The security and accessibility of your company’s critical IT infrastructure, data, and operations shouldn’t be left to chance or in the hands of just anyone. Many organizations rely solely on their in-house IT person (or team) to meet their IT helpdesk, IT support and IT security needs or they make the mistake of trusting an IT service “tech” based on their low cost — only to realize their mistake later when something goes wrong. They may not realize it, but in the words of former Harvard Business School professor David Maister, “the opposite of a professional isn’t unprofessional — it’s a technician.”
That said, organizations are beginning to realize that their in-house IT services teams aren’t enough to handle the rigors of daily IT service management or that their existing IT Service Providers aren’t doing a good enough job. They're starting to see that their overloaded IT service staff may not be able to keep up with all of the work orders and general system maintenance, leading to essential functions slipping through the cracks. This is usually an indication that HOW their IT is being run (or more accurately, how it isn't being run right) is significantly impacting their business negatively. This is when they decide to look for a new IT Service Provider to help meet their IT support and service needs.
As a Managed IT Service Provider with more than 27 years of experience serving organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, our position is that you shouldn’t have to settle for just any IT company — you get what you pay for — so you really should be selective. This is why it’s vital that you choose a company that’s going to be the right fit for your business while also one that will create a long-term and valuable working relationship.
The Differentiators of a High-Quality IT Service Provider
Several critical characteristics help to set apart a high-quality IT Service Provider from mere IT service technicians when it comes to providing Managed IT Services:
How They Treat (and Regard) You and Your Organization
One of the key differentiators between a top-notch IT Service Provider and one that isn’t is the difference between Nordstrom and Wal-Mart. What do I mean by this? It’s a matter of the quality of service you can expect to receive at one versus the more common level of service at the other.
Low-quality IT Service Providers are a dime a dozen and are available in abundance; however, with so many IT Service Providers flooding the marketplace, prospective clients may not know what to look for or how to recognize the difference. As a result, they often end up lowering their expectations (without even realizing they’ve done so) and find themselves in dangerous waters.
However, if all you care about is cost, then this level of service doesn't matter; not only should you be okay with accepting lower quality service, but you should expect it. We understand that some companies are okay with settling, but our question for you is this: Do your clients want you to settle? Or, do they want to know that you're doing everything possible to ensure their sensitive data and information is being properly managed, stored, and protected?
A high-quality IT Service Provider can require significantly less time to fix an issue and get the job done right the first time. And, considering that your customers’ sensitive data and other critical information are at stake, do you really want to trust the cheapest company to protect the integrity of your organization?
Simply put, there are some things you should avoid when selecting an IT Service Provider. I'd suggest that you ask yourself that when choosing between IT Service Providers whether you’re doing the right thing for your clients and your company in the long run or if you’re just trying to save a quick buck.
Whether They Regard You as a Client or Just a Customer
A quality IT Service Provider will treat you as a client versus a customer. What I mean by this is that a client is someone you have a relationship with, whereas a customer is someone you sell something to. This key distinguishing trait makes a significant difference in the level of trust you experience as a partner in this managed IT services relationship. It’s working with an IT Service Provider company that understands your business and industry. Having a bi-directional relationship versus just a one-way street also enables you to gain a better understanding of what they are doing because it creates a channel for more open and transparent communication.
If you're looking to leverage your technology in a way that helps you to increase your profits and decrease your costs (throughout your business, not just with IT), then having this type of invested relationship with your IT service provider is imperative to achieving these goals.
If They Make You Feel Comfortable and “In the Know”
IT Service Providers play a critical role in the safety, security, and performance of your IT infrastructure. If your essential IT systems and network falls into disrepair and results in data loss or downtime, it can mean the difference between your operation being successful and you losing money (or losing everything) when the system goes down.
Concerning your current or prospective IT Service Provider, ask yourself this: Do they remove your worry (around IT), or do they only add to it? A high-quality managed IT services company should be in regular communication with you. You shouldn’t have to chase them down when you have an issue, or hire them and literally never see or hear from them again. You should feel comfortable working with your IT Service Provider and should feel confident in knowing that you can trust that they are going to do everything they possibly can to keep your systems and network in top condition.
Whether They Survey You for Feedback to Improve Their Services
Does your existing IT Service Provider survey you to gain a better understanding of how well the quality of the services they provide is perceived? A good managed IT services company will have a process in place that helps them to gain this essential feedback. Lower-quality IT Service Providers don’t want you thinking in these terms because they want you evaluating their services as little as possible.
If you’re uncertain about how to choose the right IT Service Provider for your organization, we have something that can help. Check out one of our latest resources — “The Business Owner’s Guide to Selecting an IT Service Provider” — by clicking below.
What issues have you run into with your existing IT Service Provider or while evaluating prospective IT Service Provider companies? I’d love to hear your thoughts — you can leave a message in the comments section below or feel free to send me an email and we can continue this discussion one-on-one more in depth.