According to data from What Customers Want, 91 per cent of consumers prefer to purchase from small to medium-sized businesses. Why? Unlike their corporate-scale rivals, small businesses offer a personal service, better relationships and typically, better communication. But, what about when communication isn’t up to scratch? Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of business comms provider Crystaline, presents some top considerations that SMEs should bear in mind when selecting their communications technology partner.
Putting an effective communication setup into place is a challenge for SMEs. Data from the Enterprise Research Centre revealed that some of the key communications challenges that smaller businesses face include a lack of compatibility with existing equipment, broadband capacity limitations and insufficient information and advice on what technology they should use. Working with the right communications partner is essential to solving these issues, so what qualities should business owners look out for?
Independence on every level
When it comes to business communications, opting for an independent partner can deliver the best deal. A business comms system typically includes three key features —voice, connectivity and mobile technology. Each of these services are typically provided by different suppliers, and integrating each technology to establish a unified comms strategy can prove challenging for SMEs.
Partnering with an independent provider eliminates this stress, since they are able to create a bespoke solution that incorporates all lines of communication and any additional technology required to ensure a seamless user experience. Using just one supplier also streamlines operations — there’s just one contact for all billing, service or troubleshooting.
In addition to simplifying the setup process, working with an independent partner can also provide SMEs with access to the most cost-effective solution. Independent partners typically offer products and services from several suppliers, meaning they aren’t affiliated with one specific network. Network independence means that SMEs can access the widest range of products, so they can be confident their provider’s recommendation is the most efficient, cost-effective choice for them.
Keep the service promise
Another key quality to look out for is whether the provider offers a service level agreement (SLA). SLAs are a key quality marker for a business’ customer service, with defined performance standards that can be measured against their actions. Many of the UK’s major networks don’t offer their SME customers an SLA — and being a smaller account within a large corporation could mean that SME accounts don’t receive as much attention as their corporate competitors.
Crystaline provides all of its customers with a service promise, which provides evidence for the level of service that can be expected throughout the time we work with our customers. We take a proactive approach to servicing our clients — each customer’s account manager will contact them every three to six months and will continuously look at usage and spending patterns to make recommendations on any contract amendments that may be advisable.
As with any industry, communication service providers still salespeople, which can leave their customers hesitant to commit and questioning whether they actually need all of the products they’re recommended. Selecting a trustworthy partner that takes a consultative approach is essential to getting your setup right, especially for SMEs that might be working with a smaller budget.
A trusted partner spends time understanding their prospect’s current situation and what their business needs in order to make tailored recommendations. By providing valuable advice, a consultative approach means that a supplier suggests services that they offer, but also recommends different suppliers when the best solution falls out of their line of work. This is how we operate at Crystaline — we used our collective 50 years’ experience to advise our customers, and our network of trusted partners to provide additional solutions including cabling and IT support when required.
Communication technology is essential to modern working practices, so working with a independent, reliable and expert partner is crucial to giving SMEs peace of mind that they have a contact they can rely on for advice and recommendations.
If you want to learn more about how Crystaline can help your business with a comprehensive communications setup, get in touch with the team today here.