“These are unprecedented times.” It’s a phrase we hear over and over now. Concepts that seemed like doomsday scenarios not too long ago, like “working from home”, “social distancing” and “lockdown”, are now a way of life, albeit hopefully a temporary one. One thing is certain: these next few months are sure to reshape the way South Africans do business permanently. This article will explore how to prepare your business for it.
With remote working becoming the new norm, the right communications tools are integral to help companies continue their operations. That’s why selecting the right communications provider for your business is more important than ever. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a contract with a solution that doesn’t go where your business needs to.
The booming telecommunications industry in South Africa is unfortunately rife with “providers” out to make a quick buck. Consumers, especially those in the small business community, often get caught in long-term contracts binding them to inferior or limiting services. Exiting these contracts can be costly and result in on-going legal disputes, which a small business can ill afford.
However, the good news is that there are simple precautions to avoid signing an onerous and inappropriate telecoms contract.
What to do before you commit to a contract or provider
In uncertain times, businesses may be tempted to rush into quick-fix solutions, and salespeople will naturally try to take full advantage of this. However, it is always better to consider your options carefully before signing anything — you must think and plan long term, and once the rush is over, your communications solution must be designed to serve your needs and to last.
Double check provider credibility
Take time to research the provider you’re feeling most comfortable with. Get to understand their products, look at their business (and if need be their financiers), how long they’ve been in business and what their real customers are saying about them (beware of paid Internet reviews and “fans”.) In other words, make sure that the company is established, authentic and credible.
Understand the offer
Are they offering you an limited offer disguised as part of a bundled deal? If so, you need to ensure that you fully understand what you are paying for now, and in the future, beyond the initial headline value you’re being sold on. Be sure to also consider what happens on the anniversary of the contract (yes, this is a thing with great sounding offers), and upon cancellation.
Read the fine print
The devil is still in the detail! Always read the fine print of your contract thoroughly — make a note of the demarcation of responsibilities, the expected service-level agreement and try to identify any hidden costs that you may not have been made aware of.
So many options! Who should you partner with?
There are hundreds of providers in South Africa, at various levels of the telecoms food chain — how do you choose? And who is substantial enough to survive the inevitable coming cannibalisation of the market, ensuring that your business remains properly supported and connected as the industry evolves?
Firstly, you should ask any company you are considering signing with the following questions:
- Are they an IECNS licence holder (registered with Icasa with statutory regulatory obligations) or are they a reseller of someone else’s network and service?
- Do they own their network infrastructure, or are there parts of their network that do not come with a first-tier quality guarantee?
- Do they terminate their calls directly with all the networks, or are they reliant on a single “gateway” network provider?
If you are satisfied with the answers, you may be onto something good. If not, move on! With all things considered, in telecoms, your best bet is usually a well-established, reputable and substantial company.
Huge Telecom, 27 years old and part of the JSE-listed Huge Group Limited, is the biggest provider of GSM fixed-mobile, last-mile telephony solutions in the South African B2B market. Only we offer a unique GSM full-suite telephony (FST) service that serves thousands of South African SMMEs, as well as providing vital telecoms connectivity to many of the country’s top corporates.
Through our network of accredited business partners across South Africa, we can meet your telecoms needs in most towns and cities. We leverage our vast industry experience to provide competitive value propositions, technology and solutions backed by the respected gravitas of Huge Group.
And best of all? With Huge’s core values like professionalism, integrity, transparency and a commitment to excellent service, you know you can trust us to keep your business connected — despite, during and beyond these unprecedented times.
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