To follow on from our feature on collaboration our mysterious caller has sought advice from our reseller friends as to the options available to his small business. Collaborative tools are needed so that internal meetings can happen, even when key members of staff are out of the office. The ability to share and edit documents and conduct a video conference, all at the same time, would be a great efficiency saver for our mystery caller. Should he just go for one of the many apps available and download it straight to his smartphone and tablets or is a more robust unified communications solution appropriate? We are constantly seeing reports as how the collaborative tools commonly used in the enterprise are now available to the SMB, but are they affordable and is anyone actually selling them?
I found One Point online and was impressed to see they were exactly what I was looking for. I initially got through to the service desk and explained the nature of my enquiry. Almost before I had finished asking if I should be looking at a paid for service over a free consumer grade option the rather direct operator said “yes”. Good start.
I was put through to Ash who explained to me that they sell mostly two types of service that could help me and there wasn’t much between them. One was WebEx and the other was Unified Meeting Centre. Ash explained in terms of quality and functionality there really wasn’t much to choose between them and the only differences were that WebEx required a licence and the other was paid for on a pence per minute basis with no setup costs or licence fees. He also mentioned that occasionally WebEx required third parties to install software before being able to connect to a call.
Ash described how each service would allow us talk over video and share and work on the same documents. He said they have been using it in the office and it has speeded up everything tremendously. One snazzy little feature was that the services integrated into Outlook which would make it really easy to invite people to conference calls.
In terms of the bandwidth required for the services Ash said because they were both business grade solutions they can compress the data which means it can even work over a mobile 3G SIM. In terms of businesses that use these services he said major banks, governments, financial institutions all use these platforms because they are ultra secure and reliable. Now that cost isn’t prohibitive for smaller businesses to get involved the same technology is available to everyone. Ash said a single user licence for WebEx is usually about seventy pounds whilst they could charge us as little as eight pence per minute for their own Unified Meeting Room service.
Total 25/30 This was a great call. Ash seemed to have endless knowledge about the services I was asking about and he explained everything in detail when I asked. It wasn’t until after the call when he told me the person I should have been speaking to was on the phone so couldn’t take my call.
Think Telecoms Solutions
After an unnerving amount of time listening to the phone ring Dan picked up. I explained my situation and Dan said that I had come through to technical support so this sort of thing wasn’t really in his domain.
Dan collected some details from me and said he would pass my information on to the appropriate member of the team and get someone to email me back. He wasn’t entirely sure if they would be able to help themselves but he was confident they could happily point me in the right direction if not.
This wasn’t really a call I would have normally included for a write up but I think it highlights several challenges smaller resellers face on a regular basis. Having someone there to answer a call is all well and good but if they aren’t able to help with enquiries then what is the value. In today’s climate if you can’t do the job first then someone around the corner can. It also takes less than thirty seconds to find another suitor online.
Dan was obviously doing what any diligent worker would do when the phone rings and there is no one else there to answer it. He got stuck in and got my details, well done for that at least. If he had been sure he could help me that would have been a bigger incentive to stay engaged in dialogue. As it stood, he wasn’t sure if they could be of any use and I would have to wait for someone to get back to me.
Total 13/30 Not much to be said here! Dan was a nice enough chap but from my perusal on their website I could quite clearly see they offer Office 365. This may not have been exactly what I was asking for but it would have certainly have been worth mentioning.
I have called MeetingZone previously to ask about conferencing solutions so I was interested to see how they would score in another call. I got through to Numan who listened to my request and pretty much told me there and then that WebEx was my best bet. It was their best seller for small businesses and was really simple to set up. I did ask about Skype for Business but was told generally that was aimed at larger companies.
Numan described the licences for WebEx and explained we would only need a licence for those that need to initiate meetings. If it was for mostly internal meetings then perhaps we would only need a couple of them to fulfil our needs. I was quoted £39.60/ month per licence with an additional 4p per minute for audio.
In terms of functionality Numan told me that WebEx basically would have us covered for all our collaboration needs and is one of the most recognised conferencing programmes in the world right now. Although it would be a bit difficult to use it on an iphone it does work and would happily run across our devices.
Numan offered me a thirty day trial of the product so we could try it out in the office before committing. They would also give us a bit of training to get us started and if we were happy and wanted to continue after the trial then they would give us bespoke training aimed at our business and the sector we work in.
Total 25/30 Superb call! Numan really knew his stuff and navigated the call well. He got all my details and asked me which sector the business operated in. I said he could have gone into the collaboration tools in more depth but I was really being quite picky with that.
I struggled to pick a winner this month…so I haven’t! I felt both MeetingZone and OnePoint were set up almost perfectly to deal with my request. Specialists in the areas of collaboration and conferencing both Numan and Ash gave great answers and I felt like I was in good hands with both. In terms of selling services I felt that Numan was ahead of Ash in the way he collected my information and he even asked when he could expect to hear from me again. I would guess he hits his sales targets regularly. Ash on the other hand was an endless pit of knowledge, I would happily buy from either! Unfortunately Think Telecoms Solutions were trailing the pack this month and I got the impression this was down to their lack of resource. When your technical support team are answering your customer services phones you aren’t ever going to get the best result possible. Credit it to Dan for getting my details but many customers could have been long gone by the time they got back in touch!
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