Communications Service Provider: Overview & Key Features

May 16, 2024 6 min read

Chris Reaburn

Chris Reaburn

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Many businesses consider voice, video, and text as central channels for both internal and external use. While plenty of standalone tools exist, consolidating communications through a single platform is optimal.

A single communications platform means training your team to use only one tool. With only one dashboard to manage, you have a centralized place for all communications, avoiding the need to switch between multiple tools.

Here, we’ll discuss the key features and use cases of communications service providers (CSPs) and how to choose the right vendor for your business model — both now and as you scale in the future.

What Is a Communications Service Provider?

A communications service provider offers telecommunications, media, entertainment, applications, and other information-related services over networks. Its core duties are to ensure the reliable exchange and delivery of messages between people, services, and networks. 

Examples of CSPs include: 

CSPs for businesses

In the past, businesses relied heavily on landlines and emails for internal and external communication. However, given the digital transformation of the past two decades, that’s no longer the case.

There are two common types of CSPs for businesses: VoIP providers and Unified Communications (UC) providers.

Instead of relying on traditional phone lines, VoIP phone systems allow businesses to make and receive phone calls through an internet connection. You can even access VoIP systems — sometimes called cloud phone systems — through mobile apps.

How VoIP works

VoIP systems offer the following benefits: 

UC providers, meanwhile, combine various communication channels (voice, video, chat, etc.) into a single platform. Many UC providers offer Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), which provides cloud-based solutions to streamline the convergence of multiple communication platforms.

How UCaaS works

UCaaS solutions offer the following benefits: 

Key Features of Communications Service Provider (CSPs)

CSPs typically have a few key features in common, making them well-suited for business communications.

High-quality voice

Clear and reliable call quality is essential for any business communication platform. Telecom services often play a central role in CSPs, so look for providers with strong service-level agreements (SLAs) ensuring high uptime and voice quality. Ideally, choose providers offering HD voice calls.

Advanced call management

Advanced call management allows businesses to automate some aspects of business communications.

Popular features include the following:

Call management functionality can improve efficiency and provide a professional experience for customers. 

Seamless integration

A key benefit of CSPs is having all communication channels — including voice, email, video conferencing, and instant messaging — in a single platform. This simplifies workflows and improves collaboration.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools have become increasingly important in a communications service provider, especially as more teams utilize remote workers. Video conferencing, screen sharing, and file sharing within CSP platforms are essential for improved internal collaboration. 

What to Look for in a CSP

When choosing a CSP, consider both your business’s immediate and long-term needs. Opt for a platform that aligns with your current budget and needs, but also plan for features and usage that you may need in the future as your business scales.

Features & functionality

Features and functionality should be a core focus when choosing a CSP. Check that the CSP in question offers the specific features you need, for example, video conferencing, SMS messaging, and call analytics.

Nextiva-call-pop

An increasing number of businesses are looking for a telecommunications service provider that offers some level of automation, including auto attendants for streamlined call routing or the option for automatic call recording.

Reliability

The reliability of your CSP is critical. After all, you can’t help customers if calls are dropped, unclear, or unable to go through.

CSPs should have uptime guarantees built into their SLAs, offering peace of mind for the service’s reliability. They should also have disaster recovery plans, outlining what happens if there’s a service outage.

Security

Businesses should never overlook the importance of security features and processes. This is particularly true in regulated industries (for example, healthcare organizations that are legally required to follow HIPAA), but even small businesses should prioritize security.

Research the CSP’s data security measures. Calls, recorded calls, and additional data, for example, should be encrypted. 

You can also look into the platform’s security accreditations. Some of the most important accreditations for CSPs include:

  • HIPAA Compliance
  • ISO/IEC 20071
  • PCI Compliance
  • SOC 2 Compliance

Cost & pricing

When considering a communications service provider’s pricing, look for the following:

Customer service

If your team is stuck when accessing call analytics, or if there’s an error with your recent invoice, you should feel confident that you’ll quickly get the support you need.

Always choose a CSP that offers the following:

  • 24/7 technical support availability
  • Responsive and knowledgeable support staff
  • Training and onboarding resources for your employees

Some CSPs don’t create solid customer experiences and may lack support channels. Others may only provide prompt support to enterprise customers or subscribers of high-cost plans.

Integration with existing systems

When choosing a communications service provider, most businesses already have plenty of tools in their tech stack, so it’s important to choose a platform that will integrate with other key communication tools and digital services. Telecommunication companies should ideally be able to integrate with your CRM, email platform, and other critical business apps. Seamless integrations can save time and improve workflows.

Why Businesses Choose Nextiva as Their CSP

CSPs can help you lower overall costs by reducing on-premise hardware, staffing costs, and legacy technology upgrades. They can also make scalability simpler and more cost-effective, making it easy to scale up and down.

Every business has unique needs and concerns when choosing a communications service provider. However, almost all businesses need high call quality, advanced call management features, collaboration capabilities, and integration with their existing tech stack.

When choosing a CSP, start by finding a platform that offers all the features you need, and then consider factors like customer support, reliability, security, and pricing. Remember that, while pricing is important, it should not be the only deciding factor when selecting CSP partnerships.

Businesses that prioritize budget over reliability, security, and call quality often wind up changing providers down the road. The cost of frustrated or lost customers often severely outweighs the cost difference between competing plans.

Nextiva offers the best of both worlds, combining advanced functionality and reliability with affordable pricing. That’s why more businesses, including the San Antonio Spurs, are choosing Nextiva to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

“With Nextiva, our team doesn’t drop calls; there’s amazing voice quality, and it’s been an incredibly reliable way to connect with our fans and create a better customer experience.”

~ Chris Monroe, Associate VP of Membership

Nextiva offers transparent pricing, with plans starting at $18.95 per month. All customers can benefit from Nextiva’s 99.999% uptime and have access to 24/7 customer support. Data security is also a priority, and we have advanced VoIP features like call routing, custom greetings, voicemail-to-email transcripts, and more.

The top customer conversations software.

Organize business communications for your customers, vendors, and teams with Nextiva.

Chris Reaburn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Reaburn

Chris Reaburn is the Chief of Strategic Execution at Nextiva. Known as "Reaburn" by friends/family, he is responsible for championing Nextiva's brand and products into the market in support of the company's vision to change the way businesses around the world work and serve their customers. With his previous leadership roles in the communications industry…

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