Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

In today's environment anything you can do to improve productivity, reduce costs and improve customer service is worth considering. With that in mind we've put together this simple guide to help you review and improve the way you manage your business communications.

Serving customers is still key

We know how important satisfied customers are to you and your business.

Staying accessible and being responsive help keep customers happy and revenue coming in. From mobile email to mobile business applications there are numerous mobile solutions which can help you build and grow your business.

We're here to help, with practical advice and assistance.

Vodafone Business experts can offer help and advice on all manner of mobile productivity solutions so if there's anything you're thinking about or want more information on, just call one of our specialists.

One thing I'm excited about is our recently launched business plan Vodafone Business Clarity. With a fixed price per user per month for unlimited calls to any standard UK numbers on either landline or mobile it's unique and ground breaking.

Vodafone Business Clarity gives you complete control of cash flow, taking the worry out of giving your team the mobile tools they need to be more productive.

I hope you find our 10 tips useful. They're a great way to make sure you're getting the most from your business communications.

Best wishes,

Elaine Roberts
Head of Enterprise Marketing, Vodafone

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

1. Improve your cash flow by paying a fixed fee for all users

Cash is king and holding on to as much of it as possible is important. Fixed monthly prices per user are a great way to stay in complete control of monthly expenditure.

The fixed price should cover all of your normal UK call requirements, that's calls to UK mobile phones on any network as well as any UK landline, about 100 million numbers.

With fixed pricing your team never have to worry about the cost of picking up the phone to customers plus, you'll spend less time on admin since the difference between personal and business calls won't matter.

Things to check:

  • Are all your staff on a fixed monthly plan?
  • Does that plan cover all calls to any UK mobile on any network and any UK landline?
  • Can you add email access for a fixed monthly price?

If not check out Vodafone Business Clarity which gives you all those things and more.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

2. Employ voicemail as a valuable ‘extra' member of staff

When a customer calls and your team can't answer their phones are they being sent to Voicemail? If so there's a few things to think about. Are you paying extra for the voicemail service either to retrieve the message or for the service itself?

Also, is the customer getting a suitable voicemail message which presents your company in the best light? A clear, appropriate and recently recorded voicemail message which also indicates when you aim to return calls tells callers you're a service-oriented business.

Things to check:

  • Is Voicemail included in your plan - both service and retrieval?
  • Do your staff know how to set and retrieve voicemails?
  • Have they recorded a message and if so is it up to date and appropriate?

If Voicemail service and retrieval is not included, check out Vodafone Business Clarity today.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

3. Check you're not paying for unused equipment

This can be a big money saver and is very easily overlooked in the busy working day. Phones which are still connected but not in use could be costing you money every month, adding up to significant amounts over the year.

The easiest way to check is to carry out an audit against your mobile bill. Is every line you're paying for being used by someone who should have that connection? It could be a phone, a mobile broadband card, or even a netbook.

For example, Berkshire NHS Trust reduced its phone fleet by 6 percent through improved tracking and management.

Things to check:

  • Are all the lines you're paying for in use by the right people?

With Vodafone Business Clarity you never have to match the right plan to the right user and you have much more flexibility to disconnect unused users.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

4. Make sure your plan includes unlimited calls to any UK mobile, on any network

Most plans include an allowance which you could go over at any time. Where they give unlimited mobile allowances those are generally restricted to the same mobile network - but you can almost guarantee not all your customers are on the same network.

So, calls you need to make every month could well be costing you more than you planned for, hurting cash flow and playing havoc with budgets. Plus, your staff are probably spending working hours reconciling phone bills for personal and business calls, time which could be far more productively spent.

Switching to an unlimited fixed monthly fee per user plan eliminates all those problems while giving you completely predictable costs.

Things to check:

  • Does your plan include unlimited calls to any UK mobile on any network?
  • Does your plan include unlimited calls to any UK landline?
  • Do you have the right plan against the right people?

With Vodafone Business Clarity all of those problems are a thing of the past.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

5. Don't put up with an inflexible mobile contract

Now, more than ever, the ability to cope with changing conditions is a key business advantage. Many business plans insist that when you add a new user you have to buy a new handset, thereby committing you to an additional 12, 18 or 24 month contract.

Make sure your current plan enables you to add staff with the flexibility of a 30 day contract and doesn't insist you buy a new phone too. This way if, for example, you were to win a short contract and need to put on extra staff you can do that easily, meeting the needs of your customers without committing to unnecessary long term costs.

Things to check:

  • Does your plan allow you to add users with the flexibility of a 30 day commitment?
  • Does you plan allow you to add users without buying a new handset?
  • Do all your users enjoy the same benefits, irrespective of commitment?

If the answer to any of these is ‘no' then take a look at the flexibility and cost saving you'll enjoy with Vodafone Business Clarity.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

6. Ensure your staff are as productive as possible

When staff are away from the office are they able to give customers the same level of service and support? Are they spending time travelling to and from the office or meetings which they could be using more productively?

Whether they need to respond to emails promptly, go online or access your company network there are numerous ways in which you can help them be more productive.

Deciding on the right mobile productivity solution may be something you find daunting but it is an absolutely worthwhile exercise. You'll probably find that, for a very small monthly amount, you can help your staff do an even better job, making customers happier and helping drive revenues in the right direction.

Things to check:

  • Are your staff able to respond to customers appropriately when they're out of the office?
  • Do your staff spend a lot of time travelling to and from the office or meetings?
  • Do your staff get to work each day to find a host of emails waiting for them?
  • Would your customers be better served with a more immediate response?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes' then talk to a Vodafone Business Specialist today.

That's what England and Wales Cricket Board found when it upgraded BlackBerry devices for remote workers. Staff can now respond to emails in real time, which helps them make better use of their workday, and reduces late hours.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

7. Reduce the hidden costs of unnecessary administration time

Every bill you receive needs reviewing, checking, approving and paying - costing money and management time but adding no real value to your business. Mobile bills are no different but there are ways to streamline that time and cost, eliminating paperwork for all your staff not just finance.

The first way is to reduce the need to review the bill since you know what it will say up front and it matches your expectations. With a fixed monthly price plan which includes unlimited calls to any UK mobile and any UK landline your bill will be very close to what you expected with only things like international calls affecting the totals.

With a fixed monthly price there's also less need to review the details of each call, eliminating time spent on expense reconciliation . And, with a single provider across your whole business you save time by having just a single bill - and the rate you pay will probably be less as well.

Things to check:

  • Are your team spending time reviewing the detail of your day-to-day mobile calls on your bills?
  • Do your team spend time on detailed, call by call expense reconciliation?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes' then take a look at the advantages that Vodafone Business Clarity can bring to your business.

At Ordnance Survey, staff spend less time classifying calls now that a simple online mark-up system and automatic calculations have replaced manual activities.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

8. Make sure staff really know how to use the tools you've given them

Mobile working is certainly a way to boost productivity but, if your staff are not fully confident using the tools you've given them they may not be as productive as they could be.

Whether it's setting up and managing voicemail, using spellchecker on a BlackBerry, using mobile internet or accessing your network files on the move, they may need a little extra help and training.

It's generally simple things and you may well find half an hour spent with another team member is all it takes to make them more confident and more productive.

Things to check:

  • Ask a few of your staff if they are confident using the mobile productivity tools they have.
  • Ask a few customers if they're expectations on responsiveness from mobile staff are being met.

If you need help with training advice, perhaps to understand what's possible and what to expect then speak to a specialist Vodafone Business Adviser.

England and Wales Cricket Board staff adopted new technology quickly due to expert training sessions and immediately began using it to support valuable business activity.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

9. Get expert advice to avoid missing a competitive advantage

You can't be expected to run your business and stay fully abreast of the latest developments in mobile productivity solutions, but you probably do want to ensure you are getting the competitive advantages wherever you can.

It's a good idea to speak to an expert who understands what's possible, perhaps what your competitors are doing, and can help you get the most from mobile working.

From the simple things like mobile email, right through to mobile business applications there are a lot of ways, with low monthly costs. To improve the productivity of your team. An expert will help identify ways to improve your competitive advantage as well as help you get up and running.

Things to check:

  • Do your team spend a lot of time out of the office which could be better utilised?
  • Have you been thinking about mobile productivity but are not sure how?
  • Are your competitors ahead of you in mobile productivity?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes' then it's probably a good time to speak to a specialist Vodafone Business Adviser.

That's what Berkshire NHS Trust found when it re-equipped with Nokia 3109 mobile phones. Training and support is now reduced thanks to remote staff using the same type of device. And staff spent less than five minutes obtaining a new phone preloaded with existing contacts and customised to their requirements.

Vodafone Advertorial: Getting more from your budget has never been more important

10. Focus on your business, not your bills

Keeping your business healthy generally means keeping control of costs, managing cash flow and ensuring your team are spending time with, or talking to, customers.

Make sure your mobile plan helps achieve all of those. A fixed monthly price for all calls to any UK mobile and any UK landline will help reduce costs and manage both cash flow and budgeting.

If you need additional mobile services like mobile email or mobile broadband your plan should be able to include those at a fixed monthly price. Similarly any essential services such as voicemail should be included in the price.

With those things in place you will have far greater control of cash flow and budgeting whilst ensuring your team have the tools they need to work productively and effectively.

Things to check:

  • Does your plan include unlimited calls to any UK mobile on any network?
  • Does your plan include unlimited calls to any UK landline?
  • Do your staff spend time on expense reconciliation?
  • Does your mobile bill change each month, messing with your cash flow?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes' then take a look at the advantages that Vodafone Business Clarity can bring to your business.

It works for NHS Scotland, which is saving significant sums annually, while simultaneously giving staff the flexibility they need to communicate effectively.