This month we are looking at hosted telephony. Our mystery caller has been using his old Alcatel PBX for about eight years now and is acutely aware that at some point in the near future he will have to replace it. Should he go for a hosted solution now and what sort of experience can he expect? Now that his staff are using their mobiles more often he also wants to be able to make use of dual ringing technology so no call goes missed.
I had a quick look at the Kelk website before putting in a call just to make sure they had the appropriate knowledge to answer my questions. I noticed they provide NTA’s hosted solution so I thought this would be a good first stop. Martin answered the phone and took onboard my questions before signing the praises of NTA and all they had to offer.
I got the impression Martin was a very small reseller, the basic unappealing website is normally a giveaway, but he mentioned he started working with NTA just last year and in the last few weeks had two companies install the solution. One was a financial advisor and the other was a start up, Martin explained it didn’t really matter how many handsets we wanted as the solution is designed to scale from just one user up to tens of thousands.
Martin explained that the solution could handle the dual ringing for mobiles and if there were other features we wanted NTA could always include that as they write all their software in-house. Martin proceeded to ask me a little bit about my current set up in terms of the system we currently use and the lines coming into the building etc. He said we may require a second broadband line coming into the building but as we use fibre and only need a small number of concurrent lines then we might be ok with what we have in place.
Martin then went on to explain the NTA pricing model is for the lines needed and not a per seat model, then we would only have to pay a small charge for the handsets. All on a thirty day rolling contract too. He didn’t seem too sure when I asked about a trial but then said he could get some kit to us fairly rapidly if we wanted to take a look.
Total 20/30 Martin was definitely a yes man. He spent most of the time talking about NTA, how great they are and how they would offer me a great product with support afterwards too. As a customer I may have thought why am I ringing Kelk when I would be dealing with NTA? Goes to show how teaming up with the right partner can be beneficial to all parties concerned.
Highlights: Answered everything positively, good manner, helpful
Lowlights: Didn’t push for a meeting, unsure on a few questions
Business Edge Technologies
On my first attempt at contacting Business Edge there wasn’t anyone available to speak to so I left my details with the receptionist and got a call back a short time afterwards. Graham called me back and said if our current system was eight years old already then we would probably want to replace that fairly soon (he would say that though wouldn’t he!).
Graham said he could offer me an IP PBX system or they also have a pure cloud option which may be more suitable. He mentioned that Mitel have a good migration plan with some excellent discounts at the moment for people coming over from Avaya and Alcatel systems….that’s handy!
At this point Graham wanted to find out a little bit more about our setup and how many extensions we would need etc. I explained we already had a fibre line coming into the building and I was told that would probably be sufficient although it would be easy to put in some extra if we needed them.
Graham told me there are a lot of substandard products out there when it comes to VoIP products and although he isn’t the cheapest he firmly believed he had a great product. At this stage Graham probed a little further about the location of the business and I gave myself away! After a moment of awkwardness Graham was happy to talk more openly about his business and what he is selling currently. He told me he is currently selling about 50% hosted and 50% PBX systems because hosted solutions don’t suit all his customers. When I asked him about the future split he said he didn’t think that would change much as there will always be people that hosted won’t suit for a variety of reasons. Interestingly during my conversations with Graham he didn’t want to reveal his supplier directly to me, it was only after he rumbled me that was willing tell me that he is partnered with iHub.
Total 21/30 Decent call. Graham was very good over the phone and had clearly done a little bit of research before he called me back. Perhaps realising who I actually was skewed the findings somewhat but interestingly he is happily selling new cloud technology alongside his existing PBX systems. A good example of how it doesn’t have to be either or when it comes to on-premise versus hosted.
Highlights: On the ball, knowledgeable,
Lowlights: Could have given more feature detail and benefit
I found these guys through Google and was happy to see their website looks like it has been built within the last decade, unlike our other calls! I got through to Tracy upon calling and listened to my request and knew exactly who I should speak to. She handed me over to Darren after relaying my request directly to him.
Darren asked me a few questions about what we already had in place and said although what we already have may do the job now if we went down the traditional PBX route again then we would find ourselves way behind the times in another eight years! I took Darren through the various lines coming into the building and he was satisfied that he could help us.
Darren said there are plenty of options open to us and they could ‘slice and dice’ our lines however we wanted. He said we may want to look at either a hosted VoIP solution or a PBX in the cloud solution. Although we have a BT FTTC line coming in which would be more than sufficient for our needs he said BT don’t attach any sort of SLA to that so we may want to put a bog standard broadband line in too as back up.
A pure VoIP solution was going to be a much cheaper option for us mentioned Darren. We would only pay for the licenses and the kit, probably around the £100 mark per phone. When it came to the mobile piece Darren explained various standard features like mobile hand over, divert, and even calls to voicemail can be emailed to specific users.
Darren ended the conversation by offering himself up to questions whenever we wanted and said he would rather we got the right solution for the business by getting the right information, even if that meant we bought elsewhere!
Total – 22/30 Good call. Darren knew his stuff and did a great job in finding out about the business set up and what might be appropriate for our needs. He spoke at length about the options available but always referred back to the connectivity as this would be critical in delivering the best solution.
Highlights: Great knowledge, asked lots about business setup
Lowlights: Could have pushed more on the sales side
This month was pretty good across the board. My call with Kelk threw up an interesting dynamic which is prevalent in the Channel where a reseller will drag their suppliers in front of the customer to take them through the features and benefits of the product. This kind of hand holding is always essential in the early days of taking on a new product and highlights the importance of a trusted partner relationship. I wonder what kind of response I would get from Martin a year down the line when he has settled into selling the product a bit more. Graham and Darren were both knowledgeable with their answers and Darren just sneaked the win as his questions about the businesses and our current set up were really in depth. He also gave me a clear view of the options available and the connectivity we would need to get there. Good job – I would buy from all three.
1st Trunk Networks
2nd Business Edge Technologies
3rd Kelk Communications
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