Ding ding! The Android and iPhone debate can get pretty polarised: like sports teams, most people tend to pick a side and defend it to the death. But what really is the difference between Android and iPhone – and which operating system is best for you?

Back to basics

First up, some basic information. If you’re choosing a mobile device today, the operating system you choose is pretty much an either-or. Don’t want an Android phone? Then you’ll have to go for an iPhone (and vice versa). Android is owned by Google, while the iPhone (plus the iPad and other gadgets that use the iOS operating system) is owned by Apple.

There used to be more diversity in the market, with contenders like Microsoft throwing Windows phones into the mix. These never really caught on however, and other older systems such as BlackBerry were swallowed up by Android.

Look and feel

Apple products are famed for their sleek, streamlined appearance. If looks (and design in general) are important to you, you might instinctively lean towards an iPhone. A joy to behold, the iPhone 12 is the latest example of Apple’s enduring design credentials.

The back of an iPhone placed on a desk

But all is not lost in terms of looks if you decide to opt for an Android model. There are plenty of beautiful non-iPhones out there, from the likes of Samsung, Motorola and more. In the end, it comes down to a matter of taste.

Usability

In the early days of smartphones, iPhones were unquestionably the easiest to use. Nowadays, their rivals have caught up, and it’s pretty much even.

Cost

If you’re choosing business mobiles, cost may be the deciding factor. Android will always beat the iPhone on cost, with phones available for every budget.

Two business men holding Android device

Hardware

From headphone jacks to handsets, your phone hardware is all the physical ‘stuff’ you use to make it work. In terms of handsets, there’s a far wider choice on Android – lots of different companies design Android phones, so you’re not limited to three or four options and you can buy something on a budget if cost is your main concern.

Cables are often an annoyance with the iPhone; Apple’s Lightning cables only work on iOS devices, so if you lose one, you’re stuck. As for headphone jacks, the iPhone has evolved beyond them, meaning that you’ll need to use wireless earphones (AirPods), or buy a special adapter if you want to plug your headphones in.

Man holding iPhone to connect to AirPods

Proprietary or open-source?

If you’re looking for a device that will support your other iOS applications, it’s an open and shut case: you need an iPhone. All Apple products are proprietary, meaning that they only work within the Apple universe – you can’t just rock up with an Android phone and expect access to Apple Music or iCloud for example. That’s part of the reason why the iPhone has inspired such loyalty since its launch in 2007: once you’re a paid-up Apple user, it’s difficult to go elsewhere.

On the other hand, Android is an open-source operating system, with apps that can be used on iOS devices. It comes from the Google stable, so includes Google Play Music, Gmail and Google Docs as standard – all of which can be installed on an iPhone if you later decide to switch. There’s lots more choice in terms of customising your phone and choosing how to use it – such as changing your launcher (the software that creates the interface design on your phone).

Person holding an Android mobile phone with a blue screen

Get help with your business phones

Need help choosing business mobile handsets? Get in touch! Contact the experts at Croft on 01920 466 466.

Want to go the extra mile to keep your clients happy? Technology is your friend. Make sure you’re using yours to its full potential, with these tips to harness your telecoms technology to improve customer service.

Use intelligence

No, not your brains (although you’ll need them too), but the data you collect about your customer service calls. If you’re using a Hosted Telephony system, you’ll have access to all kinds of statistics on how long you take to answer calls, how long the calls are taking, the location of the caller and lots more. For example, say you don’t have enough customer service agents to handle all the calls you’re getting: this will show up in the number of calls you’re missing when all operators are busy. Take advantage of these analytics to get an insight into how you’re performing, act on any trends you notice and monitor the results, so you can deliver a better level of service to your customers

Let people choose how they contact you

The beauty of today’s telecoms technology is that there’s a mode of communication to suit everyone. Make sure these are all available to your customers. While some people prefer to hear a human voice on the other end of the phone, others would rather interact with a virtual assistant on your website, or send a quick message on social media. Making use of all these different avenues – telephone, chatbots, social media, email and more – will ensure that customers feel comfortable contacting you on their own terms. And if you have a Unified Communications system to bring them all together, you’ll always have a record of your conversation history – no matter which format was used.

Woman using emails on a laptop and business mobile to contact customers

Create a diversion

Need to work from home during lockdown? Your customers need never know. By diverting customer service calls to business mobiles, you can ensure a seamless shift to remote working, without inconveniencing your callers.

Man working remotely in a cafe on his business mobile and laptop

Get the message

Sometimes calls get missed, so your voicemail system is vital to help you retain customers and offer the highest level of service. Make sure yours is set up so that you can dial in from any location to check messages on the move – that way, you’ll always be able to stay connected and respond promptly to your customers’ needs.

Keep a record

Nobody wants to repeat themselves. If you keep a recording of your customer service calls, that shouldn’t be necessary. Play back the recording if there’s anything you didn’t quite catch on the call, and keep it handy so that others can refer to it when dealing with that account. You can also use call recordings to review performance and help with training – helping all team members to develop great business phone etiquette.

Want to overhaul your phone system? Croft Communications can help. We can set you up with a business phone system to help you get the best out of your employees. Call us on 01920 466 466 or email [email protected] – great customer service guaranteed.

Are you ready for the next generation? The telecoms world is buzzing with anticipation as 5G finally makes its appearance. But what makes it stand out – and will it really change the world? We’ve listed some of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G mobile networks.

5G is faster

And that’s an understatement! 5G connections will theoretically be able to reach speeds of 10 gigabits per second – that’s up to 100 times faster than 4G. The difference this makes will be dramatic. Download times for a typical movie will reduce from minutes to seconds, and you’ll be able to do more things at once – great for multi-taskers. The super-speedy connection will also mean your phone can cope with higher-resolution images, so everything will appear crystal clear.

A business man browsing the internet of his business mobile device with reliable connectivity

5G has lower latency than 4G

Say bye-bye to buffering! Latency is the delay you get between one side of a connection sending information and the other side receiving it (think of the pause you sometimes get in conversation, when TV reporters are talking via satellite). With 5G, latency will be around 50 times better than 4G, so everything will be as good as instantaneous. This means that anything you do in real-time that demands loads of data, from gaming to streaming, will work like a dream. Virtually zero latency is a necessary requirement for exciting new innovations such as self-driving cars, which will need to rely on real-time instant data exchanges in order to work safely.

Loading screen on 4G iPhone device with lower latency

5G has higher capacity

Ever tried to get through to a friend at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Although the 4G network is great most of the time, it can collapse under the pressure when too many people try to use it at once. This can be frustrating at the best of times but could spell disaster in emergency situations, such as terrorist attacks, where 5G’s capacity could make a life-or-death difference. 5G’s superior bandwidth capacity also holds tantalising potential for future tech. It means we’ll have the means to connect lots more devices to each other, paving the way for smart fridges, cars, street lighting and more, in a new technological era characterised by the ‘Internet of Things’.

5G isn’t as widely available as 4G… yet

If you’re choosing a phone plan in 2021, 4G will still be the norm. Only a limited number of handsets (including the new iPhone 12 suite) are built for 5G, and the network itself is still limited to a select but growing list of cities and postcodes. All this means that 5G is the expensive option, for now. If you’re excited by new tech and impatient to harness the super-fast speeds everyone’s been raving about, the option is there. But if your mobile needs are limited to business calls and modest data allowances, you’re likely to be happy sticking with your existing setup until 5G is firmly in the mainstream.

Social media apps on iPhone 12 connected to 5G

Need help choosing your next business mobile solution? Want advice on the 5G network? Contact our team of experts on 01920 466 466 or email [email protected].

Say goodbye to slow connections and look ahead to a high-speed future, with these New Year’s Resolutions for 2021.

1.    Embrace 5G technology

2021 will be the year that 5G makes it big. More 5G-capable devices (like the new iPhone 12) will be released and nationwide 5G coverage will bring this next-generation technology into the mainstream. What could it mean for your business? Lightning-fast connections (up to 100 times faster than 4G), increased data capacity and ultra-low latency will all make life easier, especially if you still have a large remote workforce. Going forward, these dramatically faster connection speeds could enable new and innovative business solutions such as 3D printing and the Internet of Things.

The back of an iPhone 12 - a 5G capable device

2.    Adapt to a post-Brexit world

2021 will mark a new era for business, as the transition period out of the EU ends on 31st December 2020. Mobile phone roaming services – previously free in EU countries for UK residents – will no longer be guaranteed surcharge-free, so check your mobile phone contract carefully and contact your service provider if you are unsure. You don’t want to be hit with an unexpected bill next time you travel across the Channel or the border from Northern Ireland to the Republic. EU data and telecoms regulations, such as GDPR, will no longer apply in 2021, although the UK’s own Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 should ensure that there’s no difference to your obligations in practice.

3.    Embrace video conferencing as a permanent fixture

Virtual events and video calls became routine in 2020, necessitated by the pandemic. And in many cases, that shift has become permanent. Virtual happenings streamed online were once a futuristic novelty, but now they’re here to stay. This year, ensure that you’re making the most of this exciting new environment. You can network from your office hosting publicly-streamed industry events, or give your employees the chance to attend gatherings all over the world – all from the comfort of their workstation. This year, you’ve got to make sure your broadband connection is up to the task!

Video conferencing for a remote workforce

4.    Ensure business continuity

If there’s one thing 2020 taught us, it was that business continuity plans can mean make or break for many SMEs. If you dipped your toe into the world of remote working in 2020, 2021 is the year to formalise your remote working policies and procedures. Why not future-proof your business by moving over to a Unified Communications system that can work wherever you do? Reliable business broadband is also a must for companies with remote workers – home broadband simply won’t cut it.

5.    Make the switch to fibre

As we ring in 2021, the impending 2026 copper switch-off suddenly feels a lot closer than it did. That’s the date when old-style copper phone lines will finally go extinct – and if you’re still dependent a telephone system that uses these lines, now’s the time to act. Get advice from our team of friendly telecoms specialists and make a plan for a fibre-filled future.

Is your IT system on its last legs? It might be time for an upgrade. Switching to new technologies can be tricky, but here’s how to make it as painless as possible.

What is a legacy system?

A legacy system is one based on old technologies that are no longer widely used. Remember Betamax, cassette tapes, minidiscs and even CDs? They may still do the job they were designed for, but as the years pass, this becomes more difficult, because everyone else has moved on.

In the world of IT, systems can become outdated very quickly. These days, if your software is not connected to the Cloud, it can probably be classed as a legacy system.

Cloud based IT system

What’s wrong with keeping a legacy system?

Some legacy systems may still work well and if that’s all you’ve known; you might not see the advantage in upgrading. But as time goes by, your system will become more difficult to maintain. The software may stop being supported, meaning that problems can’t be fixed and security may become an issue. It may not work on newer operating systems and you’ll find yourself patching together workarounds in order to keep doing things the way you always did.

At the same time, the chances are your competitors will have seen the light. They’ll move on to newer, more efficient ways of working. If you don’t keep up, they’ll have a big business advantage.

The perks of upgrading

It’s not all negative. Migrating from a legacy system to a modern, Cloud-based IT system can be a real eye-opener and change the way your business functions. Connecting to a remote system on a server, rather than relying on software that sits on a particular machine, opens up all sorts of possibilities, making things easier, faster and more efficient. Hosted Telephony that works over the internet will save you cash, while the potential for remote working can help you to work flexibly and ensure business continuity.

How to prepare

There’s a lot to consider when migrating from legacy software.

Here are some dos and don’ts:

1.     Plan ahead

Schedule your migration during a quieter time for your business. It’s likely to involve some downtime and disruption – so if you’re an e-commerce retailer, you won’t want to do it in the run-up to Christmas.

Scheduling legacy software migration

2.     Get staff on board

It’s natural for people to resist change. You’re likely to need to sell the benefits of the switch to your employees, especially if it makes their life harder in the short term. Communicate the issues, listen to their concerns and explain why the transition will improve their work role in the long run.

3.     Keep your data safe

Whoever’s assisting with your migration, ask them how they will back up your valuable data and keep it safe as you move over to the new system. Get advice on best practices to ensure that your business-critical data is protected.

Make the move to modern technology with Croft

Get things done more efficiently with better modes of communication. Talk to Croft about your existing legacy systems and find out how upgrading to our business communication tools can help you save money, work flexibly and increase productivity.

2020 has been the year that we embraced remote working – whether we were prepared for it or not. Despite a steep learning curve, many companies have seen its advantages and are beginning to embrace this new style of working.

We’ve gathered our top tips on how to switch safely and seamlessly to a remote office in 2021.

1.    Get everyone on board

Not everyone has enjoyed working from home during lockdown, and many people much prefer the social space and dedicated work environment that an office provides. If you are planning to switch to a fully remote workforce, you’ll need to anticipate this and decide how you’ll accommodate your employees’ wishes and preferences. You might choose to keep your office open with a smaller number of desks so that those who wish to work there can do so. If that’s not an option, consider how you’ll provide the same sense of community and social contact that people would get in a physical environment, and what you could offer your employees to make them feel more comfortable working from home.

Virtual Zoom call for remote workforce

2.    Plan the logistics

The transition to remote working may be a chance to change the way things are done in your organisation. For example, you’re likely to need a paperless office system and a setup of regular video conferences so that people can keep in touch. It’s a good idea to implement a trial period of remote working to analyse how your productivity changes, what problems people encounter, and if there are any challenges that can’t be tackled from afar.

3.    Take security precautions

The cybersecurity risks associated with remote working are heightened. It’s vital that everyone in your organisation is aware of the vulnerabilities that can arise when working from home or another location. Make sure you provide company devices for every employee, put training in place to avoid data breaches, and implement security measures to protect your company from cyber-attacks.

Red screen on laptop highlighting cybersecurity concerns

4.    Provide reliable connectivity

Staying connected is essential when working remotely. Poor internet connections can impact on productivity, impede customer service and frustrate your employees. There are significant differences between a typical home broadband connection and professional-standard business broadband. Get the best from your workforce with high-quality business broadband connections for all remote workers.

5.    Look after staff health and wellbeing

It’s easy for employees to feel forgotten when working from home, so it’s more important than ever to make them feel valued. Despite the work environment changing, you’re still responsible for staff health and safety while at work, so provide ergonomic equipment and training to guard against RSI, eye strain and other common workplace ailments. Make sure all staff have regular one-to-ones where they can raise any issues that are affecting their wellbeing. Hammer home the importance of a work-life balance: make it clear that you don’t expect employees to log on at midnight just because they physically can. Your company culture is likely to change significantly as a result of the transition to remote working: make sure that change is a positive one.

Need help setting up your remote workforce?

Croft’s business communication solutions are designed for remote working. Covering everything from collaboration and conferencing tools, cybersecurity, business broadband collaboration and more, our team of experts can set your virtual office up for success!

Get in touch with us for invaluable advice, or get a free quote on the remote working equipment your business may be lacking.

Business broadband is changing. In the next few years, BT Openreach will say goodbye forever to old-style copper telephone lines, switching off the network that has served homes and businesses for more than 20 years. In its place, we’ll all be using fibre optic cables. So what can we expect from the copper to fibre switch, and how can businesses prepare?

Check out our handy flyer for the key facts or read on for more detailed information.

Farewell to the old technology

Copper telephone wires have been the lifeblood of our telephone and internet network for years, with many customers still relying on these networks to this day. They support traditional PSTN, ADSL and ISDN lines.

These technologies have all been essential business communication tools – but the new full fibre optic cables can do the same job much faster, flexibly and more reliably.

Fibre optic cables

What’s changing?

Your current set up may very well differ from another business. For example, you might run fibre cables to the exchange cabinet and then copper wires from the exchange to your premises (FTTC – Fibre to the cabinet), whereas others might run fibre cables to their front door (FTTP – Fibre to the premises). In fact, some don’t have fibre at all and solely rely on the copper network. Even if you have an FTTC set up however, this won’t be enough. All businesses and residential properties will need to have FTTP.

The good news is that there’s plenty of time to prepare for the big switch, which won’t happen until 2026 – and when it does begin, it will happen gradually so you have time to adapt. Fibre optic cables first made their appearance back in 2000, with more people adopting them over time, so the changeover to pure fibre broadband really is happening slowly.

That said, there will be a time in the next few years when your existing ADSL, ISDN and copper phone lines will stop working, to be replaced by fibre. This is a really positive step for business communications – there’s a bright future ahead, with super-fast internet connections paving the way. They’ll enable things like video conferencing, Cloud computing and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone lines, which can transform your business communications and help you to work more efficiently.

Fibre optic internet connections have:

Katie Price delivering a free business telecommunications quote to a client

What to do now

Now’s the time to take stock of your existing phone and broadband setup, and plan for the future. The sooner you do this, the better equipped you’ll be for the switch when it comes.

Explore your options with Croft

Need advice from a telecoms specialist? Look no further than Croft Communications. We tailor our phone and broadband solutions to each individual client, so you’ll get exactly what you need to future-proof your business.

Contact us on 01920 466 466 or fill in our free quote form online.

The 27th November marked the 1-year anniversary for our CEO, Mark Bramley.

To celebrate the Croftiversary, we put together an extra special Q&A with the man himself.

It’s been an absolute pleasure having Mark on board, flourishing under his guidance and learning from his strategic, forward thinking and innovative approach. The team cannot wait to start 2021 under his watchful eye!

Who’s eager to see a follow-up video of Mark’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ rendition at the virtual Croft Christmas party? And what do you think about Mark’s celebrity look-a-likes? Did we miss any? Mention us @croftcomms on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

What are your plans for Christmas? No, we don’t mean your dinner arrangements. In the office, preparation is key so that you can keep your business ticking over while you and your staff enjoy a relaxing break, and telecoms technology can help you to do it! Check out our top telecoms tips to see you through the festive period.

1.      Prepare your customers with on-hold messaging

Don’t waste your customers’ time annoying them with cheesy music. Use on-hold messaging when they’re being transferred or put on hold, to cement key messages from your brand, such as your opening hours over the forthcoming festive period. You can even set up your phone system to give a short on-hold message to every customer who rings before they get through to an operator. This is a great way to lead into the Christmas period by giving advance warning of any upcoming changes to your service.

2.      Update your voicemail message with important information

If you’re closed or operating a skeleton service over Christmas, it’s important that your voicemail message lets people know. Re-recording your answerphone message needs to be high on your Christmas to-do list, or you could end up with a lot of disgruntled customers. The new message should tell people when they’ll be able to reach you, and whether they can visit your website to get the job done instead. Don’t forget to update it again when things go back to normal in the New Year!

A Croft Communications team member making a call using a business mobile

3.      Use call forwarding to respond flexibly to demand

Let staff work from home, or wherever they are in the country, by diverting your incoming calls to a different number. It means you’ll still be able to provide the same level of service and never miss a call, whilst also being responsive to changing conditions. With unified communications in the Cloud, it’s possible to set out a backup plan just in case, agreeing with staff that you can forward calls to their business mobiles if you experience unexpectedly high call volumes. It beats sitting in a deserted office and waiting for the phone to ring.

A business woman answering a call on a business telephone system

4.      Check what support is available over Christmas

What happens if something goes wrong with your phone or broadband services over the festive period? Check the technical support arrangements your telecoms provider is offering between Christmas and New Year. If your usual point of contact is off for Christmas or there are any changes to your support service, make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.

5.      Celebrate and enjoy

With the telecoms taken care of, it’s time to treat your staff to a Christmas party with a difference. This year you may be seeing in the festive period by video conference, so make it special – why not send everyone a bottle of bubbly so you can toast the year you’ve had, and look forward to the future together? One thing’s for sure – whatever happens in 2021, telecoms are set to play a bigger role than ever before!

Festive video conference on Zoom

Get your business telecoms ready for the Christmas period. Contact Croft today by filling in our online contact form, or phone 01920 466466 to speak to us directly.

Croft Communications have been chosen as a trusted telecommunications supplier by public procurement organisation YPO. As a supplier of connectivity solutions, we have been selected as one of the 38 providers included in YPO’s new framework designed to meet the needs of all public sector organisations.

As part of the new network and telecommunications framework, Croft will rub shoulders with the likes of TalkTalk, O2 and a selection of telecoms SMEs, offering our services to schools, local authorities, charities and other public sector bodies.

Chosen suppliers

YPO frameworks are ready-made agreements with chosen suppliers. Public sector organisations can save time and money in their procurement decisions by opting for pre-selected ‘Lots’, when buying everything from utilities to food and catering. All Lots are guaranteed to be compliant with procurement legislation and suppliers must meet the high standards required by YPO.

Designed to support organisations in the public sector through the process of digital transformation and help them obtain the best value for money from their connectivity solutions, the new connectivity framework is made up of competent, reliable providers who are selected for their proven expertise. It’s divided up into 7 different Lots, covering services including smart cities and the Internet of Things, cyber security solutions and mobile, voice and data. As experts in the field, Croft have been selected as providers of Wide Area Network (WAN) services and communication services.

To find out more about the YPO framework, visit the YPO website.

A trusted name

Of course, Croft is no stranger to public procurement, with a long history of working with public sector organisations in healthcare, education and other fields. As a registered Crown Commercial Service preferred supplier, our company is already a trusted name for many schools, colleges, universities, healthcare providers, local councils, emergency services and more.

CEO Mark Bramley said:

“We’re delighted to have been chosen to be a part of the new YPO framework. Implementing telecoms solutions that help public sector organisations to thrive is our passion. We’re proud to be working with YPO to ensure that organisations on tight budgets can work efficiently, save on costs and get the support they need, when they need it.”

Simplifying procurement and saving money

Established in 1974, YPO was formed by a group of local authorities to help simplify the procurement process and make cost savings. As the largest local authority purchasing consortium in the UK, YPO helps public sector organisations to get the best deal on every buying decision, from utilities to insurance. YPO has over 100 different frameworks that are quick and simple to use.

Head of Public Sector Gavin Rimmington at YPO said that the new connectivity framework will provide solutions that are clear and easy to implement, as well as getting great value for money. He highlighted the continuous support package that public sector clients will benefit from – as do all Croft Communications clients.

Work with us

Are you a public sector organisation looking for a supplier you can trust? Contact Croft for Crown Commercial Service-approved connectivity services ranging from broadband to business phones. We offer tailored solutions and unrivalled support, whatever your communications needs.