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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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How to Provide IT Support Around the Clock

Posted January 20, 2014by Jacque Rowden

service-desk-repsDoes anyone who works in the IT space (or any industry, for that matter) not think it is essential to have 24/7/365 coverage? How would you respond to a tech support company that only responds from 9 am to 5 pm EST? Would they last long? Most likely not!

This need for 24/7/365 coverage can be a serious issue for many MSPs. Providing round the clock support is costly. Providing good round the clock support is even more costly – and providing excellent around the clock support … you get the picture.

Although the demand for 24/7 support has increased, it hasn’t become much easier to provide. So what are MSPs to do in order to provide something that is now considered a must-have? Let’s take a look.

 

Use a Remote Monitoring and Management System

RMM is very much like the name suggests. A robust remote monitoring and management system allows for monitoring networks remotely from one location. Please note, that there will still be techs monitoring these systems and providing service assistance, but with features like automation and advanced notifications, you can do a lot more work with one person.

RMM is a proactive solution, which works to help identify issues before they become real problems for their customers. It’s why customers like this delivery model so much. It gives them peace of mind that there is someone always monitoring their systems and will be there to handle an issue if it comes up.

 

Establish a NOC

Having a NOC is a great option, but it is not cheap to set one up on your own. A network operations center (NOC) is defined as:

A network operations center (NOC) is a place from which administrators supervise, monitor and maintain a telecommunications network.

The network operations center is the focal point for network troubleshooting, software distribution and updating, router and domain name management, performance monitoring, and coordination with affiliated networks.

The advantages of a NOC are many, including the ability to fix issues within minutes and ticket filtering/consolidation for your techs. This makes your help desk much more efficient so that they can focus on the more pressing client issues and provide a better overall quality of service.

Thankfully there are options for outsourcing your NOC, so you don’t have to put it together yourself. Using an outsourced NOC allows you scale more easily as a business without needing to spend a huge amount of money up-front. Typically, you’ll only pay for what you use and don’t need to worry about hiring/maintaining the staff.

Outsourcing your NOC could be the best move you make as a MSP, because it helps you deliver higher levels of support in a more efficient manner.

 

Outsource your help desk

Much like the investment needed for an in-house NOC, the same can be said about a help desk operation. It is expensive and difficult to manage profitably and most small MSPs couldn’t even afford going this route.

Due to the volatility and unpredictability of service needs, it’s very difficult to staff your help desk appropriately. If you have too few technicians, you provide a very low level of service quality. However, if you have too many techs, you are under-utilizing your staff and it costs you money as a business. Not to mention, all the time it takes to hire and maintain your service staff.

Fortunately, there are companies that offer robust outsourced help desk options, which eliminate many of the concerns above. These headaches are now pushed off to your third party provider, whose business is focused on maintaining the best help desk possible. Just like outsourcing your NOC, outsourcing your help desk allows you to scale more easily, especially if there is a ‘pay as you go’ component.

Almost all outsourced options offer the 24/7/365 support that is expected in today’s marketplace, so you can then offer that availability to your clients, without having to pay technicians around the clock.

Here are some useful questions to ask when considering options for outsourcing your help desk.

In the end, it’s nearly impossible to predict when a system may go down. It’s critical for MSPs to be available 24/7/365 in order to meet their clients’ needs. Although this may seem difficult, there are a number of strategies you can use that allow you to be available 24/7 without the huge costs that are typically associated.

 

MSPs, how do you typically handle round-the-clock support? What strategies have you used for your help desk? Let us know in the comments section. 

 

The Case for Outsourced Help Desks
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Jacque Rowden is Continuum's Help Desk Senior Director. The Help Desk supports more than 20,000 MSP clients. She has been managing global IT support teams for more than 20 years. In 2008, her Help Desk was one of two finalists for ICMI's "Best Small Contact Center in the World." She is a regular speaker at user group meetings and industry conferences on topics including Agile Service Management and Service Desk Careers.

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