There are many different forms of computer support available these days, and this is no longer a linear equation of pre-paid hours and time based SLA’s. Whether you are a business owner looking for a new network support provider, or a provider looking to breathe new life into the way you service your customers, then you should read this article.

In the world of network support there is so much hidden stuff out there that the customer never sees that it’s important that we, as support providers, are alerting them to the fact that this service exists.

So what support do you need and what do you actually get?

1. Proactive Services

These are all the things related to the maintenance of the network. Proactive Services includes installing patches and upgrades, ensuring all monitoring is picking up faults and small issues that the client may not necessarily see and ensuring that backups is working and antivirus updates are being installed.

At Evolve IT we look at the amount of support calls required each month for a particular client and we analyse these numbers. If a client has an increasing number of calls due to failure every month, we look at this as a failure on our part. If this number diminished then this is good, as this means the client is experiencing more up-time.

“I am talking about genuine benefits based planning so that your clients can achieve actual goals…”

If the client is not calling this means that our proactive services are working perfectly by maintaining and maximising the up-time of the network.

As a potential managed support services client ask the vendors you are selecting what they do in the background and how they report this to you.

2. Account Management

Account Management is important for the client to get a handle on what it is that they are paying for. As stated in the last point, if we are truly doing our job perfectly then the client should never call.

But what happens when it comes time for renewal of the service? A client that is never spoken to will turn around and say “Well, we never call you, so we are not continuing the service”.

And there is no point in pulling out these figures only when you are bringing up the renewal of a service contract either – that is just bad service.

Monthly Account Management meetings are important so that your client knows what is being done in the background to ensure that they are experiencing the maximum up-time that they can from their network.

3. Network Planning

What are you doing to improve your clients network infrastructure?

I am NOT talking about selling here. I am talking about genuine benefits based planning so that your clients can achieve actual goals such as increase collaboration ability, hands free backup, or faster VPN connections.

These plans need to be done regularly and the client needs to know what is proposed to enhance the goal.

For example – if my client came to me and said “we need to have a space where we can all work on a document together and have a person in charge of it like a project” then obviously the suggestion is SharePoint, however this means nothing to the client.

But what if I said “there is a solution by Microsoft which enables the company to have their own virtual workspace called an Intranet. Everyone has their own site and teams can have sites too, like an internal website. Instead of having products on these pages though, each one is a workspace which enables more than one person to work on a document at the same time and a moderator who can approve changes and control document versions as well”?

This is less techie, enables the client to actually understand what I am talking about and I am not selling them a product – I am providing a solution to a problem.

4. Business Planning and Advice

Noe this is something that you can offer your clients if you have savvy people as Account Managers or business owners that meet with the clients regularly.

At Evolve IT we have business planning meetings with our clients to ensure that we are working with them towards their business goals. If there are ways that technology can help the client move forward then we can suggest and scope and the client can budget this into the business plan.

“Now the receptionist can also have a business building capacity part time and the business isgoing to see immediate advantages and long term cost saving and improved revenue as aresult of one little change”

For example I have been working with a client recently who has been using an old custom built Access database to capture their customer information over the last few years.

This client wants to become more efficient and have their staff increasing productivity without increasing wages or hours worked. Looking at the processes involved in capturing information it became obvious to me was that they need to breath new life into the way that they capture the customer data and use it within the business.

So now we are moving to an improved Customer Information System which is going to automate processes and leave more time for the staff to do their jobs. Now the receptionist can also have a business building capacity part time and the business is going to see immediate advantages and long term cost saving and improved revenue as a result of one little change in the technology behind the way that they work, not changing the way they work itself.

This is what I see as the difference between good service and fantastic service in the field of IT support. Layers of support, not merely restricted to computers and switches, but an investment in the business of the people we are supporting. If we help all of our customers grow, then they will always be our customers.

If you want some more information on this, just flick me an email