Five key questions about service

Service used to be something you expected in a café or shop. Now the technology industry has taken ‘service’ to heart, using the term to wrap-up a new approach to how they deliver their products and expertise.

But what about good old-fashioned ‘customer service’? Your IT provider no doubt claims to provide a certain level of attention, as hopefully laid out in an SLA. Do you actually feel that it’s accurate? Here are five key questions that you should be asking about the service that you receive:

1. Methods of contact: do you need to pick up the phone or can they be emailed? Is there any instant message service available? Do you feel that only by writing (by post) to their MD that you get the response you need?

2. Time to respond: as we’ve pointed out before, time is money. A worker that is unable to work thanks to a faulty PC is no help to you. Record how quickly your IT support service responds to you.

3. Service history: how much does the IT company know about the work it has done for you previously? Do they keep accurate logs about each device and any upgrades or replacements?

4. Do they actually fix the problem? It often seems like we get a ‘quick fix’ to an IT issue rather than something that will help in the long term. Think about the advice you receive – is it easier to replace a device rather than keep repairing it? Would it save you money?

5. Are they there when you need them? Do they offer 24/7 support? Things can go wrong at any time of day, so it’s crucial that your IT service provider is there to help when you need it.

As it’s likely that more of your IT will be placed in the hands of IT service companies, it’s not unreasonable for you to ask these questions. It’s also reasonable for you to expect a high standard of SLA: services should be available more than 99.9% of the time. It will help your IT service company to refine their own approach to managing your IT as well. That can only be a good thing for all of us.

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