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How to avoid going with a business communications dinosaur

Image by Dave Catchpole under Creative Commons License 2.03 Tips for Choosing a Telecoms Provider

So you’re fed up with your current supplier, you can’t understand their bills and whenever you try to contact them, you never seem to be able to speak to a real person.  You get stuck in a never-ending loop because the option you require, to actually speak to someone, is just not a valid option.

There are alternatives, but you already knew that because you’re constantly being bombarded with calls, emails and flyers from different communications companies.  How do you wade through this overload of information to find a decent supplier?

Well, here are the top things I think you should look for in a supplier:

 

  1. Transparency

    In this age of ‘the customer’ and instant communication, there really isn’t any excuse for a supplier to practise the dark arts of deception and confusion on you.

    Firstly, make sure their Terms & Conditions are easy to understand.  It’s no longer legal to be signed up to a “rollover” contract (one where the contract is automatically renewed for another lengthy term at the end of the initial term you signed up for). Any mention of this within the T’s & C’s is a good indicator that the supplier is either attempting to pull a fast one on you or has been lazy updating their documentation. Neither of these things bodes particularly well.

    You should also check for hidden charges in the small print (such as minimum call charges or call set up charges) that they would rather you didn’t notice.

    Thirdly, are their invoices easy to understand?  Because they should be: telecoms billing is not rocket science, and it is perfectly possible to produce telecoms invoices and reports in plain English.

  2. Single Point of Contact / Accountability

    No communications service can be guaranteed to be up and running 100% of the time. Sometimes, things go wrong and when they do you find that you cannot make or receive telephone calls.  But when this happens, who do you contact?

    Company A supplies your broadband, Company B supplies your phone lines, Company C supplies your calls, Company D supplies your mobiles and your telephone system is maintained by company E.

    Believe me, this way it’s going to prove very difficult to get your hands on the relevant telephone number, or to establish who to contact in the first place.  It is probably time to merge all of this under one roof.  Unified communications means a single point of contact to deal with whenever issues or queries crop up.  Just imagine how much easier life would be with just one number to call.  More than that, knowing who to call will enable you to speak to a real, breathing person in your country.  They should take responsibility for any issues you’re experiencing right through to resolution.

  3. Is the Supplier Forward-Thinking?

    The telecoms buzz words of the moment are IP Telephony, convergence and Unified Communications.  The question is:  Is your supplier embracing the ever-improving 21st century technologies as much as they should be?  Like it or not, the above-mentioned technologies are here to stay, and this is a good thing.  They provide flexibility (you can upsize or downsize at the click of a button), portability (you can keep your telephone number wherever you go), “follow-me-anywhere” technology (customers can ring one number to get through to you at the office or on your mobile), and a whole raft of other features.  Even BT realise this as they are planning to switch off their ISDN service in 2025.   Although this may still seem a way off, if you currently use ISDN this will come round all too quickly – so if your contract is nearing its end, it’s definitely time to start looking for a flexible, feature-rich and cost effective alternative.

    If you are looking to change supplier, make sure at the very least they offer these three key services I’ve listed here.  You want your communications to be future-proof, so don’t go with a communications dinosaur.

Duncan Laker, MD of Welcome Telecom, is passionate about helping businesses meet their communication needs. When not giving his tips for managing business phone systems effectively, he can be found generally appreciating the efficiency of modern communication systems available today.

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