Communications service providers (CSPs) play an essential role in powering communication for businesses. A CSP provides telecommunications services or a blend of information and communications solutions over networks and/or the Internet. CSPs can be telecom carriers, cable providers, satellite operators, or cloud communications service providers.
CSPs that provide cloud-based telecom solutions can enable key business communications capabilities like voice calling, conferencing, or meetings through collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Webex. There are many CSPs to choose from, and it's important to select the right provider for your business’s needs. When choosing a CSP for your business, there are a number of critical factors to consider. Below is a guide with key criteria to ensure you meet your business’s and customers’ needs.
Key Considerations When Choosing a CSP
Many CSPs offer similar tools and services, which can make the selection process challenging. It’s important to evaluate CSPs on a deeper level to be sure they are the right fit. Skimping on this initial research could land your business in a tough spot, preventing you from accessing the communications resources, scalability, agility, or flexibility you need to grow your business. Consider a few key factors when making your decision.
First and foremost, the CSP you select should have the technical expertise to be a successful provider. This means the team will have a wide range of industry experience and technical know-how with the services they offer. However, this can be somewhat hard to gauge—especially for companies that have smaller or less experienced IT teams on hand to weigh in.
One way to evaluate a provider’s technical skills is to read reviews and request case studies. Evaluate these materials with your IT team in mind. When reading customer feedback and testimonials, consider whether the customer was pleased with the CSP’s ability to answer technical questions. Try to determine if the CSP was able to resolve or scale resources in a timely manner. Bottom line: Your IT leaders should have no trouble getting their technical questions answered. And if your IT team is experiencing issues, that could be a red flag.
Another area you want to evaluate is the CSP’s level of experience. Naturally, a business wants to partner with a provider that has deep experience in their industry and a long history of customer success. If the CSP doesn't have experience in the area that the business needs, that might not inspire confidence.
If your business needs to enable voice calling, for example, ask about the CSP’s options for deploying PSTN calling. CSPs may offer some combination of cloud-based, on-prem, or hybrid deployment options—and they can walk you through all of these options. Whichever deployment approach you choose, learn about how these will affect your ability to scale calling if you expect to need that option. In addition, consider how maintenance costs or upgrades will affect your investment long term. Again, an experienced CSP should be able to help you get a general grasp of what to expect with each scenario.
Another way to gain an understanding of a CSP’s experience is to ask questions that relate to your industry and company needs so that the CSP has the opportunity to showcase its experience and tenure in the industry. Further, a CSP that has strategic partnerships with other carriers, or even IT providers, demonstrates willingness to collaborate with other experts and highlights the value it can provide. It’s useful to ask about experiences specific to your needs, so don’t be afraid to pose pointed questions to get clarity.
Special qualifications and certifications should certainly factor into your choice of provider. As you’re researching and talking to different CSPs, take note of which ones have earned certifications from other industry leaders, certification bodies, or analysts. Credentials could include service or customer support awards or even partnerships with other vetted technology providers. For example, Microsoft and Cisco vet and verify a select number of CSPs, Intrado included, to ensure their customers get the best quality service and support.
Determining a CSP’s credentials will be more straightforward compared to some of the other criteria to vet. Typically, providers showcase certifications, awards, or other special third-party recognitions that verify their expertise, so these will be visible on their website and marketing materials.
At the end of the day, the most important element is that the CSP provides the right service and support to its customers, so finding out about past results should be a fundamental part of your process. One way to vet past performance is to review current and past performance with their customers. It’s also wise to read reviews on the CSP’s website and take the time to do some additional digging to see what previous customers have said about their experiences. Finally, as we suggested when vetting technical expertise, we also recommend asking the CSP for case studies.
When assessing reviews or case studies, try to understand specific metrics or data that demonstrate how the CSP impacted the business. In other words, look for quantitative data as well as qualitative descriptions of the results and consider how those elements would impact your business and customers.
Another option is to use third-party review sites such as SourceForge, Trustpilot, and G2. These sites can give you a glimpse into other customers’ experiences to help inform your decision. Watch for recurring themes among reviews and pay attention to common challenges that users express.
Security and Compliance Practices
Ensuring technology security and compliance is of utmost importance. With the looming threat of cyberattacks, maintaining a high level of protection is critical. Depending on your company's industry, compliance is a core piece of the puzzle to ensure the highest level of security and compliance. First, consider your own security and data privacy compliance needs and then find out if the CSP can, at the bare minimum, meet them and (hopefully) exceed them.
It’s a good idea to find out about the preventive methods the provider has in place and their protocol for handling security issues that may arise. Most CSPs will mention their protocols on their website or in other marketing collateral, and their sales teams should be able to answer specific questions you have on these topics.
Achieve Your Communications Goals With Intrado
At Intrado, we have the skills and experience to meet your communications goals. As a gold-certified Microsoft Partner and Cisco Gold Partner, Intrado has deep expertise in serving customers’ needs. Businesses that want to enable PSTN calling through Microsoft Teams, for example, can work with Intrado to integrate Operator Connect or Direct Routing.
In addition, Intrado has been a leading provider of Webex and Cisco's hosted collaboration solutions for two decades, earning special partnership status. We invite you to read through our website to learn more about our capabilities and customers’ experiences. Contact us today to find out more and secure expert guidance from Intrado.