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29 November 2023

How do you convert consumer business customers into B2B subscribers? With simple services that connect users into teams.

Never judge a book by its cover. The fact is, while most of us instinctively think of an enterprise in terms of it scale (loosely, an enterprise being thought of as a “big” company with a lot of employees) around the globe the reality is something closer to the opposite. The commercial landscape is hallmarked instead by business with 1-9, 10-50, or fewer than 100 employees. They’re what we know as SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises). In other words, most companies aren’t “big”.

The facts bear this out. One source that tracks the numbers, the OECD, makes it clear[1], another – Statista – tells us that, using the UK as an example, only around a third of the workforce is employed by large companies of 200+ staff[2]. Like we said, never judge a book by its cover, yet that’s exactly what so many service providers in the communications industry appear to do.

Small is a big opportunity

Look at it like this. Most operators have a large repository of what are, in fact, business customers hidden in their consumer databases. Why? Because those people who work for companies with ten or fewer employees are almost always classified as consumers; they meet their business communications needs without accessing (or in most cases more accurately, being given access to) the appropriate enterprise services. In other words, they run their companies off the personal phones they already have. Worse, they can’t coordinate communications across their teams, because their numbers are essentially isolated and lack any form of connectivity. They are independent.

Given the numbers we’ve already outlined, this reality should have telecoms operators licking their lips in anticipation of an opportunity that’s seemingly right in front of them (selling the right services to the right audience).

Digging deeper defines the scale further. In the US, there are 32.5 million small businesses. In fact, 99.5% of companies there have fewer than 250 employees[3]. Globally, 90% of businesses accounting for 50% of all jobs are small. In the US again, 89% of those companies have fewer than 20 employees, accounting for 46.8% of all American jobs[4].

And the opportunity? Well, all those millions of small businesses yearning for a professional communications solution are reliant only on the consumer services served up to them. If they aren’t already doing so, the question operators ought to be asking themselves is “what can we do about that?” And fortunately, there’s good news. The answer is, quite a lot and none of it difficult. Here a few ideas to get started.

Give the people what they want (and need)!

For a first step, operators should recognise that they’re dealing with the woods, not the trees, and identify and connect the small teams in their “hidden” SME customers. Doing so isn’t complicated. For example, you can easily enable multiple numbers to share incoming calls by linking mobiles.

Let’s support you have a company that has two employees. If you link their mobile numbers, so that a call to either of them results in a call to both devices, then you immediately create a group that can share important incoming calls – resulting in fewer that go unanswered.

If you go further and allow these two users to set their status – available, at lunch, on holiday, or whatever – so, when either number is dialled, the call is routed only to the number of the person who is currently available. Again, this means fewer calls going to voicemail and more efficient use of the available resources.

This can easily be enabled, because the Gintel Cloud PBX is connected directly to the signalling (control) plane in the mobile network. Likewise, a user can change their status with immediate effect. Our call handling stack means we can see the numbers for which calls are intended, check the status setting and then take the appropriate routing decision. There’s a lot more we can do too – using time of day to determine whether we should accept a call, or default to voice mail, for example.

Consumer services don’t help the company. They just give unidirectional calling – to or from a number. Enterprise services, on the other hand, help the company to manage its affairs more efficiently – and grow. And, as it grows, adding additional users to the little team is easy.

And there’s more, just as straightforward to deliver. Why not provide a virtual number – mobile or fixed – that can be used as the main point of contact for incoming callers? This can be advertised and made available publicly, with calls routed to any available team member.

Plus, why not add in an IVR and the caller can then choose which employee they want (or need) to speak to directly. Furthermore, the virtual number is easily manipulated so that when a team member makes an outbound call, he or she can choose whether their direct number or the virtual number is displayed.

The thing is, there’s a lot of mileage between linking two numbers in a team and a full-blown UC solution – but this pathway can be broken down into simple steps. You don’t need all of the features of a UC solution to add value – you can do so with incremental steps.

Out of the dark ages, into the enterprise light

Suddenly in the scenarios above, through a handful of easily taken steps, the alert operator is delivering value rather than just “whatever services are available’ to the customer, driven by a willingness to recognise the nature of that easily overlooked customer’s needs. He’s not just another consumer, but a small but nascent business.

Thus, in the example above, the personal phone is no longer taking calls on behalf of a small, overlooked, business but, instead, enterprise calls are now seamlessly processed – perhaps by assigned “hunt groups” – ensuring they’re handled professionally (and in the process allowing everyone in the business to relax).

Now, no commercial opportunities are lost; if no one’s immediately available to answer a call, a message is played, and a queue is formed. As the small business grows, the communications service grows with it. The initial groups develop and expand to accommodate rotas and shift patterns that reflect the evolving needs of the growing business; perhaps one group for orders and accounts, another for technical services, and another for new sales.

Acting now is easy

None of what we’ve described above is difficult to deliver yet, in so many (perhaps the vast majority of) cases, it isn’t happening. Operators can easily provide the services that enable their small business customers to take better control of their enterprises and fuel growth, yet they aren’t delivering them. They prefer a binary approach – either a complete UC solution, or none at all. One question is why? And another is, why not act now to change that?

There’s a good reason for doing so without delay; ARPU, increasing which should be and generally is the key goal network operators doggedly search for. Converting those small businesses presently reliant only on consumer services and transforming them into little enterprise customers will help achieve.

Talk to Gintel and we’ll expand on the steps described in this blog to show you exactly how. 






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