In today’s global economic climate, a way for many businesses to get ahead is by reaching out to an international audience. Yet this can be difficult and expensive to implement, particularly if you’re a small business on a limited budget. Dialling clients abroad on your regular company phone can lead to sky-high media bills to contend with at the end of the month. Using email as a primary form of contact is one way to lower bills. However, there are numerous alternatives to a regular phone contract which also allow you to get in contact with international clients, providing more personal service at affordable rates. The following are a few strategies to help you get started.
Voice over Internet Protocol Services
An option which is becoming more widespread throughout the international business community is VoIP service; or voice over internet protocol. The most commonly used example of this is Skype. All you need to dial abroad using a service like Skype is an internet connection and a device with a microphone and headphones. This could be your laptop, your smartphone, or your desktop computer. The software is free to download and allows you to send calls to other Skype account holders for free. You can also call landlines or mobile phones using these types of services, although you will pay for this. Some VoIP services require you to sign up for a monthly subscription, while others operate on a pay as you go basis.
International SIM Cards
If you travel a lot for business and need to be able to place calls both locally and abroad, you might want to think about unlocking your cell phone and purchasing an international SIM card. You can get free SIM cards with Lebara that can then be charged as needed, allowing you to call local clients on your travels or back into the head office when you need to. You don’t need to sign up for any monthly service contract when you use a provider like www.lebara.co.uk. These international SIM cards are usually just offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, allowing you to top up as needed.
There are many services that allow you to benefit from a lower rate abroad by temporarily overriding your landline provider. These are known as dial providers, but the terms, rates, and conditions can vary widely between them. Some may ask that you set up an account first, as with VoIP services. Furthermore, many will charge you as soon as the phone connects, rather than starting when your recipient answers. Be sure to compare terms carefully to find the best rates.
International Calling Cards
Similarly, international calling cards allow you to use your regular phone as an access point to dial abroad. In this case, you call the international calling number and enter the PIN provided on your card. You’ll then be charged at the agreed upon rate, which is usually lower than what many contract service providers offer. Calling cards also vary widely in terms of rates and conditions, so be sure to read the fine print or you may run out of credits before you’ve finished that important business call.
These are just a few ways to stay in touch with your foreign contacts without spending a fortune. Touching base over email or social media is a good way to stay connected, but sometimes in business it pays to pick up the phone. With these forms of technology, you can do so at a lower cost.