Trust is important in any vendor relationship. The higher the risk that accompanies a failure of service, the more trust is needed.
In managed IT services, which are foundational in maintaining your business’s ability to function, trust is absolutely crucial.
So, can you trust your managed services provider?
Here are the factors to help you evaluate your provider’s trustworthiness throughout the course of your relationship with them, presented in roughly chronological order.
1. The Service Before the Sale
The first clues you’ll get as to a provider’s trustworthiness are found in interactions before the sale.
Trustworthy managed service providers are prompt and professional in their communications. They’ll be quick in turning around a quote, and they’ll be happy to talk through any questions you have over the course of the process.
Untrustworthy providers, on the other hand, are slow in delivering proposals and quotes. They might be hard to reach with questions or uneager to discuss the details of the relationship with you. You may have to follow up multiple times to get the information you need to make a buying decision or to nail down the terms of service.
Obviously, positive pre-sale interactions aren’t a guarantee that a provider will perform well if they get the contract; presumably, the provider is doing all they can to impress you at this point. But negative pre-sale interactions are practically a guarantee that your relationship will be marked by poor service.
The takeaway: don’t trust a managed service provider that makes the pre-sale process difficult.
2. The Contract
When you do move to the contract stage of managed IT, the terms of service can help to illuminate the trustworthiness of a provider.
Trustworthy managed service providers work via contracts that are clear and straightforward in language and terms. You’ll be able to tell exactly what services and products you’re getting and what you aren’t. You may even have some flexibility in the contract (i.e. the ability to easily adjust service or even walk away without penalty), which is a good signal that a provider believes they’ll win with their service.
Untrustworthy providers, on the other hand, will offer up contracts that are more obscuring than clarifying. They’ll hide their services behind jargon and legalese that will have you questioning what, exactly, you’ll be getting.
They may even bake in fine print that penalizes cancellation of services or that auto-renews your contract without requiring them to give you notification. Requiring an extra-long service term is a warning flag, too; when you move into annual contracts, there’s a fair amount of risk involved.
Contracts should be designed to clarify service and to protect both party’s interests – not to protect solely the interests of one party.
The takeaway: don’t trust a managed service provider if their contract seems built to keep you a customer. It may be a sign that they don’t trust their ability to retain your business through good service.
3. The Team
Now we’re getting to the crux of what makes an IT company trustworthy: the team. The people, after all, are ultimately who you’re placing your trust in.
Trustworthy managed service providers employ technicians who have deep, practical experience in the industry. They tend to have high employee retention rates. They’ll probably have people on staff who were there when the company was founded or who’ve been company stalwarts for decades.
Basically, trustworthy managed IT firms will service your needs with people who know how to provide great customer service and who also know what they’re talking about.
Untrustworthy providers will rely too heavily on entry-level people. They may focus on promoting their teams’ industry certifications to distract from the fact that most of their people haven’t been in the industry very long. Certifications can be quickly earned by entry-level techs; they’re certainly helpful but not a substitute for real-world experience.
They’ll likely have higher employee attrition. You may find yourself constantly meeting a new technician onsite or getting a new person on the line each time you call in for support.
The takeaway: if you can trust the people, you can trust the service.
4. The Documentation
As you work with your provider, the documentation that they compile is a factor that can prove their trustworthiness.
Trustworthy managed service providers document systems and processes comprehensively. In other words, they’ll have created materials that allow for collaboration on your IT. If a new tech becomes involved, they’ll be able to see the state of your systems and begin servicing your needs relatively easily.
Trustworthy providers will also document their services; you’ll be able to track the work they’ve done and the results.
Untrustworthy providers don’t document systems in a way that makes them accessible to other technicians. This can create a scenario where they’re the only ones who know what’s going on, which creates a barrier to you leaving their service.
They may also fail to document the work they do; you may not be able to determine what they’ve done in a given month.
The takeaway: quality documentation is a sign that your provider is offering trustworthy service.
5. Your IT Systems and Assets
Finally, the ultimate result of a trustworthy provider is their impact on your IT systems and assets.
Trustworthy managed service providers tend to provide higher levels of service that keep your IT systems running. When there are problems, you’ll quickly understand why and what’s being done to resolve any issues.
Trustworthy managed service providers will also ensure that you have easy access to your assets; they may hold passwords to certain systems, but they’ll be eager to help you get information or access as soon as you need it.
Untrustworthy providers, conversely, tend to provide lower levels of service that lead to more frequent IT issues. When there are problems, they may try to obscure your perception of what’s going on (i.e. shifting blame to another provider and then failing to follow up with them, or being less-than-totally-truthful about work that’s been done).
They may even delay your ability to access your own assets, with slow responses to requests for passwords or for system access.
The takeaway: the trustworthiness of an IT provider is ultimately visible in the performance of your systems and in the communication around any issues that arise.
Ready for managed IT services you can trust?
Hopefully, these factors have given you a baseline for measuring your trust in a managed IT services provider.
Are you tired of IT you aren’t sure you can trust? Get in touch with us.
At Xecunet, we’ve been serving Frederick businesses for over 20 years. Our technicians average over a decade of experience. And we always put your IT needs first. When you work with us, you’ll finally have IT you can trust.
If you’re ready for that, let’s talk.