Big Numbers at Unicom

Telecom service provider Unicom, which specialises in small business telephony provision, is on the verge of a double milestone.

During early November, one of Manchester-based Unicom’s 55,000 business customers made the 400 millionth call routed by the company since it launched – and before the end of November, Unicom expects to complete 800 million minutes of call time.

“Our business customers make around 20 million calls with something like 35 million minutes of talk time every month,” said Chris Earle, Operations Director of Unicom.

Unicom credits its growth and success to a call centre with a difference – a ‘normal’ phone number, and UK-based people answering incoming calls in around six seconds.

“Why are we performing so well? Well, we provide our customers with highly competitive prices, which we fix for three years, and we ensure that all customers genuinely receive the highest possible levels of customer service,” said Chris Earle.

“Despite out size, we still act like a relatively small business with a small, closely-knit and efficient management team – and we are absolutely clear in our minds about what makes the difference to our customers: a UK call centre with real people answering the telephone, 98% of calls answered within six seconds, and managers and directors who are hands-on and accessible.

“Our customer retention level is currently running at 86% against a sector average of around 70%. Of the 14% we lose, less than a third go to competitors, the remainder being businesses that close or move premises for one reason or another, which is obviously beyond our control.”

The Manchester-based business saw 2005-2006 turnover increase from £21.3 million to £31.0 million, with pre-tax profits at £4.5 million compared to £2.3 million to the end of April 2005. Turnover is on target to hit £40 million in the current financial year.

Unicom’s 55,000 customers are primarily small or owner-managed businesses with telephone bills of approximately £1,000 a year. The specialised nature of the telephony and broadband products offered by Unicom provides significant savings for its business users, and Unicom has also recently launched 0800 and 0808, 0845, and 0870 numbers for its customers – beating BT’s equivalent deals on pricing.

“We’ve not actually had a price increase since we started offering our telecom services in 2001,” said Chris Earle. “We use BT’s infrastructure and network, so beyond the occasional glitches any provider can expect, our service is as robust as they come.”