Why Your MSP Should Consider Working with a Helpdesk Partner
Helpdesks are a fundamental service that every MSP must provide.
Quickly helping clients through unexpected outages and IT problems are a key part of any MSP's service offering. Clients rely on you because you know their systems better than they do - that's why they work with you!
But those interruptions to their day become interruptions to your day. Small, easily-solvable problems distract you or your tech. They pull your focus away from the task at hand.
And so, we ask: have you ever considered getting some help handling calls? Have you ever considered outsourcing your helpdesk entirely?
Print Partner is the preferred managed print vendor that hundreds of MSPs throughout the country introduce their customers to. Our goal is to support our MSP partners by providing quality print service to your clients, in addition to offering content that educates and supports the community we’ve cultivated.
In this article, we’ll review the benefits of outsourcing your helpdesk.
To create this content, we’ve collaborated with Helpt, a help desk service provider that offers a flexible solution for MSPs looking to beef up their staff while offloading the burden of handling tier 1 calls in-house. Like Print Partner, Helpt is dedicated to making your technician’s jobs easier by offloading many of the redundant, easily solved support calls to a trusted partner.
What Does an Outsourced Help Desk Look Like?
The structure of your outsourced help desk can vary based on both your needs and the abilities of your partner.
But generally, when MSPs outsource their help desk, all their inbound support emails and calls are routed to the partner who specializes in providing help desk services.
When your outsourcing partner answers routed calls, they answer as if they were an extension of your brand - “Hello, thank you for calling [MSP name]...”
From there, they work with your customer through to resolution or escalation. Expect that most of the quick and easy calls will be handled 100% while anything requiring more detailed knowledge of the environment will get escalated - that is, until they learn these details.
To ensure they can function as effective L1 specialists, you’ll provide documentation and a feedback loop to ensure ever-improving service, in line with the expectations of you and your clients..
When they come across issues beyond their capabilities, the request will be routed to your team and handled by your technicians. But ideally, a good partner will be able to handle roughly 80% of the calls that come to them.
Why Outsource Your Help Desk?
For newly-established MSPs that are trying to get off the ground, scaling a help desk can sometimes be a daunting task.
For smaller operations, inbound support requests are handled by a handful of employees that serve as L1 through L3 resources, most of which likely have their own set of tasks, projects and client communications to handle when they aren’t busy tackling on-the-fly support requests.
While this loose organizational structure can work for the early stages of an MSP’s life, it isn’t sustainable for long-term growth.
What happens when you have a busy week and get slammed with calls? Your team will fall behind on other project deadlines - projects much more lucrative than getting stuck on phone calls, especially if you are billing flat rate AYCE for remote support.
To learn more about AYCE billing and how it’s been implemented in the world of managed print, read: All You Can Eat Print: Is it Real?
Large, national MSPs with hundreds of full-time employees have a wide pool of staff that can handle ebbs and flows in their call volume - when the phone lines get busy, they can bring in additional staff from other departments to pick up the slack.
But for small MSPs with a handful of employees on phones, a few extra calls can set your team several hours behind on high-priority projects, and this can lead to regularly working after hours, anxiety and/or brand tarnish.
And the more clients your MSP takes on, the more variance in call volume your team will be subjected to. Not to mention the HR responsibility of staffing up accordingly.
It might be time to consider getting an outsourced, dedicated help desk to start fielding your calls so your employees can stay focused on higher value tasks that will generate more revenue.
Outsourcing is likely to be considered by smaller MSP who have a good groove with their client base but don’t want to take on the burden of additional employees.
Mitch Kranitz, the founder of Print Partner, built and sold two MSP between 2001 and 2018. For his second MSP, he hired an outsourced helpdesk as soon as he started to grow: “It was such a wonderful addition to my MSP as I could take on more customers and focus my field engineers on things that added value to our customers and that generated revenue for my MSP.”
By outsourcing, he was able to scale quickly without all the revolving door HR woes of hiring unknown entities. And the longer he worked with the outsourced help desk, the better they got to know his clients, the better his clients got to know the help desk pod and the more complex issues were able to avoid escalation.
Outsourcing your help desk gives your MSP flexibility while freeing up your resources to focus on other projects.
Hesitations to Outsourcing Help Desks
If you’ve only taken calls using your in-house staff, the idea of outsourcing can be scary.
Many MSP owners are very protective of their brand - and rightfully so!
After the initial sale, your helpdesk is your client-facing branch of the company. They represent your business, and they are the first point of contact when your clients need help.
If your help desk doesn’t satisfy your client’s needs, your relationship with that customer can be irreversibly damaged.
With in-house help desks, you have 100% control over their culture and standards of practice. When the help desk is made up of your employees, you can mold and shape them through training to function exactly as you’d like.
This is why many MSPs hesitate to outsource their technical support specialists. If a third-party provides subpar service, your clients will blame you for their errors, and it becomes your responsibility to clean up their mess!
Handing your keys off to a third party requires you to give up a certain amount of control over your operations. That’s why it requires a high level of trust between you and your outsourced service provider.
Tips for Outsourcing Successfully
To have a successful hand-off of duties to your outsourcing partner, it’s important to communicate precisely what your expectations are from them prior to signing an agreement.
By far, the most important ingredient for success is a strong standard operating procedure (SOP) library.
Be sure to identify all repeatable processes and routine troubleshooting across your client environments, break them down in step-by-step guides, document them in IT Glue or whatever repository you use, then make it clear to your helpdesk how to access this data. You also need to ensure that they are comfortable updating your SOP if they observe things change..
You need to ensure that you and your partner are 100% aligned on how to handle your clients’ goals. Your outsourced help desk will function as an extension of your company and brand, so treat them as you treat your own staff.
Clearly communicate your escalation process to them. Which issues do you want them to handle? Which do you want to bring over to your in-house team without troubleshooting? Who do they escalate to?
While you’d ideally like for your outsourced help desk to handle as much as possible, there may be more sensitive issues or specific clients you’d like to have more control over.
Once you start working with a partner, collect feedback from your clients that they service. If they aren’t up to your standards, your clients will let you know so that you can fix the problem.
If you communicate openly and often with your partner, you are on the right track to a successful partnership.
Print Partner, Helpt, and Help Desk Outsourcing
Taking the first step into outsourcing your help desk can be scary, but the rewards are massive.
If you want to save yourself the headaches of hiring while reclaiming your team’s valuable time, consider working with our friend in the MSP space, Helpt.
Helpt offers reliable outsourcing solutions for MSPs that need help tackling their call queue. With reliable, flexible pricing options Helpt can handle your busy days and your slow days, so you won’t have to worry about over or under-hiring.
And if you want help with tackling your clients’ print, consider working with Print Partner! Refer your clients to us, and we will take complete ownership of your clients’ printing needs. No longer will you have to take those pesky printer troubleshooting calls.
Plus, we pay you! For each referral, win or lose, we pay your MSP $250, plus $1,000 per copier sold and 5% on your clients’ lifetime print allotment.
For outsourcing help desk solutions, consider Helpt. And for managed print solutions, consider working with us, a Print Partner you can trust.