The 4 key elements of a good managed serviceBy Chris O’Brien, Practice Manager – Managed Solutions on
1. Inspire confidence with quality service
This is the obvious one. Are SLAs being met and are communications timely? One without the other is pointless. Why have acknowledgement and resolution times if the user is none the wiser at the conclusion of the call? I’ve worked in countless environments where I have raised tickets and received a “thank you for contacting the help desk, your ticket is now resolved”. Problem being, I wasn’t told it was being resolved, and I wasn’t told what the cause of the problem was in the first place. Without communication, SLAs are pointless.
Customers must have confidence that their partner knows what they’re doing. Customers don’t expect their partner to know everything, but they do expect the partner to resolve the issue. Once there is confidence that incident management just happens, the true value add work can be discussed.
However, one of the quickest ways to destroy confidence is high staff turnover. A partner must take care of staff, they are a key business asset.
2. Treat every customer as unique
Every business is different. Each one will use software in ways that are unique. Each one of them will have differing accounting practices, distribution models, products, services, and most importantly, corporate cultures.
Customers have the right to expect that a managed service partner understands what is different about their company. This helps the partner to deliver a quality service, and is again detrimentally impacted by high turnover.
3. Protect the customer bottom line
Most managed service relationships have some form of cost reduction target in mind. While hitting those initial targets is important, long-term cost management provides even more customer value.
In the modern world of IT, provisioning is getting cheaper and a partner should be looking to leverage this to drive a lower TCO for their customer. A rule of no surprises is also important. A repetitive culture of add-ons and out of scope items that lead to additional costs will soon destroy any positive sentiment that the original cost reduction success achieved.
4. Be proactive in capability delivery
Managed services exist because partners provide access to skills and capabilities that are not attainable internally. Providing this capability is essential, but it must be delivered proactively. Customers should expect their partner to use their expertise to drive opportunity and innovation into the customer and do so wherever possible, in a programmatic way. Partners should engrain proactive work into delivery so it is not an afterthought or a sales pitch.
The key to making all this work is of course communication. Both sides should talk openly and honestly about where things can improve. If either party is focussed on tracking hours against every call, neither party can achieve a true partnership and the problem most likely lies somewhere else to start with. Instead, focus on the above, discuss where it isn’t working and actively make improvements. It’ll be worth it.