By Matt Coffy
As you determine how mobility products and services will be part of your portfolio, you should be aware of the opportunity to drive new income while helping your clients save money and time with wireless expense management.
The first article in this series on wireless expense management explored WEM basics and explained the opportunity for channel partners. This article covers WEM for international services, carrier negotiation strategies and customer management.
International Services. From early termination fees to international roaming charges, carriers are notorious for adding fees to their customers cellphone bills. This has prompted many international cellphone users to search endlessly for ways to help slash their roaming charges.
Theres no question that international wireless calling can be very expensive. With charges for global text messaging, international data and voice, a typical phone bill can easily be $1,000 to $6,000 a month. For customers that have more than 50 users roaming globally, the costs become significant.
With an international wireless optimization strategy, you can reduce your customers global roaming costs. Start by analyzing international usage trends. Collect a years worth of data, including where employees travel and their wireless service plans and usage patterns. A knowledgeable WEM company will compare results with other programs the carriers currently offer or have negotiated in the past for other clients. Many customers are unaware of the money-saving programs carriers may offer for international services. They also may be unaware that they can save money by attaching recently updated programs and plans to their phone when they travel internationally, so they dont have to bear the cost all year. The goal is to sync wireless devices and plans with users’ typical travel patterns. Monitor international roaming patterns and match them up to the best existing calling plans.
Carrier Negotiations. Most customers are unaware that carriers have discount rates that are not published or are hidden from the general public. A good WEM firm works with a carrier directly to persuade them to provide programs to a customer that normally isn’t privileged to receive such information. In other words, negotiate with the carrier to offer a customer bulk discount rates and nonrack rates. Many Fortune 500 corporations receive these discount programs due to their high spend levels. A wireless optimization expert can leverage its knowledge base and skills to deliver these programs to small and medium businesses.
Direct negotiations between carrier and customer are rarely successful because customers are not as experienced in pitching the overall scope of work to the carrier. Obtaining really large discounts requires working in a friendly manner with the carrier account rep, area manager, vice president or other chief decision maker. It also requires preparation to plead your client’s case and resolve not to waver if demands are unmet. (After all, your customer is considering alternatives.)
Channel partners should be well versed in all facets of carrier negotiation or work with a WEM vendor that is. Look for experience and success in negotiating rates, handset discount/upgrades and contract terms (e.g., out clauses, termination fees, etc.). Experience with audit and recovery also is recommended.
Customer Management. Optimizing a wireless bill doesnt necessarily mean categorizing expenses on an invoice. It’s more about understanding the customer’s wireless environments. Are users shifting from one pattern to another because of company changes? Are there ups and downs within the company economically? Are there new devices that need to be managed? The list goes on and on.
Optimizing a wireless bill doesnt necessarily mean categorizing expenses on an invoice. It’s more about understanding the customer’s wireless environments. Are users shifting from one pattern to another because of company changes? Are there ups and downs within the company economically? Are there new devices that need to be managed? The list goes on and on.
Many WEM providers will sell a specific product, service or database to review carrier invoices and spin out optimization. What separates the true WEM solutions provider from the rest is helping clients manage the constantly evolving wireless environment.
The complexity is causing a shift towards management and not just savings. Engaging a client and spending the time to get to know their account is the path to delivering greater value.
For example, when a new smartphone hits the market, a WEM provider should be able to address any questions a client may ask about it. We have found that the most successful WEM vendors are the ones that ensure customers’ overall wireless needs are met. In the end, a customer is more likely to go with the vendor that will spend time educating them.
You can leverage this service to add on mobile device management, which allows you to charge a monthly fee per device for managing ordering or applications at the device level. Be sure to check out the next article in this series for more about building a mobile device management practice.
Matt Coffy is president of Slash Wireless. The company provides expert wireless analysis, optimization methodologies and consulting services for both direct customers and channel partner clients. His previous experience includes working in leadership roles at a TEM company and a wireless carrier. Coffy has been involved with the channel for more than 20 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.