We’ve all been there – you’re at work after hours on a Friday with a deadline looming when Murphy’s Law strikes and… BOOM. The Internet goes down and you have no access to the data, email or online resources you so desperately need.

Service-affecting issues happen to even the best telecom providers. Cut cables, major weather events, and “Acts of God” as they are often termed in SLAs, can leave you in a lurch when you need Internet access the most. So the real test of any service provider isn’t how they perform when service is going swimmingly, but rather, how they respond to you when a critical, service-affecting issue arises, especially if it happens “out of business hours.”

The following questions can help you scout out a potential (or incumbent) provider before you purchase services, to find out if they’re willing to go the extra mile to help you get back to business, no matter the time of day or day of the week.

#1: If my router is down, will you show up with a new one that evening or over the weekend?”

Let’s face it, as much as we’d all like to clock out each Friday at 5:30, plenty of work happens over weekends. Having to wait until Monday for a new router to show up isn’t going to help you get back to business on a Saturday if you have important work to finish.

#2: “Do you have the sophisticated technical resources available on the weekend to respond?”

And not just an answering service or basic Tier 1 support! You want to know that trained technicians are on call to respond to major problems.

#3: “If your normal response time is 4 hours, are you capable of responding in 2 hours (even for an extra charge)?”

All providers have their standard response times, but you want to know if they can respond faster if the situation requires it (especially if you’re willing to pay a little more).

#4: “Have you ever provided service and equipment on the fly to resolve an outage for a company that is not even your client?” (at no charge?)

This one might seem crazy to ask a for-profit company, but the idea of being a good neighbor does still exist for some companies. And if a company is willing to do that for a non-client, how much more will they be willing to do for a valued, paying client?

#5: “Have you ever loaned equipment to a customer until their needed replacement(s) arrived?”

A great telecom company is there to get you up and running, not waiting around for the FedEx man to drop off a replacement phone. Ask your provider if they will loan out equipment during an interim while replacements are being ordered.

#6: “Has your CEO ever personally visited a potential client or existing client to help design a technical solution to a challenging technical problem?”

CEOs are more often found in their corner office than with boots on the ground at a client site, but there is comfort in knowing that your telecom provider has a culture of client care that extends from the on-site technicians all the way up to the head honcho. In fact, here at Allied, our CEO can quite often be found applying his engineering expertise to solving technical problems for clients or visiting potential clients in person.

#7: “Do you routinely assess your clients’ bandwidth utilization and contact clients to identify traffic anomalies proactively?”

A good telecom provider will do more than just react quickly to issues – they’ll proactively monitor your network to head off bandwidth and traffic issues before they affect your service.

Every telecom provider can get you set up with Internet service, but at the end of the day, it’s about finding a telecom provider that offers real, personal round-the-clock support that solves your problem as quickly as possible. So you can get back to work. CAN YOUR PROVIDER DO THAT?