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.

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