With the evolution of the information age, corporations are continually looking for new ways to increase productivity. Executives are faced with hundreds of service options on a daily basis and need help answering at least one of the many important operational questions they might have: How to choose the right telecommunications provider.

When you think of your telecom provider, you should think of a successful business partner that understands the needs of its clients, offers reliable service that can be flexible when you need it most, and is known for fast and friendly local personnel that are second to none.

Understanding business needs
Whether you own a flower shop, run a system of hospitals or work with a government agency, it’s important that you look for a provider that offers a product suite that meets your needs, offers the expertise to service your company and has a genuine understanding of your business climate.

Growing competition in the telecom industry has allowed providers of all sizes and specialties to enter the market. Some specialize in residential Internet or phone products, while others focus on providing communications services to the business sector. Very few have the resources and knowledge to do both well. While many of the primary services are similar, the needs of each sphere are extraordinarily unique. Before you hire a provider, ask yourself these questions:

  • Could you operate your business with the level of reliability you receive from your residential communications provider?
  • Is it important that your provider focuses its resources on developing new or upgraded business products?
  • How important is it that your telecom provider sympathizes with your business needs and concerns?

The greatest benefit a telecommunications company can offer its clients, aside from an outstanding and reliable service, is the ability to understand their business. Regardless of the provider you choose, the company should be prepared to qualify themselves to be your telecom adviser. Not only should the provider offer local staff that know and use your business, they should understand what it is your business does, the values that are important to your business, and what your business communication needs require.

Reliability is a driving force
Telecommunications reliability is affected by a number of factors. One is the network used to deliver a company’s services. Look for a provider that owns and operates its own fiber optic network. By owning the networks, the provider will have greater control of the network operations and maintenance.

Ask your prospective provider about their scalability. Voice and data providers often praise their ability to offer high speeds and extra bandwidth. Question whether they have the scalability to grow with your company’s needs and those of your clientele, while maintaining the current speed and size offerings they advertise.

Also, ask providers how flexible they will be as your communications needs evolve. After all, there will always be unexpected business ventures that require flexibility on your part and theirs.

Customer service in your community
People often forget to ask about customer service when they’re interviewing telecom providers. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind, but it will be top of mind when an unexpected storm blows through town or an accident disables your communication lines.

Telecom companies are accustomed to receiving questions about their customer service policies and procedures. Here are a few questions you should ask your current or potential provider:

  • If I have a problem, who do I call and where are they located?
  • What if there is an outage in the middle of the night?
  • Who is responsible for fixing my problem? Are the technicians, service representatives and executive management all located
    in Arizona?
  • Will I receive an estimated repair time when I call in?
  • If I have questions about my bill, will I have to talk to a machine or will a friendly person that can answer my question pick up the phone immediately when I call?
  • May I contact one of your current customers to discuss
    their experience?
  • Do you get an automated message or a friendly live person who answers the phone?

Like any good business partner, your telecom company should support your company needs at all times, while helping you achieve your long-term business goals.