Mystery Caller – September 2014

Mystery-Caller---Detective

It has been almost an entire year since our Mystery Caller has enquired about upgrading his staff phones in order to gain access to 4G. This time around he wants to know how things have changed and how 4G will help his business. Unfortunately our Mystery caller has heard a few bad reports of 4G services outside of the big cities and this is putting him off. He wants to know how coverage will progress and what kind of doors 4G can open. Cost is another factor worrying him as he isn’t entirely sure he needs 4G as his staff seem to get by on 3G and free wifi spots when they can find them. Which is the best network to go with for 4G? He knows EE had a head start but have the others now caught up? Perhaps he should wait through another upgrade cycle before making the leap? Let’s see how he got on.

Carphone Warehouse

I wanted to ring a big name brand like Carphone Warehouse to see what pearls of wisdom I could elicit. I got through to a chatty girl called Jo who tried to answer my questions as best she could. I asked about which of the networks were providing the better service and was told although EE got a head start O2 and Vodafone are catching up very quickly. Jo told me most customers were going for 4G contracts because even if they couldn’t get it in their area it was likely that coverage would improve very quickly. Jo was sitting on the fence a little bit on this one but did mention that EE had managed to acquire a broad range of spectrum during the auction so they were probably the best provider at the moment in terms of coverage.

When I asked about the expense of selecting a 4G handset over a regular one Jo told me there really wasn’t much difference in price and there is a great range of basic handsets that were 4G enabled that wouldn’t break the bank. Jo took me through the range of handsets that might suit me and recommended the Nokia Lumia range as they were not only cost effective but very good devices.

I tentatively asked about Apple but Jo fairly quickly said that although they are good phones you are mostly paying for the brand more than anything else. There were many alternatives we should explore unless we specifically knew we wanted Apple devices.

I asked flat out if now was the right time to make the switch to 4G devices Jo confidently said it would be a good thing to do. Not only did it not matter if we couldn’t get 4G currently were we were, because the phones revert back to 3G, it wouldn’t cost us any more or less to get the enabled handsets. If we went with a 4G handset we could then start using the service as soon as it was rolled out which would then open up more business doors.

Scores

Helpfulness – 3/5

Manner – 4/5

Knowledge – 2/5

Understanding – 3/5

Sales Technique – 2/5

Clarity – 3/5

Total – 17/30 

Could do better. I think this call was probably typical of a large organisation like Carphone Warehouse. Jo knew the products and a little about the networks but there wasn’t much beyond that. There wasn’t a lot, if any, pressure on the sales side and no talk of what my business did. This was call was a fancy restaurant, the little there was good…but I still left hungry.

 

Redsquid Communications

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 do was send us a few different devices with 4G SIMs and we could trial them out and decide which ones we liked best.

Scores

Helpfulness – 5/5

Manner – 5/5

Knowledge – 5/5

Understanding – 4/5

Sales Technique – 3/5

Clarity – 4/5

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.

 

Chitter Chatter Telecom

After explaining what i was after to the receptionist I was put through to a jovial Jordan. Jordan wasted no time in telling me that 4G was up and coming but in almost all cases it’s a good idea to look at 4G now because coverage is improving all the time and all the best deals cover the 4G handsets which can actually make the service cheaper than sticking with a regular 3G plan.

Jordan took me through his coverage checker and he said at the moment in my area there is excellent coverage in the town centre but just outside it can get a bit patchy. His advice was there was no real reason that we shouldn’t be looking at 4G. He also told me that EE are the frontrunners in coverage right now so they would be the best network to go for.

Jordan asked me what type of phones we currently use and I told him that although we have iPhones for personal use I didn’t think it was necessary to fork out for new ones when there were cheaper options out there. He took me through the best sellers at Chitter Chatter which included the Samsung Galaxy range, HTC, Sony Xperia and of course Apple. Jordan said if a lot of us were already using iPhones we may want to stick with that for ease of use but also the Xperia range were similar in size and shape. Jordan took me through an example where he laid out the price plans for a Galaxy S5 with 4G data and without. Amazingly the 4G deal was cheaper by nearly two hundred pounds over the year!

Scores

Helpfulness – 3/5

Manner – 3/5

Knowledge – 4/5

Understanding – 3/5

Sales Technique – 2/5

Clarity – 3/5

Total 18/30 

Not bad. Jordan had good knowledge of the products he was selling and the coverage of 4G but was unable to really get into how it would affect my business beyond having faster connectivity. He did clearly illustrate how networks are building out their infrastructure and the cost benefits from moving over to 4G tariffs.

 

Round up

It was a mixed bag this month. I was impressed with Rupert from Redsquid in particular because he accurately identified 1) why I needed 4G and 2) how it could help my business now and in the future. He was the only contender that mentioned UC and was pretty good on all other counts throughout the call. Perhaps I have been a bit harsh on the scores with Jordan and Jo but I really felt they didn’t put enough into persuading me exactly why 4G was the way to go. Their main focus was on the product and then the cost of going 4G over not. Perhaps that’s all these two companies need to do to sell their services and they get enough people through the door to warrant that level of sales knowledge. Either way Redsquid were head and shoulders above this month and are contenders for the best call of the year.

Scores

1st Redsquid Communications

2nd Chitter Chatter Telecom

3rd Carphone Warehouse