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Don't Overlook Customer Care When Selecting An Outsourced IT Service Provider

On 13-Sep-2013
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Posted by: Carolyn Merritt, VP of Customer Care

Let's face it, IT is fundamentally flawed. Equipment fails, servers crash, networks experience latency, maintenance goes awry... every single hosting vendor experiences service impacting events that lead to problems and downtime. It is the nature of the business. If a vendor promises a 100% SLA, do not take that to mean it is going to be error free. The critical consideration is how the service provider reacts, communicates, manages and responds to critical issues.

When evaluating outsourced Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers, be careful to look for vendors who are forthcoming about their incident and problem management procedures, their emergency action plans, and how they partner with customers to mitigate problems when they do occur.

The best IaaS providers understand that customers moving to outsourced infrastructure are coming from a world where they lived and breathed maintenance and change activity daily. These providers have very well organized customer care programs and are proactive and collaborative about how issues are handled from within the business to minimize impact to your environment and to your customers downstream.

Typically the best IaaS providers provide more of a continuous audit environment to identify where your risks are and where IT investment should be focused based on your requirements for uptime.

Key considerations for IaaS customer care programs include:

  • Recognizing that managed and cloud services know no geographic boundaries and neither should your customer support.
  • SP’s with larger data center footprints and broader hosted product offerings will offer more centralized service models without restriction to geographic location.
  • Taking time to ask what the SP’s key considerations for successful implementation are.
  • Providers with end-to-end IaaS offerings should also boast a comprehensive suite of industry certifications, accreditations and training programs  such as Windows, Linux, ITIL, VMware, network certifications and more.
  • Asking for the providers’ customer support “close rate” (Latisys averages a 90% or better close rate at the first point of contact).
  • Understanding the support layers and hand-offs for support requests (Latisys has certified technicians working on the front lines of customer support – putting you in immediate contact with the person that can solve your problem).
  • And above all, check references beyond those provided by the SP.

Check back frequently as we will cover other issues and best practices in customer care, support and implementations.