Jun 26 2017

What’s Your Smartest Choice in an IT Service Provider? (Part 2)

man-people-space-deskAs explained in part 1 of this series, hiring a vendor for your information technology (IT) services on a time-and-materials basis means you pay for exactly what services you need—no more and no less—with no long-term commitment. With managed IT service providers, you sign a contract, typically for one year at a time, to receive—for a fixed monthly cost—as many services as are needed. We are looking at the differences and similarities between these two models. We are looking for the smartest choice for small businesses.

In addition to the insufficient “active monitoring” promise offered by managed IT (service contract) providers, other problems become apparent when you carefully consider what is to be gained by paying for a service contract. The optimum choice for managed IT service providers is to accomplish as much as they can through a remote connection to your computers. But is that your smartest choice, as the client? How well can you get to know your managed IT service providers when they primarily work from a remote connection? More important, how well can these technicians get to know you and your systems?

The less time these technicians spend interacting with you personally, the less time they need to invest in serving your best interests. Does it seem like shortcuts will be taken? Does it seem like you and your systems are not the top priority? Quality can give way to expediency. It’s not expedient to focus on building relationships. This shortcoming becomes apparent when you evaluate whether your needs are really being met. When was the last time a technician took the initiative to suggest an improvement in your computer systems or technology that enhanced the way you operate?

Likewise, many IT service providers who follow the time-and-materials (break-fix) model aren’t much better at providing personalized service. Once again, the problem is the lack of knowledge of you and your systems. They may fail to make regular visits, or send lower level technicians to find out your needs and problems. As a result, something may be lost—a deep understanding of your systems and objectives.

Unfortunately, customer service (and your satisfaction) can suffer when relying on entry-level technicians to address issues. When a problem crops up and you call the Help Desk, you never know who you’re going to get or what type of experience the technician possesses. High turnover adds to this problem. Coupled with a lack of personal interaction, it kind of sounds like the provider is only interested in fixing broken stuff, not helping your business avoid computer or technology problems or facilitating improved work flow for your employees.

When you think about what is most important in building your small business, no matter what your business is, you probably realize that it is the relationships that matter. I call it relationship-based service. How can your IT service provider effectively serve the needs of your organization without a good working knowledge of what your company does, who in your company does what, and what IT systems are needed to get the work done? Read part 3 of this series.