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10 Important Considerations When Evaluating a Help Desk Service Provider

Assessing a help desk service provider is no trivial task. Factors vary, but you may find yourself asking if outsourcing your help desk needs is more cost effective than maintaining an internal help desk team. Should you mix internal and outsourced personnel? What are the best indicators of a quality help desk service?

We hope the following ten points can help you evaluate these and many other questions.

1. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Proverbially speaking, the SLA amounts to brass tacks on paper. Every MSP (Managed Service Provider) or help desk service provider should provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA), but SLAs should not be handled like most people treat terms of service for the apps on their smartphones (ie. accept the terms without reading them). Read your SLA! You need to ensure the SLA provides your organization with everything it needs. SLAs are crucial to ensuring you and your prospective provider understand minimum expectations.

SLAs ought to address and guarantee hours of service, service times both inside (and potentially outside business hours), incident prioritization criteria, incident response time, and incident resolution time. SLAs should include measurable criteria and functional guarantees. Ask as many hard questions you possibly can. What if the service provider fails to meet the minimums guaranteed by their SLA? Are they going to fight you on every frequent minor dispute, or will they compensate you in the rare case they fail to meet their SLA? How are they tracking their criteria? Will the tracking be visible to you?

An unfulfilled SLA is useless. You need an SLA that the company truly stands behind – and has a track record of standing behind.

2. Support Channels

Your business is unique, and so are your support requirements. A compelling help desk service will offer support across multiple methods, including direct access to their ticketing system via web portal, chat, email, and phone. Having as many different channels as possible is especially important if you have remote workers whose work schedules, locales, and communications access may differ from more traditional employees. You should also consider whether you need your help desk tech to be near your physical office.

3. Industry Experience

When you’re looking for competent help desk support services, ensure they have experience in your specific industry. This way, you can be sure they understand the unique challenges you face and can offer comprehensive and prompt solutions. The more niche your industry, the more important this becomes.

4. Flexibility and Agility

Flexibility and agility are terms which may strike you as odd in this context, but as your business grows and diversifies, your support requirements may drastically change. You need a help desk that can morph its services at the rate you may expand.

Pay particular attention to how the MSP or help desk service provider handles contract terms and length. Learn how the potential help desk support company packages its offerings and scales its services, and how they treat changing requirements mid-contract. 

We at ITAdOn differentiate ourselves from most IT MSPs in our industry by offering no-contract partnerships for our corporate clients, providing a purpose-built foundation for evolving corporate requirements, and the ultimate in flexibility. This isn’t to say contracts are necessarily negative. Contracts guarantee pricing over longer periods of time which may be particularly beneficial to organization..

5. Help Desk Data, Analysis, and KPIs

Significant data is collected during the course of providing help desk services. A well-versed help desk provider captures and maintains these quality metrics. Help desk trends can serve as health indicators, and communicating these trends can provide invaluable insight and leverage for enhancing your business. From ticket volume, ticket escalations, and capturing qualitative data such as end user satisfaction – is your help desk maximizing the value of this information and packaging it for you in a useful way?

6. IT Training and Certifications

IT training and certifications is a generally reliable indicator of expertise. When comparing help desk support services, ask about their technicians’ training and certification expectations, and if the help desk support company expects their techs to complete a predetermined curriculum. Is their team up to date on the platforms and technologies your company uses? Can they adapt their qualified technicians to potential technology changes in your organization?

As an example, if yours is a majority Microsoft ecosystem, knowing that the help desk support staff is Microsoft certified should give you a high level of confidence in their competence. If they are not certified, while they may be Microsoft experts and have a solid working knowledge of Microsoft products, they may not necessarily be completely up to date on the latest technologies or best practices.

7. Proactive and Reactive Support

Good help desk services respond well to problems and emergencies. Excellent help desk services monitor your information systems and identify problems before they affect your business.  They also ought to always look for ways to improve the support experience. Ask them what they will do to anticipate help desk needs within your association and manage them. For example, what change-management procedures do they have in place for rolling out major IT projects?

8. Pricing Structure

Competitive pricing is important, but it isn’t everything. The least expensive help desk support services may cut corners in ways that you may not be aware of – and you might not find out until it is too late. As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for.” This certainly rings true for help desk services.

9. Testimonials and Reviews

Testimonials, reviews, and even complaints via organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) provide you with reasonable expectations for performance. Talk is cheap, and sales departments are well versed in telling you what you want to hear. Testimonials and reviews from trusted sources can help you make a more informed decision on with whom you trust your company’s IT future.

This is not to say that every company with  one or two bad reviews is a poorly performing company, nor does it mean a company without scores of five-star reviews is subpar. But do consider asking questions about specific testimonials and reviews that you read, and give the company a chance to honestly address them. You may learn even more about them than their sales teams and third-party testimonials can tell you.

Bottom line: remember that you are not buying a service; you are building a long term relationship.

10. Overall Customer Service Experience

On top of everything already mentioned, you should also look carefully at their customer service procedures, and how well they train their team to provide the best customer service possible. The industry is full of IT gurus with poor customer service and communication skills. Find the help desk service organization that best fits your company culture, and has healthy amounts of knowledge and diplomacy – they are both crucial!

Looking for help desk support services? Get in touch with ITAdOn today

At ITAdOn, we provide help desk support expertise tailored to you. Our IT team of seasoned and passionate technicians will give your company everything it needs to run smoothly and at maximum.

In this unpredictable and ever changing technology landscape, you don’t need to worry about who will handle your IT future. Contact ITAdOn to get to know our IT Team.

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