Getting to Know Your Cloud Provider - Speaking to their customers

If you’ve been following our previous topics, you’ll have learnt how to find a cloud provider based on your accounting firm’s company culture, as well as their experience working with accounting firms before. In our previous article, we recommended talking to their current and previous customers, helping you understand what their service is like, and how well they deliver it.
We thought it’d be a great idea to expand on this, and help you develop a strategy for hearing from a cloud provider’s previous customers, and what to look for when you do – to ensure you get the right answers, but also the truth of the matter. After all, the provider is going to offer testimonials that put their best foot forward. You’re looking for the truth behind their service.
Here’s how to get it.

5 Steps to Uncovering the Truth: How to Figure Out if a Cloud Provider’s Service is Any Good

Step #1: Start with their website
Start with the basics. Head to the provider’s website, and review their pages; this is the best initial step to give you an idea of who the provider is, and how much they know about the cloud.
It’ll be quickly apparent if they’re a poor choice; look for basic errors like spelling and grammar (that sort of thing shows a lack of attention to detail), and move on to looking at how they talk about their business. Have a member of IT review with you; does they seem to know what they’re talking about, or is it all marketing jargon?
You’ll know the difference; avoid the latter, and look for the providers that clearly understand what their business is, and how it helps you, a potential customer.

Step #2: Ask for references
Once you’ve reviewed their website, reach out and ask for some customer references. Naturally, they’re going to offer up their favourite customers, people that’ll be happy to sing their praises.
That said, you’ll know pretty fast whether the customers are selling you a spiel on the company, or whether they really mean what they say. If you can, get some face time with the customers. This gives you the opportunity to see their reaction to your questions directly, and also gives them the opportunity to speak freely – particularly useful if there are some hidden skeletons in the provider’s closet.
If they provide them, also ask for video testimonials and case studies. Again, these will be limited to the impression the provider wants to give, but are still good indications of the service you can expect from them.

#Step 3: Speak to your software providers
Who better to help you make a decision than the software companies you work with daily? Chances are, your software providers will have had dealings with the cloud providers, and should be able to let you know whether those software companies’ software is supported, and what kind of experience you can expect.

#Step 4: Reach out to peers
Next, it’s a good idea to speak to peers. With many accounting firms moving their business to the cloud, there’s a high probability that one or more firms near you have already done much of the leg-work for you.
Look into accounting forums and communities, reach out to local firms, and gather information on their experiences with the provider. If they did or didn’t decide to go with them, figure out why.

#Step 5: Cut out the middleman; speak to their customers directly
Know one of the providers’ customers directly? Reach out to them directly. There’s no better source of information than one of their current customers. Ask them what their experience is like, where the service could improve, and so on. Here’s some good questions to ask:
• What’s your experience working with this company?
• If you were to go through the process again, would you still choose them? Or would you opt for someone else?
• Would you recommend them?
• What would you say their weaknesses are?
• What do we need to be conscious of, that may not be dependent on the company itself?

Dig deep, and see where the provider falls short; you won’t find a better method of uncovering shortcomings than someone actively using the service.

Doing all of the above should give you the information you need to make an educated and informed decision. If you do your homework, choosing a great provider should be a painless process that results in a great improvement in your business!

Want to know how OneSpace takes care of its accounting customers? Speak to us today.