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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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Treating the New Year as "Business as Usual": IT SNAFU Day 10

Posted December 23, 2014by Brandon Garcin

2015 is just around the corner, and businesses everywhere are racing to put the finishing touches on any outstanding projects, map out key goals and objectives for the new year, and close those last few deals to bring in some extra holiday cheer (and revenue). But the holidays are also a time to relax, see the family, maybe take a vacation – and of course, do some shopping.

Unfortunately, these fun and often much-needed breaks can create some sizeable IT headaches when everyone is rushing back to the office in January.

For MSPs, it’s important not to treat this time of year simply as another month in the books. Here are a few important precautions that you can take to help prepare for what’s coming, so you can spend the holidays with spiked fruit punch – not spikes in IT service requests.

Smartphones and Tablets and Notebooks, Oh My!

Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that global PC, tablet, ultramobile and mobile phone shipments would surpass 2.4 billion units in 2014 – and nearly 88% of those would be mobile phones and tablets. In 2015, the analyst firm predicts that tablet sales will overtake PC sales. 

What do these numbers mean? Mobile sales are showing no signs of slowing down, and there will be no shortage of shiny new iPhones and other devices flooding the workplace after the holidays – and those devices will need to be setup, configured and connected to corporate networks.

As an MSP, you’ll want to make sure that your customers are equipped to handle this influx – and if you aren’t already offering some form of mobile device management (MDM), now is the perfect time to consider adding an offering to your portfolio. 

Related: Ignoring Mobile Device Management: IT SNAFU Day 7

Help Desk & Support Staff

Staffing around the holidays, particularly in December, is never easy. Employees want time off, but your business needs to keep the wheels turning – and MSPs today simply can’t afford reductions in service levels or customer satisfaction.

It’s critical to keep your help desk and customer support teams adequately staffed, particularly after the holidays when everyone is returning from vacation. Beyond all of the new gadgets and devices that will inevitably require setup and assistance, you can also expect to see a spike in other technical support requests.

Someone may come back from vacation and forget their password, or a new software update might lead to email problems at a client's office. Whatever the case, these users will be looking to get back to work and off to a good start in early 2015 – make sure you’ve got the right staff in place to support them.

Communicate With Your Customers

Once you’ve got a workable holiday staffing plan in place, it’s important to actually communicate that plan with your customers. Let them know what you’re doing to support their needs both as this year ends and as the new year begins. Tell them what delays (if any) they can expect when it comes to certain requests, and let them know if there’s anything they can do that’ll help you provide better support and service in the coming weeks.

Not sure where to start? Check out this great message that our partner Charles Love of Big Sur Technologies sent to his customers to help them stay ahead of the curve as 2014 draws to a close!

santa-it-problems

Dear [INSERT RECIPIENT'S NAME],

Happy Holidays! We are writing to make you aware that the two weeks beginning on January 5, 2015 will likely be the busiest two weeks in the entire year for our Help Desk technicians. While we have taken numerous steps to prepare for the expected increase in call volume, we want to suggest a few very simple steps you can take to ensure you avoid unnecessary downtime and possible longer-than-usual call hold times when you return from vacation.

  1. Remembering Your Passwords.  The most common post-holiday issue we see is users forgetting their passwords. Before you leave for the holidays, store your passwords in a secure, non-public location, so if you forget them, you can easily retrieve them without the need to call for a reset.
  2. Setting up New Devices.  Many of you will purchase or receive new phones, tablets and other devices during the holidays. Unless it is urgent, we recommend you wait until the week beginning January 12 to call the Help Desk for new device set-up. Late afternoons also tend to be less busy than mornings.
  3. Adding New Hires and Terminating Seasonal Employees. If you know you need to add new employees to your systems or remove access for seasonal employees right after the holidays, please send the Help Desk an email and arrange for the work to be done at night. You can even send it now with instructions on when you need the work completed after the holidays. 

The entire Big Sur Technologies Team wishes you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season. We hope that the suggestions above contribute to a great start to the new year.

Sincerely…

The Big Sur Technologies Team

christmas-template-email

(Psst: Like the images in this email? They’re from of a set of holiday-themed templates we created for our partners to send to their customers!)

Download these holiday templates yourself!

Brandon Garcin is Continuum's Senior Content Strategist, and is responsible for the creation and execution of a variety of resources designed to win new business and support existing customer accounts. He has authored more than a dozen eBooks which have generated thousands of downloads, and has consulted with hundreds of Continuum partners to help improve their marketing and lead generation efforts through website optimization and content development. Brandon is also the host of The Weekly Byte, a video and audio series produced by Continuum that provides quick, digestible tips and best practices that MSPs can use to help their business succeed.

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