Small and medium size businesses (SMBs) spend $149 billion on IT annually, and that amount is expected to grow to $217 billion by 2016, according to IDC.

At the same time the buying behaviors and expectations of their customers continue to expect their experiences to become more demanding and personalized as technology gets smarter. However, 60 percent of small businesses do not have the resources to implement new technologies.

Business owners have no choice but to adapt or risk losing loyal customers to more flexible and innovative competitors. Keeping up with customer demands must become a priority but determining how to leverage technology to help can be daunting.

To ensure IT complexities do not get in the way of providing superior customer experiences and business growth, small business owners should work with a technology solutions vendor that can provide IT deployment services that enable them to deploy technology quickly and easily without the fear of downtime. For on-going support the vendor should provide traditional “break-fix” capabilities, but also advanced services that monitor systems and proactively react to issues.

When making decisions about which vendor to partner with, customers should keep these five attributes in mind.

1. Round the Clock Access To Experts

For the most part, small businesses do not have the resources to support an in-house IT team but they need access to experts in the event of a problem. When an IT issue arises, support services that provide round the clock access to experts are crucial to ensuring efficient resolution and minimal impact on the customer experience.

Small business owners should look for IT services with the ability to provide 24/7 tech support so no matter when the issue occurs, they can keep their focus on what really matters — their customers.

2. A Single Point Of Accountability

Identifying who to contact when an issue arises can be a time consuming process. That extra time can be the difference between a minor bump in the road and a huge problem that causes long-term customer churn.

Small business owners can streamline the resolution process by looking for support services that provide a single point of accountability for comprehensive hardware and software support.

Technology services companies should strive to understand their customer’s business and act as an advocate so SMB owners can trust they will receive efficient support right away.

3. Incident Management & Troubleshooting Options

An effective support services program will have multiple resources at the ready and offer multiple paths to help customers resolve an issue based on their preferences.

Remote troubleshooting, support forums, portals for incident management and, if necessary, the speedy delivery of parts and labor are important infrastructure components for service, but small businesses should also seek out vendors who are using technology to advance the support process.

For instance, some offer software technology that monitors, detects and alerts businesses to problems proactively, sometimes even before they occur. This is particularly important for small businesses because it enables vendors to better evaluate their problems and provide quicker solutions.

4. Flexible On-Site Support

Technology has come a long way and most deployment and support issues can be resolved remotely. On occasion, however, small business owners may be faced with hardware or software issues that require on-site support.

A lot of technology vendors provide this, but looking for flexibility is key. SMBs need support services that will evolve with them.

5. A Tailored Approach to IT Deployment Needs

If a small business owner does not have access to the right resources and support, it can be difficult for them to implement new technology without interrupting service to their customers.

Many technology vendors leverage a “one size fits all” approach that can leave small business owners spending valuable time trying to understand and maintain their new technology. It is crucial to find a trusted partner that provides a tailored approach to each businesses’ unique deployment needs – whether they have some in house IT staff or no IT resources at all.

Use IT to Your Advantage

Evolving technology can provide new opportunities for the 28 million small businesses in the U.S. to foster loyalty with existing customers, connect with new consumers and stay competitive.

To effectively leverage these new solutions while making sure their business continues to run smoothly, small business owners need the ability to efficiently deploy new technology and seamlessly resolve technical issues.

This means choosing a technology vendor that provides services with the ability to transform IT from a potential hurdle into a strategic lever for growth and innovation.