There is no getting away from it – telecommunications are an integral part of any business today, so much so that the internet has now been hailed as the “4th Utility” – because many businesses simply couldn’t function, let alone grow without it. The impending internet takeover, the ‘Internet of Things’ will eventually stretch to every corner of a business; so having the equipment and capacity at the very beginning of your business venture that will allow you to utilize the forth coming platforms and opportunities so that you can effectively reach the next generation of prospects and clients.
In the same way that a robust and future proofed telecoms infrastructure can provide an avenue for the acquisition of new business, a poor infrastructure can act as a barrier. In a monopolised industry that is constantly evolving and is confusing to most, how do we know which provider and services to choose? The team at Microbyte Solutions offer some advice.
Not Doing your Research
Many businesses make the mistake of opting for one of the industry giants, when their packages are often rigid and their infrastructure is outdated. When your telecoms suddenly go down, the last thing you want to do is get through to an overseas call centre who are unable to do anything but repeat standard T & C’s.
Look at your local or regional providers who rely on innovation to expand their customer base, many of the UK copper infrastructure is unlikely to be updated by the large providers – because they have priced themselves out of the market, for those customers that cannot function on the poor connection that they pay a reasonable amount for are offered an exclusive high speed, high capacity leased lines for an astronomical amount. Smaller operators are beginning to lay their own high speed fibre infrastructures that are at 10 times faster and more reliable at a fraction of the cost.
Look for a provider who has their own team of engineers and one that can offered you a tailored SLA because all the time that you are without your telecoms – you are losing money, you should be prepared to face a long and difficult battle to win back any compensation. Standard fix time for one of the company’s with a monopoly over the UK industry have a 24 SLA to acknowledge your issue – not to fix. Ask for references from current customers and express what you NEED, not what they can offer.
Consider VoIP Carefully
Many businesses are choosing to opt for a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone system, and while this is a fantastic option for young businesses because it is affordable and scalable – there are areas that can impact the quality of the calls. It’s worth researching how VoIP technology works so that you can endeavour to find out how your provider will overcome any pitfalls; find out if both local and long distance calls are included in your plan, along with licensing fees and any support that may be required.
VoIP will use your internet connection to make calls, so having the correct upload capacity is vital along with a suitable connection for the amount of users. For example, if you have more than 4 users wanting to make and receive calls at the same time, anything less than a 80/20 FTTC connection will be useless – make sure the operator runs a network test.
You will need a sufficient router if you invest in VoIP telephony; a standard wireless router that comes with most internet connections will not be enough. High quality business grade hardware that will apply a Quality of Service ‘QoS’ to the network will prioritise calls over other traffic, meaning your call will be high quality with no drop outs or interference.
Don’t become a guinea pig to a provider who has just ventured into VoIP – it’s worth choosing an established provider that know their craft.
Choosing Dated Technology
There has been pioneering equipment and technology that has changed the face of a number of industries over the past 10 years. The question that you need to ask yourself is, are they still current and are they going to survive the Smart revolution?
Don’t be afraid to approach industry experts to get an unbiased opinion, you wouldn’t invest in a house or new car in your personal life without finding out relevant information, so why skip the research on this integral part of your business?
Technology and equipment that have the capacity to be integrated into other areas of the business at a later date will give you the competitive edge as the IoT accelerates.
Check Your Contract Terms
The lure of free installation can have a strong pull, especially in the early days and cash flow hasn’t yet been established, but the reality is that by bypassing an installation fee you will be landed with a contract length that is restrictive when it comes to business growth.
The ‘one year rule’ may see you parting with a lump sum upfront, but it will also offer you protection if you outgrow your current set up or provider, because you won’t be landed with an enormous fee to cancel an existing contract, or resigned to a set up that is preventing you from achieving more. The standard contract term for a service with no upfront fees is 5 years, a reduced installation fee will provide you with a term of 3 years – consider this when writing future projections.
Not tracking Your Inbound Calls
Using your telecoms to help align your sales and marketing strategies can offer valuable insights and a comprehensive picture of your ROI. Most telecom providers can provide you with a range of virtual numbers to be used across marketing campaigns and website numbers. In the same way that Google Analytics allows you to track the movement of visitors across your site, call tracking will tell you at which point they picked up the telephone to contact you. The numbers can be set up and closed down at your whim, and can also be named to show you at a glance what has prompted the call.
In conclusion, while we take telecommunication solutions at face value, it is vital to consider the further implications and capabilities that they can bring to a business and the value of integrating them to enhance strategies in all areas of a business.