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How to Enhance Customer Service with Network Capabilities

October 19, 2016

Whether you outsource certain parts of your networking execution or insource all of your networking programs, it is good business to develop your IT staff.

Picture this: To get closer to your customers, the leadership team and you decide to open five offices around the country due to an account penetration plan as a key pillar of your 2016-2017 strategy. National expansion will propel your business to the next level. Exciting, right?

Now you have to interview new candidates, purchase equipment, and make sure you have the right technology to make employees productive. What most companies overlook is the networking capabilities that growing companies need to communicate effectively. Ultimately, it allows your company’s employees to provide better customer service by securely sharing data between office locations.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to assess your networking needs
  • How to be sure that your data is safe by asking the right questions
  • What benefits your customers will receive
  • What networking skills you need from your IT staff

How to assess your networking needs

In the example above, the company is going from one office to six offices, which means that they are going from one local network (LAN) to 6 local networks that need to be connected, so that data and security can be centrally monitored.

In order to connect the six offices, you would introduce a core layer to the network. The core layer or wide area network (WAN) collects all the data, governs identity, and controls device access from each location in one control center.

You will then need to understand what applications are used, and how much data and bandwidth you will need. The answers dictate how much your networking providers will charge and what service and equipment they recommend.

How can I be sure that my data is safe?

It is reasonable to worry about your business data, since we live in a digital economy where data is quickly becoming the currency of business. Therefore, you should ask your network provider the following questions:

  • Do you offer a two-way firewall?
  • Do you have a multilayered protection system?
  • Is there identity protection?
  • Do you have a back-up system?
  • Do you offer bandwidth management?
  • Do you offer advanced IP Gateway?
  • What is your service level agreement?

It cannot be stressed enough to perform due diligence in this portion of your networking strategy. You do not want to be a company in the headlines like we’ve seen in the past few years.

What benefits will your customers receive from a networking upgrade?

Let’s continue with the example from above. The leadership team and you decided to get closer to customer locations by expanding to new office locations. To make sure that headquarters can communicate securely and reliably with field offices, a 21st century network implementation is required.

What is the consequence for customers? Information will flow more quickly due to enhanced collaboration and data sharing between offices and customers will receive support and services quickly and efficiently. To put a cherry on top, the company will realize cost control through a centrally managed service.

Lastly, the enhanced security from your service provider will put your customer at ease, since they know their data is safe with your company. Remember, it takes years to build trust and only a second to break it.

What networking skills should your IT staff be developing?

Whether you outsource certain parts of your networking execution or insource all of your networking programs, it is good business to develop your IT staff. Why? Your team can truly partner with your outsourced vendors and keep the business completely up to speed on your technology investments.

The top skills that your team should develop in 2016:

  • Software Defined Networking: This gives you greater control over the flow of networking data
  • Data Centers: The design and management of information flow inside data centers
  • Wireless: Practically every device is going to be developed with wireless capabilities by 2020.

Next Steps

Now that you know the basics of how networking capabilities enhance customer service, you can begin your research by:

  • Forecasting the quantity of data and devices on the network
  • Asking your networking provider the security questions from above
  • Starting to build your IT team’s next generation networking capabilities
  • Talk to peers and consultants to get a 360 degree understanding of your networking environment and future needs

This article originally appeared on Business2Community.

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