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7 Things to Ask a Potential Service Provider

3 Jun 2015 by Shay Moser

Selecting the right Service Provider (SP) can mean the difference between success and failure. To vet these companies, which serve as an extension of your staff, ask these seven questions:

1. Why should we choose you?

What makes a potential service provider unique, better and more effective than its competitors? If the provider has a hard time articulating its differentiators, that’s a red flag. The SP should be able to give details about its expertise and experience.

2. Can you share successful, similar relationships?

Go a step further than a telephone conversation, face-to-face meeting and contract review. Request case studies and lists of former and existing customers. Talk to a few past and present customers in similar industries and with related business needs. Ask for detailed and honest feedback on the SP’s strengths and weaknesses, problem-solving strategies, service levels and systems management. Are the customers satisfied, or are they former clients for a reason?

3. How will you help us achieve a return on investment?

Service providers that hand over assets and processes and leave you to your own devices will have a hard time answering this question. SPs should be able to illustrate their approach and recommendations to align with your organizational objectives.

4. Who is my main contact?

You need to know how your business account will be managed. Will a dedicated person handle your day-to-day needs? Does the SP follow a clearly defined account management process? How often will you be in touch? Can you meet in person to kick off the partnership?

5. Are your solutions scalable?

Your business is bound to change in scale. Be sure to select a service provider with contract flexibility and solutions offerings that can adapt to your needs. Your SP should be able to assess cloud readiness and give recommendations on how to integrate cloud solutions. Finding out if your company is cloud-ready eliminates bottlenecks and points of failure.

6. How will you help us stay current?

How does the service provider adapt to new technology? What is the SP’s strategy for helping your business innovate with your customers in mind?

7. What security measures do you have in place?

How does the SP protect its business information, as well as customers? Does it have a firewall? What is its recovery plan in case of a cyberattack? Does the SP have qualified, committed IT staff?

The answers to these questions will help you select a service provider that will put you on the road to success.

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