The communication world is evolving, perhaps more rapidly than ever before.
We’re seeing more advancements every day, in the form of artificial intelligence solutions that help us to understand conversational context, chatbots that facilitate real-time communication with customers, and hardware that manages everything from call recording to user monitoring. Yet, at the heart of all this change, telecommunications continue to be vital to business success.
No matter how you slice it, we still need telephony to thrive. Whether it’s a contact center answering phones to listen to consumer problems, or a conference phone system that allows a business to communicate freely with an ever-more remote network of professionals, quick and simple contact is at the heart of everything we do.
Since, for any business, a single phone call can translate into a fresh sales opportunity, or a new route for business growth, it’s safe to say that communication matters in every industry. The trouble is, as the world of telecoms becomes more complex, it’s hard to know for certain exactly what you’re paying for.
After all, these days, the communication needs of businesses have moved beyond the old-fashioned fax machines and standard phones of the past, towards mobile solutions, high-speed internet, and incredible technology. While each of these tools can represent a great company asset, they also come with a cost.
The question is, how do you cut those costs, keep your business budget on track, and open space for growth – without risking the quality of service or performance?
Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Are You Losing $8 Million Per Year on Your Telecom Bills?
What happens in your organization when your monthly telecom invoice arrives? Do you have an industry analyst review the documents line-by-line? Or is it simply paid without a second glance?
The truth is that most telecom bills contain a huge amount of overwhelming data, coded details, and elements the average executive simple doesn’t understand. Sure, you could dive into the data a little deeper with some careful searching and research, but the changes are you just don’t have the time to give your bills that much attention. As a result, you keep on paying those charges – no matter how large – without question.
However, according to the Aberdeen group, mid-market enterprises spend about $26 million a year on telecom services alone. To make matters worse, up to 12% of those expenses are erroneous, leading to an $8 million loss in profits per company.
Although Telecommunication expenses are an area frequently overlooked in the business environment, they can be essential for cost reduction. For instance, Cargill, a food and agricultural products distributor, reported that they saved $250,000 one year just by blocking 411 calls on their phone system.
The problem is that most companies review their telecom infrastructure a couple of times per year (if that), and generally assume that they’re getting a good deal. However, that’s rarely the case. Promotions, pricing plans, new technology, and a dozen other factors can all change the telecommunications environment on a rapid basis.
So, what’s the answer?
Auditing your telecom expenses is the number one step to understanding how you can control your company communication costs. In fact, since according to some analysts, 85% of all telecom invoices received from vendors have billing errors, auditing could be a mandatory part of keeping your business budget on track.
What is a Telecommunications Audit?
A telecommunications audit is a free, simple, and effective solution to improve efficiency in your business. While it’s only the first step in minimizing costs for most people (we’ll touch on some other steps soon), it is an important way of giving yourself the information you need to understand where costs can be cut in your organization.
Auditing companies retrieve the last complete statement on your telecommunication services, including your landline and wireless phones, your internet connections, and merchant processing requirements. Once all the information is available, expert analysts can examine your statement, and find opportunities for savings wherever possible.
In most cases, the savings can include specials and discounts that most customers simply aren’t aware of. Auditing companies can also look for irrelevant fees and overcharges while using a “Kelley Blue Book” insight into fees to see how client service charges compare to similar companies around the world. The more data at hand, the easier it is to compare solutions and negotiate with service providers.
Professional telecom audits analyze your complete telecom environment on your behalf, looking at things like internet connectivity, peak calling times, VoIP and wireless usage, Internet, long-distance charges, and roaming charges. That means that they can potentially highlight a range of ways to save money and streamline your organization, such as:
- Determining peak call times so you can implement more staff and improve customer experience (while reducing stress for your employees)
- Catch possible signs of toll fraud and phone abuse quickly, and launch any additional investigations.
- Establish a better understanding of telecom needs to better allocate expenses throughout the business environment.
- Get a stronger overview of system usage to see which trunks are being under-utilized, and which are being over-utilized
- Examine employee productivity and extension performance to improve business efficiency.
Some companies, like Dan the Phone Man, for instance, have a track record of finding saving options 95% of the time, with an average saving of around 30%. Besides finding the bottom-line savings you need to enhance your budget, these professionals can do all the vendor negotiations for you, sorting out a cheaper bill, and tracking expenses in the long-term so you can see your progress on a quarterly basis.
6 Steps to Cut Down on Business Communication Costs
Now that you understand the value of auditing your telecommunication solutions, we can start to get to the bottom of really cutting down on your connectivity bills. After all, businesses in the 21st century are ever-more dependent on telecommunication services – whether you’re a large enterprise or a small organization.
Remember, telecom costs generally include a range of things that extend beyond your line rental. Data expenses often constitute a sizeable portion of most IT spending within a company. For most businesses, when prices start to get high, the automatic reaction is to simply switch over to a cheaper carrier. However, that’s not always as simple as it sounds. With that in mind, here are a few simple and effective steps you can take to measurably reduce your communication costs:
Step 1: Audit and Assess the Services You’re Paying for
As we’ve already covered, a telecommunications audit is easily the first step any business should take when cutting costs associated with their telecom services. It can help a great deal for company owners to make the effort to conduct a strong audit and assessment of existing services that their company pays for. In fact, this might be the best way to determine if your money is being spent properly.
Step 2: Take Full Advantage of any Refunds or Discounts
Running a business is hard work. That means that you might not always have the time to assess your bills and make sure that you’re taking advantage of all the credits that you might be applicable for based on billing errors and similar problems. However, with an auditing service in place, you can make sure that you always have professionals available to tell you when you’re owed extra money back from your telecom providers. This can make it a lot easier to take advantage of the cash that you need to run an effective company.
Step 3: Know the Minimum Service Level You Need for Your Organization
Knowing exactly what your company needs to function at its best doesn’t necessarily mean being “cheap” with your communication expenses. Instead, it means assessing your requirements carefully in this new world and thinking about how you can make the most of the solutions available to you, without underpaying, or overpaying. You don’t need to pay for services that your team simply doesn’t use, just as you don’t want your company to go without solutions that are critical to their productivity and success.
Step 4: Compare Options from Other Service Providers
Once you have a strong idea of where, and how you’re spending the money in your telecommunications budget, you’ll be better prepared to begin researching other service providers. Compare the prices that they can offer for the solutions your company already uses, and ask yourself whether you’re currently paying a similar price. If you’re shelling out significantly higher rates, then you’ll need to consider a carrier switch. Some telecommunications auditing companies will conduct these negotiations for you so that you don’t have to worry at all about getting everything done.
Step 5: Re-evaluate any Support and Maintenance Agreements
Some companies pay both a recurrent, and flat fee for support and maintenance when it comes to managing their networking and telecommunications hardware. However, unless you’re running a particularly large network, there’s a good chance that these won’t be necessary. To figure out exactly how much support you need, you’ll need to find out exactly how many times your organization used maintenance and tech support solutions through the course of your contract. For some companies, it might be smarter to access a pay-as-you-go model, rather than paying a long-term flat fee.
Step 6: Optimize Your Workforce
Cutting down on telecommunication costs isn’t all about software, hardware, and auditing. Sometimes, you’ll need to implement workforce optimization strategies to make sure that you can reduce expenses on your staff’s behalf. Based on your call center requirements, you’ll be able to arrange your employees based on flexible-time commitments, full-time, and part-time needs. A good mix should help to keep your costs low.
Additionally, you may need to take measures to reduce attrition. According to a report conducted in 2016, companies throughout the US generally spend around $70 billion on training. Since attrition increases expenses drastically, it’s a good idea to think about an effective employee engagement strategy if you want to boost retention for the long-term.
Telecommunication Costs Don’t Have to be a Nightmare
Handling the expenses of telecommunications in today’s ever-changing world of new and improved connections can be quite the challenge. However, the use of a telecom auditing system can provide businesses with a detailed summary of reports for each department. Having that data at your fingertips can make sure you know exactly which steps you need to take to improve not just the performance of your employees, but your entire telecommunication system too.
From discovering expensive call times to figuring out when you’re spending more money on roaming rates for wireless network devices, the more data you have on your telecommunications network, the more empowered you’ll be to cut expenses.
Auditing services like Dan the Phone Man can even manage your wireless accounts and telecommunication needs on a long-term basis so that the rest of your company is freed up to focus on other responsibilities and tasks.
Communications will always be an important part of your company, but it should be a solution for better cash flow, not a drain on your products.
Don’t you think it’s time you dealt with your telecommunication bill?