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How to get the best mobile deal for your business

This post will give you the inside secrets – from the perspective of the mobile provider – on how to ensure you get the best possible deal when reviewing your business mobiles. It will also give you an understanding of the mobile provider landscape and the common pitfalls you should avoid when engaging with mobile providers.

We will cover these key areas:

  1. Getting the right tariff for your business
  2. Choosing the right mobile provider
  3. Finding the right customer service and online portal
  4. Common pitfalls to avoid when negotiating your mobile contract

1.   Getting the right tariff for your business

Pitfall: Don’t get sucked into extra data bundles and international calls as part of your tariff. The only reason a mobile provider is happy to throw these extras at you for no added cost is because they are 99% confident you won’t use it.

The biggest mistake we see during mobile reviews are companies sending us emails like the below:

Dear X,

We are reviewing our business mobiles and would like you to provide a quote for the below:

  • 50 phones
  • About 10GB per user
  • Unlimited UK minutes and texts
  • New Samsung 8s for everyone 

Kind Regards,

Y

If you want minimal bill shock and as much predictability as possible, do not send something like the above as your requirements.
Instead, try going along these lines:

Dear X,

We are reviewing our business mobiles which are due for renewal 28th September 2019.

I have attached 3 months’ worth of itemised usage across our 50-user mobile fleet.

Could you please analyse our usage across data, minutes and texts and provide a tariff which is as cost-effective as possible whilst also being predictable on a monthly basis.

Some areas that have been issues for us are the below: 

  • We travel a lot to Morocco, India and Vietnam and this has caused spikes in costs for call and data usage
  • Our users are on individual bundles so have gone over their 10GB data limit several times throughout the year, causing unexpected costs
  • Our users in our Stafford office struggle to receive signal on our current network
  • We are currently on the EE network and have users based in Stafford and London.

We would like quotes by the end of next week from which we will have meetings with the two best providers for final questions.

Any questions please let me know.

Kind Regards,

Y

The key to getting the most suitable tariff and best mobile deal for your business is the itemised usage, because this tells the mobile provider everything they need to know, such as:

  • How much data you need, including some buffer room for increases throughout your contract period
  • Any international usage you make, so the provider can bundle that into a predictable cost-effective tariff
  • Any processes the provider can apply via alerts and bars on their portal, to prevent costly premium rate/international calls that you know your users shouldn’t be making

As well as the itemised usage, make sure to outline pain points that you are having with your current tariff. A new provider should make it clear how their tariff will provide bill stability inline with your predicted budgets.

If there isn’t a tariff that covers countries such as India, the provider should build a bespoke pool of minutes and data at a fixed monthly cost. This will cover your usage needs and be significantly cheaper than the unexpected cost-spikes you would have received otherwise.

In the second email example the company references an issue with out-of-bundle usage on their data. This is important as it ensures that the new provider offers a more flexible pool of data – or just ensures they put the best processes in place to prevent excessive charges.

Finally, the company mentions the signal issues. This will become vital as we explore the three different types of mobile providers out there, because it will help you choose the right one for your signal issues.

This gives you a good foundation of how to review your mobile estate, ensuring you get the right tariff. If you find your needs are not being met, it’s time to consider switching providers. Read about the key things to look out for here

2.   Choosing the right mobile provider

Not all business mobile providers are the same, and each one has their pros and cons. Some will be a good match for you, whereas others will not.With any provider, you must consider whether they can meet your needs exactly to get the best mobile deal for your business.

There is a common misconception that only two types of providers exist, those being the networks direct (e.g. Vodafone, EE, O2) and resellers (e.g. Carphone Warehouse).

There are in fact three types, which we will delve into further.

Network direct

This is self-explanatory: you are going direct to the carrier that owns the network. These are the networks that resellers and ISPs use to sell their mobile offerings.

What are the benefits?

The main perceived benefit of going direct to a network is price.

Like any business, the more you sell, the cheaper you are able to sell the products for. Therefore, the mobile devices themselves tend to be a little cheaper as they are selling a lot more of them than the smaller resellers and ISPs are. But that is not always the case.

What are the negatives?

When going direct you will only be able to use one network. This can lead to problems regarding everyday practicalities. For example, if you receive a strong signal in one region and weak signal in another, your business communication will be affected.

Due to economies of scale and the size of the networks businesses you won’t receive any personable dedicated customer support. Out of hours support may not exist or could come at an additional cost.

Independent Service Provider (ISP)

An independent service provider works on a wholesale model, allowing the ISPs to build their own tariffs rather than off-shelf network published tariffs. The differentiation between an ISP and a reseller is that an ISP will handle everything – from the tariff and billing, right through to customer service. You never have to deal with the network direct at any point, only with the ISP.

What are the benefits?

An ISP can sell all networks, so you can mix and match your mobile fleet across several networks to ensure you get the best signal coverage whilst only dealing with one provider.

The customer service is more efficient and personable. This is the key reason why companies choose an ISP over the network direct.

You receive the same commercials as you would from the network direct but with more choice and flexibility to better suit your business mobile usage.

What are the negatives?

ISP’s have more of a risk of being acquired, affecting customer service standards. They also may be slightly delayed in offering the latest market trends.

Reseller

Resellers differ from ISPs in that they resell off the shelf tariffs acting as a broker. They are bound by the offerings of the networks direct as to what tariffs they can offer. You’ll notice that resellers have promotions on, and sometimes these are very similar to the tariffs offered by the networks direct.

Reseller customer service can be better than the network direct. However, when using a reseller, you will normally be billed by the network direct, have to use the network’s customer portal and still have to contact the network’s customer service team for certain issues (those which the resellers cannot handle in-house).

What are the benefits?

They can offer aggressive commercials dependent on timing and targets. Resellers are targeted on the number of connections (i.e. mobile tariffs) they sell – not so much whether those tariffs are profitable for the network direct.

Customer service tends to be more personable than the network direct, and, like an ISP, resellers can provide all three networks.

What are the negatives?

There is a low barrier of entry to the market for companies that set out to resell. This doesn’t mean that all resellers are potentially disreputable – as there are plenty of successful partner resellers out there.

Some setups do consist of just two or three people working out of an office, selling hundreds of mobile connections – but without the support structure or the business processes to successfully manage you as a customer once you are signed up.

In simple terms, do your homework on the company before you sign the dotted line. Ensure they are well-established, financially stable with many years of mobile experience and good references whom you can contact to confirm their capabilities.

How to choose

To summarise, if you need coverage across more than one network, choose a reseller or an ISP.

If you want personable service with a trusted advisor with online access to your account – but you don’t like dealing with large PLC’s (e.g. BT) – an ISP is the ideal option for you.

If commercials are your only driver and your have a very large mobile estate with predictable usage, a network direct may be a good option.

ISP’s and resellers can compete well, so always consider receiving a comparison proposal from them to get the best mobile deal for your business.

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3.   Finding the right customer service and online portal

Many companies don’t review the quality of the customer service and the customer portal they are going to receive, prior to choosing their mobile provider.

If your choice of provider is based solely on cost you may find your customer experience is inefficient and frustrating. Queries can take many days to be resolved, across several teams without the ability to engage an agent directly. You may also find proactively manage your usage which can incur excessive unpredictable costs.

How can you avoid this?

Ask your mobile provider for customer references

Quoted lines on a website is not sufficient. Ideally, speaking to an actual customer directly will give you the evidence of the provider’s true mobile capabilities.

Failure to accommodate this could be seen as an alarm bell. Established successful B2B mobile providers will have multiple customers who would be happy to vouch for their services.

Get them to demo their customer portal

A mobile portal will show your invoices and previous months’ usage whilst proactively showing your in-month usage and top users.

It will allow you to manage and edit your mobile users, set up cost and usage alerts and bars, and can schedule reports to your inbox each month/week/day to report your usage and highlight any risk of bill shock before it takes place.

Inability to perform these basic tasks in the mobile provider’s portal will cause issues with managing your mobile fleet and can result in high costs.

4.   Common pitfalls to avoid when negotiating your mobile contract

Just a reminder of some of the pitfalls to avoid when dealing with mobile providers and salesmen:

  • Don’t get sucked into tariff value – The devils in the detail. Just because it seems like you are receiving a lot of data, sms and minutes for your money, don’t ignore the details. Look at areas such as the cost for out of bundle data usage, international and premium rate call costs. These are the areas that will bump up your monthly costs.
  • “We don’t have anyone you can contact as a reference” – If this is the case, look elsewhere. If they don’t have a single happy customer who would be happy to vouch for their services, this is a red flag.
  • A limited customer portal – If you are unable to proactively view your in-month usage, out-of-bundle charges and high spenders – whilst also setting up proactive alerts and bars for certain usage types try and find some providers who can. This will lower your bills significant and make your life far easier.
  • Small resellers – Remember that the mobile reseller market has a lower barrier of entry than the ISP market. Always check the company out thoroughly before moving forward with them, as you don’t want to be stuck in a 24-month contract with a one-man band. Cheapness does not mean they are established or set up to effectively support you.
  • Don’t assume it’s an issue you have to accept – If you are having an issue with costly usage, don;t assume it is a mobile wide problem, ask other providers and challenge your provider to resolve this by building it into your tariff.

Business mobile plans by Intercity

Your mobile plan should work for you, rather than you working around it.

At Intercity, we create bespoke tariffs that meet your users’ needs and your budget, enabling your workforce to work wherever, whenever.

Learn more about our flexible business mobile plans.

Hear about our customer experiences here.

Up next

EMM strategy: 4 signs that you need to switch business mobile provider

Not all business mobile providers are as customer-focused as they should be. What any provider should do is prioritise your organisational needs and ensure that you receive maximum value for money. However, many fail to do this – often resulting in poor overall service and also leaving you wide open to extra costs.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If any of the following scenarios apply to you, it’s time to switch provider.

1. Your tariff is off-the-shelf and rigid

Each business is different to the next, structurally and operationally, so each one needs its own bespoke mobile plan.

You shouldn’t have to compromise and pay for more airtime or data than your workforce actually needs, nor should you settle and make do with insufficient allowances.

A good mobile provider will build a plan around your organisation’s specific needs, rather than give you an off-the-shelf package direct from the network. That’s the difference between a mobile reseller and an independent service provider (ISP).

Crucially, your plan should be flexible, because your needs will likely change over time. For example, if you have employees who often travel overseas for work, it would make sense for your tariff to include a large allowance of global data – plus the freedom to add more or take some away wherever necessary.

Similarly, if your workforce is spread across the UK, you need your mobile plan to be geographically diverse and resilient, in order to ensure optimum coverage in each region. For this to happen, you’ll need access to several mobile networks – not just one – so that your employees can switch SIMs whenever they need to. If a provider treats this as a special accommodation, that’s a red flag; you should expect it as a standard offering, because it’s a necessary requirement for modern businesses that want to run effectively.

A mobile reseller can’t offer that sort of flexibility. When you’re signed up to a rigid plan, you’re open to bill-shock as well as hindering your operations. You can and should demand flexibility from your mobile provider. You are paying a premium for their service, after all.

2. They’re not proactive

The beauty of having a proactive mobile provider is that they preemptively solve problems for you.

Your provider has visibility on how much airtime and data your business is using, and therefore they can anticipate when you are at risk of exceeding your allowances. At this point, they should get in touch and offer a solution, such as adding extra gigabytes of data before you go over, rather than waiting until you go over the limit. Avoiding unnecessary expenses like bill-shock should be one of your provider’s priorities.

This links back to the point about flexibility. If your organisation expands its operations into a new geographical area that is served better by a different mobile network, your mobile provider should proactively recommend adding a number of that network’s SIMs to your plan.

Their job, to put it bluntly, is to make sure that your employees are well connected wherever they are, so they should be looking for ways to constantly optimise your plan for you.

3. Their customer support is 9-5

In modern business, operations don’t finish at 5 p.m. each day, so neither should a mobile provider’s support. If an emergency or even a more minor issue arises after-hours, the best outcome for your business is for it to be resolved there and then, not at 9:01 a.m. the following day, or first thing on Monday. This is especially important to businesses that run their operations 24/7 and users that travel globally, we are living in a connected world where uptime is critical to how a business operates.

4. Security isn’t a priority

Smartphones and tablets are entry points to your network, which means they need the same sophisticated protection as your PCs and laptops in order to prevent unauthorised access, malware infection and other breaches. In other words, your perimeter of protection must expand along with your EM strategy.

An unsecured mobile device leaves its user – and therefore the entire business network – open to the ever-expanding mobile threat landscape. Your provider, therefore, should recognise that mobile security is an essential part of the mobile offering.

You need a combination of mobile device management (MDM) and mobile threat defence (MTD) working together to ensure multi-level security across your entire fleet of devices, with accessible reporting that ensures visibility on your end.

Choose a mobile provider that genuinely cares about your business

For a provider to give you the highest possible level of service, they need to truly understand your wider business. Only then will they be able to give you the proactive advice that solves issues quickly or, better still, before they even arise.