Guide to business mobile phones
Find out some ingenious ways that businesses use smartphones
Smartphones are smartphones. It doesn't matter if you're using one for business or as a consumer, it's the same snazzy piece of kit. But there are differences in what you use them for and how you pay for them.
This guide will show you some of the ways that businesses use mobiles, think about them, and set them up for their workforce.
What is it good for? Absolutely … everything
Sure, some businesses use mobiles for just making calls or texts. Many use it for checking and responding to email and working on documents in the cloud (through Microsoft Office 365, for example). But some industries have found uses (and apps) that have revolutionised the way they do business. Here are just a few examples.
Hopefully, it’s been a while since you last had to make a claim on your house insurance. Then, the assessor probably filled in a load of forms and made copious notes about the damage. They would have then written these up back at the office and posted or faxed them to the insurer to process. This was a lengthy and laborious task.
Nowadays, things are different. Chances are that your insurance assessor will roll up with just a smartphone (and an app). There won’t be a pen in sight.
The assessor will use the voice record function on their smartphone to record their verbal observations of the situation. The dictated report will automatically transcribe into a formatted document, which the insurance company can immediately download. And you won’t need to sign anything either. The assessor will record your verbal consent, which again will transcribe as your signature. Job done (quickly), no paperwork involved.
Theatre, cinema, or gig ticket collector
Buy a ticket and print it online and you can bet that it’ll have a QR code on it (it stands for Quick Response code: it’s a type of matrix barcode). You no longer have to hand your ticket to a collector. They’ll use their smartphone to scan the code, confirming your entry.
Not only is this more efficient, it also gives the venue a lot more information about you than they would have got with an old ticket stub: they know who you are, your buying history, address, email, IP address, and so on. Before, they just knew how many people had turned up.
Of course, you may not have a printed ticket at all. You may have an electronic ticket on your smartphone, which the collector will scan with theirs.
Couriers can use smartphones to receive pick-up or delivery instructions while they’re out on the road, they can use sat-nav apps to get them to the pick-up or delivery point, and then they can get the recipient’s signature on their smartphone screen. OK, from personal experience, ‘signature’ might be pushing it a bit …
And fleet managers back at base can use the real-time data from their drivers’ mobiles so they know exactly where everybody is, information that also enables accurate online order tracking for the customers.
In common with many service businesses, Openreach use smartphones to help gauge customer satisfaction. When the engineer has completed the job, they’ll hand you their smartphone and ask you to complete a short customer satisfaction survey using an app. Like with the insurance assessor, the data is immediately accessible to the Openreach customer satisfaction analysts. There’s no paperwork and a higher – immediate – response rate than in the pre-smartphone days.
Heating engineers use smartphones to check boiler diagnostic codes, source and order replacement parts, and to, er, have a look at stuff. Boilers are often hidden away in ill-lit cupboards and underfloor pipes are, by their very nature, in dark places. Next time you call a plumber out, watch how they use their smartphone: depending on their model, they’ll probably use the torch facility to check underfloor piping and the camera to take photos of suspicious pipes that they can’t otherwise get close to.
What’s the difference between a smartphone and a desk phone ?
With BT One Phone the answer’s simple: there isn’t one.
BT One Phone is our Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) product. It does away with the fuss of using a phone in the office (with one number) and a mobile when you’re out (with another number). Instead, you use a single mobile.
When you’re in the office the phone uses the standard office network; when you’re out, it works on the mobile network. And it switches seamlessly between the two so you can start a call in the office and carry on talking as you walk out and get on a train or whatever.
You only have one number and one mailbox so you never miss any calls. It’s easy for people to get hold of you because they only need to know a single number. Even better, you can keep your existing number and use any mobile handset.
FMC helps you think about your phones in a different way.
You don’t need to think about picking up the mobile when you leave the office; you don’t need to think about setting up a diversion on your desk phone, or telling your PA to transfer that important call you’ve been waiting for. You don’t need to think about any of it. Just pick up one phone and talk.
Smartphone or tablet - which one’s right for you?
It depends what you want to use it for. It may sound obvious but think about how you’ll be using the device. If you’re using it to show potential customers your products, you may be better off with a tablet or a large-screen smartphone so they’re better able to see the images.
Or maybe you’ll be using it to work on documents while you’re travelling on a train. Again, a bigger screen may make life easier. But if you’re mainly using it for calls and texts, portability may be more important so get something that slips into your pocket.
Whatever device you pick, make sure that it’s 4G. That way you’ll be much better equipped to use the internet on the move (especially important if you’re reliant on cloud applications).
Making business mobile pay
Your consumer mobile options are pretty straightforward: contract or PAYG (Pay As You Go). But then there’s only you to think about. As you’d expect, business options are more complicated. But they offer much more choice and flexibility.
With BT Business mobile you get 3 basic options –
The solo plan
This is similar to the familiar consumer idea: a mobile complete with a monthly package of data, minutes, and texts. It’s ideal for businesses with just a few mobile users.
Again, this is a standard way of paying for consumer mobiles. You pay for the SIM card and its accompanying monthly package of data, minutes, and text, but you provide your own mobile device.
Now this is where things get a touch smarter for the savvy business user.
With other mobile plans you pay a fixed monthly charge for a package of data, minutes, and texts. Now, you may be lucky and always use all of those allowances each month but it’s more likely that you don’t quite manage it. You may, for instance, have some minutes left that you’ve paid for, but you’ll never use.
Across a company with multiple mobile users these scraps of unused allowances soon mount up. As a business, you could be paying significant sums for allowances that you just throw away.
Not with Mobile Sharer. Essentially, this allows you to share the allowances across a pre-defined group of employees. So, for example, if you know that Saul uses more minutes than Carrie every month but that she’s a heavy data user, you can share their allowances appropriately. That way, you’ll be using your overall company allowances much more efficiently.
Take a look at our mobile pages for more information about our handsets, our tariffs, and Mobile Sharer.
Business smartphones in a nutshell
Gone are the days when business mobiles were only used for calls – and the occasional text. With software packages like Microsoft 365, users can have their work emails and documents at their fingertips.
Yet increasingly, modern businesses are developing their own apps to make life easier for their people and their customers. So a good business app can make your people more productive, and your customers more engaged.