The Comms Business Mystery Caller has had some excellent conversations over the past year and in our last issue of 2014 we celebrate the best. Congratulations to the top scorers!
Redsquid Communications – September 2014
I got straight through to a friendly receptionist who passed me onto the appropriate department. Although I didn’t catch her name another equally polite person listened to my request and decided that they would arrange a call back from one of the directors. Blimey! I don’t know how big the staff numbers were but if directors are following up on enquiries then that is quite impressive. Rupert called me back about ten minutes later and took me through how he saw the current 4G landscape. Device wise Rupert referred to this current moment in time as a ‘limbo state’ where some of the devices are 4G enabled and some aren’t. He did say although there isn’t coverage everywhere the rollout is happening a lot quicker than the 3G rollout.
Redsquids preferred partner is Vodafone, they do about 90% of their business through them but they could do other networks if we wanted. He also mentioned that Vodafone were developing voice over 4G at the moment and that could be a game changer for businesses when it is released. Rupert asked me a few questions about my business and why I thought 4G would be a good fit for us. I was concerned about costs but Rupert explained that all the networks had brought down the costs and it really wasn’t that much more expensive, if at all.
Rupert went on to explain that they are seeing a lot of people opting for 4G as it is helping them mobilise their workforce. They currently got 24meg download speeds in the office and in some areas, such as Heathrow, Rupert says he has seen speeds of 44 mgb. Rupert explained that a lot of their customers are now able to take full advantage of UC solutions now that their mobile connectivity has improved and he is seeing a lot of businesses starting to use services such as Office 365.
I asked about devices and Rupert was definitely a Nokia man. He said for the price they are hard to beat and they easily integrate into the existing Windows IT setup most businesses have. He did say there are other brands out there that would do a good job to but he could send us a few different devices with 4G SIMs and we could trial them out and decide which ones we liked best.
Total 26/30 Great Score! Rupert was excellent and really left no stone unturned in his explanation of 4G, where the networks are with the rollout and what it could do for us as a business now or in the future. It was hard picking out negatives on this call but he could have been a bit pushier on the sales side…to be honest he probably didn’t need to be pushy. Great explanation, a trial to test the equipment, possible future UC applications…I would buy from Rupert.
Fleet Mobile Communications – August 2014
I got through to a delightful lady called Jane at Fleet Mobile Communications. I explained what I was after and she said she could give me all the advice I needed. Jane took me through what Fleet could do for your typical SMB which basically boiled down to bespoke mobile packages. I asked her what she thought about just buying a few SIM cards and letting the employees swap them in and out of their phones during the day but she advised against it. Jane told me it can get a bit complicated if you are giving employees a SIM but they are still using their own device. There were a few occasions Jane had come across where an employee had dropped or damaged their phone during the working day and then expected the employer to pay for it because it was during working hours. Jane said it is best to issue new handsets with contracts to the employees which would basically ensure employees looked after the device and understand that the company would cover the contract cost. If we did it that way we would avoid a lot of potential problems in the future when an employee left the business or lost their phone etc.
On the devices themselves Jane said they could quite easily do a mix and match service so employees could choose their own devices if we wanted them to. She did mention that usually she steers people clear of Apple because they only come with one year guarantees, most other brands come with two years as standard. Jane mentioned we may want to think about Samsung as they have a Samsung repair workshop on site which may sway our decision.
I was keen to know what they could do in terms of data protection if a phone was lost or stolen and Jane did mention they have an MDM solution which we may want to look at. Although Jane made me aware of the MDM solution she did say if we aren’t already missing that functionality we may just want to ensure all the devices have a pin lock and then they can bar any device if it goes walkies. The MDM solution would be good if we wanted to lock down certain parts of the device and control the apps downloaded but it may be a bit overkill for what we wanted. Jane said the best thing to do would be for someone to come in and discuss the options with us so they could tailor the right solution for the business in conjunction with our current IT set up.
Total 25/30 Excellent! Jane was, quite frankly, lovely! Unfortunately a lot of what I was asking came with a ‘it depends’ kind of response but nevertheless Jane provided me with some excellent information and really knew her stuff. I’m not sure if Jane was a member of the sales team or not but with her friendly demeanour she could afforded to be a bit pushier. In all, a great call.
Skyblue – May 2014
After having a look at the Skyblue website they seemed like a good place to start on this one. My call was immediately answered by Dave who was polite and took a few details. Dave introduced me to their main cloud product called Horizon which can be delivered via a number of mechanisms. When I asked about trying it out in the office before we bought Dave said they didn’t actually offer that but they do demonstrations and they would happily come to the office to show us how it all worked. A simple compromise but there isn’t really a substitute for using the kit yourself for a few weeks to see how it holds up.
When I asked what was different about the solution Dave told me it comes with a management portal which we could use to adjust our minutes and other such costs. They also give mobile minutes away which can help keep costs down if you are a high volume user. On the mobile front the system can be twinned with mobile phones and individually managed through the portal. There are lots of other services like call recording that can be managed by the user through the portal too.
I asked about costs and if I was likely to save any money and Dave told me about a recent customer that was paying about £360/ month on calls and when he made the switch to the hosted system he was paying slightly less but had a complete new phone system in place. He did emphasize that not everyone finds it to be cheaper and it really depends on how many calls your business is making. The biggest plus for the customer was that he didn’t have to worry about how many calls were being made because he got so many free minutes included within his deal.
Dave said there was so much more to this solution that he wouldn’t be able to get across over the phone and so he wanted to meet up to discuss. I dodged the question and wanted to know how he was finding the world of cloud generally and what he could do on the IT side for me. He said they work with an IT services company and could pretty much do anything we wanted. Dave said if you took and empty office they could fit everything that a business could want in there from end to end and have you up and running in no time. Dave said most people are still using traditional telephony solutions but it is starting to change and he found a lot of people using SIP as the delivery mechanism at the moment.
Total 25/30 Excellent score. This was a hard call to fault and it was enjoyable from start to finish. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to go through a receptionist and the person answering the phone knew everything I wanted. Dave did ask a few questions about the business but could have pushed a bit more on that side.
Understanding how resellers are dealing with their customers has been essential for us to understand some of the major challenges the Channel are facing today. Technology is always evolving and as such resellers and dealers must update their knowledge to match. This year we had five companies that scored top marks with one stand out, Redsquid Communications. Congratulations to Redsquid, keep up the good work! From the remaining four second place finishers Fleet Mobile and Skyblue have both made marked improvements on their scores from last year and so have been included in the write up, excellent work. If you find yourself in the mid table or below some improvements are definitely needed, Skyblue and Fleet both made it up to the top of table after lagging in 2013 so there is no reason why you can’t too!
We hope you have enjoyed the mystery caller this year…just remember, you never know who is calling you next!