Oliver Bush, Technical Writer

As Canada enters a recession, businesses all over the country have already begun to clench their wallets tightly. In this day and age brand loyalty is far less important, businesses want to get the most out of their services and, for the most part, they aren’t as concerned where this is coming from. As the economy becomes less and less forgiving the margin of error for service providers will shrink as well. Times are tough and you’re probably thinking about what you can do to save a few bucks and impact your bottom line. Your first thought is probably to go with someone cheaper. This will save the company money and make the boss happy. Simple enough right? You’d think so but that’s not always the case.

“You get what you pay for.”

The cheapest option is [almost] never the right one. If you had an hour commute to work you wouldn’t go out and buy a bike, you’d buy a car. The bike is slow, doesn’t have any storage, and it’s lacking a lot of the key features you need.

When picking a service provider, like internet for example, you don’t want to just be connected, you want those other key features like a backup line and email accounts. You want the stability and flexibility of a car. Don’t buy the “bike” of internet connections.
So with all that said, what am I getting at? I’m saying price shouldn’t be what holds you up. When you make a purchase decision consider the following as well:

Reputability

The reputation of a service provider is extremely important, especially when you are trying to narrow down your options.

How do you tell if a company is reputable?

  • Look at things like experience, track record, and brand recognition.
    • At times this can be tricky, on paper each provider looks the same (especially if you don’t know what to look for) and it’s very difficult to figure out which one is the best for you.
  • Testimonials and case studies are helpful tools but keep in mind these can be biased.
  • Look at their service quality certifications.

You should also look into the credibility and validity of the certifications. There are certain certs out there – like SOC 2 Type 2 for example – that only a select group of companies possess. A thing that a lot of people neglect to consider is that the bigger a company is, the harder it is to manage and maintain a high standard of quality.

Customer Service

You don’t often praise your provider when something works…you do however complain when it does not – and justifiably so. As a customer all you care is that it works.

  • Make sure you know what’s included in your plan, support obligations differ from company to company and from plan to plan.
  • When it comes to customer service, less is more.
    • Small to mid-sized service providers are able to cater more to the client’s needs and offer a more humanized approach. Consumers want to feel valued and respected. This is something that is sometimes forgotten when it comes to customer service.
    • Larger companies get away with long waiting periods on the phone, and rude or unhelpful customer service representatives.

Value

A good service provider is able to articulate the value of their services. They know their services are great and are able to convey this to the customer so they know this too. During a harsh economic climate this is a definite deal breaker. This can be tricky to determine especially if you aren’t sure of how to evaluate value.

  • Look at what you are getting from one of your current providers and determine if you are getting what you need.
  • Ask yourself, are these services helping me? Am I getting what I paid for?

Now what?

Make a decision! When times are tough, vendors also cut corners – this reduces quality. This is why it’s important to adopt a calculated approach to utilize the total cost of ownership and to make sure you get what you’re paying for. It’s about expectation management. Once you’ve found a provider who is reputable, has good customer service, and is able to bring value to their services, then you can start thinking about the price. Don’t get held up by price. Do your homework and get the most for your dollar.

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