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Selecting an IT Support Provider:  How to Assess the All-Important Help Desk

Jordan Weber on Aug 11, 2017

Summary

One of the most important variables to consider when engaging an outsourced IT support provider is the quality of their help desk operation. It’s so critical because nearly every interaction between your team and the provider will take place via the provider’s help desk.

Unfortunately, many businesses have difficulty finding an IT support provider with a help desk service that suits them just right. Perhaps a given help desk doesn’t offer after hours support, or only serves a specific industry. Or conversely, perhaps the business itself has industry-specific technology support needs that providers can’t address.

Given the effort and expense required to implement any new IT support and help desk solution, it pays to find the right partner the first time.

As a leading Dallas-Fort Worth IT support provider to small and medium sized businesses for over twenty years, we at Sagiss are keenly aware of the hallmarks of an excellent help desk operation.

If you’re in the process of evaluating potential help desk partners, keep these five key elements in mind:

 

1. Personalized and Prompt Service

You should expect prompt, personal and professional service from your help desk provider.  Ask the following questions about the responsiveness and professionalism of a potential provider’s help desk procedures:

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  • Can help desk requests be made by phone, email or both?
  • Are help desk requests responded to around the clock?
  • When you call the help desk, how many times does the phone ring before it’s answered?
  • How quickly will emails be answered?
  • When you speak to a help desk support technician, do they know who you are?
  • Is the technician aware of any past technical issues you’ve had? 

Once you’ve contacted the help desk to report a problem, the assisting technician should be able to call up detailed information about you (the user), the technical tools your company uses, and any past technical issues you’ve reported. The technician should be able to communicate calmly and clearly without using excessive technical jargon. Finally, they should guide you through each step they are taking to correct the problem and document any changes they make along the way.

 

2. Industry Expertise

No two businesses are exactly alike. A print shop, for example, has vastly different technology requirements than a bakery does. Even competing companies within the same industry will often leverage different hardware or software to deliver their services, often in pursuit of a competitive advantage.

The help desk provider you partner with should understand the unique nature of your business. Ensure that they not only have a solid working knowledge of the technology that runs your business, but also the industry and regulatory environment in which you operate.

To find out if they do, be sure to ask:

  • What level of expertise do they have supporting the specific software your team uses?
  • Which other companies in your industry do they currently support?
  • For how long they have done so?

Finally, include your company’s department heads in the help desk evaluation process. Different departments within a single company often have widely varying technology support requirements. It is crucial to select a provider capable of addressing the needs of your entire organization.

 

3. Security and Documentation

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Help desk providers often serve dozens of individual client businesses. To support each client, the provider may require sensitive information about that business, its employees, and the technologies they use. This often includes login credentials to the client’s network. The best help desk providers go to great lengths to ensure each of their client’s information is up-to-date and stored securely. In other words, given that a help desk will have access to your business-critical systems and data, you should seek out vendors who will act as careful stewards of that data.

The key word to remember when looking for an organized provider is documentation. Be sure to ask the help desk service manager the following questions about their documentation procedures:

  • Does the provider document every change they make to a server or workstation?
  • Do they securely store their access credentials to your network?
  • Can they monitor changes to your network in real-time?
 

4. Hybrid Support

Virtually all help desk support services are delivered remotely. Using sophisticated software, a technician can install or remove apps, perform maintenance or troubleshoot issues on a PC from anywhere using only an internet connection.  This approach can help get your problems solved quickly and also minimize disruption to your business while an issue is being addressed.

However, remote support comes with its own set of limitations, and it is important to find a help desk vendor that can come to your business location when the situation calls for it. For example, a technician cannot replace broken hardware or hook up a new workstation over the phone.

Seek out help desk providers with the capability to send a technician onsite 24x7. Also, ask if they schedule periodic onsite visits and what those visits entail. The best providers will schedule a technician to visit your office on a proactive basis. This approach often helps the provider prevent small or unnoticed technical issues around your workspace from escalating into larger problems. 

 

5. Staff Experience and TenureExperienced Staff

Finally, be sure to consider how much experience the prospective provider has in delivering help desk services, as well as the tenure of their staff.  Find out:

  • Is the help desk their core business, or is it offered as an add-on service?
  • For how many years have they run their help desk service?
  • What is the turnover rate among their technicians?
  • Will you have to speak to a new technician each time you call in?

No business wants to see an endless rotation of new faces from their IT support vendor, as they often find themselves forced to re-explain old issues to new representatives. To help ensure your team receives top-notch IT support, find a provider with a long-tenured team and a demonstrated track record of success.

If you have questions about assessing your company’s specific IT support and help desk needs, please contact us today. 



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