Telco charging practices open niche market

The common practice of making IT managers responsible for the voice part of the phone system, as well as the data, has opened a niche business opportunity for Auckland-based computer telephony company Talking Computers Limited.

The common practice of making IT managers responsible for the voice part of the phone system, as well as the data, has opened a niche business opportunity for Auckland-based computer telephony company Talking Computers Limited.

Faced with a number of clients unaware of how much they could save off their phone bills each month, TCL set up a consultancy business and hired Richard Kahn to run it. Kahn's job is quite straight forward he says - he saves companies money by looking at their phone bills.

"People tend to just pay their phone bill each month. They don't realise just how much money they are losing by not checking up on it."

Kahn has worked with a number of clients to review their telco structure and although he wouldn't name his customers, says he has saved a number of companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"We've just secured two years' worth of credit for one company because they'd relinquished a number of lines some time ago but had still been paying for them."

Kahn says rationalising the number of lines a company has is the easiest way to save them money.

"We take a payment of 25% of the savings they make and try to build a long-term relationship with the customers. I tell people they should have their systems checked every six months or so."

By constantly evaluating whether the customer has the right level of service or not, Kahn says at the very least the customer is assured of a "sanity check" that says they're paying the right amount.

"It's a 'stop, look, analyse' approach to the bills they receive."

Kahn says simply reducing the number of lines a company has running into its office can save a company money.

"It's $48 a month per line so if you've got hundreds of lines, that soon adds up."

Kahn is also of the opinion that the telcos don't do enough to help his clients reduce their costs and that account managers tend not to be proactive in reducing client costs.

"It's not in their best interests is it? The clients are usually quite pleased to have someone on their side who doesn't have a vested interest."

Kahn should know - he worked for TelstraSaturn for a number of years before moving on to TCL.

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