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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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8 Smart-Sourced Help Desk Myths DEBUNKED

Posted November 25, 2014by Mary McCoy

starbucks-customer-service

As a former Starbucks barista, I know the popular coffee chain continues to retain customers and generate new business because of its reputation for serving a Venti-sized mug of customer service. When Joe wants his cup of Joe, a friendly face asks him how his day is going, ensuring his drink is made to his exact specification. Maybe Joe doesn’t want whipped cream in that upside-down caramel latte.

Customer service is everything. How are you managing customer support? You know you need to provide round-the-clock service for clients, but are you doing so in a scalable way? Have reservations about migrating your MSP help desk? They might not be entirely justified...

1. "Smart-sourcing is just another word for outsourcing."

Ah the dreaded word, outsourcing. You wrinkled your nose just thinking about it, didn’t you? The common misconception that outsourcing is an “all or nothing” arrangement in which MSP business owners have little control over whichever portion of their business they decide to ship off, understandably has you uneasy. Don’t think of it like this! It’s not that smart-sourcing is different from outsourcing. Smart-sourcing is a more modern version of outsourcing, one that won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. When you smart-source, you decide which tasks or activities your technicians can hand off to someone else. 

2. "I'll be giving up control over my business to complete strangers."

False. False. False. When you smart-source a help desk, you work in tandem to deliver exceptional service to end clients. You don't just throw work over a wall and trust an unknown entity to take it from there. Through the partnership, these technicians become an extension of your team!

Furthermore, you can pick your help desk hours. Maybe your business only needs a smart-sourced call center from 6pm-8am. Then, your staff doesn’t have to worry about intercepting that 2 am crisis call from a client. The right help desk service also lets you decide which clients get which coverage.

3. "I'll miss the opportunity to build strong relationships with clients."

We get it. Your help desk is the customer support face of your MSP business, and you don't want to give up your chance to cross-sell/up-sell clients on other services. Of course you don't, and you won't! The modern MSP is a business adviser to clients. About 28% of MSPs who smart-source, do so to improve their customer focus, thus increasing monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Rather than waste time getting their Outlook to work and other short-term issues, you can concentrate on a long-term business plan for clients, making them stickier. Meanwhile, with a white-labeled help desk, technicians answer client calls in your company's name so they think you're providing 24x7x365 service!

4. "My clients will be speaking with a technician in a foreign country."

Your clients needn't have to transcend any language barrier. There are plenty of domestic call centers. You can outsource your help desk and still remain in the same time zone!

5. "I have a network operations center (NOC). That's the same thing."

That's like comparing apples and oranges - similar, but not substitutes for one another. The big difference? The help desk is where all end-client interaction takes place. A NOC provides back end maintenance, problem resolution and support, so that the MSP can respond to issues as they arise and ensure client uptime. The help desk, on the other hand, is a call center – designed to field front-line questions directly from end-clients who are actively experiencing some issue. In other words – if an end-user is having a problem, they can call the help desk. If the MSP is having a problem, they’ll contact the NOC.

6. "I'll have to fire my own technicians."

Stop right there. This business model is about reallocating your employees’ talents to more meaningful assignments that allow them to better demonstrate their skills. Don’t fire your techs, empower them! Don’t you think they deserve the night off? Select which hours you want to offload. They'll appreciate your commitment to their professional growth, not to mention the Zzz's they'll regain. You won’t have to toss and turn over employee turnover!

7. "Involving another party weakens client data security."

Your clients can't afford a breach. You don't want to break the bank, but you can't sacrifice their data protection either. Luckily, you don't have to! The right smart-sourced help desk solution offers a streamlined, HIPAA-compliant authentication model for security-related requests (e.g., password resets). For example, when a client calls with such a request, it'll only be validated once the client verifies via email or text, among other security measures.

8. "I already have an in-house help desk solution. A smart-sourced alternative is unnecessary." 

While an in-house MSP help desk is better than nothing at all, it's not your most cost-efficient option on the market. Want to save $194,500 as an MSP this Year? By outsourcing, AKA smart-sourcing, your help desk, you cut out unnecessary costs your business can’t afford to incur. Staff. After-hours support. Benefits. Overhead. These expenses add up. How often do you staff a full team of employees to cover a shift when no alerts come through? Wouldn't you like to cut these unnecessary labor costs? Then, consider the cost of that precious commodity, time. Rather than change passwords or configure email, your technicians could spend their time becoming business consultants to clients. Their talents and efforts should be channeled into higher value assignments, no?

 

You're in line at your local coffee shop, and you want to try a new beverage, but the chalkboard menu may as well be gibberish to you. What's a macchiato, and how is it different from a latte?!? Ever asked a barista for a drink suggestion or clarification? Think of how grateful you are when she whips up the perfect coffee concoction or remembers that you like nonfat milk in your cappuccino, without you having to tell her.

Remarkable customer service means looking out for your clients. When you smart-source your help desk, you're able to simultaneously deliver both the technical support your clients need to run their business and the insight needed to grow their business. 


What should you look for in your smart-sourced help desk solution?

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Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary primarily manages the MSP Blog and has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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