By: Gerry Skipwith
Cellular Wireless – An Essential Service
When you stop to consider what cell phones enable – collaboration, customer engagement, information gathering, problem solving and order taking – all on-the-go – I think most would agree they are critical to business.
Today, cellular wireless capability is no different from electricity: it is essential for every business to operate. It simply has to be there – reliable, consistent, and cost-efficient.
In the ten years I have been serving corporate customers in the cellular wireless business, discussions often revolved around their challenges in managing cellular contracts and devices. There is no shortage of hair-raising stories surrounding cellular “bill shock”, broken devices, high cancellation fees and long wait times with customer support.
It is easy to vilify the telecom providers but the reality is they are large, they handle huge volumes, and they wear the pressure of huge infrastructure budgets – and they get a lot of things right, a lot of the time. At the same time, that shouldn’t mean customers need to tolerate lesser service.
Cellular Fleets – Fraught with Challenges
As I listened to customer’s stories over the years, certain themes began to emerge.
Monthly Bill Unknowns: Most customers find cellular billing too complex to understand if they receive good value for their cellular spend. Every cell phone has a monthly service fee, plus possible charges for long distance, roaming and data overage. Without extensive analysis each month, it is near impossible to know if there is excessive usage or improper plans. Then there is the all-too-common problem of a jaw-dropping bill resulting from a well-intentioned staff member looking to stay in touch while on vacation.
Broken Devices: I am always surprised when I ask a customer what they do when a device breaks. Most struggle with the answer. Cell phones get dropped, spilled upon, cycle through hot and cold, and are on 7/24. They cost as much as a notebook and are arguably a more vital communications tool. Today, the answer is often to ship the device to a manufacturer sponsored site for quote and repair, or to trust corporate devices and their data to repair centres in strip plazas and shopping malls.
Device Lifecycle Management: In Canada today, the majority of monthly service contracts include the cost of the device hardware. Despite the tough operating conditions for cell phones, many last more than three years. Which means that organizations who choose to keep devices beyond the contract continue to pay for both usage… and a fee for the hardware itself – despite the fact that the cost of the device was covered as part of the original contract. You may not want to refresh your devices every three years, but you also don’t want to pay unnecessary subsidies for your devices.
Too Many Partners: Managing a wireless fleet can involve a lot of partners. Carriers and their dealer partners are to activate your cell phones; A Telecom Expense Management company can be engaged to track your wireless invoices and make sure you are not paying more than needed; OEMs (like Apple, Google and Samsung) and VARs can repair your devices. The challenge is that it’s left to the customer to manage the integration and oversight of all these partners – and something inevitably gets dropped through the cracks.
Challenging to Switch Carriers: Changing carriers is a huge task. Contracts are lengthy, offerings are complex and it is a challenge to understand current usage. And when the customer makes the change, they are baffled by the high cancellation fees. Once a new carrier is chosen and the contract signed, the onus is on the customer to order new lines, select devices, reload business applications, personalize the devices (often including photos!), and then get them into the hands of each individual staff member. Resounding feedback? There must to be an easier way!
Welcome to VALET – Worry Free Wireless
I’ve spent years hearing the frustration of companies as they deal with cellular wireless. And I’ve realized, there are better ways. If you’re interested…reach out, I’d be happy to share.