Created:
2/24/2008 11:32:59 AM

Author:
Przemek Radzikowski

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Give your company an international presence, Use Skype and Save Money

Give your small company an international presence and save money. This paper gives a brief overview of Skype and how it will allow your company to trade and present an international image, save money on international calls and protect your clients from rogue employees.


 

 

Introduction

VoIP-based technologies are all the rage at the moment and companies are starting to learn the benefits of swapping out their antiquated telephone system in favour of VoIP-based technologies.  VoIP offers flexibility, cost savings, almost unlimited expansion as well as support for the mobile or home-based workers.  If we are clever, we can leverage Skype and push this new model outside the organization and give a business all the advantages of VoIP on an international level.

Scenario 1: Small company wishing to trade in international waters

As more and more smaller companies become aware of the benefits of tapping into the global market, they also learn that it can be a costly experience.  Communicating with your clients internationally has the potential of getting out of hand and eating into your profit margins.

One of the largest complaints modern companies report are the spiralling costs of communication.  Whether this be between staff members or your client base.  Having a staff base which is deskbound is less of a problem because you have control over their infrastructure.  The problems increase when you need to deal with a mobile workforce.  These types of workers are out in the field, dealing with clients onsite and frequently need to be either contacted by the office or the client.

The problems are magnified even further when these workers are travelling internationally and you start to consider roaming charges. 

A company starting to move into international waters should always try to present itself as an international operation.  Although it’s convenient having a single number where customers can reach you, it’s more convenient from the clients perspective to dial a local number in the country of their residence, rather than making international.  You would be surprised how many people out there don’t like to dial international rates because of the uncertainty of the fees incurred.  So how much business do you think you lose due to international calls?

Setup a local, country-specific telephone number using SkypeIn

SkypeIn is a service provided by Skype which allows you to register and maintain a local number in a country of your choice.  For instance, if I wanted to setup a local number say in London, UK – I would sign up to Skype, register for the SkypeIn service and in return be allocated a local number.  This number would then serve as the company dial-in number for the UK region.  You can start to see that without even having a physical office in the UK, we have managed to create the illusion of an office with a local feel in the form of a local  number.

Ok, so now that you have a dial-in number you’re probably wondering what next?  Yep, people can call the number but how does that translate into me receiving the call if my staff are in the field and not in front of a computer running Skype?  Glad you asked...

Skype has a forwarding feature, which allows you to forward any Skype-allocated local number to another physical or mobile service in the event that you aren’t sitting in front of a computer and running Skype.  The service will simply follow your movements wherever you go and at your leisure. 

Scenario 2: Retain your clients even if the sales force walks out the door

One of the most common problems in modern organizations is dealing with the constant personnel turnover.  We are living in a global economy and people are starting to move around the globe in search of better jobs at unprecedented levels. 

Now, let’s set aside the issues surrounding the human churn for a moment and focus on some of the more important aspects which will influence your business.  Let’s assume that one of your staff whom has been working for your company decides to leave and work for a competitor on the other side of the world.  It’s bad enough that they walk away with capital intelligence gained whilst employed with your firm, it’s even worse when they take your hard earned clients.

One of the most common mistakes that marketing and sales companies make in the course of doing business is allow the employee to use their own mobile and their own mobile number to do business.  Over the course of their employment, the employee slowly builds up a network of contacts which are critical to the survival of your business.  In the event of termination, all of the accumulated clients would still be using the employees phone number to contact him/her, giving the employee plenty of time to sign them up with a competitor and once again under their account.

How do I stop this happening?

One of the easiest ways to do this is to issue each employee a company mobile phone.  The phone is to be strictly used for work purposes only and all calls to and from clients are to be received on that phone.  Upon employment termination the phone is returned and re-assigned to another employee, thus ensuring your clients stay with you.

Although this approach is easy to setup and maintain, the costs associated with managing a fleet of phones are sometimes astronomical.  In general, if you give someone something for free and that is a company asset, they won’t treat it with the same level of respect as their own assets.  It’s human nature, easy come, easy go.  Replacement costs for dropped, lost or stolen handsets are other aspects which are sometimes overlooked when factoring in the costs associated with fleet management.

What about a more cost-effective solution?

A far more cost-effective solution would be to once again utilize Skype.  By combining the SkypeIn functionality as well as forwarding the service to a company-generic Skype account.  Each employee would be assigned a generic Skype account, e.g. MyCompany12.  The SkypeIn number would act as the employees standard work number but would allow the call to be routed to the Skype client application on the user’s desktop computer.  It’s also possible to setup the Skype client so that if you do not answer the call on your computer, the call is forwarded to a nominated phone number.  This may be the employees private mobile number or another number.

So what have we achieved by doing this?

Firstly, we have protected our relationship with the client.  No longer is the client exposed to our employees directly, instead we are using Skype as a proxy to keep the client-employee relationship anonymous to a certain degree.

Secondly, when the employee leaves, the client is still only going to call the SkypeIn number which is linked to the MyCompany12 Skype ID.  The employee is not walking out with our clients.

And thirdly, we can reassign the SkypeIn number to forward to another staff member, for example MyCompany14, who still works for us and will now be managing the clients.

Scenario 3: How to minimize international communication costs?

Technology advancement has certainly driven down the costs associated with telephony and touching base with our ever-growing international client base.  Costs however, or their minimisation are always on the agenda.

Can Skype help here too?

You can use Skype to call any number in the world at hugely reduced rates.  The reason for the thrifty rates can be attributed to the fact that the majority of the call travels over your existing internet connection.  The only portion of the call that needs to be paid for is the connection from Skype’s local hub to the actual physical phone or mobile.

To explain this in more detail, imagine that you’re on business in Botswana and you would like to call your mother who is in Australia.  You have your laptop, you’re connected to the internet and you know that your mother has a mobile phone that she carries with her everywhere.  Under normal circumstances you would pick up the phone, dial the number and talk to your mother.  The connection is between your phone, the local telecommunications company in Botswana, the telecommunications company in Australia and finally terminates with your mother’s mobile phone. 

In our Skype scenario, you would type in the international number, hit call and wait.  The call would be routed via your already existing internet connection to the Skype local hub in Australia via the internet (at zero charge).  The local Australian hub then dials your mother’s mobile number at local Australian rates.  At the end of this process, you have a voice connection between your mother’s mobile phone and your computer.

As you can see, the costs associated with a traditional international call are much higher because you’re utilising two telecommunications infrastructures in two countries, both of which will want a cut of the action.  With the Skype option, you’re limiting your exposure to only the Australian telecommunications company, not to mention the various agreements that Skype has signed with local providers to further minimise the costs.

Conclusion

Skype can not only give your company an international presence with a shoestring budget, but can also protect your clients from rogue employees as well as save you a  bundle on keeping in touch with those clients.

For more information and to download Skype, go to  http://www.skype.com

 

permalink [Permalink] - Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013





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