Many businesses have relied heavily on their IT service provider (or MSP) to help them transition to remote working in recent months. Some required set-ups of new cloud services, others needed help getting the most out of existing ones. Whatever the requirements for organisations have been, one thing’s for sure; MSPs have really been put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During uncertain times, its more important than ever that you can trust and rely on your IT service provider. Whether you’re in the market for a new partnership, or you’re happy with your existing one, you should be asking the following key questions to make sure they are the right match for your business:
Do you specialise in an industry?
An IT company will probably work across many sectors, but its important to know if they focus on any in particular. Is their business model adaptable to suit different businesses? Could they cope if your business grew? Understanding how they handle individual customer requirements and business sizes will give you insight into whether it could be a long-term partnership.
Who is responsible for taking care of our business and how will we know if that changes?
A good quality IT service provider will have a clear and structured process as an answer to this question. They might assign a specific account manager randomly, or they might match your needs to a particular team member; whatever their method, it’s important that its clear who you are to contact both day-to-day and in an emergency. It is also handy to find out how they would transition you to a new contact if your current one left their business.
During the current pandemic, you should also regularly ask how they are offering increased virtual support in the absence of onsite meetings.
What’s your customer retention rate?
Don’t be afraid to ask to look at retention figures and references at any stage of your relationship with your service provider. Customer retention should be high for IT support companies; if they deliver what they say they will, charge a fair price and are easy to communicate with, they are unlikely to lose customers! If their retention rate isn’t what you would expect, is there a reasonable explanation?
How can you help us decrease our spend?
This has been a key requirement for many businesses lately, thanks to COVID-19. A quality IT service provider will be invested in helping you save money where it makes sense. A good answer should include reviewing your service licencing and usage to ensure you are only paying for what you need. The provider should also take advantage of any offers and discounts and be fully transparent about their pricing. You should also trust them to advise you on what you shouldn’t reduce spend on, like stripping back security layers.
What’s the worst disaster you’ve faced recently?
Every IT service provider has dealt with unexpected disasters; finding out how they dealt with and learned from them will give you some valuable insight into how much they care about their customers. If the provider is happy to go into detail and talk through the positives and negatives, it shows they’re honest, open and realistic.
How can you help our business successfully work remotely?
COVID-19 has changed the way we work and remote working is now front of mind for many businesses. It’s important to find out what the strategy is for supporting businesses with remote working both now and long-term. If an IT service provider has managed to transition seamlessly to remote working themselves and can offer you a structured plan, then you know that remote working is a priority for them.