If you are in the business where your services are heavily dependent on your network, your business could be as strong as or as weak as your Internet Service Provider, or ISP for short. Shopping for your ISP service, whether it is a dedicated circuit between your offices or an internet access could be quite a journey.
The most important factor to consider when trying to sign up for an ISP service is service reliability. The tricky part here obviously is the fact you are agreeing to pay for service that you can only guess about how reliable it’s going to be. That’s one of the reasons why many customers prefer a shorter term contract, so it’s easy to get out of it, if things don’t work out, even though the longer the contract, usually the lower you pay for your data transfer.
There are a few things one should keep in mind when it comes to your service reliability. First, try to find out from existing or former customers of your providers about their experience. Word of mouth is a great thing to rely on in this situation. Did the provider perform up to their expectations? What was the frequency of unplanned network outages and their durations? How responsive and helpful was their support team in resolving network outages? Were all planned outages effectively communicated to the customer? These are just some of the questions to ask.
In addition to predicting your service reliability in the future, you, as a customer have actually a way to somewhat influence your service provider performance. What’s interesting, this is a common mistake that gets overlooked by many folks. There is a reason why contracts are usually written in obscure words with little to no details about service reliability or Service Level Agreement (SLA). If you are not going to ask to include a paragraph about customer credit for each significant outage – you most likely are not going to get it. Another thing to include into the contract is the case that allows you to walk away from your contract if your service gets to the point that it consistently has an impact on your business. By doing this you are making your provider more accountable for their service, which should make your life, as a customer, much easier.