Investing in a telephone system is a big decision to make. It is also a minefield, with so much technical terminology requiring a PhD to understand. We’ve put together a few tips to help you.
Not only do you need to assess your current needs, you must look to the future. Here are just a few ideas to point you in the right direction:
- What type of phone system? – PBX, IP PBX, VoIP? PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is a traditional standalone system consisting of external phone lines, analogue phones going either into a router or straight into the wall socket. Ongoing maintenance can be more costly as an engineer would be required on site to assess any technical issues. IP PBX is a software based PBX phone system, ideal for small businesses that offers more on call features than PBX e.g voicemail, on hold, call transfer. VoIP is a system that enables voice calls over the internet. These systems, particularly hosted VoIP have lower ongoing maintenance costs as the systems can be accessed remotely. Whichever system you go for it is important to speak to a competent telecoms supplier and understand the real costs from installation through to maintenance.
- Line type – Is it standard analogue, digital or VoIP? This will be determined by the type of phone system you choose and other factors. See next points.
- What do you need to use your line for? Do you need lines for voice, fax, internet access, pdq, video conferencing?
- Concurrency of calls – How many users need to make a call at one time? This will determine the type of line you have. This is also of particular relevance when on VoIP as voice calls may be compromised if you are trying to run voice and data over the same lines.
- Scalability – Are you likely to have more users in the future? What are the implications, office space, telephone extension?
- Do you have Mobile users? If so, do you want to integrate these users into you telephone system. VoIP gives you more flexibility to do so.
- How do you want to manage your inbound calls? Do you want to automate call answering whereby an IVR system or auto attendant would manage call flows?
- Do you want to use your system to help market your business? Some telephone systems enable you to put in on hold messaging and report on your inbound calls so that you can assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
Our recommendation is that you work backwards. Understand your business processes and workflow, then list out what you want from your telephone system and what your users need. Then you can decide on the right system to fit the bill.
Today’s post is aimed at providing useful advice and also venting frustration to a certain degree.
We are a local telecoms service provider and pride ourselves on service quality, great rates and transparency most of all.
I previously wrote a post about not getting stung by contracts and I wanted to revisit this as we’ve dealt with a few competitive issues of late on behalf of some of our customers and I believe most come down to a lack of transparency offered by some telecoms providers.
- Rolling contracts can catch you off guard. When you enter into an agreement, first and foremost you should sign an order/contract to agree to the services, investigate terms and conditions thoroughly and understand exactly what you are getting for your money and how long that contract is for. In some circumstances your supplier may just have rolled on your contract without signature or agreement on the phone (with a recorded WAV file as proof), sometimes into long 3 year or 5 year deals at worst. To add insult to injury, if you didn’t terminate the service within the specified notice period, you can’t do anything but complain to Ofcom. My advice is know when your renewal date is and what notice you need to give
- Penalties are applied by suppliers if you are in contract and you try to switch supplier. You will receive an official letter probably stating that you owe £XXX for terminating your contract early. My advice is always ask for a signed contract or call recording to support the claim. If they cannot provide either then dispute the penalty. You don’t have to pay if you’re not in contract.
- Beware of Calling plans I approach this with caution as in very few circumstances do these work. In the majority you are prepaying for calls that you may not even use and unused minutes do not roll over from month to month. Anything over and above is charged at a higher rate, you may incur high connection charges also. My advice, this comes down to transparency again. There is plenty of opportunity for hidden costs and most of these plans are simply marketing ploys to retain or win business. Always look at the small print and the general rule is “if it is too good to be true” it probably isn’t good!
- Slamming is a term known within the industry as taking lines and calls from a customer without consent. This is a shady practice and often wrapped up as a system error! Yeah right!!
I urge my readers to think local, act local and one more bit of advice. If you take away the brand and the big name would you still stick with a supplier if they did the following to you:
- Rolled on your contract even if you didn’t agree to it
- Throw huge penalties at you to force you to stay with them
- Expect you to call into an offshore call centre to handle your enquiries
- Leave you in long call queues to answer your questions
- Take no accountability and are extremely slow to react to faults
I know I wouldn’t, biased or not, it just doesn’t stack up. Thanks for reading.
Published October 21, 2010
3G Broadband , Business continuity , Disaster recovery , Emergency phones , Not spot broadband , Rural Broadband , Telephone Systems
Tags: 3g broadband, disaster recovery, emergency broadband, emergency phones, not spot broadband, rural broadband
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No cost line rental
For a limited time only to the end of September 2010, we are offering free line rental for up to 5 lines when you sign to ellesys Business lines and calls.
Switch now to avoid price increase from other providers
All you have to do is call us on 0844 209 0875 or email email@example.com to take advantage of this fantastic offer. Just quote promotional code EL0709. Visit www.ellesys.com to find out more about ellesys.
Always Great on Rates
- Line rental is only £10.99 per line/month thereafter.
- Less than 1p per minute (0.9p) for local/national calls.
- Only 9p per minute for landline to mobile calls.
- 40% cheaper than BT.
- Billing per second.
- No minimum call charges.
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Our customers say…
“We moved our telephone calls over to ellesys a few months ago and have definitely made significant savings.” Lola Print
Or just a ploy to off set the price drops for mobile calls and extend their margins?
With other large telcos quickly following suit, you could see your average monthly line rental fee increase by 50 pence and day rate call charges increased by 10%.
You may not feel the pinch too much as a residential customer with many being out of the home during the day but as a business customer with multiple lines, operating at peak throughout the day, this could have a real impact on the bottom line.
The price increases have been quoted as having minimal impact on customers, and have been allegedly as a means to remain competitive during this recession. In my humble opinion penalizing existing customers in order to offer new customers discounts is counter productive.
I am a strong advocate of looking after your customers and ensuring they are on the best price possible. And for that reason, we won’t be passing on any immediate price increases to our clients.
You may be able to avoid these increases if you sign into lengthy contracts and calling plans but that’s not an answer. Go local for great deals, these guys are in the same boat as you and customer service will be first priority.
Check out this article on zdnet for their opinion. http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/networking/2010/07/19/bt-to-raise-prices-for-line-rental-calls-to-landlines-40089569/
It is now more important than ever that businesses support the local economy. Reducing the countries massive deficits needs more businesses to reinvest.
Where better place to start than with our local businesses whether that means, print, cleaning, utilities, telephones, internet, marketing services, recruitment… just doing business with a local supplier means support on your doorstep when you need it – no outsourced call centres or lengthy cal queues, sound appealing?
ellesys are supporting and exhibiting at the Keeping Biz Local expo at Reading’s Madjeski stadium 7th September. You can register to attend now by visiting http://www.keepingbizlocal.co.uk/reading/index.php
Events are being held throughout Thames Valley, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. It is an ideal place to network, meet new suppliers and of course Keep Biz Local!
Anytime is a good time to review the telephony costs in your business. Remember the more you save, the more impact it has on the bottom line. There are many competitive line rental and call rates to take advantage of, ellesys are leading with one of the lowest published UK local/national call rates of 0.9p per minute with no connection or minimum call charge.
It is all to easy when you are on a calling plan or package including calls to assume that you have free calls. Nothing is free. You are likely to be paying an inflated monthly charge for the plan and the reality is that the call rates aren’t so good.
The way to assess your costs is to look at your cost versus your minutes used (hopefully seconds to get the most accurate billing statistics).
If you really want to make a difference, remember, switching is seamless. Much like gas or electricity, the supply is the same is just provided by a different service provider. We do all the work in the background so that when you switch the only indication is cheaper bills. Visit http://www.ellesys.com or call 01189070062 to switch.