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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How To Choose A Telephone Maintenance Provider And The Cost Of Getting It Wrong

Maintaining a business telephone system can be a difficult task, with many firms lacking the internal resources to achieve adequate support in-house. This makes it practical to outsource maintenance to a third party provider.

NortelT7316 telephone
NortelT7316 telephone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Organizations may be nervous about the concept of relying on an external maintenance team to carry out critical work, although there are a number of benefits associated with this approach which also need to be weighed when making a decision, as well as pitfalls that can arise if no action is taken. Here is an examination of the aspects of telephone maintenance providers which you should look for when choosing a firm, in conjunction with a discussion of why making the wrong choice can have serious ramifications.


No matter how good a support package looks on the surface, if it is unaffordable then you should not linger on it. Of course cost-effectiveness and affordability are relative and there are a variety of calculations involved in working out what you should reasonably be expected to spend to get a suitable level of support. For example, can a business with an extensive telephone system that is critical to daily operations really afford to under-spend on maintenance when any downtime could end up being far more costly?

The market for maintenance provision is fairly competitive and so it makes sense to get quotes from a number of potential providers in order to assess which packages represent the best value for money while still being effective. The level of support required will additionally determine how much you are spending, with different maintenance packages tailored to address businesses of different sizes and with varied telecoms needs.

Round the clock coverage with site visits available on demand could cost more than the more basic and thus cheaper remote support that some providers offer, but again it is about finding a balance between price and features that does not sap your budget or leave your company exposed to damaging downtime. It is worth consulting other companies and independent experts to determine how much you should be spending and whether one provider has a better reputation than another, since gathering as much information as possible will give you the opportunity to make a decision from a position of power.

Skilled Support

Selecting a telephone maintenance provider should allow you to access skilled members of staff who are able to assess faults and fix them as quickly as possible, without having to hire full time employees with the same areas of expertise. This not only allows you to save money, but also means that maintenance work can be carried out efficiently and with minimal disruption. Look for a provider based on the skill level of its staff and the reputation that precedes it in this area, because if the company is no better able to address telecoms issues that your own employees then there is little or no reason to invest in its services.

Ease of Access

One area of choosing a telephone maintenance provider which may be overlooked in the early stages, but could save you a lot of time that might otherwise be consumed with considering ineligible firms, is the ease with which support teams will be able to access your business location.

Calling out a maintenance crew may be necessary when serious issues occur and not all providers will offer nation-wide coverage. The time it takes for support staff to reach your offices will also be dependent on their starting point, so ensuring that you have signed up for a contract with a provider that has an outpost within easy reach is important.

Making assumptions is unhelpful, particularly in this situation. For example, while a major provider with a highly publicized national presence might seem as though it will be able to reach your location and provide the best level of telephone system maintenance, this might not necessarily be the case in reality. Giving smaller providers and local firms a chance alongside better established providers is worthwhile, because lesser known companies have more to prove and will value business clients more, because each one represents a bigger chunk of their revenue.

When picking a support package, you have the right as a customer to check up on the specifics of a service and request accurate information on things like support time, so if a provider is cagey about communicating on important issues like this then it is a sign that you should walk away. On the other hand, a provider that is eager to discuss what type of maintenance you require and your expectations, could be the one with whom you can form the foundations of a fruitful relationship.

Decision Disasters

But what if you decide upon a telephone maintenance provider and sign up to a deal with them, only to find that you have made a mistake further down the line as a result of complacency during the procurement process? Cost-effectiveness could be the first thing to disintegrate, because you could be spending too much and either not getting the right kind of coverage in return, or simply exhausting your budget and not leaving enough cash available to inject into other areas. Alternatively you may find that you have not selected a package that has the levels of support you require, which could put you in a tricky situation should a telephone system disaster occur.

A maintenance deal might be affordable and superficially fit for purpose, but if the support teams sent to carry out work are not particularly effective or are inexperienced in their field, then this is yet another way that a hasty decision can come back to bite you. Your firm might also find that it has bunked up with a provider that has its nearest outlet half-way across the country, so response times in the event of a call-out could be tragically sluggish.

Telephone outages can leave a business floundering, with sales lost and progress stifled, so making sure that maintenance is as responsive as possible, especially in the case of outsourcing it to a third party provider, should not be overlooked. Modern telephone systems have advanced to the point that it is no longer necessary for businesses to maintain complicated communications infrastructures on-site. Remotely hosted VoIP solutions can be more affordable and convenient, as well as allowing you to place responsibility for maintenance elsewhere.

But whatever your set-up and needs, it is important to take time and care when choosing a telephone maintenance provider to avoid the costs of making a bad decision, which may not surface until a future date at which point the error of your choice will be obvious, but it will be too late to correct it.

This guest article was supplied by Jamie Garner, who works for the telephone system maintenance provider Daisy Group.

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