Most business owners know they need to focus on core competencies, so why do so many small businesses struggle to be their own technical support?
If your main business function is selling widgets, not fixing servers, then you’ll save yourself time, money and a lot of headaches by outsourcing technical support.
When you begin your search you know that your goal is to find a dependable, reputable and knowledgeable IT support specialist. But what are the red flags, the indicators that should send you and your laptop running for cover?
1. The technical support company wants to sell you a prepaid service plan
Advance payment for blocks of tech support time is like prepaying for car repairs. What if nothing goes wrong with your car? A reputable IT vendor that maintains your system in good working order does not need or require advanced payment for speculative blocks of time.
2. The tech support that shows up to fix your network turns out to be a subcontractor
Subcontracting creates an extra layer between you and the accountability you should demand when you are outsourcing technical support. Another thing to ask when you’re thinking of outsourcing technical support is whether the company carries workman’s compensation and other forms of business insurance.
3. The individual providing your IT services is a part-timer
A one-person, part-time IT services shop necessarily limits your company’s access to tech support. When your network goes down, response time is critical. When you are outsourcing technical support, you shouldn’t have to wait until your IT person gets home from his “real” job.
4. Tech support always shows up in person
Your IT services partner company should be able to remotely access your network. This improves response time and saves money, as many problems can be resolved without an on-site visit. If tech support is always showing up for even minor problems, ask them to start remotely accessing your network, or find someone who can.
5. You can’t really understand what your IT support is saying
Technology professionals can use so much industry jargon that they are unintelligible to the uninitiated. Demand that your IT support person communicate clearly and is willing to explain any technical slang you are unfamiliar with. Buzz words are hard to avoid in the rapidly-changing IT services industry, but be wary: the ones who are hard selling ‘cloud computing’ this year are often the same ones pushing ‘virtualized computing’ last year, and ‘thin clients’ the year before. Make sure you understand the substance of any recommendation before signing up for any new IT services they are selling you.