I’ve recently started a very interesting project with some lovely people at Express Telephony. I’m working with them to develop a social media strategy for the business. Express Telephony is run by husband and wife team Martin and Karen Adams, who I first met when they contacted me following #twicket, the live village cricket match we streamed at Easter 2011.
My task is to assist them to raise their social media game, and to embed the skills and practices to maintain progress in the business. Express Telephony is a Universal Communications services provider to businesses. They provide telephony, mainly VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and internet connectivity to companies over a wide area radiating from their base in Hertfordshire across London and the Home Counties and into East Anglia, but they can operate anywhere really and have a few further flung customers. The business is based on personal service. As Martin Adams says, “… a lot of the time it becomes more about meeting a need than making a profit”. I saw this philosophy in action when I spent a day on the road with Martin visiting customers, and witnessed him solving numerous minor problems with care and attention to detail. I’m convinced that this is a key part of what sets the company apart in an industry dominated by a few big players offering standardised services which seem to be backed up by very inadequate customer services, leaving businesses without connection and communications for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time.
Martin and Karen can report a multitude of examples where customers have left them for a seemingly cheaper, standardised service, but have ended up coming back when they realised how poor that standard service is. In the modern world, businesses cannot afford to be cut off from their communications links, and they want someone to act promptly when there is a problem in this respect. And, of course, one of the key issues that Express Telephony faces is that a key part of its business is dependent on others, i.e. the pipes and wires (mainly wires, of the copper variety) that connect its services to the internet, are owned by others whose standards of customer service and attention to detail are often not in the same league.
This is why I am enjoying working with the business so much. I often say that it is pointless trying to graft a social media presence onto an organisation which is not, in itself, inherently social. Where social media works well in business (or in any other field really) is where it provides an outlet and amplification for social exchanges within the business and with external customers and partners. The way Martin and Karen engage with their customers makes it apparent that they really care about their needs, they want to help other businesses grow, and Express Telephony acts, in many senses, as a business development hub. I aim to help them expand that side of their operations, using social media as a tool for engagement.
This assignment has already been an interesting learning curve for me in that the northern home counties are one of the few areas of the country I have never spent much time in. So, I’ve seen some places which are new to me. I’ve been quite surprised at how rural Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are. And, in an internet and telephony sense that still means poor connections, in most of those places. I have witnessed at first hand how Martin works miracles with multiple lines and bonded cables to eke every last Megabit out of those old copper lines, and he really is something of a miracle worker in that respect. It is another reason why, when customers turn to another provider, they often get a poorer service as those suppliers are unable to make these adjustments.
I’ll be blogging more about my journey with Express Telephony over the coming weeks. In the meantime, you might want to check them out on Twitter @Express_Tel on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ExpressTelephony and Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/company/express-telephony-limited
Here is a presentation Martin Adams from Express Telephony did at a BNI event