As much as you may want to do everything yourself, you simply can’t. Even the brightest and most talented CEO has to contract some things out to other providers. For example, no matter how great you are, you aren’t going to be able to spontaneously generate your own internet. You will need to connect to the one that is already here through a service provider. Unless you are a telecom phenom you aren’t going to build your own interpersonal communication system…and even if you did, you can’t force all of your clients to use it. You’ll have to work with a communications provider.
Finding the right providers for your company’s various systems is a time consuming task. You want to make sure that you hire the right providers and that decision cannot be made based solely on rates alone. So how do you do it? How do you find out which company will best serve your needs? More importantly, how do you avoid information overload while you’re investigating?
Start With The Company’s Own Website
It’s true: you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You can, however, judge the viability of a provider by the quality of its website. If a company is claiming to be the best in its niche but has only a freebie website that is filled with copy errors and cheap stock footage, this is a bad sign. The website doesn’t have to be super flashy but it should be functional. It should also include basic information like rates, contact information and business license information. If the company fails to list any of these things (and if the contact information is limited to an email address), move on to the next candidate on your list.
Speak With a Representative
This is incredibly important. You need to actually talk to someone at the company about your wants and needs. Think of this call as a trial run for future issues that might arise. Does the person on the phone answer your questions? Do you sit on hold for an egregiously long time? Does the representative seem more focused on upselling you than helping you? These are all warning signs!
Google is Your Friend
Plug the provider’s name into Google and see what comes up. You can learn a lot about a company by the first few pages of search results. For example, if you’re checking out company XYZ and all you can find are a few eZines articles, this is a bad sign. After you’ve finished looking at the top 50 or so results, narrow your search by adding the word “reviews” to the search parameters. Check out independent reviews as well as reviews on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, etc.
Search for the company online and review their web presence. All companies, including telecom companies, should have a social media presence on at least Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you search for XYZ company and all you find is a logo and a phone number, this is a red flag.
It’s also a good idea to simply ask your own followers about your potential providers. In general, checking out a provider’s reputation before you sign a contract for services is important. Trust us when we tell you that the time you spend investigating will be well worth it!