5 Traits of Great Communications Service Providers

Based on the interest that my Seven Questions to Help Pick your Managed Service Provider generated, I decided to continue the lists and service provider theme with an article on the Traits of Great Communications Services Providers by Michael Runda, President of Avaya Client Services.

Do you agree with Mike’s top 5?

Pat Patterson
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Traits of Great Communications service Providers
A checklist for what businesses should expect from their providers

  • Single point of contact. Technology stacks are getting thicker and more often include elements from different suppliers. Think of BYOD and video as rapidly emerging examples. It will be increasingly important–and challenging–that clients have a single point of contact for problem diagnosis and resolution. Service providers will need either to develop the ability to work across platforms and vendors or to cede the role to someone else.
  • “Know me.” Few things are more frustrating for clients needing support than having to repeatedly describe a problem to different people. Instead, they want a provider to understand their environment, know what they have installed, recall the last questions they asked, and be ready to make the upgrades they want in the future. When you reach that level of customer intimacy–the ability, when a client says “know me,” to respond, “yes, we do”–then support becomes more consultative. The best providers will become trusted advisors.
  • Fast, accurate problem-solving. As technologies become more complex, problems are more likely to be systemwide rather than in a single component. They can emerge from the network, an application, an end user, or a configuration file–and from any vendor’s product. Because of this, a product specialist often can’t resolve a problem alone, but may need to involve a broad team of system architects and other specialists who have application or multivendor knowledge and capabilities.
  • Breadth of service. This includes service-level agreements covering the entire gamut of vendors and aportfolio of offers spanning the entire continuum of issues that clients face. Breadth is key to providing you and the customer a future-proof roadmap, as well as the ability to tackle the issues that inevitably pop up. A useful analogy is a person who comes into the emergency room complaining of chest pains. Instead of immediately calling in a heart surgeon, the hospital staff performs advanced diagnostic workups to pinpoint the source of the chest pain and then quickly and effectively proceeds to the treatment that provides the best possible outcome for the patient. The same approach applies in communications support and management. In our experience, not many can do this.
  • Drinking their own champagne. How much would you trust a communications service provider that only works with you via email or telephone? Wouldn’t you expect them to effectively use rich forms of communication and collaboration in their daily business? For instance, video can strengthen customer ties by helping clients and the service provider get to know one another better. It can also be used to resolve issues. For example, on-site cameras can be used to diagnose physical hardware issues without a technician needing to be dispatched to the site. Or take avatars and 3-D immersive environments. Leveraging search technology and artificial intelligence, avatars can assist clients in finding known solutions to problems. Clients can then rank the solutions, service agents can review them, and the best ones can be detailed in articles made available to other clients.

By Michael Runda
Senior Vice President, Avaya and President of Avaya Client Services