So many choices: paper or plastic, 700 anytime wireless minutes or 1,200 anytime wireless minutes?
While communications companies offer multiple services, business customers are trying to figure out ways to cut through the clutter and determine what they really need, not necessarily what is common. Decisions made about which type of communications services and equipment to use have far more impact on a small or medium-sized company’s bottom line and are more complicated than ordering a latte.
According to a 2007 report by Forrester Research, nearly 75 percent of North American small businesses currently subscribe to some type of bundled service. Service providers offer four services in a bundled form – office telephone services, mobile phone, mobile data and broadband Internet – for a lower price than if each were bought individually.
First and foremost, customers are looking for competitive pricing and reliable service with features that enhance convenience and are innovative and practical for everyday use. Accountability from one company, convenience of having one bill and dealing with one carrier are also critical value propositions for bundles. Small to mid-sized companies generally have few internal IT or telecommunications resources. Buying a bundle of services from one vendor offers advantages with respect to time, support and price.
All of these services work together in a level of seamless interaction. But what if a small business only requires high-speed Internet and local phone service or most of its workforce is mobile? This is where the concept of real choice comes in. Here are some recommended questions to ask your service provider to make sure you get a bundle, multiple products at an all-inclusive price, that saves you time and money.
What kind of high-speed Internet do I need? Depending on the provider, download speeds can vary. Before asking your service provider, it is important to understand how your company uses the Internet. For example, do you transfer large files often? And, how many people are on your network? Also, investigate your company’s need to upload items to the Internet.
Does my bundle come with a security package? Protecting sensitive data is important to your clients and vendors. If you order a complete bundle with integrated features, confirm that your data – as well as that of your clients and vendors – will be secure across all platforms.
Is it possible to combine my wireless and landline phones? The landline phone is still a valuable commodity within a bundle because it is often the most reliable communication device. Recently, communications companies have started to unite both devices through fixed mobile convergence technologies that allow for a seamless transition between both devices. The convergence can be simple and can help avoid missing a customer opportunity.
Is long distance service necessary for my daily business operations? Know, on average, how many long distance minutes you use per month. Typically, those numbers are available as a line item on your billing statement. If the number is low, consider signing up for a plan that is based on a per-minute rate instead of a flat fee. If you choose a flat fee plan, regardless of how many minutes are used, budgeting is easy each month.
Customization inside of a communications bundle may accord different Internet speeds, more wireless minutes or fewer long distance minutes making the choices for business owners much easier.