If you are looking for an IT support provider you may find yourself in conversations with a handful, unless you have been given a recommendation from a trusted source. Regardless, asking the right questions during the selection process, to determine if the company is the best fit for you and your business, is key. Whilst some questions may seem tricky, they will help you sort out the contenders.
Who is your typical client?
Establishing whether the potential provider tends to work with larger or smaller companies is important. Looking after the IT needs of a team of five is vastly different to an organisation of 500. Similarly, discovering the industries your IT company tends to work with is very important. If you are an independent nursing home and the provider you are liaising with tends to work with sales and distribution companies, you may need to look elsewhere.
Who will be responsible for my account?
Establish whether you will have a single point of contact or if it will be pot luck as to who deals with your query or issue. Whilst having two or three different service team members you liaise with is completely normal, due to shift patterns and covering out of working hours periods, you don’t want to call up and talk with somebody who is unfamiliar with your business’s IT setup.
What is your process for handling tech support requests?
You should expect your potential tech support provider to be orderly, efficient and fast. Take a look at their workflow structure and see if it meets your needs. Ticketing systems, instant messaging and telephone calls are the usual options support desks use to help businesses solve their problems. Some use one method, some use a mixture of all three. Make sure the provider you are talking to will accept support requests via telephone as often these are the easiest. Also ask if they have a guaranteed response time to queries or what their average wait time is.
Will you analyse the current systems we have in place?
Getting a support company on board suggests that you aren’t confident with the current IT system you have in place. If this is the case ensure you opt for a company that is happy to analyse and report on the functionality and effectiveness of your existing IT setup. Areas that need updating, improving or removing should be identified and a plan and budget put in place to bring everything up to speed.
Are you available outside of regular business hours?
Technology can go wrong at any time and it is not enough for your IT tech support provider to operate during normal working hours only. Whichever support team you choose should be available 24/7 to be able to help whenever there is an issue or a disaster. You should expect this level of care from your provider, as waiting until the next working hour is often too late.
Do you have any recent examples of disasters and how they were fixed?
Understandably any IT company should prevent any disasters from happening so don’t be worried if your contact is wincing when you ask them this question. Whilst prevention is better than cure, there are situations that cannot be seen coming, such as theft or flooding.
Pay close attention to their answer and see how they helped different companies recover from a disaster. Ask how long the process took and whether it was documented. Ask how long it took the company to recover. Any good provider will not shy away from the question and will be open and truthful, two great qualities.
How much will this cost?
Once your potential IT provider has been given enough information about the service you require they should provide you with a cost. Ask for a rough breakdown in price in case you want to compare it to other quotes you receive.