Not all telecoms solutions are the same, and every business has different requirements. So, make sure you are being quoted for what your business really needs – and don’t just compare prices as you’ll end up comparing apples with pears.
Check the following:
- The price is fixed for duration of the contract
- No set up fees or minimum charges on calls
- Calls rounded up to the nearest minute – this can add 25% to the overall cost of calls
- Prices to destinations you call regularly
- Special promotions – a charity was being offered free intra-site calls but then being charge five-times the market price for all other UK landline calls.
Check coverage for your location – and it is not just office locations – check key staff home addresses as well.
Some deals appear cheaper because they offer unlimited calls and lots of data – do you need this? Around a third of mobile users no longer make any voice calls. The average business person uses well under 2GB of data each month.
Watch also for inflated hardware funds if you are not going SIM only. We’ve seen companies signed up to deals where the funds looked impressive only to find the cost of the actual handsets provided was inflated to 25-35% above normal prices. If you are going for a hardware fund ask for a hardware price list at the same time.
Ask potential suppliers:
- What is the contention ratio of the line – i.e. how many are sharing it?
- How many network outages have you had in past 12 months?
- What router is supplied? Is it secure and reliable?
- What is average wait time when calling for support?
- What is average fix time for faults?
- What network is it on? This is important if you want to change providers at a later date. There is more choice of suppliers if you are on BT.
Finally, what would a day without internet would cost you, and does this provider increase the risk?
Some providers bundle handsets and calls into their prices – others include features that others charge for separately. So, things to consider before asking for a price:
- What features do I need today and may I want in the next few years?
- What is the ability of the company to develop new features? There are lots of self-built VoIP solutions out there where the development and support is dependent on only a few individuals. The advantage is that specific features can be added more quickly than the big platforms, but then there is the risk associated with what happens if they leave
- What handsets are you being offered? Are they a brand used by other VoIP companies should you wish to change supplier, and are they locked into your supplier? If included in the price, will you own them at the end of the contract?
- What are the out of call bundle charges (if bundles are offered)? Do your call volumes justify bundles? If the business is predominantly inbound then packages without calls may be better overall.
- What business continuity is in place if the host system falls over? Asking for uptime statistics over the past 12 months is a good idea
- If you are a small business with fewer than 10 employees, is your supplier signed up to the ombudsman? If not – why not?
- Ask about contract length and support statistics (as per advice above)
Be wary of the ‘phone system for nothing’ scam. These are invariably long dodgy lease hire deals and should be avoided.
It is important to ensure you are getting a good deal but make sure you don’t end up paying more elsewhere. The quality of service will impact your business and other charges can far outweigh apparent savings.