A quick read with a big impact.

Does Size Really Matter? Right-Sizing Help Desk Support


Fitting rooms exist for a reason. If you had to buy clothes without trying them on, you’d either end up with a closet full of ill-fitting shirts or look very silly in public.

Yet in some industries, it’s much harder to make sure you’ve got the right fit. Take outsourced help desk support, for example. It’s easy to think help desk services are one-size-fits-all, but in fact, the type of support needed may vary quite a lot based on the type of organization. Get this wrong, and problems may arise further on down the line.

Here are some strategies we use to make sure we’re always right-sizing the level of support we provide to various business types.

Enterprise-Level Corporations Need Targeted Outsourced Help Desk Support

When providing help desk support to a larger corporation, several things work in your favor. First, big companies tend to be in a better position when it comes to digital maturity. In order to function, they have by necessity built and maintained a better IT infrastructure than what you might find at a smaller organization.

Second, large enterprises are also more likely to have clearly defined processes already in place. This, too, is partly a function of size — without these frameworks in place, big corporations would have a much harder time simply performing basic, day-to-day functions.

As a result of these factors, the needs of an enterprise are usually much more fragmented than those of a small or mid-size business. Some enterprises have as many as 100 different support teams, any number of which may need more help desk support.

When they turn to an outsourced help desk provider, they want someone who can quickly onboard and plug in to a specific function within the corporation. And yet because this support is more targeted, it’s going to take more transition and onboarding time for the provider to learn the hierarchies and identify workflows. But once support is established, there may be some great opportunities for a provider to grow along with the company.

Related Reading: 4 Ways to Learn What You Need From Outsourced IT Support

Small Businesses Need an Outsourced Help Desk That Can Do It All

If enterprise-level corporations are on one end of the spectrum, the other end is made up of small businesses. The challenges we find here are almost the mirror image of what we see in large corporations: Small businesses typically aren’t as digitally mature, their IT infrastructure tends to be more poorly maintained, and they often don’t have well-defined processes.

As you might imagine, their support needs are quite different, too. Where a large corporation might need a help desk provider to offer specialized support, small businesses are desperate for generalists. They need providers who can wear many different hats to provide support to all kinds of users.

One constraint to be mindful of is that small businesses are often working on much thinner margins. If they’re going to hire an outsourced help desk provider, they need to understand why this is cost-effective. We often use our help desk cost calculator to identify the current cost per ticket, which can help illustrate how the business might save money through outsourcing.

Finally, just because a business is small doesn’t mean it requires less management oversight from a help desk provider. Help desk agents will still need all the same information to resolve tickets, and it may take them longer to chase it all down when working with a smaller client. This is important to keep in mind when setting SLAs.

Mid-Size Businesses Are Struggling With Growing Pains

It’s tough to be in the middle! When we work with a mid-size business, we often find the company is going through a few growing pains. Whether it’s due to a sudden growth spurt or that they’re simply working hard to reach the next level, chances are they’ve turned to an outsourced help desk to help them along in the journey.

This can put mid-size businesses in a bit of a “Goldilocks zone”. While small businesses may be too small for outsourcing and enterprises may have multiple complex needs, mid-size companies tend to be happy to invest in a moderate level of support without requiring a lot of budgeting hoops.

That’s not to say they aren’t conscious about price, but they are willing to work with a great partner if that partner offers the services they need. We also often find we have more access to their systems and greater leeway to make decisions on difficult tickets, which is important, since often there isn’t anyone internally to whom we can escalate tickets.

How the Help Desk Onboarding Process Differs Between Business Types

One final consideration is how businesses of different sizes need different onboarding experiences. A poor onboarding process can derail a relationship right from the start. Here are some things we always try to keep in mind:

  • Small and mid-size business onboarding is “get it done and go.” For these clients, implementation tends to be fast. They need someone who can hit the ground running – even during the onboarding process. For small businesses, we strive to complete the onboarding as quickly as possible. For mid-size companies, we plan a relatively fast but structured implementation over 60 to 90 days.

  • Enterprise-level company onboarding takes a phased approach. For our biggest clients, implementation is typically accomplished in several small phases. Even so, we always make sure to have enough agents assigned to provide 24/7 coverage during this time. The implementation plan can take anywhere from 60 to 120 days to complete.
Related Reading: 5-Step Help Desk Transition Plan (From In-House to Outsourced Help Desk Support)

Finding the Perfect Fit for Help Desk Support

When there’s a disconnect between customers and the help desk, it may be a sign that the services being provided aren’t appropriate for the size of the company. Pay special attention to the pain points you’re experiencing, as these may be your best clue there’s been a bad fit.

And remember, companies are always evolving. We find that being prepared to refine services based on customer feedback enables us to make sure we’re always meeting our clients’ needs—no matter the size of the company.

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