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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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What You Need to Know About Your Help Desk Provider

Posted December 18, 2013by Jacque Rowden

Despite the importance of maintaining a high-quality help desk, a number of companies either don’t have the internal resources to do so, or struggle in finding an outsourced vendor that is truly high quality. By asking the right help desk qualification questions, you can be sure you’re choosing a vendor who will meet your needs and the needs of your clients.

Factors to Consider

Whether outsourcing for the first time or looking for a new vendor, there are several benefits to choosing an outside help desk provider... as long as it’s the right one. Every company has different specifics required of their help desk, and before shopping around, you must first have a good understanding of what you’re looking for and the role you need the provider to fill. Start by auditing your current support levels, and then assessing where reinforcements are most needed.

Once you have a solid benchmark in place, you can start comparing vendors. There are several help desk qualifying questions you can ask to help narrow the field:

  • How are the engineers with the help desk vetted? What does the provider look for in a help desk agent? Do they check backgrounds? What typical education and certifications do they have?
  • Do help desk technicians understand HIPAA compliance? As the definitions of HIPAA compliance continue to evolve, it’s essential for help desk techs to always be up-to-date with the latest compliance regulations and be able to answer any questions that may arise regarding compliance.
  • Does the help desk provide any SLAs? SLAs ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to response expectations, which is an essential component of an effective help desk. This will help you manage your clients’ expectations as well.
  • What objective metrics can you show? Ask potential providers to offer specifics about their service. What’s their average speed to answer (ASA)? What are their abandoned rate (AR) and their percentage of first contact resolution (FCR)? These numbers are an excellent indicator of your prospective vendors’ efficiency and effectiveness. Lastly, don’t forget to ask for their customer satisfaction (CSAT) statistics.
  • How does your number of calls/tickets per month stack up against your customer satisfaction rating? Be wary of vendors who only boast about how many calls come through. The volume isn’t as important as how well customers’ issues are resolved and how pleased those customers are with their resolution. Metrics should reflect both quality and quantity to really determine the effectiveness and work ethic of the help desk team.
  • How are metrics made available? Are metrics available in real time? Do you receive raw data or interpreted information? What types of reports will you receive? Will you only receive information according to the vendor’s timeline, or can you request them on an as-needed basis?
  • How does your help desk compare to industry standards? If you’re unsure about the quality of a help desk provider’s metrics, check them against industry standards to see if your candidates are coming out ahead. Metricnet.com is a great source for industry metrics.

 

By asking these qualifying questions and putting in due time and effort in hiring your help desk providers, you’ll ensure that your vendor can take on your immediate help desk needs and grow alongside your own organization into the future.

 

What other metrics should you ask for when vetting your help desk? Did we miss any important ones?


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Jacque Rowden is Continuum's Help Desk Senior Director. The Help Desk supports more than 20,000 MSP clients. She has been managing global IT support teams for more than 20 years. In 2008, her Help Desk was one of two finalists for ICMI's "Best Small Contact Center in the World." She is a regular speaker at user group meetings and industry conferences on topics including Agile Service Management and Service Desk Careers.

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