Mobile Phones in BusinessNo matter what type of business you run, it is almost certain that telephone communication plays a vital role in communication with customers and business partners.
The mobile phone has become a part of everyday life for millions of people across the world. People now consider the ability to communicate by phone across the country (and even the world) as ordinary.
Despite this, many businesses are still missing out on the huge potential benefits of using mobiles phones as a part of their business.
„Businesses are still missing out“
Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a mobile phone in business, and what you should consider when choosing whether to use a mobile phone…
Why Buy a Mobile – The Advantages
The biggest advantage of having a business mobile phone is that it becomes much easier to contact you. Instead of being told “I’m sorry, Mr. Smith is away from the office“. A colleague or customer can be put straight through to your mobile phone. Even if they can only speak to you briefly, it is better than turning them away with no contact.
Being available by mobile phone allows employees to contact you. In the event of a critical problem, it can be communicated to you and a decision taken, without you having to be in the office.
If your staff is given mobile phones as part of their work, then they become instantly more accessible. This is particularly so for employees that travel to customers, different departments or offices, and will not always be available from their normal location.
Mobile phones can allow a whole network of employees or offices to communicate with each other no matter where they are. Even if each employee has their own land telephone number, when they are away from that location they normally become unreachable. Effective use of mobile phones can help improve both employer to employee, and employee to employee communications.2. Common
Mobile phones are now so common that many people expect you to have one. Instead of hanging up when told you are not there to answer a call, many people will now ask for a mobile number as a matter of course. This is especially so if your job takes you out of the office for considerable amounts of the week, people will expect to have another number to contact you on.
This is much more so for business to business dealings. A customer will not normally expect to be able to communicate personally on a mobile with an employee. However, a manager at a purchasing or supplying business will usually want to be able to keep in contact with a senior employee at all times.3. Time
A mobile phone gives you more time to communicate. An important conversation can take place anywhere (e.g.: on a train), which puts less restrictions on time.
If you travel for 3 hours of every working day, then normally you would lose those 3 hours of communication, a mobile phone allows you to get those hours back. This means you can get through necessary phone calls quicker, and can provide better response times to customer or associate enquiries.4. Details
A mobile phone allows you to confirm and check details quickly. If you went to an important meeting, and forgot a piece of important information (I’m not saying you will, but it does happen!) then usually you would be stuck without it.
However, one call or text message to an employee during the journey could allow you to get that information right up to the last minute without anybody else ever knowing.
„You can also check on the office while away“
A mobile means you can also check on the office while away from it. There is no need to worry about returning to find that a major development is behind schedule. With a mobile phone employees can keep you up to date on sales or projects, and you can manage and delegate at any time.5. Bookings and Appointments
Using a mobile phone has two advantages in the process of making and keeping bookings and appointments.
Firstly, the ability to allow instant checking of appointments, you can communicate with an employee, or with the person you intend to meet at any time to confirm, clarify, or alter meeting details (e.g.: location, time). This means that if meeting needs to be changed at the last minute, all parties involved can be informed quickly, even if on their way there.
Secondly, with the rapidly increasing technology of mobile phones, many have the ability to act as a fully functional organizer. This is particularly on the phone models aimed at business users. You can set reminders and notes in the same way as a paper organizer.6. Email messages
There is no need to go without email messages on the move. It is now possible to be informed by phone call or text message of all (or specifically selected) new emails, and some packages also allow you access to all your emails via the WAP and GPRS (mobile internet) connections of newer phones.
Some network packages even allow notification of faxes. This then allows you to forward the message to the nearest fax number and receive it.
A good mobile package means that you can be informed about all important communications while you are away, so even when miles from the office, your ability to communicate with customers employees and associates is not significantly diminished.
Re-Direction and Answer Services
A mobile phone can act as a good extension of a land phone. Instead of callers to your land phone then having to try your mobile number, they can be forwarded almost instantly if you are not there.
For extra cost, the mobile phones can be used as part of an existing switchboard. This allows callers to be put straight through to you from the office switchboard or reception without the inconvenience of dialling two numbers.
When out on business matters, you may not have the time to answer all your calls. You can pay for someone else answer for you by using a personalized answer service.
When you request the service or are unable to take a call, it will be answered by a person at the network provider (or answer Service Company) using a greeting that you request. After a call is taken, a text message is sent to you detailing the call. If certain calls are important, they can be forwarded on to you while others leave a message.
8. Dual Lines
One of the main concerns about giving employees mobile phones is that they will use them for personal calls and run up massive bills. However, banning personal use of the phones altogether can create a negative attitude, and shows a lack of trust towards employees.
One solution is to use a dual line. Some network operators allow businesses to run mobile phones with two lines, one for business use and one for personal use. Employees can use the phone for personal calls, but pay for those calls themselves.
This has two advantages. The employee does not feel mistrusted, and can make personal calls when necessary; and the employer can feel safer that they will not be paying excessive bills for non-business calls.9. International
Most new phones are able to work in a number of countries, which means that even when you are abroad on business trips you can still be instantly accessible.
However, the only problem with this is the huge costs. You are charged for incoming calls, as well as outgoing calls, and the charges often run into Ј2-3 per minute for calling, and around Ј1 per minute for receiving.
Why Buy a Mobile – The Disadvantages
1. More Calls
A disadvantage of being accessible from anywhere in the country is that people who try to sell you things and waste your time are also able to access you more easily. You could also find that people try to contact you outside of business hours, leaving you with too many unwanted calls.
This can be countered by using some of the re-direction and answering services available to business mobile phone users, as well as by only giving the number out to important customers or key employees.
2. Potential Cost
The biggest fear many employers have over using a mobile phone for business is that the costs will be so high as to damage their business. This is a potential danger, particularly when employees are using business mobiles, as there is a risk that some employees could misuse the phone raising bills massively.
However, very few employees deliberately misuse their phones, and a few personal phone calls are as much as most people will make.
The costs of running business mobiles can be very high, but there are also several ways to significantly lower the bills:
If employees are informed that the mobile should only be used when a landline phone is not available, then call numbers and costs should remain relatively low.
Use of a dual line package, or charging employees for non-business calls, can make sure bill charges are kept as low as possible.
Most importantly, choosing the right package, with the right prices and features can make a massive difference to the cost of your businesses’ mobile phone calls.3. Mobiles on their Own
Mobile phones have large advantages for businesses. However, they are much less effective without a landline number to back them up.
If a customer sees a mobile phone number as the only source of contact, then most will automatically assume that the business is small and has no office or resources. The traditional impression of a business user with only a mobile number is the local plumber or electrician.
If a customer speaks to employees that have a landline number and a mobile number, it gives the impression that the business is large and established.
A mobile phone allows you to be accessible at all times, wherever you are. It can help improve communication between staff and customers, particularly business to business customers that may involve traveling.
„Accessible at all times“
A good business phone package will allow you to receive emails, and be notified of important calls and faxes, meaning that being away from the office will not separate you completely from essential communications.
Re-direction services can take people straight to your mobile number from an existing landline, and you can even set up a personal answering service for when you are too busy to receive calls.
Mobile phones for employees can work out as expensive, but they allow for better communication; and if properly managed and set-up, the benefits will far outweigh the costs.
Choosing the Right Mobile Phone Package
When choosing a mobile phone package, it is crucial to consider what your needs are.
A package that is perfect for one business may be completely wrong for another.
important factors in choosing a mobile phone package are:
• Who you call
• When you call
• How much you call
Most business packages are charged monthly, and paying a higher rental cost will give you extra inclusive minutes or cheaper rates on your calls. Inclusive minutes are part of many packages; you pay for a number of minutes upfront at a greatly reduced cost as part of the line rental each month.
„Many packages available“
There are many packages available, and finding a suitable package can be difficult, but will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Who do you and your Employees Call?
The costs of mobile phone calls vary considerably depending on the type of phone called.
Phone calls to landlines and to the same network are the cheapest, while phone calls to other mobile phone networks can often cost up to 5 or 6 times the cost of same network calls.
It therefore makes absolute sense to purchase the same network for all employees that will have mobile phones. Not only will this reduce call charges significantly, it may also give you enough spending power to be able to negotiate a small discount.
If the majority of people you or your employees would be contacting use landlines, or if there will be a large number of internal calls, then it makes sense to look for a package which offers cheap landline rates or a number of landline/same network minutes included.
If your contacts mobile phone numbers are mainly based on one network, then it may reduce costs significantly to sign up for the same network provider to reduce call charges.
If your contacts are based across a number of mobile networks, then it would make sense to look for a package that offers a good cross network rate or includes a number of inclusive minutes to all networks. These are more expensive, but will work out cheaper compared to the actual call costs.
When do you and your Employees Call?
There are usually two types of mobile packages. Those that have a fixed rate all day, and those that have a peak (usually 9am-6/7pm) and an off-peak (usually 6/7pm to 9am) rate.
To get the most cost effective mobile package, you need to carefully consider the times that you or your employees will be making calls, as the varying rates are different enough to make a substantial difference to the cost of your bills.
If you or your employees make all of their calls between 9am and 5pm (the times most common for businesses), then it makes sense to go for the cheapest peak rate, or an all day package with higher off-peak and lower peak rates. Packages with included ‘anytime’ minutes will also save you money.