How to Avoid Costing Your Customers Money Without Even Knowing You Did.

Mann Telecom - experts in small business and start up businesses telephones and data A quick cautionary tale, as told to me by a customer of mine in property management who regularly holds multi party conference calls with his customers. He typically hosts calls with 10-20 participants.


My customer has been using the market leading ad hoc conferencing service to host these calls. It was easy for him to set up online and avoided the need for him to invest in a conferencing solution of his own which he thought would be too expensive for a small business like his.


Companies like Powownow and have a compelling proposition, just sign up and set up your conference for no initial charge. You simply pay per minute for the duration of the call once you dial in to the conference bridge on an 0844 number, as do all other participants. It’s undeniably an easy service to use.


However, my customer fell into a bit of a trap. A recent call lasted over an hour. Some participants dialled in from their office land lines, others from their mobiles. The issue is that the landline calls cost my customers clients 5.8p per minute, and those dialling in from their mobiles were paying 12.5p per minute, meaning a 60 minute call cost them £7.50.


That’s quite pricey, and probably not a bill you want to land your customer with. However, that proved to be the least of my customers problems. Some of his clients making the call from their mobiles were caught out by their mobile tariffs. They enjoyed some inclusive minutes of 0844 calls but these quickly ran out as the call went on, and now they were paying out of bundle call rates of up to 50p per minute to be on the conference bridge!


My customer had to field several irate callers weeks after the call, who had just received their mobile bills. Some had been charged anything up to £33.88 to be on the call.


My customer had no idea, how could he? He really had no idea that his customers were going to run up such a huge bill for a simple conference call.


So, how do you avoid falling into the same trap?


If you regularly host conference calls then a hosted telephony service with inclusive conference calls is the answer. You only need a single seat to use the facility, and depending on the hosted service in question you can host as many as 50 parties on a call.


The big difference is callers dial in on a regular land line number. No 0844 numbers involved, so callers pay their usual landline rates. Mobile users usually pay nothing as landline calls are unlimited with most mobile contracts.


So it’s far less likely that you will end up giving your customer an unexpected and unwelcome phone bill for the privilege of being your customer!


Better still, a single seat of hosted telephony costs between £15-25 a month depending on the service, and that gives you unlimited conferencing. You also of course get a seat of hosted telephony which means you can do all kinds of other things like record calls, have professional greetings, divert calls for no additional charge etc.


Suffice to say my customer has signed up, and going forward knows his customers will never again get a nasty bill as a result of doing business with him.


There is another lesson here. If you are joining lots of calls on 0844/5 numbers from your mobile, make sure your package includes enough minutes of these calls or better still unlimited minutes.


If you need help with putting the right conferencing service into place for your business, or getting on to the right mobile tariff for your type of use then why not give me a call on 01788 226210 to discuss. I would be delighted to help.