One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your business is choosing the right telecommunications provider. It’s how you’ll interface directly with customers, lead your team, connect as a workplace, keep your website and phone lines up and running, and your information secure. You want quality to be high and service to be excellent.

When choosing a provider, keep in mind that they’ll be an extension of your team. You want them to set your business up for success and keep it running through thick and thin. They need to be reliable, just as you expect your colleagues and employees to be.

Here are 5 tips for evaluating and choosing a potential provider:

1. Fantastic Customer Service

You know how frustrating it can be to experience technical issues with your internet or phone systems. It throws a wrench in productivity and can be really frustrating. You need a customer service team that you can turn to for help. Are they friendly? Reliable? Helpful? Knowledgeable?

When you have any questions, when you need to upgrade, when your business is growing and you’re looking to wire a new office, you need great service.

Choose a company that treats you like a client, not a number.

2. Services & Products

Multinational corporations have different needs than a brick and mortar store. Companies with remote employees function differently than 8-5 businesses. And each business has unique security demands.

Your provider should have a full range of products to benefit your business. IT managed services, equipment, installation, phone systems, security services, and more.

Choose a company that can assess your needs and provide you with a cost-effective package to grow your business.

3. Custom Systems and Pricing Models

Once you know that the providers has the right products and services for your business, it’s time to get specific. The best providers will create a custom plan to address the unique demands and needs of your business.

One of the great benefits of a custom solution is cost-effectiveness. Pay for what your business needs and upgrade or change as necessary.

4. Experience

There are a lot of telecom providers out there. This isn’t just like signing up for internet service, though. Your business depends on these services and so experience becomes really important.

In evaluating a provider’s experience, ask these questions:

  • What kind of experience do they have with my kind of business?
  • Do they partner with other service providers that can meet my needs?
  • How have they handled growth for businesses like me in the past?
  • What are their recommendations for products and services, and do those recommendations align with my vision for the business?

It comes down  to this: You’re going to trust your company to this provider. Their experience is part of the value you’re paying for.

5. Support

This is maybe the most important element in choosing a provider, but the one most often overlooked. Good customer service is responsive. Good support represents a positive ongoing partnership. Recognize that your telecom provider is an unofficial business partner. Choose wisely.