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5 Things to Screen for When Hiring an IT Help Desk Support Company

5 Things to Screen for When Hiring an IT Support Outsourcing Company

If you are hunting for a help desk IT support company to help your organization, you have discovered by now that you have choices. Too many choices, right?

You have dozens of vendors to choose from, for one thing. Some are headquartered in the U.S.—some aren’t. Some offer 24x7x365 coverage—others don’t. Some have transparent pricing—others, not so much.

So, how is your organization supposed to pick the company that is the best fit? The key is to look at these five deal-breaker criteria.

Criteria 1: Transparent Pricing

When it comes to outsourced enterprise help desk IT support, you don’t want any surprises with pricing. You want your monthly invoices to be predictable. The first thing you should screen for when hiring an IT help desk company is transparent pricing.

When we say “transparent” pricing, we mean fee schedules that are clear, comprehensive and complete. You always know exactly what you’ll be charged and why. Don’t consider a vendor that is vague or non-committal on pricing.

When it comes to paying for outsourced IT help desk services, there are essentially five IT help desk outsourcing models:

  1. Pay Per Ticket
  2. Pay Per Call
  3. Pay Per Minute
  4. Pay Per Agent
  5. Pay Per User

Each of these pricing models has its advantages and its disadvantages. When screening vendors, hold their feet to the fire if they are not transparent about the pricing model they use. Make them explain in detail what you will pay, and what you will get for your investment. Listen for phrases like “additional charges,” “overtime charges,” and “other services as required.” Read the fine print. You want to trust your IT help desk company, and trust comes with transparency about pricing.

Related Reading: IT Help Desk Outsourcing Pricing Models Comparison

Criteria 2: Sufficient Coverage

There’s only one thing worse than a frustrated user with a technical problem. And that’s a frustrated user with a technical problem listening to the voicemail greeting from your outsourced help desk—which is closed.

The IT support outsourcing company you hire must have the staff and the hours of coverage to answer the phone when your users call. This makes adequate coverage the number-two criteria on your list of screening questions. You may not need coverage 24 hours a day, but do the top vendors offer coverage when you do need it, such as on evenings, weekends and during holidays? To be sure, ask.

You may not need it this month, but what about next month, next quarter or next year? If you are growing, you will need an enterprise IT support company that will deliver the level of coverage that you need when you suddenly need it.

Criteria 3: Support for Your Proprietary Applications

If your organization uses its own in-house applications, you need an IT help desk partner that supports them. Support for your proprietary applications is something you must address early on in your screening process.

In particular, ask each outsourced help desk vendor to describe the level of support they provide for proprietary applications. You can expect three levels of support:

  1. Level 1 Call Routing Only: The vendor takes the call, logs the call, and escalates it to your internal team.
  2. Top-10 Issues Only: The vendor resolves only those calls that are about your top-10 issues, and escalates all other calls to your internal team.
  3. Full Support: You train the vendor on your proprietary applications so that they resolve a high percentage of calls upon first contact.

And if you don’t have proprietary applications? Your pool of potential help desk partners will be larger as a result, but it’s still vital to make sure any IT help desk vendor you’re interviewing has extensive experience with the technology you do use. If the agents know less than the callers, it’ll come to light quickly – and will result in no small amount of frustration.

Related Reading: Outsourced IT Support Services: 10 Steps to Better QA

Criteria 4: Expertise in Your Industry

If you operate in the health care, government or financial services sectors, you know all about regulatory compliance. You know that SOX isn’t a baseball team or something you put on your feet. You also know that HIPAA isn’t a large semi-aquatic ungulate.

But does the IT support outsourcing company you’re talking to know that?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, you know what the stakes are. So, any outsourced IT help desk that makes your short list must understand the legislation – particularly around data privacy – that governs your industry. You need an outsourced help desk provider that speaks your language and the technical language of your users, and that will keep you on the good side of regulatory auditors, inspectors and legislators.

Criteria 5: Guaranteed Service Levels

Buy a new house or a new car, and you get a warranty. The warranty spells out all the things that the builder or manufacturer will do to remedy errors, omissions and defects in their product. Why should your enterprise IT support company be any different?

Every help desk outsourcing company you meet with is going to have a Service-Level Agreement that defines the level of service that the vendor promises to deliver. But what happens if the vendor fails to deliver on that level of service? What recourse do you have? What will the company do to make things right?

The fifth and final screening question you should ask each potential supplier is simple: “Do you guarantee your help desk service delivery?” What metrics do you use to measure your performance? What remedies should we expect or what penalties will you incur if you do not deliver on your service-level promises? OK, so that is actually three questions. In their answers, listen for the phrases “quality control” and “guarantee.”

Related Reading: How to Determine What Level of Help Desk Support Your Organization Needs

Find the Right IT Support Outsourcing Company for Your Business

Hiring an IT support outsourcing company that meets your needs is all about asking the right questions. The top five questions are all about transparent pricing, adequate coverage, support for proprietary applications, knowledge of your industry, and guaranteed service levels. If you get satisfactory answers to all five criteria, you have likely found a winner.

Just remember that there are other things to consider, other questions to ask. We can think of at least 15 additional things you can screen for to find the heroes and avoid the zeros. Discover them in our guide: How to Choose an Enterprise Help Desk IT Support Company. 

Guide: How to Choose an Enterprise Help Desk IT Support Company