What to look out for in an IT support company? (14 Top Tips)

Don’t know what to look out for when hiring an IT support provider? This guide will help you.

Making the right decision in hiring an outsourced IT support provider has untold benefits. Likewise, getting it wrong can be at the least a waste of time, or more so costly.

Being able to identify good providers from the bad is key to protecting your ROI.

Here are some tips on what to look out for.

What to look out for in an IT support company for your business?

Make sure your preferred IT support company can provide these things before you commit:

1. Verified company particulars

First off, make sure their company details add up.

  • Company name
  • Companies House verified (Registered Company number)
  • VAT no.
  • Address
  • Website
  • Telephone number

These should be readily accessible, identical and visible on their company paraphernalia: website, letter-headed paper etc.

2. Passionate owners (interview them)

Schedule a time to speak with the owners and interview them.

Ask about their:

  • personal career journeys
  • start-up story
  • corporate culture
  • management structure
  • key client accounts
  • value proposition
  • accountability when things go wrong

Good signs are a fluid conversation that seems completely natural and unforced. They should be comfortable volunteering direct answers and readily come up with anecdotes.

3. LinkedIn profiles for company owners

Fact check against the interview the details contained within their LinkedIn profile.

Also, look at:

  • who their linked to
  • professional group associations
  • recommendations
  • size of network
  • comments

These features should marry up with what you know of them from the interview.

4. Client referees

Ask to speak with clients. Try to get as close a match for your exact service needs as possible.

You should request:

  • named client contact who they speak with
  • telephone number and email

They should be willing instantly – without notice.

5. Like-for-like case studies with ROI

Case studies indicate a track record. Nothing more. They don’t prove success, but it shows transparency.

Each case study should be:

  • transparent (client and named contact identified)
  • recent
  • relevant
  • detailed
  • factual
  • qualitative and quantitative
  • results focused
  • with ROI

You can’t read too much into a case study but it should provide enough detail to inspire confidence and motivate you.

6. Service delivery KPIs

All service providers operating under an SLA (service level agreement) must have one thing in common:

Meticulous tracking of KPIs (key performance indicators).

Ask your shortlisted providers for a full list of their IT support KPIs:

  • mean time to resolve (on average how long it takes to resolve a support ticket)
  • first contact resolution (what percentage of support tickets are resolved on first contact)
  • customer satisfaction (a measure for how many clients are happy with their value)

There may be other KPIs that you find more relevant by the ones above will get you started.

As for how you benchmark their responses, it’s more important that they can provide a report than they meet a particular mark.

7. Excellent self-service system

Self-service is a major profit maximizer for any IT support company. So quality outfits will always have a 1st class self-service set-up including:

  • knowledge base with feedback forms
  • online chat
  • email
  • dedicated support telephone support line

Trial the collateral and see if you find it comprehensive and intuitive to use.

After all as a client, you’d largely depend on these for speed of resolution when things go wrong.

8. Strong on-boarding & client-facing documentation

A warm welcome and well organised first steps to becoming a client goes a long way.

Ask for a preview of what these elements look like before commitment.

Features should include:

  • Welcome email
  • New client resources
  • DIY tutorials to solve common problems

If you find these useful, relatable and understandable, then, this is a sign that they know their customers needs well.

9. Empathetic and talkative help desk

Falling into the hands of support staff should be like diving head first into a pool filled with cotton wool.

Zero-impact, comforting and a very pleasant surprise.

Ask the staff for their opinion on common technical problems you might have.

Also, ask:

  • What do you do when a request is beyond your expertise?
  • What do you find most challenging about the job?
  • What they love about the job

One thing should stand out about the interaction. Their passion to getting your problem solved.

10. Site visit

Ask to arrange an appointment to take a tour of their premises.

A  10 minute walk around and nothing more. But get to see some of their IT support activities taking place.

11. SLA

An SLA or service level agreement is the bedrock of every provider/client relationship.

It’s the very basis for assessing the value delivered against requested.

Ask your preferred provider to share their SLA template with you before joining them.

Examine the enclosed definitions, terms, conditions and timeframes assessing their suitability to your business.

Anything you require which is not included, make a note and request the provider make an addition.

12. Documented project management procedures

A cornerstone discipline behind every successful IT support company is good project management.

Methods and processes for delivering top quality IT support in controlled environments.

Ask them for evidence of their project management approach.

Many IT support companies will use industry standard project management methodologies like:

  • Agile

Mitigation of risk is a key strategic goal that directly impacts their bottom line. And project management is a key tool in achieving this.

13. Top quality tech subscriptions

The delivery of quality IT support relives heavily on the performance of associated tools.

Ask your prospective provider to share their toolkit with you:

  • ticket management software
  • VoIP provider
  • Server solution
  • infrastructure monitoring software

Do your research on their tools used. At best you gain confidence of knowing which tools will underpin your investment with them.

14. Accreditation

Finally, their personnel might carry some official merits or certificates of recognition from a variety of accredited professional bodies.

This might included:

  • Microsoft
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • Google

The line up here will indicate their strengths and highlight expertise.

So, that should help you on your way in identifying the ideal IT support company for your business. You might also be interested in taking a look at what an IT management services provider (MSP) can offer your project.

Are you looking for a quality IT support company for your Milton Keynes business?

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About the Editorial Staff

Our Editorial Staff are a dedicated team of business technology experts led by Tayo Abayo. Our journey serving small business owners with tech advanced tips and advice began as consultants in 2010. This new site, a fruit of our careers, is fast becoming one of the best free IT resource sites for the city.

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