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5 Tips for Choosing a Phone and Internet Provider for SMBs

(June 6, 2008) – These days, more companies than ever are offering phone or Internet services to businesses. So, if you’re a small business owner, without an IT guy, how do you choose? Where do you start? How do you know you’re getting the best value?

Time Warner Cable (TWC) Business Class, the fast-growing B2B arm of Time Warner Cable, focuses on the SMB market. In fact, more than 90% of the customer base is comprised of SMBs because TWC is able to offer a complete package of business-specific services: phone, Internet and TV.

Below is a list of Time Warner Cable’s top 5 tips for SMBs when it comes to choosing an internet/phone/cable provider.

Tip #1 – Make Them Speak Your Language: If you don’t know bits from bytes, telecom acronym-speak won’t help you. Ask sales reps to explain their services, including data speeds, in plain English so you can make an educated decision.

Tip #2 – Do Some Research: You don’t buy a copy machine or even office furniture without doing some research. You should be equally as diligent in researching telecommunications providers. Telecommunications services are vital for your business to succeed.

Tip #3 – Believe in the Bundle: You likely have a telecommunications bundle – at home. Well, bundles work for business too. By bundling two or more services with the right provider, you can reap some real benefits, including: lower monthly costs; additional services (from the bundle cost saving); and the simplicity of dealing with one provider and one monthly bill.

Tip #4 – Humans, anyone: Find out what the service provider means by “customer service.” Is it an 800 number you can’t reach after hours? Or is there a local presence, an account rep, whose name you know who you can call when you have a problem or need additional services? Is there 24 hour assistance available to you? Make sure you understand what the provider offers with regards to customer service.

Tip #5 – One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Just because a certain package of services works best for one business, it doesn’t mean that same package is the right one for you. Look for a provider who will provide consultation and not just a sales pitch. The right provider for you should make sure that the services they provide are the right levels for your business and will take the time to make sure your specific needs are being met.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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