Few small and medium businesses find it cost effective to hire an in-house IT Manager. Outsourcing to an IT company is generally the best choice for these businesses, but can come with problems and frustrations of its own.
If you want to have a productive relationship with your IT Support provider, understanding how IT Support teams work is a good place to start. You don’t need to be a technical guru to get the best return from your investment in outsourced IT Support!
Break-Fix or Managed Service?
If you are using a break-fix service, the IT Support team will fix your issues, but this is all. They are entirely reactive to your calls. If you are using a managed service, the team will constantly monitor the supported services and ensure they are working well. They will fix your issues, but also proactively work on your system between calls to ensure broader customer satisfaction.
See our blog for a full explanation of the differences between break-fix (sometimes also known as IT support) and managed services.
What Roles Are There in a Technical Support Team?
There are a number of key roles within the service team:
- Receptionist/ issue logger – receives incoming communication and adds it into the IT Support system as a ‘case’.
- Dispatcher – triages the incoming cases and assigns them according to priority. This will most likely include a combination of the service level agreement of the client and the urgency/ difficulty of the problem.
- First level support – deals with the majority of issues that occur and any queries on how to use supported products or services.
- Second level support – deal with more complex issues, escalated from first level support.
- Third level support – have deep technical expertise and deal with complex technical issues that require time and ingenuity to resolve. Escalated from first or second level support, but generally second. Depending on the size of the IT support company, getting through to a third level engineer can take time.
- Field engineer – second or third level engineers who specialise in visiting customer sites to install new products or services and fix critical issues.
- Support manager – manages the service desk, ensuring they are delivering good customer service and fulfilling their SLAs. They will also typically deal with any customer complaints.
Why is this important? Understanding who you are dealing with can help you to get more efficient responses and faster solutions.
For example, a first level engineer needs to know that all the basic resolution options have been tried before they escalate your case. Give the details of everything you have tried at the beginning of the call and you will save time.
Equally, you may have had a great experience with a third line engineer. But if you insist on speaking to them every time, your service will be very slow – the urgent, more complex cases they are dealing with will take precedence over yours. If you are with the right provider, first line support should be more than capable of dealing with your questions.
If you consistently feel frustrated, you may need to upgrade the level of package that you are on or move to another IT provider with a better customer experience.
What Is My IT Support Team Doing?
- A large part of an IT Support team’s day involves speaking to customers and resolving their issues. This will generally start with a discussion, via phone, email or live chat. These issues are triaged by a dispatcher, so they will generally be resolved in terms of comparative importance rather than ‘first come first served’.
- If the issue cannot be resolved immediately, the support engineer will often access the customer site via remote access and take a look.
- This is important because one particular ‘symptom’ could have a number of causes. For example, a computer that keeps freezing could have a virus, a hardware failure or just a broken mouse cable. Finding the root cause of an issue, rather than just temporarily fixing the ‘symptom’, is critical if you want to avoid having repetitive issues.
- If you feel that your IT Support company is providing short rather than long term solutions, then this is something you should speak to the Support Manager about. However, if you are delaying giving an engineer access to your device because you are too busy, or cutting them off once an immediate fix has been found, you share some of the responsibility there!
Installing New Systems and Hardware
- A good quality installation can prevent subsequent inefficiencies and problems – and is worth investing in if not included in your service agreement.
- Most IT Support companies will have engineers who specialise in installations, with significant experience in best practice and resolving on-site issues.
Monitoring Your System
- If you have chosen a managed service, team members will spend part of their day proactively dealing with supported systems. This could include deploying updates, checking system alerts and optimising client systems for efficiency.
- Managed services providers should also be sending you regular reports with relevant facts about your service and any potential issues that you should be aware of.
- IT is constantly developing and your IT Support team should spend a proportion of their time upskilling, learning about the latest IT developments and creating an internal knowledge base. Otherwise they will be behind the curve when it comes to resolving your issues.
As you can see IT Support teams are generally very busy! Understanding how they operate, how they prioritise queries and the right person to speak to can help you get the support you need when you need it.
If you are in need of an outsourced IT or managed services provider, get in touch and see how we can help.