Business telephony can eat up a fair percentage of your annual budget – especially if you’ve a large or widely dispersed workforce to cater for, are using equipment that’s well past its “sell by” date, or haven’t fine-tuned your operations in such a way as to reduce running costs.
The good news is, you don’t need to hire an economist to implement effective strategies for reducing the cost of your business communications. Here are five tactics that you can use, right away.
1. Switch to More Cost-Effective Hardware & Infrastructure
First, consider your existing phone system. If it’s more than a few years old, then chances are it has been overtaken in terms of functionality and efficiency by advances in technology. This will be especially true if you’re using a legacy landline system with copper wiring and an on-premises PBX (public branch exchange).
Updating and overhauling a system like this can come with a heavy price tag – money that might be more productively spent on modern equipment and more appropriate technology.
In particular, it may be wise to invest in a cloud-based telephone system, such as hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or a hybrid cloud solution if your organisation has the PBX infrastructure and IT personnel required to make managing and maintaining such a system economically viable.
Otherwise, a subscription-based business telephony package with infrastructure provided by a cloud service will eliminate the need for a substantial investment in hardware – and the management and maintenance overheads will be taken up by your service provider.
2. Shop Around
With business telephony vendors maintaining a high-profile internet presence to attract new customers – and frequently offering special deals and free trials – it’s very much a buyer’s market, so take the time to perform some due diligence, and look into the alternatives.
Shop for service providers, equipment vendors, or carriers that offer the most competitive rates. Many companies now offer bundled services for business telecoms customers, where all services may be held under a single provider at a discounted rate. There may also be discounts or package deals available for small businesses, or enterprise packages for high-volume users.
Even if you’re happy with the level of service you’re receiving with your current provider, presenting them with proof of the lower rates available from other companies may enable you to negotiate a better pricing deal.
3. Choose A Plan That Matches Your Patterns of Usage
Assess how telecommunications resources are actually being used in your organisation: who’s texting the most, how much data is being consumed per month, etc. Check each phone bill for surcharges – and aspects of a service which you may be paying for, but rarely or ever actually use.
Then adjust your subscription plan, accordingly. If text and Instant Messaging are high-value functions for your staff, then contact your provider to see about increasing allowances for these. And reduce or eliminate any billable features or services that are being under-used.
It also helps to read the fine print, before signing a service contract – and negotiating the terms of your Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the provider, whenever possible. That way, you can establish exactly what it is that the plan you’re subscribing to actually provides, what it doesn’t (and any additional charges for extra functions or features), and what your monthly limits are.
4. Adopt A Mobile Device Management (MDM) Policy
It’s possible that your business may be operating some kind of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, with workers using their personal smartphones and other telecoms-enabled mobile hardware for work purposes. With such a system, it’s notoriously difficult for management and IT supervisors to maintain proper oversight on where and how business-related information is being stored and transmitted, which mobile applications are being downloaded and installed, or patterns of data usage.
That’s where a formalised policy on Mobile Device Management (or MDM) can be of use. An MDM policy enables you to officially set up rules governing how your workers use their personal devices in the handling of corporate data. It also empowers you to establish a “white list” of approved software, and to set up procedures for dealing with any devices that are lost or stolen.
And if certain features or service privileges are being abused or over-used to the extent that they incur expensive charges, then these features may be blocked or restricted.
The cloud-hosted Swytch platform – which allows companies to assign UK-registered business numbers to their workers’ personal phones – offers MDM capability within a unique service offering that empowers businesses to adopt a BYOD policy “straight out of the box”. Subscription to the service gives immediate access to dedicated mobile apps for deployment, and an easy to use online dashboard for administration, cost management, and provisioning.
5. Integrate With VoIP
If you’re using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), then cost efficiency and reduced tariffs will be written into your business telephony system’s DNA. Calls within your organisation and to other users on the same network may attract minimal or no charge, while using the internet as a carrier for long-distance and international calls effectively reduces these charges to local rates.
On top of that, the integration of voice communications with data handling and office applications gives you lower-cost alternatives to inter-office phone calls, such as Instant Messaging and chat facilities.
Adopting any or all of the tactics above will help to streamline your enterprise communications, and go a significant way towards reducing the cost of your business telephony system.