MSP

The "Best" MSP Pricing Model

User Based All In Seat Price (AISP)

What is your pricing model for your managed IT service offering? I know it’s a hotly debated topic. I personally like the all in seat price (AISP) model. Pricing by the user is the most business-friendly and easiest to scope. If you’re pricing your service correctly and standardizing the client environment, it shouldn’t matter too much how many devices the client has. The only caveat being if the environment has more devices than users. If so, just count the systems instead of the users.

Your client facing pricing should be as simple to understand as possible. Remember the client asked to meet with you because they don’t want to understand or deal with technology. If you present a pricing proposal that has 14 line items talking about endpoints, firewalls, APs, SQL servers, and others, you’re likely going to confuse them about what they are paying for.

confused-mind-makes-no-decsions.png

“A confused mind makes no decisions.”

You may have a crazily complicated spreadsheet that you use to calculate your cost to support an environment based on the number of devices and that’s fine, but don’t make the client try to decode your cost structure. Do whatever calculations you want to scope your costs and adjust the price as required, but when you’re pitching your service to a prospect, just give them the simplest price possible.

I’ve heard some people argue that they like to have flexible pricing that people can mix and match in order to be price competitive. While this is good in theory, Portugal is a great example of how this can be maddening. In Portugal, they have service-based pricing for internet service. (Side note, this is exactly what we are fighting against when people talk about net-neutrality) This means when shopping for internet service your price list looks like this.

Ala Carte Pricing can be frustrating

Ala Carte Pricing can be frustrating

No one likes fractional service and up-sells for your internet access. This would drive me mental. I just want internet access, don’t tell me what I can and can’t use. This type of service would influence my perception of the service I’m getting.
Don’t discount your price and make your service modular. Set a fair market price that covers your costs and allows you to have some margin. Strongly enforce standardization with the clients and provide a full-service offering so they feel the value in partnering with you for IT service.

MSP Pricing Strategies

Let’s look at some of pros and cons of the most common MSP pricing models.

Fixed Fee Pricing

Allows you to set a price that is easy to communicate and includes everything a client will need to rest easy knowing that their IT partner is looking after their business IT needs with a comprehensive support package. They won’t be “nickel and dimed” with additional bills. The provider can rest easy knowing they have enough margin in the agreements to do the work necessary and be profitable.

Pros

  • Pricing is easy to understand

  • Allows necessary margins on agreements

  • Allows comprehensive support

Cons

  • High cost

  • Seriously limits the type of customer you can sell to

  • Strong standardization that may not appeal to all prospects

Tiered Pricing

Tiered

The industry favorite of gold, silver, bronze packaging. Allows a variety of service offering to appeal to various markets. The client can choose the level of service based on their budget or requirements. The provider can cast a wider net to take on a larger variety of clients.

Pros

  • Flexibility of price

  • Easier to sell to anyone

  • Prospect can choose price based on budget

Cons

  • Cheaper options can attract less mature clients

  • Complexity of offering makes service level standardization tougher for provider

  • Low cost option could create a poor value experience for new customers

Per Device

A lot of MSP businesses use the per device model in order to manage the costing for complex environments with higher number of devices. This is important to consider when environments are unstandardized and therefore noisy.

Two important things that get missed a lot in using this model.

  1. There is a high degree of complexity in managing the correct cost for this model as devices are added and removed from the environment. Providers often neglect adjusting the contract for new devices and end up eating the cost.

  2. The need for a complex pricing model in this scenario is usually based on the fact that the client environment is not standardized. Costs for support are much more predictable if you standardize the client stack.

Pros

  • Price is variable based on device adds and removals

  • Provider has clear sense of what devices are supported under the contract

Cons

  • Contract is often not adjusted when devices are added or removed

  • Large number of technical line items makes the costing very confusing to the client

  • Administrative effort to manage billing can be taxing

Per User Pricing

Per user pricing model is my preferred approach. It’s easy to quantify, easy for the client to understand, scales well, and helps frame a more comprehensive support package.

The model is similar to the device model, but instead of charging 6 different low prices for each device, you simply charge a higher price person you will support.

I’ve coached several clients through this transition from device to user based pricing and the push back is always similar, “What about all the devices?” “My clients would never pay that price, etc.” I can appreciate where this fear comes from, changing your business model is not easy, but most cases I have them calculate the cost of the client contracts on a per user price of $125-150 pre user and compare to what they are charging. In most cases the cost comes out strikingly similar. The important caveat to this model is you need to be focused on selling a full value IT stack. Time and materials clients, monitoring only, and other fractional engagement models won’t work well in this selling model.

The beauty of this model is you can build the price based on whatever costing model you like. So you can still use device based pricing calculators to figure out how much you want to charge them. The end result should be an All-In-Seat-Price (AISP) that you present to a prospect. You don’t even have to charge the same amount for each client. Some may be $125/seat, others could be $200/seat. This variability allows you to build a more flexible solution that is not confusing to the client. In cases where there are part time users, just use a full-time equivalent calculation (eg. 8 part timers equals about 4 full-time users). Avoid confusion, encourage a standardized solution stack for all the users in the environment.

Pros

  • Simple for client and provider

  • Allows flexible costing behind the scenes

  • Filters prospects not looking for a full value IT partner

Cons

  • Cost conscious prospects may not see the value provided (or is this a Pro?)

  • Complexity in defining what is in your stack at what price

  • Requires strong client stack standardization


How a Mature Price Model Benefits Your Business

Never be afraid to go up market. Grow your business by increasing the value you deliver to your clients and increase the AISP to match the value provided. Stop focusing on hours of effort and devices. Instead focus on a valuable technology solution stack for all the staff members of that client. Don’t compete on price and stop treating every opportunity the same. Very small businesses may be better off using a low cost time and materials provider. Focus your business on growing a client base slower by seeking out clients that understand the value of a full service managed service provider. Long term your business will be more successful if you focus on higher margin business. Learn to be confident to walk away from lower value business and save your time and effort for the great long term clients that appreciate the value you deliver.



What to do when a client's IT is a total mess

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “If you think a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur.” The technology field is a perfect example of this. We’ve all had those clients that were managed by a semi-technically literate person in the office. You’ve probably inherited a client from another MSP in your area and found it was barely managed at all by the previous provider.
The fact that most people don’t understand technology is a blessing and a curse. If more people were capable of supporting their own IT needs, there wouldn’t be as much work for us. The downside is that people are often misled or simply unable to tell if their IT support provider is doing the work that is expected of them.

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Here is a familiar scenario.
Client prospect company is a small accounting office with 14 staff. They have the youngest guy in the office do tech support for the rest of the company and they also have an “MSP” that they call when they need. They are looking for a new support provider because the current provider sometimes takes a day or two to get around to helping them. The prospect has grown tired of waiting and needs a more mature level of support.

STEP 1: Review environment

You should assess the environment. This can be as simple as a walkthrough of the office. An experienced senior tech should have a good sense of the situation simply by looking at the physical environment. Is the network rack a rat nest of wires? Is the server a white-box with the side panel taken off cause the closet they use as a server room is overheating the equipment?
This review of the environment can give you a great sense of what the current status is and how much risk the client would bring to your company as a supported client.

STEP 2: Gauge client’s willingness to invest

If the client environment is a hot mess, many people would assume it’s because the prospect is cheap and refused to pay for the appropriate equipment and support levels. Sure, this is often the case, but you shouldn’t jump to that conclusion without confirming with the prospect. 
Meet with the client in person to discuss the results of your findings and what you would propose to remedy the situation. Lay out a plan of projects that are high impact and would remove the major points of risk. They may not agree to everything because they likely haven’t been budgeting for IT spending. However, they should express a desire to make the investment in fixing major issues. They should have a reliable server, hopefully with warranty support. They should have an image based backup in place. They should have cloud-based email services like O365 or G-suite.

STEP 3: Go or no-go

If you want to build a business that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep or feel like you’re constantly pushing a boulder up a hill, you need to be selective about the clients you take on. When you’re first getting started the temptation to take on any client is strong, but this approach can create a lot of headaches for you and your staff. If the prospect is a mess and resists spending to correct the major issues, walk away! If they spend the majority of the time talking about the price of service and projects. They are not going to be a good client.
If they see the value of the changes and appreciate you bringing them to light, get them to commit to making the major correction within the first 2-3 months of the relationship. Straight away would be better, but may not be practical based on their cash flow. 

All revenue is not created equal

All revenue is not created equal. Don’t chase clients that are simply looking for the lowest price.
Just because a prospect environment is a disaster doesn’t mean they know that. Act in their best interest, be honest about the situation. Never blame the previous provider, remain focused on the future. Help them understand that you will provide a higher level of service and that lowering their risk will avoid costly issues in the future like downtime, data-loss, and crypto events.


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How Measuring Customer Satisfaction Impacts Your Business

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is an important metric to measure how your customers feel about your service. If you aren’t measuring CSAT, you can never really be sure how your customers feel about you. This gap in data can be blissful ignorance to a raging fire that will lead to customer churn, or you are unaware of the raving fans you’ve built with your service. Either way it’s important to know this truth.

If you’re clients are happy you can use Simplesat’s social proof promotion tool to advertise the love you are getting from your clients.

Publish feedback right to your website

Also, it’s important to maintain that level of service and know when you’re slipping so you have the chance to make a few saves and win back the confidence of your customers.

Real-time specific feedback

If there is a raging fire of disappointment in your service you’re better off knowing that early, so you can understand the specific points of contention. If someone says, “your service sucks.” This isn’t really helpful. Especially if they tell you this as justification for why they are canceling your service! Feedback like:

  • “It took too long for someone to get back to me.”
  • “The issue wasn’t fixed and you closed the ticket.”
  • “Fred was not very friendly and didn’t answer my question.”

Each of these sting in different ways, but they are also breadcrumbs that lead you to solve issues in your service. Sometimes it’s a process issue, a communication issue, or a people issue. The specific feedback creates the opportunity for you to acknowledge the individual complaint and take corrective steps to reduce the likelihood of the issue recurring.

Dealing with a negative survey score

Ultimately an upset customer wants to be acknowledged. If someone logs a complaint in your CSAT system, like Simplesat, the system will generate a notice.

Email notification of a negative survey in Simplesat

Email notification of a negative survey in Simplesat

Someone can then call that person and apologize for the service issue, hear them out, make any available remediation on the spot and acknowledge that you take their feedback seriously and will do better in the future.

Keep the feedback flywheel spinning

If people recognize that you take their feedback seriously and you provide proof of action through future behavior it will build their trust in you as a service provider. It will also encourages them to provide additional feedback. Both positive and negative. In many cases, I have found that the most vocal detractors can be won over to be your most vocal advocates. They simply need to be acknowledged and supported.

Real life example of CSAT rollout

Here is a real example of feedback from Theresa Kent of Providence Consulting, who implemented Simplesat. She was blown away by the power of the real-time data that Simplesat provided her and her team.

“We are getting back some customer satisfaction data! This data is BEYOND valuable as it is real-time, real scenario feedback. The amount of responses we have received has surpassed our initial expectations. This is great because this tells us that our clients truly want to let Providence know how we are doing.
As you can see, this is where we are after just a few short weeks. What good looks like to Providence
is having a satisfaction rate of >90%. We are there, but barely. It only took 1 neutral and 1 negative rating to have us drop almost 10%. Based on the comments that have come with the positive ratings though, I know this will shoot right back up! Keep up the amazing work—it shows and the proof really is in the pudding.”

Theresa Kent | Customer Success Manager
Providence Consulting

 

How Customer Surveys Create Better Customer Service

How do you know you’re providing excellent service? You can’t just go by your gut here. The quality of your customer service is defined by what your customers say about your service. So how do you get that feedback from your customers? How do you measure your customer satisfaction (CSAT)?

Do your customers like you?

Do your customers like you?

Why should you care about customer satisfaction?

New business from word of mouth is the cheapest and most rewarding marketing you can do. Satisfied customers are the best way to reduce attrition. As competition increases, costs decline, and technology gets more standardized, the best way to truly differentiate yourself from the noise is through remarkable customer service. That’s how you create, what Seth Godin calls, your purple cow

Like most things in business, you can’t improve something if you don’t measure it. Your customer experience is no different.

“What gets measured gets managed.” - Peter Drucker

The lack of focus on customer experience from most MSPs in the industry creates a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition.


"As a result of this pressure to improve the customer experience, many MSPs are devoting more resources to IT/technology roles than sales and marketing. Surprisingly, a full half of those surveyed say they don’t prioritize the customer experience when evaluating their managed-service offerings, and one-quarter don’t measure customer satisfaction at all…. How can you retain customers if you don’t even care enough to see if they’re happy with the way you’re servicing them?"

-- Channel Futures article "New ConnectWise Research Shows MSPs Are Underwater"


The Negative

According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, businesses only hear from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. So if you hear a lot of negative feedback, it’s probably much worse than you realize, but even if you don’t hear negative feedback, you’re missing a ton of feedback points. This fact is even more relevant when you consider 95% of people who have a negative service experience will share that experience with peers. 

Managing negative feedback on your service serves a critical function in protecting your brand reputation and gives you an opportunity to correct any negative points of feedback.

The Positive

On the flip side of customer service feedback, according to RightNow, 86% of people are willing to pay up to 25% more for a service if they have a positive view of the service. A Bain & Company study suggests that just a 5% increase in customer retention rates can result in a 95% increase in profits. This makes sense when you consider the high client acquisition costs of new clients vs. increasing the lifetime value of a current customer.

Most businesses use surveys to collect feedback from their customers. In the MSP industry companies often use the Connectwise client surveys or Autotask customer surveys. This is a decent first step since some feedback is better than none, but what people find is the number of people that actually complete a customer survey is frustratingly low. Email surveys can give you a 5% completion rate on average. Which simply does not give you enough to work off of? 1-2 surveys a week, will not give you the data you need to find issues, make changes and wow your customers.

Simple is better

What if a simple change to your survey process would allow you to get over 50% survey completion? 

A typical customer satisfaction survey is a link that opens a webpage and asks you to complete a multiple choice survey. These are often multiple pages as well. Even if the customer is inclined to click on the link in the first place, over half of those people will bail out before completing the survey. Anything more than one click is asking too much of people.

Using a one-click survey like this one from SimpleSat dramatically increases the likelihood of the customer giving you feedback. 

Simple Customer Satisfaction Rating

Simple Customer Satisfaction Rating

They don’t need to go anywhere or fill out any forms. They simply click on one of three graphics that visually describe their satisfaction with your company. 

This simplicity of interaction reduces the friction between the client giving you feedback by not requiring a lot of time or effort on their part. You don’t need a paragraph of text, you don’t need to score their feedback across 6 different questions. You only need to know the percentage of people that are happy versus unhappy with the service.

Recovery

There is a hidden opportunity in having more negative feedback. After all, you can’t fix a problem you didn’t know existed. SimpleSat has a beautiful dashboard that empowers you to view feedback, customer details, a team member leaderboard and overall satisfaction stats.

This helps you keep the pulse of how people perceive your service. If you get negative (or neutral) feedback, create a workflow that alerts the service manager right away. Reach out to the user and hear them out. Make all efforts to resolve their complaint. People are trained not hear back from the companies they work with, so when you respond quickly you can win their confidence.

Real-time website testimonials

Publish customer feedback to your website with one click

Publish customer feedback to your website with one click

After you set up a good process to take care of negative and neutral feedback, you should make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the positive comments you’ll be receiving. 

SimpleSat makes it easy to publish these comments directly on your website with the click of a button. No more out-of-date website testimonials!

Fresh Testimonials right to your website

Fresh Testimonials right to your website

Customer Experience as a superpower

It is not likely a client would refer you to a peer in their industry because you have great technology. In many cases, the people running the businesses you support do not care about the technology. The hired you, so they Don’t have to care about technology. What they DO care about is if they get value for the service you provide and if their staff complain about the service you provide. The quality of the customer service you deliver and the client satisfaction with that service is the only true differentiator you have in the IT support industry. Make customer service your business superpower. Measure it, improve it, and win your clients love in the process. 


For more info on the simplest customer satisfaction survey system in the industry check out SimpleSat and sign up for a free trial today.

MSP Documentation Systems

Love it or hate it, documentation is critical for effective IT support. Techs having access to documentation about the infrastructure they support will dramatically reduce the time it takes them to resolve issues. Documentation will also increase the quality of support by creating repeatable procedures.

Like many things in business and technology, there is a spectrum of maturity in how organizations approach documentation. On the low maturity end groups may just create a bunch of folders and documents on a file share or maybe they are sharing a Onenote page with loose notes. Here is a list of documentation systems that can help get your documentation from a messy garage full of unorganized junk to an F1 garage where you could eat off the floor and everything is in its place.

IT Glue

My favorite tool is IT Glue. If you run a managed service provider (MSP), IT Glue should be the frontrunner for your documentation platform. It is purpose built for MSPs with powerful features like built-in sync to your PSA and RMM tools, like Connectwise, Autotask, Labtech, and Kaseya.

IT Glue interface

IT Glue interface

Some of my other favorite features of IT Glue is that everything in the system can be linked together. When you open an asset like a Virtual Server, it will show you what Host the server sits on, what network switch that server is attached to, standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to those systems and passwords you may require when working on those systems. All of this information is at your fingertips, hyperlinked together. There are other subtle, but powerful features, like the completeness page. This page shows each client and the percentage of their documentation that is completed. This is useful when onboarding a new client and you can see how much of the documentation you have captured. Another key advantage of IT Glue is that you can share the documentation with the client online. You can also produce physical runbooks to print out, but only if you have the enterprise package.

There are dozens of other powerful features in IT Glue, if you’re not familiar check out their webinars for more details.

One of the key negatives about IT Glue that people note is its price. Also, IT Glue used to have a 5 seat minimum, but they recently changed this policy.

  • Price - $19/user/mth (Basic) to $39/user/mth (Enterprise)

  • Pros

    • Mature platform

    • API & Integration with PSA/RMM/etc.

    • Domain Tracking

    • Linked asset and documents

  • Cons

    • Limited customization

Recognizing that IT Glue may not be for everyone, here are some alternative platforms to review.

Confluence

If you have more time than money, Confluence might be a useful alternative for you. The major plus of Confluence is that it’s dirt cheap for small teams. $10/mth for up to 10 users.

Confluence is a great wiki and it’s highly customizable, but it will take a serious investment of time to build the basic structure of your documentation platform.

Confluence Interface

Confluence Interface

Confluence has a large community so you can find templates and plugins that may help you replicate some of the more advanced features in other platforms, but it will take an investment of time and the additional plugins cost can quickly add up. One other warning, the SaaS version of confluence can be a bit slow, so I would suggest you get the self-hosted version after you’ve tested it out.

  • Price - Cheap!

    • Cloud

      • 10/mth for <10 users

      • $5/mth/user >10 users

    • Self-hosted

      • $10 one time <10 users

      • $60/user one time with scaling discount

  • Pros

    • Cost-effective

    • Highly customizable

  • Cons

    • No RMM/PSA Integration

    • Requires a lot of time to setup and customize

    • Cost goes up as you have to buy additional add-ons for features

IT Boost

IT Boost is a newer entrant to the market and shows promise as a mature solution. IT Boost seems to have a lot of feature parity to IT Glue and their dev cycles are very fast. It’s worth tracking their development and position in the market.

  • Price - starting at $17/user/mth

  • Pros

    • Documentation + business dashboards + customer satisfaction surveys + backup monitoring

    • PSA/RMM Integration

    • ScreenConnect integration

  • Cons

    • 5 user minimum

    • Fast dev. cycle comes with bugs.

IT Boost dashboard interface

IT Boost dashboard interface

Passportal docs

Passportal is a well established solution for managing passwords for MSPs. Recently they have been working on a documentation solution. It’s still early days of the development of the documentation platform, but it will be worth watching them to see what the solution develops into.

  • Pricing - $15 - 20

  • Pros

    • Combine Passportal Ocular functions with documentation

  • Cons

    • Younger in its dev cycle. Not as feature rich as others

SI Portal

The last noteable solution in the field SI Portal. Honestly, this one needs some work. The basic structure of the platform is similar to IT Glue, but consistent industry feedback says that it’s “unpolished.”  This is reinforced by the fact that when I browsed around on the demo portal it throws all kinds of errors and appears broken. It doesn’t exactly engender trust.

  • Pricing - $15/mth/user

  • Pros

    • Integration to PSA/RMM

    • Cheaper

  • Cons

    • Mixed market feedback

SI Portal Interface

SI Portal Interface

Honorable Mention

  • Stella - Syncs with Connectwise, like a pre-structured confluence.

  • Bizdox - Connectwise solution, which apparently has come back on the CW roadmap. Keep an eye out for future announcements.

  • Docuwiki - DIY, Open Source, Free.


Regardless of the direction, you go. Investing in a documentation platform is worth your time and money. Using a standard system will drive standardization and improve your team's results.

Just remember that documentation is a cultural process, you must be ready to drive the cultural change necessary to sustain a documentation culture. You will fail if you just buy the platform and expect people to use it. Training time, project work, and targets are required to get the team using the system in a way that will drive the results you hope to see.

How MSPs Achieve Great Service Level Agreements

If you are a mature Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a key metric to measure.

Why? An SLA commits your business to an acceptable level of service to your clients.

Few things drive a client crazier than submitting a ticket and having it disappear into a black hole. Non-responsive or ad hoc support are short roads to dissatisfied clients. Agreed upon SLAs helps frame expectations and communication helps manage these expectations.

Once you have SLAs in place you are also in a position to work towards consistently exceeding them in order to wow your clients with world class service!

Why are SLAs important to your customers?

An SLA is typically written into the contract, and in some cases, the contract may have a cost claw back.

In the IT service space, this is often not the case because of the general unpredictable and limited control that the service provider has in dealing with another company's infrastructure. Regardless, the SLA is a contractual obligation and repeated breach of this agreement is cause for termination of the agreement.

The importance of having an SLA is to have the client and provider agree on what the expected turnaround times for support should be.

Typically this is:

  • 8hrs for most support issues
  • 4hrs for urgent issues
  • 1hr for emergency issues

Once defined it is important that the SLAs are communicated to the primary client contacts as well as the users. This leveling of expectations can curb issues where someone submits a ticket and 1 hour later goes storming off to their boss's office when it hasn't been fixed yet.

Never make your customer wait!

As an IT provider, managed or not, you are a service organization first and a technology company second!

How long a person waits for service is a very tangible measure of the quality of service a person receives. Think of all the places that are notorious for poor services, the DMV, Call-Centers, food service. "We've waited 15 minutes and no one has come to the table." "I'm number 214. They are currently seeing number 167." "We are experiencing higher than normal call volumes." I have a question, when are they not experiencing higher than normal call volumes? The theme is the same, people hate waiting. People especially hate waiting when they have no feedback to manage their expectations.

Communication is critical to effectively managing expectations around SLAs. If you are a ConnectWise user, Brightgauge has a great visual guide on setting up SLAs, and provides a great monitor of SLA performance.

Always work to overachieve on your SLAs

World-class IT service companies achieve SLA >90% of the time.

Average SLA achievement is 75%.

Underperforming companies are around 50% and below.

With this as a reference, let's explore strategies to help you overachieve in the eyes of the client!

1. Manage the psychological contract

If a user is upset about how long something took to get fixed, NEVER dismiss their concern saying, "This was completed within the SLA." The SLA is only ever useful before a problem exists or in an after-action review.

Communication is the key to managing the psychological contract with the user. Acknowledging a support request with an auto-responder does little to dampen the client’s concern, it only acknowledges that an email or ticket submission was received. Auto-responders should not be used as a measure of response time.

Direct contact is a far better measure. It may look something like this, "Hi Jane, I understand from your ticket that you're having trouble opening an attachment. I've scheduled a tech to review your request and you should hear back from them in 2 hours." You've now acknowledged the issue and scheduled time for follow-up. This allows the user to expect when they will hear from someone.

The trick to this is maintaining that expectation and following through with the communication. Regular updates will buy you grace from the user, but not indefinitely. One of the best ways to manage this accountability to tickets is a dispatcher. Someone that can focus on juggling support requests, who those requests get delegated to and assisting with client communication.

2. Repeatable process

First call resolution is the best way to streamline your techs time and your clients time. The most powerful way to manage this is with well-structured documentation and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Most of the issues that techs face are not some rare event that no one has ever seen before. In fact, most support issues are recurrences of a previous issue. Having a clean and easy to navigate documentation system like IT Glue™ drastically reduces the burden on techs of searching for the information.

SOPs act as a script for resolving typical issues or executing procedures. So rather than each tech re-inventing the wheel for each problem, a repository of information exists for them to reference. This is especially important in:

  • system builds (server/laptop/desktop)
  • application installation
  • user creation/decommission

These procedures get done a lot and have detailed requirements. Just allowing staff to wing it on each one will inevitably lead to error, which increases the time required through re-work or escalation. Missing details from a SOP can also create a poor perception with a client. "You guys have done this dozens of times. How come you get it wrong so often?"

Distill the knowledge from your team's experience into SOPs. This will reduce the time spent looking for a solution and therefore the resolve that issue.

3. Escalation path

A defined escalation process is important to ensure someone doesn't end up burning a bunch of time on an issue that might be out of their capability. Staff should know how long they should spend on an issue before asking for help or passing the issue up to the next support tier.

Great team members will often hold a high degree of personal accountability for the issues that they are given. They truly want to be able to solve the problem and help the client.

The dispatcher also plays a support role in keeping the team accountable to the escalation times and ensuring communication to the client. The service manager should be reviewing the tickets that miss the SLA and determine if there is an opportunity to update or create a SOP that would make that type of ticket easier in the future.

4. Low costs, high value

Some issues will require escalation, but a focused effort on reducing the number of escalations is important to drive up your “first call resolution” numbers. This strategy will facilitate hiring more entry-level (tier 1) technicians.

Here are the costs to demonstrate why this is important:

Tier 3s cost $75,000 - $80,000 a year. They tend to deal with complex issues and thus close fewer tickets in a day, say 5-8 tickets.

Tier 1s cost $35,000 - $40,000 a year. They should be closing 15-20 tickets a day.

Therefore: 2 x Tier 1 techs who cost no more than $80,000 = 40 Tickets per day!

This means the tier 1 approach is guaranteed to drive better results and help achieve your SLA goals.

Clean and logical documentation is critical to ensure the tier 1 technicians are being set up for success. It starts with team member onboarding. One of the reasons more seasoned technicians can resolve issues is that they know where to look. A good documentation system will ensure techs have a clear view of the client environment, assets, dependencies and other related information. There are a number of options available such as Dropbox, Google Drive, using your RMM or PSA, or IT Glue.

The on-ramp time for new people that have access to the collective knowledge of the team will also be dramatically higher. This is preferable to new folks having to rely on a steady drip of experience with each environment.

Finally, since the team knowledge is captured,  the tier 1s are more likely to be able to close issues on the first call. These quick closes mean SLAs are exceeded, clients are happy that they don’t have to wait and high-performance team members feel the success of blasting through issues while getting high-quality feedback scores on their work.

This post orginally appeared as a guest blog on the IT Glue website.