Mystery Caller – September 2013

This month our mystery caller has a rather rudimentary problem. He wants a bunch of smartphones for his employees but isn’t sure what is best to go for. Here he tries to decipher which the best brands are for the functionality he needs and what his options would be on tariffs. The budget has been set at £25 per month per user and when it comes to network preferences our caller is fairly agnostic. Another interesting avenue to explore is what is on offer in terms of added services that would make a customer think twice about going directly to the network to purchase devices. It is an important part of the dealer proposition as customers are getting savvier about getting the right deal.

Connect U

I got a call back from Richard a day after I tried contacting Connect U. It wasn’t a great start but my bog standard request was an enquiry regarding eight handsets which probably didn’t put pound signs in the eyes. Nevertheless, Richard was polite and friendly and clearly had good knowledge of the tariffs available. He initially asked if he could come and sit down with the business to discover what our exact needs were in terms of usage etc. Good start but I wanted a bit more information so probed him with a few questions about tariffs. Richard said we could do a pool of minutes/texts/data but there is a breakeven point on share plans which may not make it financially viable to go that route. For £30 a month we could get unlimited calls and texts with 1Gb of data per user which may be a better route to go down if we have high usage. The main advantage of this would be not having to worry about the number of calls and texts employees were making via mobiles, still it was a smidge over budget. Most high end phones were also available on this plan for free too. When I asked about the actual device he said really it comes down to user preference but he likes Blackberry because of the keypad and the new models have excellent web browsing speeds, the Q5 and Q10 were briefly touched on. Interestingly Richard also mentioned that the new Blackberry range were quite efficient in their data usage which may be worth knowing if users are expecting to do a lot of emails and browsing.

Highlights: 

Good general advice, Pushed for meeting to survey needs.

Lowlights: 

A wider knowledge of different handsets could have been better.

Scores

Helpfulness – 4/5 Manner – 4/5 Knowledge – 3/5

Understanding – 3/5 Sales Technique – 4/5 Clarity – 3/5

Total – 21/30 

Richard was pretty good at taking me through the various options available to me but didn’t give me the wow factor I was hoping for. The major reason for this was probably the push for him to come in and survey our needs in the office before then talking about what is best. Although he did mention they would be on hand whenever we needed technical help I feel he could have made more of the value add Connect U could have offered me. Fairly good call all round.

 

Fleet Mobile

I got straight through to Steve who wasted no time in telling me he would be able to find something to suit us. They offered all the bespoke tariffs we could shake a stick at and their network partner was O2. When I asked about the most suitable package Steve said that more often than not a pooled calls and text package was best for the number of devices we were looking for. Then the data could be tailored to each individual with £5 bolt on per 500mb. Also he mentioned O2 can cap the data so you can’t go over which will avoid any bill shocks. When asked about handsets Steve said they did all the major brands but one of their more popular brands was Samsung because of their Samsung specialist service centre. This meant if any of the phones stopped working it would be a quick fix as no third party would be involved. A particularly good seller was apparently the Samsung S3 mini which would be more than capable of covering our business needs. I tried throwing the iPhone and Blackberry spanner in the works and Steve told me that the iPhone was good but expensive and Blackberry’s were also pretty good especially if you like a qwerty key pad. Blackberry also compress their emails and so are more data efficient than some other handsets. Steve said the next stage would be a meeting to discuss what exactly was needed and then when can go from there. I did ask what other services they offer and was told that they have a whole IT and technical team that could support us if needed and they can even setup our emails and business functions for us.

Highlights:

Good knowledge of handsets and support services

Lowlights:

He could have pushed me for a meeting more, given more advice around the specific budget I mentioned.

Scores

Helpfulness – 4/5 Manner – 4/5 Knowledge – 4/5

Understanding – 3/5 Sales Technique – 4/5 Clarity – 4/5

Total – 23/30

Good call, Steve was excellent on the phone and was very clear on what Fleet could offer me. As is the way with these things so many answers can come back ‘it depends on x,y and z’ but Steve did his best to navigate my questions. He was also excellent in highlighting the advantages of going with them and how they can add value with their services centre and IT support teams.

 

Mobile Phones Direct

For the ultimate slug off between phone manufacturers I thought I would throw a curve ball in here and ring a consumer angled reseller. I got through to Ashley who immediately said he could give me some advice on the phones but wouldn’t be able to help me with the business contracts. Ashley was very knowledgeable about the handsets I was asking about. Straight off the bat he said if you want a business device his preference would be to go with Android over Apple. The devices made for Apple have a far broader appeal and if I want a more business experience then go with Android. Within the budget I mentioned he said the Galaxy S2 would probably suffice for everything we needed it for and we would get a cracking deal because it was a few generations old. He said if we wanted something a little jazzier then the Galaxy S3 or Note 2 would both be excellent choices. I mentioned Blackberry and Ashley immediately put on the breaks and said he personally wouldn’t touch them as he has experienced a lot of technical problems in the past. They may suit those who like the qwerty keypads but the Z10 is their first stab at the touch screen and he wouldn’t try it until they had a few more versions under their belt. I was being bombarded with facts about all these phones but he did say all his advice could be moot because a lot of this comes down to user preference. He suggested I take his advice and then compare it against a quick office survey to see what peoples preferences are.

Highlights: 

Great knowledge about a broad range of products

Lowlights: 

He could have tried to wield his selling magic a touch more

Scores

Helpfulness – 3/5 Manner – 4/5 Knowledge – 4/5 Understanding – 3/5 Sales Technique – 2/5 Clarity – 3/5

Total 19/30 

Middle of the road. This was an eye opening call. The advice given was hard hitting and to the point without much agenda behind it. Although Ashley said they could provide phones he knew I was after business contracts really and so his advice was fairly to the point. I was very impressed with his knowledge and understanding but really I was using him to benchmark the other business resellers.

 

Round up

Although this month the request was a simple one I really wanted to get a sense of what resellers are pushing out there. In essence the common response was that it comes down to user preference at the end of the day. When it comes to buying a smartphone it can be a little like buying a new car….it is very difficult to buy a really rubbish one that won’t do everything you need it to. The differentiators tend to come in on spec and non business functions like the camera, music player, or screen definition. Interestingly Blackberry was mentioned as it is data efficient and can browse effectively and quickly. I find it fascinating that these devices are still held in high regard even though their share price has fallen round their ankles. Saying that perhaps Ashley from Mobile Phones Direct had more of a handle on the handsets and how they are actually performing? He was the only person to speak unfavourably about the manufacturer but did highlight the importance of user preference. Although we all know the iPhone and what it can do the specifics were generally left out of the conversations I had due to their expense…I suspect if people want iPhones they will just get them regardless. It makes me wonder how they became the most successful company ever if no one is pushing their products!

 

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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