Mystery Caller May 2014

This month our mysterious caller wants to move to the cloud but he isn’t sure the best way to go about it. His business is slowly growing and he wants something that is going to be fit for purpose as he expands in the future. Unfortunately he has heard a few horror stories about businesses that have moved to the cloud and then had to go back to their previous set up because things didn’t work the way they were supposed to. This means he wants something that he can try out before he commits his hard earned money to and gets locked into a contract. His workforce are continually using their mobiles and are starting to work from home more so any cloud service he takes on must come with the increasing mobile use in mind. Let’s see how he got on.

Skyblue

After having a look at the Skyblue website they seemed like a good place to start on this one. My call was immediately answered by Dave who was polite and took a few details. Dave introduced me to their main cloud product called Horizon which can be delivered via a number of mechanisms. When I asked about trying it out in the office before we bought Dave said they didn’t actually offer that but they do demonstrations and they would happily come to the office to show us how it all worked. A simple compromise but there isn’t really a substitute for using the kit yourself for a few weeks to see how it holds up.

When I asked what was different about the solution Dave told me it comes with a management portal which we could use to adjust our minutes and other such costs. They also give mobile minutes away which can help keep costs down if you are a high volume user. On the mobile front the system can be twinned with mobile phones and individually managed through the portal. There are lots of other services like call recording that can be managed by the user through the portal too.

I asked about costs and if I was likely to save any money and Dave told me about a recent customer that was paying about £360/ month on calls and when he made the switch to the hosted system he was paying slightly less but had a complete new phone system in place. He did emphasize that not everyone finds it to be cheaper and it really depends on how many calls your business is making. The biggest plus for the customer was that he didn’t have to worry about how many calls were being made because he got so many free minutes include within his deal.

Dave said there was so much more to this solution that he wouldn’t be able to get across over the phone and so he wanted to meet up to discuss. I dodged the question and wanted to know how he was finding the world of cloud generally and what he could do on the IT side for me. He said they work with an IT services company and could pretty much do anything we wanted. Dave said if you took and empty office they could fit everything that a business could want in there from end to end and have you up and running in no time. He said most people are still using traditional telephony solutions but it is starting to change and he found a lot of people are using SIP as the delivery mechanism at the moment.

Scores

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

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

Total – 25/30 

Excellent score. This was a hard call to fault and it was enjoyable from start to finish. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to go through a receptionist and the person answering the phone knew everything I wanted. Dave did ask a few questions about the business but could have pushed a bit more on that side.

 

Opus

After wrestling with the call management system I got through to James in the Telephony division. I started asking a few questions about cloud and James immediately said he could only really talk for his part of the business. James explained if we were looking to go down the cloud route they sell two systems from NEC and Unify which he described as hybrid systems. This meant that they worked via SIP or over ISDN. He asked me a few questions about my current connectivity, fibre broadband from BT, and said we shouldn’t have any problems but fibre connections don’t automatically equal a great service.

Assuming one of these systems was for me I wanted to know if I could try it out before I bought. Unfortunately Opus don’t offer this kind of service but James did remind me that if it didn’t work as we had hoped we could use it with the traditional ISDN lines…mmm that’s not really a great compromise in my eyes!

When I asked about the differences between the systems James said there was little between them in terms of raw functionality. Unify had slightly more features for things like video conferencing and collaboration tools but it unless we actually needed those features it would be the more expensive option. Although the price difference was only roughly £20 per user more for the unify system it soon adds up when you start kitting out an office. Both systems would integrate with mobiles for things like twinning and call transfers but there was no mention of free minutes this time around. There were many other things the systems could do for a business but James said we would really need to meet up to go through them face to face.

Scores

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

Understanding – 4/5 Sales Technique – 2/5 Clarity – 3/5

Total – 23/30

Good score. I was in two minds with this call, on the one hand James knew his piece of the business pretty well but if I wanted to get more of an overview of what I could do on the IT and mobile side I would have had to speak to someone else. Still no try before you buy option either, plus the ‘solution’ to this problem would have been less than appropriate.

 

EOS Communications

My call to EOS was greeted by a delightful chap called Paul who was happy to take my questions. I went straight for the ‘do you do a trial?’ and Paul said he was pretty confident they did but as it was only his first week he needed to check. After establishing I wanted to know more about their hosted VoIP system Paul said the best thing to do was to get someone to call me back who had a bit more knowledge.

A John called me back within ten minutes and said they would be able to set me up with a trial but he would need to make sure we had the right connectivity and a few other things first. Trying to avoid giving myself away I asked which manufacturers they use for their systems. John said they don’t subscribe to all of the manufacturers but instead a few select ones which they think are the very best, they use Polycom and Yealink. Both have similar functionality and would be suitable for most businesses. Within each range they can provide basic phones or phones with more functionality depending on what each user requirements are too. John told me pretty much all the phones out there these days could twin with mobiles so that side wouldn’t be a problem.

John asked me a bit about why we wanted the system and I explained since the fibre had been installed into the building I had thoughts of perhaps moving a few things to the cloud which might make us a bit more flexible and save a bit of money. John instantly said he could help us on the IT side as well as they provide Office 365 and could also look after our servers. John pushed quite hard for a meeting as he said really we needed to meet up to make sure I could fully understand what they could do for me.

Scores

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

Total 24/30 

Although the first person that answered the call couldn’t give me the answers I wanted he made sure the right person rang me back in timely fashion. Finally I found someone that could do a trial run with the equipment! John knew his stuff and I felt like I was in good hands with this call.

 

Round up

It was a pretty high scoring month and each call had its impressive moments. I was sad to see only one of my resellers actually had a service in place to let people trial their products prior to purchasing. It seems like the absolute best way for a customer to realise the benefits of moving to the cloud with no risk. Having spoken to other members of the Channel apparently getting customers to use the kit in a trial is the difficult part. You can end up delivering a box and then picking up the same unopened box a few weeks later and no one is the wiser. It is so essential for resellers to get into businesses and make sure the equipment is set up and actually used properly which hopefully lead to higher conversion rates. Both John and Dave had excellent all round knowledge and there wasn’t much to pick between them. When it comes to a massive subject like cloud having broad knowledge can be a big plus when dealing with customers as it allows you to throw up opportunities across their entire business communications and IT set up.

 

Scores

1st Skyblue 

25/30

2nd  EOS Communications 

24/30

3rd Opus

23/30

 

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine