When your best client texts you in the middle of the night with a crisis, you know you’re going to respond. Same thing if your RMM pings you. It’s not fun, but this is the life you chose. But there’s no reason why offering round-the-clock support needs to be painful, for you or for your clients. Your service desk exists to eliminate such pain points for your customers, but 24/7 coverage is a problem for a lot of MSPs, even larger ones.
In the previous installment of the service desk series, we looked at how your service desk contributes to profit, and part of that is having a desk with few weaknesses. But what about overnight and weekend service? Let’s take a look at the issue of handling after hours support.
Do you need 24/7 Support?
It seems logical that you do, because you really don’t know when your clients are working. This is especially true when your clients are small businesses, and the owners are engaged at all hours in their work. And there’s a lot of businesses that never sleep — healthcare and entertainment to name a couple — not to mention RMMs that can send you an alert at any time of day or night.
There is certainly a case to be made that 24/7 is not a requirement, especially for a Help Desk. Most calls come in during business hours, and the majority in the morning. To an extent, this reflects that businesses are acculturated to simply dealing with their Help Desk issues during normal business hours, so if that’s what SMBs want, then it begs the question as to if the incremental costs associated with 24/7 Help Desk coverage are worth the incremental gains?
What about NOC?
The network operations center (NOC) is a true 24/7 business. This level of coverage is more mission-critical than basic Help Desk coverage. If you’re big enough, you can build your own, but this is by no means an economically viable option for every MSP.
Partnership with another company is a great option for MSPs to offer after hours service to their clients. GlueConnect is an effective way of making such arrangements work, as it allows IT Glue partners to share information with each other as needed, or with one of our two certified GlueConnect partners, GMS and InBay.
Put it in Writing
When it comes to after hours coverage, it cannot be stressed enough that you need to specify in your SLAs what clients can expect from you. If you promise 24/7, you need to say that. If you only do normal business hours, then you need to specify that, too. If there are added costs to 24/7, make sure you build that into the price.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are required as well, to ensure that your team is fully aware of how different situations after hours are to be handled. There should not be any confusion or ambiguity about how to service an after hours call — the SOP should specify responsible personnel and tasks.
For smaller companies, there are a few different approaches that people use. The owner/senior tech is usually designated as the person on call. In some cases, a company with excellent documentation can have a more junior person rotate into the on-call schedule.
In fact, having great documentation in IT Glue™ that allows you to resolve issues more quickly will reduce the amount of time spent on after hours calls, and increase the number of techs you trust to handle them. It’s important to have some redundancy built into the system in case your main go-to isn’t available for whatever reason, or if two clients have issues at the same time (rare, but it happens).
After hours problems don’t come up that often, but if they are part of what your clients are paying for, then you need to make sure that they are handled as smoothly as possible. Definitely build the cost of after hours service into your pricing, and ensure that the SLA is clear with respect to what you offer and if there are added costs associated with that. But having clear SOPs, great documentation, and maybe even a partner on the other side of the world to help will help make after hours support easier for you, while ensuring that you are also delivering great service to your customers.
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