Does Escalating Get it in Faster?

Knowing when to escalate is the key to getting your install completed faster.

While there are many orders, projects and repairs that you manage, there are reasons you would need to escalate at some point. Knowing when to escalate (Have you tried everything you can think of to resolve the issue?) is the key to determining if escalating gets it in faster. The difficulty in escalating is finding out if an escalation is warranted. It is very important that you understand the reason why an escalation is being requested. It is CRUCIAL that you KNOW and UNDERSTAND the Products and Services as well as the order processes that you are provisioning.

ESCALATION- An increase in the intensity or seriousness of something; an intensification; increase in magnitude or intensity by bypassing the immediate person.

You must stay ENGAGED and RESPOND throughout escalation the process. Keep all parties involved and updated. From my experience, educating our customers minimize the need to escalate. We should not hesitate to escalate within the performing organization and the client’s organization as well. Being proactive in escalating and risk communication is far better than unpleasant surprises requiring costly fixes for the customer as well as the company.

Project escalation is both an art and science, also escalating is very risky and can lead to backfires. Identifying situations where escalating is the only option is the key to completing our projects, orders and repairs successfully. There are occasions where escalating will get service in faster depending on the actual scope of the project and experience and knowledge of the parties involved in the process.

DOES ESCALATING GET IT IN FASTER? SOMETIMES. It depends on the situation. It can be costly to all parties involved.


PRIOR TO ESCALATING KNOW THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS

  • HAVE YOU DONE EVERYTHING YOU CAN DO TO RESOLVE?
  • DO YOU KNOW THE PROCESS?
  • WHY ARE YOU ESCALATING?
  • WHO DO YOU ESCALATE TO?
  • IS THIS THE BEST RECOURSE?

 

If you’re not sure yet if you’re ready for telecom expense management, you can download our free checklist by entering your email below.

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Mobile App of the Month – If This Then That (IFTTT)

Let IFTTT be your first step into automation.

What it is:

To call If This Then That (IFTTT) an automation app feels like it’s selling it short. It was, for me, my first real glimpse into the IoT world. IFTTT uses what they call “recipes” to create a chain of events. They work with an ever growing list of companies, programs, products and applications. Let’s say you drive a BMW and you have Phillips Hue lights in your house. You can use IFTTT to create a recipe for when you pull into your drive way, your lights automatically turn on. I use a recipe that access the GPS on my family’s phones to know when all of us are out of the house, to put our Nest on standby. The possible combinations are endless really. You can post a picture on Instagram and have it automatically save in your Google Photo collection; get an email when Home Depot puts garden supplies on sale; or have every new email contact directly saved to your address book, just to name a few.

What makes it special:

One of my favorite features of IFTTT is that users can publish their own recipes, which makes it very easy to set up useful recipes within minutes of downloading the app. The first recipe I set up was to automatically put my phone on vibrate as soon as I get to work. The thing that really sets this app apart from other similar apps is the amount of interfaces they can connect with. I have yet to think of something I wanted it to do that IFTTT was not able to produce.

App Site: https://ifttt.com

Android Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ifttt.ifttt&hl=en

iPhone Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/if-by-ifttt/id660944635?mt=8

App Price: Free

If you’re not sure yet if you’re ready for telecom expense management, you can download our free checklist by entering your email below.

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When Do Carriers Waive Install Charges

by Donna Miller

If you are looking for special pricing on carrier services with waived install charges, first and foremost check and ask for special promotions. If you cannot get fees waived, sometimes it pays to comparison shop, a carrier will sometimes negate activation fees when you threaten to walk away.

Some carriers will waive an install charge if you put more than one service in. It’s always a good idea to ask if anything can be waived when installing 2 or more services.   And keep in mind that if you are already paying for another service such as internet service and order a 2nd service such as POTS, they may waive fees because you have multiple services or combined billing.  They know It’s a lot harder to leave a carrier when you have combined billing with multiple services.  They realize this it is easier for the customer to pay one-bill.

You may also be eligible for savings by purchasing a cell phone through the company you work for or if you are a member of a community group, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, activation fees may be waived as well.

Often online orders get special promotions and you may be eligible for waived activation fees simply by ordering online.

Late, missed appointments, blatant mistakes made by the carrier or just plain old bad customer service will sometimes lead to a carrier offering a waived install fee. If all else fails, simply ask to have the fees waived, sometimes this works, especially if you are a good standing customer with years of service.

Mobile App of the Month – My Data Manager

My Data Manager

What it is:

My Data Manager is a free and easy to use app that monitors your smartphones data usage. It automatically identifies how you are connected to the network (mobile data, WiFi, roaming) to provide you accurate information on how much of your data plan you have used so far in your bill cycle. My Data Manager also can predict how much data you will use so you know if you need to change your usage habits. Knowing what apps use the most data is key to managing your usage and My Data Manager puts that information easily in the palm of your hand.

What makes it special:

My Data Manager has a shared plan feature that makes managing data for families or small businesses much easier. All you need to do is set up your plan and invite others to your group. Once they accept, you will be able to track your personal data usage as well as the groups combined usage.

iTunes Download Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-data-manager-track-your/id477865384?mt=8

Android Download Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobidia.android.mdm&hl=en

App Price: Free

How Do You Know Your TEM Provider Is Trustworthy?

One of the biggest worries any business can have relates to one of their top spend areas like IT and Telecom.  Even bigger is the worry when they handle management of those areas to another company – and whether or not that company is trustworthy.  Once your company is large enough that you need to outsource expert help for your high investment areas, you also want to be sure you’re working with a company that isn’t just going to take your money and run.

But how can you be sure if a company is trustworthy?  What signs are there to alert you to a potential risky partner?

trustworthy TEM

The first place to start is their willingness to work with you.  Not just their willingness to take your money, but how closely they’re willing to work with you as a business for what your business needs.  When it comes to telecom expense management, what you need most for your business is a management provider that cares about what your business needs to succeed.  This may mean that your TEM provider needs to be available on evenings and weekends – whatever it takes for your business to succeed.

This means to determine if your potential TEM provider is a good business fit with your business, ask them what their customer service is like.  What hours do they keep?  What are their response times? Do their testimonials specifically mention their customer service as being a top notch part of what makes the company great?  If not, you may want to do more research into what other past clients have said about working with the company.

A trustworthy telecom expense management service will also point out everything you can possibly do to save.  You want to understand what kind of ROI you’d receive. From working closely with the telco to negotiate substantial credits, or renegotiating contracts entirely, your TEM provider should be working for the best possible outcome for your business.  A telecom expense provider that’s dedicated to a lasting relationship with their clients won’t be worried about trying to extend how long you have to pay them to see benefits, nor will they be worried about losing your business after the initial audit to find savings.  A TEM provider focused on quality of service will know that if you feel you have continued needs, you’ll reach out – something that leads to a high number of referrals.

Referral business is a great way to find high quality expense providers that you can trust.  But how do you find a trustworthy TEM provider if you’re not able to get good referrals from your friends or colleagues?  Looking at  named case studies on the website of the potential TEM provider you’re considering is one way to determine what people are saying about them, but it’s naturally very one sided.

trustworthy TEM

You can also check out the LinkedIn profiles of their top level execs.   For example, you could look at Chad Parnis of 4TelecomHelp to see numerous recommendations from current and past clients.  These recommendations are often much more personal than what is posted on a company’s website, allowing you to get a glimpse into what it would be like to work with the company.

Above all, you can always look on the company’s website to see what they offer to their visitors.  A company that offers resources that are helpful to you and your business, or who offer content that you can use to make more informed decisions about your telecom expense management, is a company that’s dedicated to helping your business.

You can also reach out to talk to them.  An easy option that will help you get a feel for the company is simply to talk to them.  A quick contact form, a free consultation to determine the fit of your company with theirs, things that make it easy for you as the business owner to reach out and find a fit – these are great signs of a company that has your interests in mind.

If you’re not sure yet if you’re ready for telecom expense management, you can download our free checklist by entering your email below.

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What To Expect From Long Term Telecom Expense Management

Many companies are aware of the short term benefits of telecom expense management.  Most companies promise the same thing, and it’s an easy promise to make.  The first year you outsource to a professional telecom expense management company, you should see substantial savings.  For some companies, it’s as much as 40 to 50% or more in the first year alone.

But what about after that?  What happens after the TEM company takes care of all the low hanging fruit?  How does your company continue to benefit from outsourcing their TEM needs to a professional company?

long term tem

To start, there’s the continued benefits of peace of mind and organization.  Once your company reaches a certain size, there’s organizational tricks and processes that can be put in place to keep things running smoothly (and continue to save you money).  Something as simple as consolidating invoices – one 4TelecomHelp customer had over 1600 invoices consolidated, ensuring they were all tracked, paid, and monitored appropriately.  To avoid needing such a massive cleanup again, continued maintenance of the accounts are needed.

In addition, there’s bill payment.  Some companies are so large, and their contracts so complex, that a common occurrence is for customers to see payments applied to the wrong bill.  This is where you start running into the warning signs we’ve talked about before, and your company ends up with services being shut off.  Companies that partner with their clients, like 4TelecomHelp, are able to monitor your bills and payments to ensure things are applied the way they should.

What about if your company has locations in multiple countries?  How do your contracts or bill payments change?  Do you have staff experienced in multi-national contracts that can ensure things are paid properly?

Long term TEM goes beyond simply saving you money.  Having a TEM company on your side that partners with you the way 4TelecomHelp does means that you have a company working, day in and day out, to ensure there’s enough redundancies in your systems to prevent outages.  Do you want to pay a dedicated employee to spend their time checking to be sure everyone in your company has the most up to date tech that your contract stipulates you should have?  Who in your company is responsible for contract interpretation?  What kind of resources do they have to interpret contracts in other languages?  What kind of backups do you have to ensure your data and your processes are safe and secure?

Why even worry about it?

long term tem

Beyond simply saving money, quality telecom expense management handles a myriad of concerns you may not have even realized you should have.  Stop worrying about disputes, payments, negotiations, or ensuring your credits are properly applied.  Have you even looked into what credits you’re owed lately?  Who keeps up on what should be applied, and when, for the maximum benefit?

If you’re ready to get more out of telecom expense management than a short term cost saving solution, reach out to us for a free consultation by clicking here.

Get the free Telecom Expense Checklist by entering your email below – find out if it’s time for your company to seek help with their telecom expense management.

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The 5 Things Franchises Need To Do To Save Money on Phone Contracts

The daily grind of managing a franchise may seem relatively simple.  Things that work well as a franchise are often easy enough to set up, get running, and then handle on a day to day basis.  You, savvy business owner that you are, probably aren’t the person who manages the store, hotel, or kiosk on a daily basis.  You’re at a higher level, involved in what it takes to make everything run smoothly for everyone that has a franchise of your business.

As you well know, that’s where things get really complicated.

Luckily for you, there’s a lot of tools out there for helping you with the many aspects of franchise management. From task management training to software to help simplify business operations, there’s tons of software for the computer side.

But what about your phones?

Phone billing, management, and dealing with contracts isn’t a particularly fun or enticing aspect of running a franchise, and often gets pushed to the side for things that seem like a more obvious way to save money or time.  If you’re not carefully watching your phone bills, you may be missing out on some major savings and efficiency opportunities.

things franchises need to do

Here’s the top 5 things franchises need to do once they’re managing multiple phone lines, contracts, and locations:

  1. Look at your contract in detail. Do you know what software or technology each location should have?   How quickly can you expect someone to come out and fix any problems you may have at each location?  Do you know exactly what you agreed to?  Not examining contracts in detail is one of the most common mistakes companies with multiple lines make.  Learn more about contracts and why it’s so important to examine them by clicking here.
  2. Have a system in place to ensure all bills and invoices are paid on time. This may seem a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many companies get hit with fees for non-payment.  Once you have multiple locations, multiple lines, and multiple contracts, juggling them all can get to be quite a headache.  You’ll save yourself money and headaches by ensuring that you have a system and process in place that at the very least, checks to be sure there aren’t any outstanding bills that will cost you money in fees.
  3. Audit yourself regularly. Even a simple check to ensure that you aren’t paying for services that you don’t need, or that there aren’t unusual charges on the phone bills for each location, can add up to quite a bit of saved money.  Sometimes, you’ll catch things before they become major problems – an employee chatting long distance when that’s not a part of your plan, or data caps on mobile contracts that are preventing the sales team from being effective.  If you aren’t checking the details, your grasp of the big picture may be quite inaccurate.
  4. Know what your business needs. You’ll need to do some research, but not all contracts, carriers, or plans were made equal.  Does your business need wired lines to brick-and-mortar stores?  Do you need mobile phones for a workforce that travels often?  Would you like fiber for your internet connection, or are fast internet speeds not an issue in your business?  Knowing what your business needs to work most efficiently is vital to ensuring you’re not overpaying for services you don’t need, or lacking in a service you do need but don’t have.
  5. Check for credits you’ve earned on your phone plans: Many (if not all) contracts include a way for your company to earn credits towards your bills. These credits can add up to huge savings, especially if you haven’t looked for them before this.  You may need to call your service provider to check on whether or not you have credits or could be earning them soon, but the time spent on the phone for this is well worth it.

things franchises need to do

Or, save yourself the headache, and look for a quality telecom expense management provider to help you with your phone lines.  You’ll want to find a TEM provider that treats you like a partner, going to bat for you and finding every possible savings out there.

If you’ve never worked with a telecom expense provider before, you may be hesitant about the idea of spending money to find out how much money you should be spending on your phones.  Don’t be!  The first year of savings almost always more than pays for the cost of TEM, and the continued increases in efficiency, credits, and other savings continue to make telecom expense management worth it.

Imagine never having to worry about whether or not a bill was paid again, or which invoices matched up to which checks, or when each contract expires for each location.  A TEM provider like 4TelecomHelp is exactly what your company needs to continue growing.

Enter your email below for a free, quick checklist to see if it’s time for your company to look into advanced telecom expense management solutions.



5 Reasons We’re Excited About the AOTMP Conference

We are, understandably, very much looking forward to the AOTMP conference taking place in just a couple short weeks.  Like most of you who have attended for a few years, we’re very much excited about the move to a new location.  After the conference, maybe we can check out Sea World, since it’ll be so close!

While 4TelecomHelp will not have a booth, we are sponsoring one of the lunches, and will be happy to set aside time to talk to anyone with questions on how their business can benefit from Telecom Expense Management.

Jill Plouffe, President of 4TelecomHelp, will be at the show, along with Paula Kohl, Director of Telecom Expense Management.  Not sure what would work best for your company when it comes to which carrier, technology, or tools to use?  Reach out to us here to set up a time to talk while we’re in Florida!

Not sure what to do or see while you’re at the conference?  Here’s a rundown of the top items taking place to help you out.

AOTMP conference

  1. Early arrival bonus – drinks and desserts with Owlfred, the Great Horned Owl: Showing up on Sunday for the event? You’ll be lucky enough to meet a rescued great horned owl at Seaworld, and enjoy complimentary drinks and desserts.  Sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, and presenters will all be mingling, so if you can get there early – this is a great way to get in some face time (and see an owl up close!).
  2. Poolside Networking Opportunities – if you’re from the colder parts of the US, this is an opportunity to sneak away from the snow, work on your tan, and enjoy some relaxing time by the pool…all while networking and making connections for your business! Everyone wins.
  3. Tuesday’s Keynote with Verizon and MDSL – Advancing Telecom and Technology Expense Management: This is promising to be a fantastic talk, full of useful information and great discussions on many of the major pain points for anyone working in the Telecom industry. We’re looking forward to what they have to say on Customers, CSPs, and TEM providers, and how it should be a partnership, not a competition.  This is very much in line with our way of operating, so it’ll be very interesting to hear what they have to say!
  4. The Industry Awards and Recognition ceremony – Tuesday night: Naturally, if you’re attending the conference, you’ll want to know who is doing the best in each category. This ceremony is a big nod to those who are excelling in their category, and continues to provide networking opportunities for attendees.
  5. Roundtable discussions for every niche – Looking for a discussion between vendors on how they handle their most difficult customers? Are you an enterprise looking for discussions on policy creation and implementation, selecting vendors, or just want to compare case studies?  There’s a roundtable discussion that fits just about any question or need any attendee could have.  It’s tough to choose just a few to attend, but they all promise to be incredibly valuable.

AOTMP conference

Are we going to see you at the event?  Tweet us while you’re there, or reach out to contact us and let’s set up time to chat.

We can’t wait for the biggest conference for fixed and mobile telecom management of the year – and we’re looking forward to seeing everything it has to offer!

Free bonus – on the fence about whether or not you even need Telecom Expense Management?  Download our free checklist by entering your email below!



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The Biggest TEM Mistake Your Company Might Be Making

With the acquisition of our talented Director of Telecom Expense Management, there’s been much knowledge exchanged on the best practices in TEM.  That exchange of knowledge has led to discussion around one of the most prominent mistakes commonly made when managing telecom expenses, and how to avoid it.

By far, one of the biggest TEM mistakes we see when other companies manage telecom expenses is this one:

Not Looking at Contracts in Detail.

A common failing is that many TEM companies don’t look at contracts in detail until a customer asks for it.  Does your company know what they signed up for?  When things expire?  What are you obligated to provide, and what is your telco obligated to provide you?

biggest TEM mistake

These are important details that you should know, and without someone spending the time to interpret your contract in detail, you may miss out on a lot of little details.  When there’s only one contract, these things aren’t as big of a deal – but when your franchise is expanding, you’re setting up new stores, or new offices, or a new sales department, and all those contracts start adding up…you need someone on your side who can and will monitor your contracts with supreme attention to detail.

TEM is about more than just the money exchanging hands, it’s about ensuring your company has everything it needs exactly when it needs it to run smoothly.  A contract should include redundancies, technology, backups, how those are handled, and how to ensure they are handled correctly.

Contracts include a vitally important aspect of your service – the Contract Service Level Agreements.  Concerned about how fast you’ll get help when an issue arises?  Up time guarantees – your contractual guarantee of just how little breaks in service you should experience.

You can also negotiate late fees and penalties, as well as other little details that add up to either an amazing contract or a terrible level of service.

Without detailed contract interpretation, and someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of the telco companies, you’re not likely to see the best options for your contracts.

biggest TEM mistake

How do you avoid this mistake?

Hire a company for your TEM that takes contract interpretation seriously, and who will look out for the entirety of your interests – not just the dollars.

You’ll want a company capable and diligent enough to really look into the details of all of your contracts, who will consider the big picture and how your company can benefit the most.  Here at 4TelecomHelp, we treat your business like an extension of our own, putting in the time and effort to ensure you get a complete picture of your commitments.  We ensure that your company has what it needs.

You shouldn’t have to ask your TEM company for the details of your contract.  You shouldn’t have to wonder if they really interpreted the contract, or if they’re just giving you lip service, hoping you won’t dig into the details.

Reach out to us today to find out more about what we could do for you beyond saving money on your TEM.  We’ll provide a free consultation to help you determine if working with 4TelecomHelp is what your business needs to make telecom expense management easier!

Or, try this simple checklist to help you determine if it’s time to get professional help with your Telecom Expense Management:



NRF 16 Recap – The Best Booths and Sessions from the Big Show

The NRF 16 Recap – what you missed if you couldn’t attend: 

Now that we’re back from the incredible National Retail Federation show in New York, we’d like to share some of the best booths, events, and products coming out for retail stores this year.

The show itself was packed and full of non-stop activity, with the events after the show providing entertainment and things to do for those of us visiting out of town.  We particularly enjoyed the American Express lounge, which was a great place to mingle, enjoy great food, great drinks, and a great atmosphere.

NRF 16 recap

The Top 5 Booths That You Needed to See at the Big Show

  1. IBM: This giant of retail had a huge booth well-staffed with folks ready to help you learn how to keep your pricing competitive along with information to better equip you with specific topics within retail.  They also had subject experts in specific topics that you could book time with, allowing attendees to drill down in detail on highly relevant information applicable to your industry.
  2. Cisco: Their booth was packed with analytics your company could use to take your customer’s retail experience to the next level.  Learn about shopping preferences and behaviors, how you could increase conversions, and provide customers with tailored experiences within your store.  The level of detail you can find within your store was impressive, and we were impressed with all of the information available at their booth.
  3. Toshiba: Another big, impressive booth was Toshiba’s.  Looking for advancements in POS and mobility for your store?  They had the booth to check out.  The advancement of the Internet of Things and the increasing expectations of customers for a seamless experience moving from mobile to in-store interactions means that your business needs to step up their technological abilities.  Toshiba was one booth offering to help you do just that.
  4. Microsoft: When you’re looking at large scale enterprise solutions, Microsoft is at the top of the list.  With numerous options for improving the experience your customers have within your store, their booth was a delight of technology and a glimpse at what the future holds.
  5. SAS: If you’re looking for more data about your customers and what they’re doing in your store, this booth had the solutions for you.  They showcased ways to better use beacons, innovative location technology, and other types of digital creativity to ensure customers had local and personalized experiences within stores.  Predictive analytics can reach new levels in the upcoming years, and SAS is one of the forerunners in making that happen.

NRF 16 Recap

Top 3 Sessions You Should Have Attended:

  1. Hospitality’s Secrets to Success: This keynote was packed with information on ensuring that your business provides everything the customer is looking for from their first touchpoint with your company to the end. There’s a myriad of ways your company can work to keep customers loyal, and the entire keynote was packed with gems and insights into doing so.  Lessons to take away from this keynote included ensuring that the privacy of your customers is protected, hotel vs food and the differences in strategy, and ways to serve the ‘inbetween’ generation between millennials and baby boomers.
  2. Focus on the Customer: How UK Supermarkets Innovate and Succeed in a Competitive Market: Compared to the US, European stores interact with their customers in unique ways that may not be adopted by the US in a big way yet. Which technologies are the most beneficial to providing the experience and perks that customers are looking for the most?  That’s what this session discussed in detail.  One interesting takeaway was utilizing proximity (and combining physical with digital advertising) in a better way, as it is one the biggest drivers for customers looking to take advantage of discount offers.
  3. Retail Disrupted: Navigating the Digital Age: This was another keynote packed with excellent information for retail stores at all levels. One of the major lessons to take away from this keynote was that physical retail stores stand to benefit immensely from embracing digital.  Digital influence often meant that sales were five times higher than comparative sales in ecommerce.  The power of your company’s brand and the experience your customers have (often as a result of your digital presence) are increasingly the biggest leads to success.  Paul Gainer’s statement that “Quality is the best business plan” was an effective summary of what the keynote focused on.

Our team members walked the show and were amazed at the sheer number of technological advancements available to retail stores today.  Want to know more about what your customers are looking at within your store?  There’s tools for that.  Want to offer local discounts to entice nearby potential customers to visit the store?  There’s ways to do that.

Offering a personalized experience through the use of technology is definitely at the top of mind for most stores looking to grow and expand in 2016 and beyond.  Making sure your stores are easily accessible online and provide the experience customers are looking for is vital to growing in the upcoming years.

4TelecomHelp can help you find ways to save money and allow you to spend that budget on improving your customers’ experience in your store.  Contact us today for a free consultation to see just how much you could be saving (and spending elsewhere).

Before you schedule a consultation, find out if it’s truly time for you to seek professional help with your Telecom Expense Management – download our free checklist by entering your email below!