As with any ongoing business relationship, there comes a time when you may need to reevaluate your relationship with your IT service provider. This could be because you make it a habit to reevaluate your vendor relationships on a regular basis or, perhaps, it’s because something bad has happened. Another reason may be because you realize their company is not a good fit for your organization and that yours deserves better
Whatever the reason, when this happens, it is important that you start with the basics by having a clear understanding of what your service provider is doing and why. Too often, we’ve been called in to fix client-consultant relationships and address concerns so that our clients have real and meaningful expectations of an IT service provider and are getting what they deserve when it comes to service quality.
Just because a company calls itself as an IT service provider doesn’t mean they’re competent or qualified. I’ve put together a list of 7 sure fire things that most IT service providers don’t want their clients to know.
1: Their Help Desk Really Isn’t Theirs
Yes, it’s true. When you call the help desk of many IT service providers, you’re likely not speaking to someone from their company. Many times, you end up speaking with someone at another company — potentially located in another country or region of the world — to which they’ve outsourced their help desk services... You just don’t know it.
At FPA, our help desk is staffed by dedicated support staff that is focused on delivering high-quality services to our clients and their end users. Our service desk support model emphasizes focus on incident control and proactive communication throughout each step of an issue.
2: Their Network Operations Center Isn’t Theirs, Either
The Network Operations Center (NOC) is the hub for an IT service provider to ensure uptime for their clients’ networks. It is responsible for system backups and restores, monitoring, patching, and a number of other functions. Too often, NOC services are outsourced to a third party service provider — and, it’s usually an overseas company. This could be because a smaller IT service provider does not have have a full-time NOC engineer or team, so they outsource these services to let the third party handle those functions.
Ultimately, what this means is that all of your updates, reboots, firmware upgrades and related tasks are being performed by someone located offshore — if they’re completed at all. Are you aware if this is the case with your service provider? Do you have compliance issues that this situation impacts?
Our in-house NOC team monitors, manages, and maintains our clients’ networks proactively while responding to and addressing alerts to ensure the highest levels of service.
3: The Logos on Their Website Aren’t Certifications of Their Partnerships
This is particularly misleading. Some companies will list logos on their websites of companies for whom they sell products, such as Microsoft. When hiring an IT service provider, verify that their staff is trained and certified with the products they’re supporting. Look for staff certifications and ensure they are current.
We prominently display our list of industry partners on our website because we’re actually partnered with them. Also, our IT support services team are certified and experienced professionals.
4: Their ‘Account Managers’ Are Really Commissioned Sales People
Make sure that the solutions they’re proposing — that you’re considering implementing — are what you need for your business. They may not have your business’s best interests in mind and may only be considering their revenue and sales numbers.
At FPA, our technical account managers are our most experienced technical staff that provide ongoing account management. They’re here to provide our clients with the highest level of quality service and care, not to make sales.
5: They’re Not Doing What They Say They’re Doing
This concern can relate to a lot of areas, including hardware, software, and security. They’re not patching your machines or updating the firmware on your switches, routers, and firewalls; they aren’t addressing alerts as they are received; they aren’t providing reports on a regular basis. All of these things prove that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing behind the scenes. They just hope nothing bad happens so that you don’t find out!
6: They Have No Clue What They’re Doing
Because IT is such a “black box,” it’s easy for anyone who knows more than you to come across as an expert. You don’t know IT because it’s not your job to know it. So it’s easy for someone in IT to give the impression that they’re qualified and knowledgeable. What they don’t want you to know is that your business, essentially, is a guinea pig and that they’re figuring things out as they go along. They also don’t want you to know that they’re just keeping their heads above water (both with the amount of work they have to accomplish and in terms of their financial stability).
7: They’re Not Business People (and They Don’t Want You to Know It)
They’re “techs” who don’t want you to realize that they are not business people. Why does this matter, you wonder? In his book “True Professionalism,” David Maister defines the opposite of “professional” as a “technician” (rather than “unprofessional”), meaning that a professional’s key attitudes and character traits embody professionalism in a number of ways and that they care about their clients. It’s not just about a set of competencies.
What you should ask yourself about your current IT service provider is whether they are successful at helping your business improve or if they’re faking it. And, are they looking out for your best interest or their own?
So now it’s my turn to ask you: What expectations, if any, does your service provider meet? Are your expectations at the level they should be? Or, does something not feel right? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below or give us a call if you’d like to hear more about why FPA is different. For us, “Redefining what it means to be an IT service provider!” isn’t just a slogan — it’s our driving purpose!