The Value of Free Fleet Calls

How much are free calls between your staff members really worth?

It is no secret that phone call rates are confusing. They are designed to be that way, and the newly revised industry customer code currently being reviewed by ACMA is in part intended to address this. One of the great tricks that telcos use to make their offers more attractive is the provision of free calls between either the mobiles in your company fleet (for your mobile agreement) or free calls between your offices (on fixed line contracts). You often see the latter point heavily touted when VoIP solutions are put forward - just think of the savings you'll generate from being able to make free calls between your offices, anywhere in the country! There are also plans that combine the best of both of these, such as enabling your office phones to call your company mobiles, or vice versa.

It all sounds great on paper, and to be perfectly honest, it can prove very effective. However, it's important to realise that free calls in one area are generally offset by higher call rates elsewhere, or in higher access charges, or less included data. There a lot of levers carriers can adjust when putting together a mobile offer. But the offer will invariably end up where the carrier wants it.

Our extensive experience from working with organisations across the public and private sector, from small outfits to enterprise class multinationals, is that all too often the gains achieved by free fleet calls are more than offset by higher costs elsewhere. Primarily, this is because most companies appear to call themselves less often than they think. In the case of fixed line calls between sites, a free intra-site option is really only saving you the cost of either an untimed local call, or an STD call (which is generally the cheapest kind of timed call to make).

For example, before they came to us, one of our clients had been sold an integrated VoIP solution on the strength of free calls between all their sites, notwithstanding that all of their offices are in the inner Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and are thus only ever a local call away from each other. Fortunately VoIP provides many other benefits, but still . . .

Now, by no means are we saying that free fleet calls cannot work. Some of our clients get tremendous mileage out of such provisions. To take one example, we have one client whose staff call each other on their mobiles more than they call anyone else. We have another client who for organisational reasons must constantly text each other. A free fleet rate that includes SMS has proved enormously beneficial for them. In both cases - indeed in all cases - Dog and Bone conducted careful analysis of the client's spend patterns to work out what was best for them.

What we are really saying is that the carrot of free fleet calls should only be considered in the awareness that there is often a stick waiting elsewhere, and armed with the full knowledge of how much value it will really provide for your company.