For some, choosing the right telecommunications company (telco) or phone technician can be a guessing game. After all, there are so many options out there. Whether you need a new phone system, a simple change to your existing phone system (like purchasing a low-cost ATA device to make your existing system NBN compatible), new VOIP services or phone system advice, this post is designed to help you better understand your options.
What Makes a Great Telco/Tech?
Before we delve into all the considerations you need to make when choosing a telco or telephone systems technician, let’s first look at what actually makes a great provider. Just some of the questions you want to consider include:
- Is the services provided free of unnecessary lock-in contracts?
- Do they provide a usable telecommunication solution that you understand?
- Are they trustworthy, reliable and contactable?
- Will you be able to access genuine ongoing customer support?
- Will free IVR (Interactive Voice Response) & MOH (Messages on Hold) customisation be possible or do they charge for each feature?
Although many providers will claim to have these qualities, you’ll need to do a little digging to find out whether their claims are true.
Why Avoid Major Telcos and their Technicians?
The NBN has been very disruptive to large telcos – more specifically, to the revenue streams they were deriving from PSTN & ISDN line rentals & call costs. Because of this, some major telcos are trying to win back lost revenue by convincing their customers to purchase overpriced telecommunication equipment or plans (like “VoIP Bundles”). These telcos then lock their customers into unnecessary contractual arrangements. Because most consumers don’t know any better, this is a really effective sales strategy for selling new phone systems.
Figure Out Your Needs
Before you start researching telcos, make sure that you completely understand what your business requires. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you or your staff have any requirement to work remotely from your office?
- How do you see your business growing or changing in the next few years?
- Are you willing to spend more on setup to reduce ongoing costs?
- What services are you contracted to – phone, internet, cloud, VoIP, all of these?
- What sorts of calls do you make – local, mobile or international?
- How stable is your internet connection?
Once you have ascertained your needs, you need to think about what your priorities are. Are you looking for someone to provide you with a cost-effective product or solution, or are you looking for a provider who will work with you on complex projects and manage your comms on an ongoing basis? If you have complex needs, your costs will likely be a bit higher.
Go for the Underdog
Choosing a smaller, locally-based telco or technician is almost always a better choice than a major provider. These companies are easy to deal with, honest and unlikely to transfer you to overseas call centres whenever you have a problem. Some other benefits of choosing a smaller provider include:
- A personal approach and better customer service – because the business is smaller, they will put more effort into nurturing their client base & maintaining client satisfaction.
- Greater knowledge – smaller telcos provide fewer services than major telcos, so they are likely to have a greater understanding of their products and services.
- An opportunity to support a local business as opposed to an established major player.
- Ongoing assistance – smaller telcos want to keep you happy, therefore they are very unlikely to just make a sale and run.
- A genuine interest in new telecommunication technology – as opposed to just being obsessed with the ongoing revenue that they can generate from your usage.
- In-house service – smaller telcos are unlikely to use subcontractors when it comes to installations, repairs, etc.
Technician Call Out fees
A call out fee for a tech can vary and is often more expensive in larger cities. You can expect to pay anywhere from $90 to $140 + GST in most areas, or around $200 + GST in large cities such as Sydney. These prices include the first 15 to 30 minutes of labour, and then you’ll be charged about $90 to $200 + GST per hour thereafter (often billed in 15-minute increments).
A Quick, Plain English Guide to Your Phone System Options
Cloud Based Solutions
Cloud based phone solutions are located (you guessed it) in the cloud, and are accessed through your internet. This means you will have no physical PBX unit on your premises, and that the only hardware will be your handsets and your existing internet equipment (like your router).
With cloud based solutions, a third party provider handles your phone system. This means they take control of running, upgrading and maintaining your system as required, with no extra cost for you. Providers usually charge an affordable monthly fee that includes calls and, if desired, extra features. Three cloud based phone system providers that we trust and recommend are Maxo, Vonex and ECN – or you can even purchase a cloud based phone system directly through Smart on Hold.
On Premise IP PBX Solutions
On Premise PBX systems are similar to the traditional PBX systems that were popular before VoIP took over. The main difference is that VoIP line routing is done with current and inbuilt IP technology. With an On Premise IP PBX, you are not relying on or paying a third-party provider for maintenance and services. This means the business needs to maintain their own phone system, usually at their place of work, so a stable internet connection is essential.
Hosted IP PBX Solutions
Hosted IP PBX solutions are located in secure data centres like Cloud Plus or ECN. This means that the success of the system doesn’t rely on the business location having a reliable and stable internet connection. Despite the system being hosted, its maintenance, expansion and upgrades etcetera are still usually the responsibility of the business who pays for the Hosted PBX, but this is negotiable and often done in conjunction with the host and the third-party provider who originally sold the system.
Contact Smart on Hold
Need obligation-free advice? At Smart on Hold, we are passionate about helping people to find the right telco/technician solutions for their business. If you have any questions about the content in this post, don’t hesitate to contact us today.