Good day, all!
And I have a confession to make..
I’m a recovering blogger.
Yes, it’s true. A few years back I was one of Microsoft’s top tech bloggers through my “Full of I.T.” blog. And, since forming my company, I am finding that I miss it! So I’ve committed myself to writing a new article every couple of weeks, on topics that hopefully you – the business owner or manager responsible for making I.T. decisions for your company – will find useful.
And lucky you! Today’s article is the first in this series! To kick things off, I want to to ask you some important questions that may determine whether or not a break-up is in order with your existing IT provider.
But first let’s understand the answer to this question: What should your relationship be with your IT company?
Or perhaps the better question is: What would you like it to be?
There are things that should go without saying (yet somehow they never do). Yes, your IT company should do what they said they would do. They should not surprise you with extra charges. They should answer the phone or at least get back to you in a reasonable amount of time. (Sadly, I hear that this is all-to-often not even the case.) But, in your perfect world of a life free of technological concerns (unless they’re part of your business), what does your relationship with your IT company look like?
Below are five questions you should be asking and answering (honestly) of your self and the relationship you have with your IT company. And if the answers make you feel at all uncomfortable, well, then perhaps it’s time for you and your business to look for a better alternative.
1. Are they offering you personalized service?
When talking with new (or soon-to-be new) customers, time and time again I have been hearing this refrain:
“We just don’t know what our IT company is actually doing!”
Usually it’s followed with something about how, once upon a time, they felt like they cared and were addressing their needs directly. But they haven’t heard from them in some time. One customer even told me that they knew they were still paying for management of their office workstations, but that was arranged many years ago, and “those original computers aren’t even here anymore!”
Personalized service means you and me. Yes, my team, too…but you’ll get to know ME. Kevin. Resident of Plymouth, Minnesota, who grew up in New Hope, went to the U of M, has been married for 35 years (Nancy) and has 4 grown children. And I want to know you and your hopes and dreams for your company, because I can’t provide you the service you deserve unless we engage; and engage regularly. We will set up and stick to a schedule of regular review meetings. We like you to drive the agenda, but we must address “what’s working”, “what needs to be improved”, and at least keep and update a running list of priorities. And we can only address what you need most if we keep our relationship consistent and personal.
2. Are they addressing your areas of concern?
Related to the last area, a personal relationship will allow your IT provider to better focus on your most pressing concerns. If they don’t know you, then how can they know what you need or where your concerns are? And if they do know them (or if you’ve had to remind them via e-mails or phone calls), are they actively responding with actions and results? And are they proactively and regularly reaching out to learn more.
3. Do they respond to issues quickly?
If you’re paying for support, you should get support. (Insert big “DUH!” here.) If you’re paying for a certain response time and a resolution to your problems in a reasonable amount of time, then that’s what you should demand. In fact, I’d also claim that they should have methods and means of knowing about certain problems and issues (slow servers, down networks, full storage, security events, etc.) even before you do.
“How quickly can you fix this problem?”
How about yesterday?
4. Are they available 24/7/365?
Look…everyone needs to sleep now and then. Even I really want to only answer my phone during reasonable business hours. But some businesses never sleep. If your business is one of them, then you should ask these additional questions:
- Is your IT company able to provide a help desk for 24×7 support?
- Do they have a network operations center (NOC) that is monitoring their critical servers and services at all hours?
- If desired, can they monitor critical aspects of security on your network in a security operations center (SOC), no-matter what time of day?
Again…these may not be important to your business. At least not yet. But one day you might find this kind of enterprise-class level of availability a nice (if not critical) thing to have.
5. Do they have a reach beyond just “local”?
Local is not bad. In fact it’s very good, in many ways. It’s nice to know that the owner of the business you depend upon is a part of your community. You know them. You (hopefully) see them regularly. They can provide personalized service as only a local relationship can support. Plus, it’s nice to know that you can drive over and choke someone local, if it’s warranted**.
But a national company, with national reach, has some fairly important benefits. A national company has resources far beyond just their local team and the sum of their knowledge. They can call upon the nationwide knowledge and expertise of literally hundreds of technical experts to find the answer to even the most difficult technical questions. They have the strength of a national company to leverage relationships with many more solution providers than a local company can support, and can benefit from that leverage through more unique offers, better service, and pricing at a national-company scale; passing the savings on to you.
Ideally, what you want is a local company, with a team you personally know and trust, who has the power of a national brand behind and available to them.
6. What about CMIT Solutions?
Okay…yeah…I know I said there would be five questions. But this sixth question is only to suggest to you that, if you answered “no” to any of the first five, you should really consider talking to us. Here are my answers to those questions:
Ahem. Kevin here. Nice to meet you (soon). Let’s have coffee and talk about what CMIT Solutions can do for you and your business growth.
2. Addressing your concerns?
I won’t… scratch that… I can’t sell you a solution unless I understand the problem, and unless we both agree that the proposed solution is efficient and effective in solving that problem or driving your objectives. Measurably. And at a price that fits your budget.
3. Respond quickly?
Our responsiveness will depend somewhat on the level of support you’re purchasing, of course. But we have the ability to get back to you within one hour in most situations. We can discuss the particulars when we meet.
4. Available 24/7/365
Again, for certain types of services and levels of support, CMIT Solutions engages help desk, network operations, and security operations centers for all-day-every-day support, monitoring, and problem resolution.
5. Reach beyond just “local”?
We’re local (I live in Plymouth), but we have power as a 20-year-old national organization; one of the largest managed service and security providers in the whole U.S. of A. Our network is made up of over 217 locations around the country (3 in the Twin Cities), and over 800 skilled technicians available to either answer questions or do work remotely. With CMIT Solutions’ national reach, we’re able to leverage enterprise-level services, and provide them at a small-business friendly price.
So what does this all mean? It means that if, based on your answers to the first five questions, you feel like you might need to break up with your IT company, you should give CMIT Solutions a call. We’re local. We’re national. We care. Contact us today!
** Hint: Choking someone is never really warranted. But it’s fun to think about, right?