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Tired of dealing with unplanned IT network problems?

November 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm PST

Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right network technical support plan that can save you time, money and customers.

As a business owner, your top priorities are to grow  your business, increase your employees’ efficiency, and serve your customers better. On top of that, small and medium-sized businesses like yours are looking to leverage a sophisticated IT network without dedicated or limited IT staff to support these goals. If this sounds like your business, you understand how increasingly reliant your company has become on your network.

As you realize the impact your network has on your success, you may also recognize the need to maintain the health of your network so that it’s always on and available for employees to connect, collaborate, and communicate with colleagues and customers alike. Network downtime can cost your business plenty in decreased productivity, tarnished reputation, and lost revenue. According to Infonetics Research, unplanned network downtime costs companies an average of 3.6% of their revenue every year. And this doesn’t even include potential damage to your reputation. In addition, dealing with unplanned IT network problems can also be very demanding on your IT staff, and time consuming.

There is a solution: If you want to reduce business-halting network downtime and stop reactively responding to IT network problems, consider purchasing a technical support plan or services from your solution provider, which can help you save time and money. A support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve network issues, minimizing the time your network is down. Faster problem resolution and a more stable network also means your employees can stay productive. Finally, services offered by your solution provider may include additional services such as ongoing remote monitoring for proactive network management, helping to anticipate issues before they affect your business.

So before you make your decision regarding the plan that’s right for you, consider these factors when deciding which support plan best meets your needs.

  • Technical support.  For companies looking to support new technologies while saving time and money on ongoing maintenance, a technical support plan may be the solution. These plans often provide such features as phone and online support, software updates, and hardware replacement if needed, like the Cisco Small Business Support Service. Some technical support plans like Cisco SMARTnet also offer more direct, anytime (24x7) access to support engineers to quickly resolve any network issues that may occur. Talk to your Cisco partner who can help to evaluate your current and near-future needs and determine which option is best for you.
  • Proactive IT service. Like large businesses, many smaller companies rely  heavily on their network as a strategic advantage to serve customers, suppliers, and vendors around-the-clock—the network is their business. However, these companies often don’t have the in-house IT resources necessary to implement new technologies, let alone provide round-the-clock monitoring and rapid resolution should a problem arise. If this sounds familiar, your company would benefit from working with a managed service provider who offers more comprehensive services—one that provides real-time monitoring and alerting, troubleshooting, performance optimization, and routine maintenance.

Want to learn more about how a consulting firm benefited from Smart Services? Read this case study

Whether your company has 15 employees or 600, a support contract and your partner’s services can help ensure the reliability and security of your network so you can focus on your core business. To find a partner who can guide you, visit the Cisco partner locator

What features do you look for when evaluating support plans?

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Ask Cisco: What’s the difference between a warranty and service contract?

February 20, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Q: I have a business with 150 employees and am looking into upgrading some of my IT hardware. When evaluating products, the availability of a service contract is sometimes mentioned. If the hardware I’m purchasing already has a warranty, why would I need a service contract? Aren’t they the same thing?

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Got a service plan? Here’s how to get the most out of it

February 3, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Support contracts provide the ultimate peace of mind and help protect your technology investment

Running a small business without a support contract is like performing a high-wire act without a net. If you don’t have the expertise in-house to restore your failed network pronto, you could fall flat on your face with your customers. That’s why you need to be able to call on a team trained to keep your network running smoothly.

A service plan is much more than warranty. Your service contract goes above and beyond a warranty by entitling you to a variety of expert technical assistance resources and online tools to help you quickly solve problems. Certified engineers can provide advanced configuration and deployment support via telephone or online chat—or both—to get your business up and running quickly. Contracts also include ongoing upgrades so you always have the latest and most reliable software versions available.

Here are four ways to get the most out of your service contract:

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Protecting Your Business With a Service Contract

You may need more than a warranty to realize the full return on your technology investment

These are challenging economic times for small businesses. You need the latest technology in order to grow your business. But you also need peace of mind knowing that you’ll get the most value from that technology investment.

You probably believe that a warranty will provide that protection should something go wrong with one of your network devices, such as a switch or router. Not necessarily.

A warranty is not equal to technical support. Most warranties only guarantee against a defective product and provide limited support.

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