Communication is essential in fostering a successful business. The methods and services your teams use play significant roles in the way they interact with customers and clients. You need telecommunication services that are consistently reliable from a provider you trust. But with so many qualified carriers, you may not know how to choose a telecom provider that’s perfect for your company.
While there’s no surefire method for finding the right fit, there are ways you can narrow down the competition. The closer a company aligns with your business’ values and needs, the better. This guide will help you identify some of the top criteria you should consider when settling on a carrier.
What Telecom Provider Options Are There?
When you’re looking to partner with a telecommunication company, you have to be sure to consider all of your options thoroughly. Different companies will have their own areas of specialization, and some may work better within your industry than others. Understanding your company’s needs before committing is essential to making the best choice possible.
Generally, there are three main divisions when it comes to telecom carriers:
1. National Providers
The first tier of telecom service providers are the national carriers. Within this division, you’ll find some of the most recognizable companies out there. It includes big names like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Some of these companies have been around for the longest amount of time, making them the roots of the telecom industry.
Some of the benefits of going with a larger provider include financial stability and a broad range of capabilities. With such a large spotlight on their actions at all times and so many clients to keep them accountable, you likely won’t have to haggle for high-quality. They can keep their tech updated and offer more modern solutions than many smaller companies.
The negative side of going with a national level provider includes concerns like higher costs and less personalized care. While you can often catch a break on pricing with smaller providers, national carriers are typically viewed as the best option, giving them higher demand and allowing them to charge more for services. Also, since they deal with a high volume of clients, there is less of an opportunity to create a business relationship or find individualized customer service.
2. Regional Providers
The second tier consists of regional providers, working specifically within their localized area or in a small number of states. You may be familiar with these carriers’ names, whereas businesses a state over wouldn’t be. While their services work outside the region they serve, they’re usually smaller companies that can only cover so broad of an area.
Whereas national companies make it difficult to create a working relationship, you may find that regional providers are more attentive to your individual needs. You might even be able to strike up a familiarity with a particular service representative. They’ll also naturally be more in tune to the area, understanding issues that might affect your telecom systems, from wireless connectivity to weather emergencies. Your chances of getting a deal on pricing are far better with a regional company.
The only downside that might affect your decision is that they may not offer as many features or services as a larger provider. It might be more difficult for carriers with a smaller client base to provide a variety of plans, and their network may not be as strong as the national brands. However, this should be determined on a case-by-case basis — your regional provider could have exactly what you need with no significant losses. It’s crucial to conduct thorough research on your options.
3. Cable Combination Providers
If you’re looking for a guaranteed package deal, cable companies will combine their residential and business services. This means all your Internet and phone plans — mobile and landline — would be on a single account with one consolidated bill. It’s potentially the easiest and most hassle-free way to set up a telecom plan.
Cable combination providers make the process simpler and frequently provide discounts on multiple services in bundles. If your company needs multiple plans or would like to keep your Internet and phone services conveniently linked, this may be a good money-saving opportunity for you.
However, much like national carriers, you’ll be dealing with larger companies and their downsides. There’ll be much less of an opportunity to build a client relationship, and you won’t get the personalized service you might with a regional carrier.
7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Telecom Carrier
Once you’ve considered the three tiers of providers and are looking to move forward with researching carriers, there are several criteria it would benefit you to look for in individual companies. By finding out as much as possible about your prospective providers first, you can often quickly weed out those that won’t suit your needs. The more you know in advance, the easier it is to make a final decision.
There are seven major factors you should pay attention to:
1. Services and Products
Depending on the type of business you run, you’re going to have specific needs when looking for a compatible service provider. Every industry, workflow style and company size will require different solutions. Before you look into what services prospective providers can offer your company, you should have a list of exactly what your business needs in their telecom services.
Once you begin looking into carrier specifics, note the services and products they offer as well as the range and check if any sound like a good fit for you. They should offer a variety of choices in all areas, including phone and security systems, IT managed services and equipment. If you don’t have an in-house IT team, you should also consider each company’s installation and support resources.
The best companies will work with you before you’ve committed to them. If they help you evaluate what you need and create a package to suit your requirements as well as your budget, they are a solid competitor.
2. Customer Service and Support
The best way to ensure you can work with a company is by looking at their customer service and support teams. Customer service can make a huge difference in your carrier experience, and it’s difficult to fake genuine, high-quality assistance. If they treat you well at the beginning of your relationship, chances are that they will continue to do so down the road. Working with polite, fast-acting and attentive teams will make solving issues and interacting with your provider much less complicated.
While reading reviews from current and former customers is a good preliminary way of feeling out their attitude, you should make a point of interacting with them personally. Pay attention to whether or not they are friendly, reliable, knowledgeable, fast and generally helpful. If the provider’s representatives sound like they want to finish the conversation as fast as possible, they may not be a good fit.
The mark of a stellar service and support team is if they can quickly and accurately handle questions and issues. Experiencing telecom difficulties can be extremely frustrating and cost you valuable time, so you need to know if you can get quick, professional support. Also, the more on top of things the service team is, the easier it will be to facilitate any necessary upgrades or future company growth.
With so many telecom providers for you to choose from, experience is a significant differentiator. You could find a carrier with rave reviews but no experience dealing with your style of business. Or, you could come across a smaller company that fits your niche perfectly.
Certain questions can tell you a lot about a provider’s experience level — be sure to ask about:
- Their previous experiences with companies in your industry
- Whether or not they partner with other providers
- How they handle growth for their current clients
- What they recommend in terms of their own products and services
By making inquiries and understanding where their field of expertise lies, you can better recognize how each provider aligns with the future of your business. When you hire a carrier, you’re leaving the telecommunication side of your company in their hands. With a background knowledge of their experience, you’ll have an idea of how well you can trust them to do right by your business.
4. Custom Systems and Pricing Models
If you can establish that a provider has the products and services you need, the next step is to dig deeper into what they can offer. Typically, carriers will have plans and packages laid out ahead of time, detailing different offers that might suit your business. Reliable providers will tailor a plan to your business, ensuring they suit your demands as closely as possible.
Unless a pre-planned package suits all your company’s needs exactly, providers that offer custom solutions should be some of your top options. Unique plans will allow your business to only pay for what it needs and uses, without getting trapped into purchasing additional services you’ll never use. You can also make any necessary changes or upgrades with relative ease.
5. Network Security
With the development of new technology comes the advent of new security issues. Targeted cyberattacks are more common now than ever, as hackers are finding new ways to get around network safety precautions. You need assurance that your system can withstand and shut down potential attacks, especially if your company deals with sensitive or personal information.
While you should look into security measures regardless of the type of network you run, fully converged networks need to make security a priority. Even if cyberattacks aren’t a prominent concern for your company, small disruptions in connectivity can cause you to lose a large amount of time and money. To avoid running into situations that hurt your business, look into what each carrier offers in the way of preventative security measures and fast restoration.
6. Flexibility and Scalability
Tech changes and adapts to consumer needs over time, as it does in the telecommunication industry. Your service provider should be as flexible as these shifts. To stay on top of business and serve your clients well, you need a carrier that will make adjustments in the form of network upgrades, product expansion and additional services. They should provide you with the latest tech on the market, enabling your company to stay as modern and efficient as possible.
Flexible companies often make updating and scaling a much smoother transition than those that are less flexible. They should encourage you to adapt to the inevitable changes and improvements in telecom tech. Staying up to date means you won’t suffer any performance issues from inferior or outdated systems that can’t handle your company’s peak load. Also, even if you aren’t looking to expand or scale anytime soon, it’s helpful to have a capable carrier in case the opportunity arises.
On top of everything else, you need to know you’re working with a genuinely reliable service provider. For some businesses, it’s the most crucial factor to consider. If you can’t rely on your carrier to help you succeed, you need to find a new one.
Your provider dictates what services you have available and how well your telecommunications operate daily, and you’ll turn to them in an emergency. Service outages can put your business out of commission until they’re solved, so you need to trust that your carrier can restore your systems quickly. If they’re unreliable from the start, taking care of these issues can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming.
Trustworthy providers will make everything easier, from settling on a service package to planning for future expansion to handling time-sensitive issues. The more confident you are in your provider’s ability, the less stressful your telecom experiences will be.
The Benefits of Working With Telecom Agents to Choose a Carrier
With so many factors and options to consider, choosing the right telecommunication service provider can be a daunting task. Fortunately, you can seek outside assistance from telecom agents. These agents will help you find the best fitting options for your company and incorporate a plan from a new provider. They bring a fresh, outside perspective to the table, and since they’re independent of carrier companies, they base their decisions on evaluations, not brand loyalty.
When you engage with a telecom carrier agent, you’ll have the benefits of:
- Solution comparisons: Agents will provide you with comprehensive details about which choice is best for your company. After performing an audit of your current systems, they can find the right fit for your needs and walk you through the top options. They typically have experience with multiple carriers they can bring to the table.
- Information updates: As telecom providers come out with new tech and plans, agents will inform you and keep you up to date. By understanding the industry shifts, you can adapt to the curve.
- Discount offers: Even if you can’t find offers yourself, agents may be able to get you access to discounted services. Using their knowledge of the industry and experience working with multiple carriers, they can create better deals.
- Reliable communication: Since agents are independent of any specific brands, they have your company’s best interests at heart. Therefore, you can trust their evaluations without having to worry about whether or not their concern lies with your success or their loyalty. Also, they act as a single point of contact, making your search far less extensive and preventing you from being stuck on customer service lines.
- Extra time: With an agent in your corner, your team can spend less time hunting for deals and more time working on future projects. It’s one less point of stress to hold you back from tending to your business’ internal needs.
Essentially, telecom agents are advocates for your business. You can trust them to narrow down your options efficiently and knowledgeably, presenting the best options on the market for your company. As a neutral party, they’ll give you the best chance of finding a carrier that has all the qualities you require in a telecom service provider.
Contact Merlin Communications for Telecom Services
If you want to find the best telecom solutions for your company, Merlin Communications can help. Our consulting agents will work with you to acquire and maintain services that suit your needs. With access to over 160 providers, we’ll put you in direct contact with carriers that align with your business.
We provide a variety of services to our clients, including performing an audit to see where you can cut costs, integrating cloud and VoIP, streamlining operations, consolidating your telecom systems to a single provider and more. Your agent will help simplify and integrate all of the processes, so you can worry less about telecom issues and spend more time taking care of your business.
Start working with a Merlin Communications consultant by getting a free quote or contacting us with any questions.