP connection is the recent Samsung Galaxy S III handset that actually includes the VoIP software required to make and receive calls from your PBX (phone system). So how can you set this up to reap the benefits?

Setting up your Android smart phone:
  • First open the settings option
  • Press the call button 
  • Scroll down until you see ‘internet call Settings’. 

Next click the ‘Accounts’ button:
  • Check the ‘Receive incoming calls’ radio button 
  • Click on Add account button 
  • Enter your user name
  • Enter your password 
  • Add the server address as specified by your provider
    • Keep in mind that some services may require additional details, which usually can be found in the ‘Optional settings’ section.
Rather than use the built-in VoIP accounts available on smart phone platforms you may want to download a VoIP client application such as Bria by Counterpath.

Setting up a VoIP client on your smart phone is much easier than it may seem. What you need to remember is that using your smartphone is a tool rather than an end to end solution. However once you start to use the VoIP/mobile mix for your communications you need to consider saving yourself costs. It may be worthwhile considering reducing your monthly tariff to a lower value one and making a combination of calls i.e. when in the office use the VoIP option and when away from the office use your mobile.

Making calls over a VoIP network are considerably cheaper than mobile networks.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

UK businesses should seek insurance against cyberattacks, says expert

Senior managers in UK business should pay greater attention to the threat of cyber attacks, establish what the cost of such an incident would be to their firms and insure against it, an expert has advised.

Technology law specialist Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that the need to insure against the risk of cyber attacks was particularly important since firms could face huge costs for losing personal information via system breaches under proposed changes to the EU's data protection regime.

Scanlon was commenting after the Government published new cyber risk management guidance (2-page / 306KB PDF) for businesses on cyber security. The guidance stressed the "benefits" for business chief executives and other board-level managers in adopting a "risk management approach to cyber security".

In separate guidance (20-page / 3.12MB PDF) the director of UK intelligence agency GCHQ said that businesses could repel about 80% of "known attacks" simply by "embedding basic information security practices for your people, processes and technology". The guidance identifies 10 steps firms can take to reduce their vulnerability to cyber attacks.

The Government has also published an 'advice sheet' that further details(22-page / 4.93MB PDF) the 10 steps that companies should take to address the threat of cyber attacks. Companies should "apply the same degree of rigour to assessing the risks to its information assets as it would to legal, regulatory, financial or operational risks," according to the advice.

For the full article 'UK businesses should seek insurance against cyber attacks, says expert' please visit