A welcome choice of mobile network for SMEs

November 21, 2008

The need to be connected is costing SMEs a princely sum in mobile phone bills and they are being hammered by networks that fail to treat them as a priority.

When it comes to focus, established mobile phone networks pour their attention on two diametrically opposed groups of customers. At one end of the scale are the individual retail users and at the other are the giant corporates. Unfortunately SMEs have been left to fall down the gaping chasm in between the two and it is costing them dear.

This is something SME’s have become painfully aware of and according to our own research only 10% of smaller companies believe they are the networks’ most important customer group.

Mobile phones have become essential in today’s fluid business environment, but the vast majority of firms are being deprived of the flexibility and bespoke service that should go hand in hand with the different mobile usage that each has.

The basic problem is in the tariffs offered to firms by the major networks and their inability to really provide useful support services and billing options. This leaves SMEs facing bills that are impossible to forecast, inappropriately priced and unfair.

The majority of SMEs run their mobile phones on a bundled contract, allowing them a certain number of calls and texts per month. In truth this is almost impossible to gauge accurately and businesses that underestimate their usage then get hijacked by the monstrous tariffs that come into play once they breach their limit.

Not all are hit for six, but even those firms that stay within their limit often tend to fall well short of the bundled package they have bought. Paying for a monthly contract they never get the best out of gives little cause for celebration.

Businesses are also forced into committing to long contracts, with little flexibility to accommodate changing circumstances and move to more appropriate tariffs. In today’s uncertain commercial environment companies are finding it difficult to predict their mobile phone usage in the coming 6 months, let alone over the next 18 or 24 months as they are having to do.

Instead, SMEs really need to be treated to the same sort of packages that bigger rivals can get their hands on. Low line rentals, per call charges and reasonable tariffs are the only way to go if the majority of businesses are to generate better efficiencies in their mobile phone outlay.

Recognising there are significant improvements in the way SMEs could run their mobile telecoms, Glasgow-based abica has tailored its offering specifically at this market and incorporated these features into its Straight Talk Simplicity tariff.

By charging low line rentals and reasonable individual call rates, businesses could collectively save millions of pounds on their bills and will never have to endure being on the wrong tariff again.

Indeed, in the retail market, research has shown inappropriate tariffs are costing consumers hundreds of millions of pounds per month and the issue is more pronounced for SMEs.

Straight Talk Simplicity is a flexible tariff that marries unpredictable mobile usage to the bill SMEs actually pay. Such an approach would immediately save companies an average of 8% on their annual costs because of the fall in usage they would benefit from while staff are on holiday.

At the moment, abica’s research has found 60% of businesses are unable to find a suitable tariff for their needs or cannot tell if they are getting a good deal because their existing arrangement is so confusing and complicated. This no longer needs to be the case.

abica is the first mobile virtual network in the UK to target the SME community following its successful launch at the end of October. Born out of ABC, an established telecoms business with a profitable turnover of £1.1m last year, abica has ambitious growth plans for the Scottish market.

Scott Allison, Managing Director at abica, comments: “There is a saying that you only get for what you pay for in this life, but unfortunately that has not been true of the mobile phone market for SMEs. We want to restore the balance by offering simple, fair and incredibly competitive tariffs.”

The firm has also moved away from the impenetrable paper bills which land like breeze blocks on company doormats every month. Instead it has an online platform where customers can monitor their accounts.

Calls up to and including the previous day are listed, giving firms an immediate and accurate picture of where they are each month.

The system also offers huge benefits as a business management tool. How many calls are sales staff making? When is their most active time? Are delivery drivers making personal calls when on the road? How many calls are being made out with office hours?

By empowering customers to analyse their mobile phone data in a fast and easy way, abica is helping them use it to improve the way they operate and generate better returns on their monthly bill. In the past the monthly bill has been either unpredictable or poor value and always time consuming to use constructively. Now it can become a valuable aid to drive future performance.

To date, choosing between networks has offered few discernable benefits for the beleaguered business community, although abica now provides a much improved alternative.

Chaired by Rod Matthews MBE, a leading entrepreneurial figure in the telecoms industry, who launched ScottishTelecom (now Thus) and turned it into a £200m business, there is no doubting the ambition within the firm.

Initially targeting the business community in Central Scotland, abica is planning a full assault on the UK market through organic growth and acquisition. It aims to create 20 jobs over the coming year and become the de facto business choice for mobile phone services.

With the business community carefully examining every aspect of its processes, taking advantage of a mobile virtual network that is dedicated to its needs will create significant savings.

“There is a very close alignment between abica and its target market and this helps us understand our customers,” says Allison. “The larger networks simply cannot tailor their services and tariffs to the extent that we can.”

Written by abica

Abica is a Glasgow based business telecoms and IT provider. Together with our IT Division, pcr, we provide businesses with a full range of high quality telecoms and IT products and services tailored to fit around your business.

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