10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-11-29
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    1 - 10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider
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    10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider

    Since email is the single most important communications tool in the workplace, it is crucial that you choose the best email provider.
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    2 - Business-Class Support and Expertise
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    Business-Class Support and Expertise

    Easy access to an email expert who understands your technical and business needs is crucial. Customer support capabilities can sometimes be limited to self-service message boards, with no email or phone support. When suffering from a critical issue, this is just not enough. Live, around-the-clock support for both your email application and the associated hardware reduces the risk of outages.
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    3 - Rock-solid SLAs
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    Rock-solid SLAs

    Don't settle for anything less than strict uptime standards and real accountability if unplanned downtime occurs—and simply promising 99.99% uptime (or any other uptime number) isn't enough. You also need to know how the provider defines terms such as "uptime" and "unplanned outage," how the provider communicates with customers regarding outages and how the provider compensates customers for downtime.
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    4 - Intuitive Control Panel
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    Intuitive Control Panel

    Look for a single interface allowing easy access to essential functions, including automatic backups and account management. Especially if you're intending to change providers or switch from an in-house to a hosted environment, the move will be invisible to most users but may require training for the IT team.
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    5 - Commitment to Security
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    Commitment to Security

    Data centers should be designed to protect data from physical threats, technical threats and power outages. Make sure the provider's privacy and security measures are geared toward business users charged with protecting proprietary data and communications, not casual email users. Also, ensure your provider meets any security and compliance requirements and regulations for your company. For stringent security or compliance needs, a dedicated, single-tenant configuration is appropriate for hosted environments.
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    6 - Flexible Email Options
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    Flexible Email Options

    Define your requirements—interface usability, browser support, mobile options—and ensure that your provider meets them while delivering your preferred mix of email tools. Look at different options among the full complement of Webmail, Hosted Exchange and hybrid options, and the ability to deliver shared or single-tenant server space.
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    7 - Affordability Without Advertising
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    Affordability Without Advertising

    When working with an email provider that makes money primarily from advertising, your performance, reliability, security and support might not be top of mind. Their real customers are advertisers, not consumer users. Plus, you don't want the intrusive scans of your email to serve annoying, time-wasting ads.
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    8 - Spam and Virus Protection
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    Spam and Virus Protection

    Look for security and filtering protocols that inspire real confidence. The good news is that most hosted email providers excel at stopping spam and malware before it reaches your employees' inboxes. The bad news is that there are exceptions to the rule—and they can cost you dearly.
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    9 - Abundant Storage and Large-Attachment Support
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    Abundant Storage and Large-Attachment Support

    You don't want to have any involuntary, space-driven message deletion or errors and delays when sending large files. Lack of mailbox storage inconveniences users and results in the deletion of valuable messages.
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    10 - Support for Related Functionality
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    Support for Related Functionality

    Integration of email, collaboration and productivity tools should be smooth, increasing overall efficiency. Third-party server integration, for example, can add significant complexity to the process, so ensure you have the support you need.
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    11 - Transparent Pricing and No 'Gotchas'
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    Transparent Pricing and No 'Gotchas'

    You should not have any bait-and-switch introductory pricing, hidden fees or long-term contracts with stiff cancellation penalties. The provider should be upfront about the pricing model, as well as pricing considerations in the future as your needs expand.
 

A recent Rackspace white paper highlights the core set of features and capabilities that you should expect from any business email provider, as many believe email is the single most important communications tool in the workplace today. According to a recent survey by Osterman Research, email accounts for 58 percent of business communications—more than telephone calls, instant messaging and social media combined. It's no surprise, then, that when an email system goes down, the costs quickly add up. According to one estimate, just an hour per month of unexpected downtime can cost a typical organization more than $482,380 a year. That doesn't account for the possibility of a company losing a major sale or suffering long-term damage to customer relationships. So, whether you are actively looking to switch email providers or just taking a second look at your current email provider, what should you look for in your provider? Here are 10 things to keep in mind when choosing an email provider.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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