NEWS: Global Mentoring Solutions is now part of the Sherweb family. Click here to read more about the acquisition.

As we explore the IT channel marketplace, preaching our take on the Outsourced MSP Help Desk Partnership, we discovered a few important things. This posting is intended to remind everyone (including myself) of the importance of carefully examining exactly what is being offered with any new Partnership – whether it be Help Desk or otherwise.

Help Desk and NOC Vendors that have come before us have put up walls in many areas of their service offering, in order to ensure their marketing claims can be met, and their price models remaining profitable. Unfortunately these walls somewhat impede the relationship between an MSP partner, a vendor and the end user client.

For example, one of the great industry myths is the idea of “unlimited” help desk support. At first glance, the idea of an endless supply of support sounds perfect! Unfortunately, it oftentimes falls flat when put into practice. Once the on-boarding and SLA design process begins and all is on the table, it is common to find a number of restrictions in how each vendor:

  1. Uses Help Desk and NOC functionality as an entry point and opportunity to up-sell on the remainder of their program
  2. Manages their help desk incidents–getting tickets off of their desk as quickly as possible
  3. Keeps calls short and simple–pushing the end user to another party or tier to expedite resolution

At GMS, we believe these limitations significantly affect client service levels and satisfaction and the relationship between supplier and buyer, despite the opposite claims.

Let’s examine a few of these limitations and methods which, when applied, can ensure that ‘Unlimited Help Desk Support’ truly can be provided (and sold)…

Tiered Help Desk Activities – Lengthening the Resolution Time for your Customers

Typically, front line the technical staff; hold minimum skill sets and certifications to match (usually A+ and maybe an MCDST). In tiered support systems, these technicians focus on the identification and documentation of issues, rather than a direct and timely resolution of customers’ issues. This filter approach promotes multi-tier escalation as the standard, and clearly isn’t the ideal approach in the eyes of your customers (I think we all can share stories of the frustration felt after speaking with an offshore help desk of any kind following this very model).

There’s a big difference between providing qualified and appropriate assistance ‘on-call’ and offering help ‘on call back’ whereby another, more qualified technician calls back within a specified amount of time. Clients care about getting their problems or questions addressed, so the service call may be considered a failure if they hang up without a resolution or answer

Support staff, are traditionally incentivized—or perhaps more appropriately, penalized—by the time spent on each call rather than resolution of an issue. But how does this focus on reduced phone time help your SMB customers?

Escalation Expectations from the MSP Partner

We have encountered several situations where vendors require that an MSP’s own technical team be available during business and after hours in the event that their help is needed. Other requirements include provisions for a one-day (or in some cases up to two-day) notice for the Help Desk to assist vendors with supposedly ‘serious problems’ such as virus removal, or just software installation and removal.

While this approach ‘works’ the larger goal of achieving superior customer service, retention and delivering on your brand promise is missed all together. Furthermore, a larger component is missing: training assistance (how to as we call it) to help end users improve upon their own abilities, usage habits by understanding why something happened and how to avoid it in the future.

From the conversations we have each day, it appears that this how to approach addresses the pain point of soft costs as related to an unproductive work force (multiply Employee X spending 35 minutes figuring out a pivot table by 100 employees and a lot of time gets wasted).

From what we have found, many times SMB employees are left to “Google” their support issues or approach an already over worked peer to try to get answers. In some cases we have also found that these users are too embarrassed to reach out for help – so they continue to “Google it” or try to dream up a workaround.

Luckily, for those of you that are still reading, at GMS Live Expert…

  • We do not believe the old unlimited service model effectively delivers the best possible support solution for end clients.
  • We do not believe that an end user should have to sit through multiple escalations for the privilege of getting the service their company was promised.
  • We believe that teaching end users how to perform basic repairs as we fix workstation related issues can reduce the learning curve for new product roll outs