With adaptability and reliability a core requirement for small business operations, having the right telecommunications partner has never been so vital.
Business telecoms service providers can help businesses meet or miss these core requirements. Flexibility is important because small businesses move much faster than larger ones.Reliability is important because they have thinner margins and less secure cashflow.
Here are our top five tips on what we think you should focus your attention on.
Understand what you have now
You need to understand what your current service is providing in terms of speed, technical support, security, and service inclusions so that you can compare services. This will also help you understand what your pain points are and what requirements are important for your business. You will also need to know what your current contract term length is.
Look beyond the sales pitch
Many service providers advertise “up to” speeds, not actual speeds. When looking into a new service provider ask for their actual speeds and whether their connections are contended. Contended connections often perform worse because your business is essentially sharing services with other businesses or home users to save the service provider money. As a small-business owner you cannot afford to be offline and you certainly do not have the time to be sitting on the phone waiting to find out when your internet will be restored.
Some providers offer a backup connection (often called a redundant connection) in the event of an outage. This could involve switching over to a wireless network, or it could rely on a secondary wired connection into the business. If your business relies on the internet to make money, then we suggest placing service providers that can offer an automatic failover service at the top of your comparison list. When you are looking for providers that can offer redundancy, make sure that the backup connection can be provided on a “diverse path”. This ensures that the physical infrastructure your connection is reliant on for your backup connection is separate from your primary connection.
Another item that should be at the top of your selection criteria is great customer service and technical support. If your business relies on your website to make money or you run your operation out of the cloud, you cannot afford for your hosted infrastructure to be offline and will need to ensure you are signing with a service provider that has good customer and technical service reviews. You might also wish to try calling up their support line (before you sign up) and see how long it takes you to get through.
With adaptability and flexibility now a small business staple, you need to ensure your telecoms service provider is also adaptable and flexible. If you need to scale up, you will need your telecommunications to scale up with you.
Bundle up and save
Bundling services together such as phone call packages, team collaboration tools and video conferencing can save your business money. It also comes with the added advantage of avoiding the finger pointing that can often occur between providers when something goes wrong. It can also lead to faster resolution times for support issues because the provider has access to all of your services and isn’t stuck only seeing part of the picture.
Your telecoms service provider is much more than an internet or telephony provider. They can solve many small-business problems and help your business grow and adapt. Selecting your right service provider can be a time-consuming task, but it is definitely worth investing the time to get it right.