It’s hard to imagine a time when we ever did business without email. But while email seems timeless, there’s been a huge change in how businesses are powering it: more and more, they’re getting it from the cloud.
While every cloud provider can eliminate your hardware and software expenses, not every provider is right for your business. In fact, what looks like a good deal on the surface can turn out to be a disaster if you end up with shoddy customer support or an unreliable service. So be careful. Do your homework. And, most importantly, ask each of the candidates these four basic questions. Their answers will tell you everything you need to know.
1. How much experience do you have?
It’s not easy to host business email. There’s a lot of technical skill that goes into setting up accounts, migrating customer data, handling support issues, maintaining the data centres and infrastructure, enabling user mobility, and so on. Even though email seems basic, provider experience truly matters. So make sure you ask all potential hosted email providers about the level of their experience. Email is essential to your business, so this is not the place to save money by choosing the new guy on the block.
2. How will you support my admins and my users?
A lot of email providers say they offer 24×7 support. Great. But who is answering the phones? Are they Microsoft-certified technicians? Do you have to join a long queue before they attend to your issue? Do they have any local support? Make sure your email provider is giving you the best support possible, not just having you join an impersonal line.
3. What other integrated hosted services do you offer?
The more cloud apps you use, the harder it is to get them all to work together. So ask your provider what other integrated hosted services they offer. Look for collaboration tools, anti-spam services, email archiving, and others (such as file sync and share or even phone services).
When you get them all from the same provider, you save money. But you also cut down on IT integration headaches and free up time that’s better served actually growing your business
4. What is included in my contract?
Make sure to get a complete understanding of what is and isn’t included in your contract. Will migration and onboarding be covered? Do you have to pay extra for support? (You shouldn’t have to!) Finding out at the beginning means you won’t be caught by surprise when an unexpected bill shows up. Getting a complete picture of the cost—including migration, which is the most overlooked cost—will also make it easier to compare pricing between providers.