2017 Business Phone Plans & Providers
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Australian business customers review phone plans from Optus, Telstra and Vodafone on network coverage, plan flexibility, billing information, customer service, value for money and overall phone plan satisfaction in 2017.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in July 2017, published in August 2017.
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Vodafone leads Optus and Telstra for business phone plans
A business is only as good as its communications, so when it comes to picking a new phone and plan for business purposes, you can’t afford to take any chances. The last thing you’ll want is clients hanging up on you! But how do you know which mobile phone provider and plan best meets your specific business needs? Canstar Blue’s 2017 review of business phone plans and providers can offer some guidance.
We’ve surveyed more than 600 small business owners and key decision-makers across Australia, to find out how they rate their provider based on important factors including network coverage, plan flexibility, customer service and value for money, to help you make a more informed decision. In 2017, Vodafone has been rated highest overall, scoring five stars from business customers across most categories.
- Vodafone was rated highest with regards to customer service, billing information and value for money. It also rated five stars – along with Optus – on plan flexibility.
- Optus achieved four stars for overall satisfaction, while also scoring four stars across most other categories, with the exception of plan flexibility where it scored five stars.
- Telstra recorded three stars for overall satisfaction and most other research categories, with the exception of network coverage where it was the only provider to earn top marks.
There is really no point paying for a service that you’re not totally happy with, yet our survey of business phone customers found that is often the case. Two-thirds of respondents (67%) have always been with the same phone provider, while a similar number (64%) believe they could get a better deal by shopping around. With the average customer spending $141 a month on their business phone plan, it’s time to do something about it. To help you out, we’ve compared business phone plans from Vodafone, Optus and Telstra below. If you find something you like, simply follow the links to learn more. We’ll look at handset phone plans (including a new smartphone) as well as SIM-only options for those who already own their handset.
Business phone plans with handsets
Just like with everyday customers, the ‘Big 3’s’ handset phone plans are near identical and usually offer the same bonuses and extra stuff you would expect, plus the usual calls, texts and data. With a Samsung Galaxy S8 bundled in, the minimum you can expect to pay per month is about $60-$70 month. This is a combination of both a plan and a handset repayment. Optus usually comes out as the cheapest, but these are ‘lease’ plans, meaning you have to give back your phone at the end of the 24 month contract. Telstra also offers lease plans, while Vodafone currently does not – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Here’s how the cheapest handset plans look, but keep in mind the more you spend, the more extra stuff you stand to receive, and the cheaper your handset repayment usually becomes.
If you already own your own phone and simply want a good SIM-only business plan, this is what Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have on offer.
Vodafone business phone plans
Vodafone’s business SIM-only deals start at about $30, like its regular plans. For this amount you stand to get 2GB data plus unlimited calls & texts as standard. The plans get arguably more exciting the more you spend, and there are usually two paths to take; you can either opt for more data, or more international calling credit. If you and your business sees you calling overseas a fair bit, the ‘Global’ plans may be more suited. If you’re more domestically-inclinedand always on the road, the ‘Data’ plans may be what you’re after. Vodafone is also known to offer huge amounts of data bonuses from time to time, so if you sign up at the right time your plan could include lots of data regardless. Vodafone also offers a dedicated account manager for small business customers with 10 or more connections, with hundreds of business specialists in their stores to better service business customers. Vodafone was rated five-stars for overall satisfaction, and for every research category except for network coverage.
Optus business phone plans
Optus benefits from having 12 & 24 month contracts, as well as month-to-month contracts, meaning if you don’t like your service you can switch to something you prefer. However, by signing up for longer you stand to get things like extra data and other bonuses like international credit. The cheapest plan comes in at $30, while if you want a month-to-month plan you can pay $5 more per month and sacrifice 500mb data. For some this may be worth it for the flexibility, but others may find merit in signing up for 12 months. Additionally, the more you spend, the more the data allowance is ramped up. For example, if you purchase a $70 a month plan online you get 25GB data as standard. Optus was rated four-stars for overall satisfaction, but notably achieved a five-star rating for plan flexibility, no doubt owing to the three contract periods available.
Telstra business phone plans
Australia’s biggest telco perhaps unsurprisingly has some of the most expensive business plans, but if you want the ‘network without equal’, there may still be strong merit to choosing a Telstra plan. Those travelling rurally may find that Telstra is the only provider to get service. On Telstra’s SIM-only plans you get a choice of either 12 month or month-to-month plans, and you stand to get some tasty bonus data if you sign up for a year. Telstra also encourages customers to sign up online with some extra incentives to do so. The cheapest plan is $40 a month in which you get $1000 call value, plus 5GB data. All of these plans come with data-free NRL and AFL streaming for procrastination while at work. Telstra was rated three-stars for overall satisfaction but most impressively was the only provider to be rated five-stars for network coverage.
What to look for in a business phone plan
It goes without saying that you’ll need a business phone plan that adequately meets your call, text and data requirements, but for some more high-level guidance, our survey identified the following drivers of satisfaction for business customers, in order of importance:
- Customer service
- Value for money
- Network coverage
- Plan flexibility
- Billing information
Everyone wants a good deal on price, but it’s interesting to note the importance that is placed on good customer service. This is worth keeping in mind when it comes to making your final decision, because if you have any questions – or problems – with your phone service, you’ll want an easy-to-reach, helpful customer service team behind you. Whichever way you decide to go, the main take home message from this review is that it’s important to regularly compare your options. Time is money in the world of small business and if you don’t find the time to review your phone plan every few months, you’ll certainly end up paying for it.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 800 Australian small business owners or decision makers (i.e. the main decision maker for the small business) across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have a phone plan used for business purposes and the business pays the bills – in this case, 692 small business owners/decision makers.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.