Following on from last week’s blog post about how Ofcom doesn’t actually protect businesses from misselling of telecoms systems, here is some guidance on what not to get wrapped up in ...
It's all perfectly sensible, but sometimes needs reiterating:
- How long is the contract? Never, ever, ever sign up for a long-term contract such as 7 years. Stick to a 24-month agreement where possible.
- Are you going to lease? No need for it under (circa) £5K. The average price of a decent quality, fully functional IP desk phone is around £150.00 plus VAT, going up to around £220.00 at the higher end.
There is no need to buy a tablet phone, with a full touch screen at around £1,200.00 and then lease the equipment for the entire contract.
- Which platform? Always ask which platform is the hosted system based on? What I mean by that is that all Hosted IP Telephone systems are basically just software. There are major players in this space such as 3CX and Broadsoft and there are some relatively new players in the UK.
- Where is the software hosted? Believe it or not, phone system software can be hosted anywhere in the world. That means that when you dial a number on your selected VoIP devices, the call goes over your internet connection and may be 'processed' at a data centre in Estonia, the USA or dare I say it, India.
So, what happens when there is a problem? Does your Telecoms company have UK-based support themselves to assist with any downtime?
- What resilience is built into the system? Some companies have their phone system software in multiple data centres to be able to switch or re-route calls in the event that there is a failure at one of the centres. This keeps the service alive and you would be none the wiser in most cases.
- What insurance is there? Does your Telecoms company have adequate insurance coverage in the event that the solution implemented has a negative impact on your business?
I know this sounds harsh, but the consequences of lost time for a business can run into thousands of pounds in loss of earnings if the phone system goes down and there is an inadequate (or no) response from the Telecoms provider in a timely fashion to resolve the issues.
I personally have many, many examples of reports that I have submitted to solicitors on behalf of businesses to try and recoup their losses which can result in lengthy legal disputes.
- How technical is the company? Do they know the dynamics of the products and services they sell? Can they say with confidence that your business will be protected and they have procedures in place in the event that their providers have an issue?
- Is this the right supplier for you? There are actually some companies who have invested their own money into building hosted systems, based in UK data centres.
Some companies sell through a channel/reseller network and some of the privately owned companies sell direct to businesses and are fully in control of the back-office systems. Some are just sales outfits and have zero control.
Always find a good independent consultant who knows the marketplace well, and they will be able to advise your business accordingly as to who the movers and shakers are in the Telecoms arena.
If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.