Phone utilities

Phone utilities

Chris Earl of Unicom
Chris Earl of Unicom

Chris Earl, Operations Director of Unicom profiles his company

In the earlier years of the company, the main challenge was new customer sales. Although this challenge remains important, Unicom’s providing the highest possible level of customer service for the 80,000 business customers is now of equal importance.

Our core business is fixed telephone lines and telephone calls, which are provided by BT Openreach and Verizon. Providing we maintain attractive prices from our suppliers we can continue to drive sales based on a low-cost offering with an excellent customer service.

The introduction of WLR3 provides us with much better technical integration into BT’s systems and allows us to become a far more efficient company when dealing with customer orders/issues.

 

Convergence

Unicom’s product range is driven by its customer’s requirements. Unicom’s small business customers do not currently require voice and data convergence. For that reason, Unicom provides lines and calls separately to Broadband at present.

When our customers require something different we will develop our product range accordingly. However, we will never try to sell products to our customers where they do not require or want those products.

 

Training & accreditation

In October 2008 we became ISO 9001 accredited and we are currently working towards gaining the Investors in People and Customer Service Excellence awards.

All training is carried out by an in-house training team, the manager of which is about to become CiPD accredited. Training has been developed based on our own experience and information provided to us from our supply partners. We have over 70 training courses to handle all aspects of the company and will develop even more when new products are developed and rolled out.

 

Business outlook & plans

Unicom is currently considering entering both the mobile phone and the electricity supply market, offering our customers a single bill and point of contact for their core business utilities.

While electricity may initially seem an unusual fit, it’s actually closer to fixed lines than a mobile product. You have a fixed supply address, rather than a roaming supply location, and charges are kept relatively simple (i.e. standing charge and unit charge, no inclusive minutes, text messages or data allowances).

Our long-term goal is to be able to offer businesses a total solution for their business telecom and utility needs.

 

Market observations

The market will continue to consolidate. Residential customers will continue to rely less on their home telephone line and home broadband and rely more on their mobiles and mobile applications.

Corporate customers will continue to demand cutting-edge technology in all aspects of their communications.

The small business market will not change very much in the foreseeable future.

 

Company Info:

Incorporated in 1998 Staff employed: Approximately 500 Turnover or run rate: For the year ending April 2009, Unicom reported pre-tax profits of £11.2m on a turnover of £44.5m (with profits up 14.3% and turnover up 7% from April 2007). Unicom expects profits to be in excess of £12m on a turnover of more than £48m for the current year.

Milestones

Unicom was ranked 26th in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100 listings in April 2006, 89th in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 index in December 2006 and 96th in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100 listings in April 2007. In September 2007 it achieved a ranking of 95th, and in September 2008 a ranking of 88th, in the Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 index.

April 2007 – Signed 100,000th customer, a fivefold increase in three years.

July 2007 – 500 millionth customer call and 1 billion minutes of call time sold.

March 2008 – Launch 118 777

October 2008 – Unicom became ISO 9001 certified.

July 2009 – Unicom confirmed as the first UK company to reach ‘business as usual’ on the WLR3 platform.