One of the areas that many IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) typically overlook when providing Technical support to their client base is the wealth of knowledge and expertise that can be offered by their Vendor partners.
Most MSPs are members of one or more Vendor partner programs, and these programs often offer free of charge Technical Support to their partners. The Technical Support teams at Vendors know their products well, and deal with many queries on a day-to-day basis. This enables them to quickly understand problems and deliver solutions to partners, who can in turn help their clients.
It's OK to Ask for Help
So why don’t more MSPs make use of these benefits to quickly find answers and help their clients more effectively?
Often, it’s because engineers aren’t aware that Partner Technical Support is available to them.
In other situations, it’s because the engineer doesn’t like to ask for help. All engineers like to think they are the experts in their field, and often secretly want to be perceived as the hero of the hour. But if this means they are working on an issue for hours that might instead take a Vendor Technical Support engineer mere minutes to help with - the engineer needs to learn when to ask for help for the good of the entire business.
Creating an Escalation Procedure
Given either scenario, one way to help your Service Delivery team make better use of Vendor Partner Support is to implement very simple escalation processes for your Service Delivery team. Start by clearly stating a period of time by where, in the event that your engineer has not made any significant forward progress with a ticket, they then need to escalate it to a Vendor Technical Support team before they do any further work.
To avoid any objections to escalation due to lack of information, you should also create an escalation procedure for each of your Vendors (start with your major Vendor partners to begin with) that allows your engineers to quickly refer to a document that shows them the details they need to gather before submitting a query to a Vendor Technical Support team, and the channels they can go about submitting the query itself.
For instance, an escalation process for an MSP might be a single piece of paper that explains:-
- What to know before submitting a Vendor Technical Support request - most Vendor Technical Support teams will have “scripts” of information they want to gather before progressing the request. Examples include software versions, BIOS revisions, Serial numbers. Ensure you let your engineers now the info to gather before they submit the request, so that it can be expedited. One way to keep all of this information handy is by integrating a Professional Services Automation (PSA Tool) into your workflow.
- How to contact the Vendor Technical Support team - Partner Technical Support Telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, live chat address and forums. List these details all along with any Partner ID numbers, passwords or other info required to submit a request.
- What to record within your Service Desk ticket - help your engineers understand the details they need to record within your own internal records. This might include the Vendor Technical Support ticket number, who they spoke to at the Vendor, the details your engineer submitted, the response from the Vendor and any other pertinent information.
- What to expect in terms of Vendor Technical Support Service Level Agreements (SLAs) - help your engineers understand response times. For instance, Microsoft offer a 4-hour response time on their Partner Technical Community boards. Understanding the SLA timeframe helps set your engineers expectations and in turn, helps them set the clients expectations.
Armed with this information, it’s much more likely that your engineers will resist the urge to spend hours like a bulldog stubbornly working on an issue, and instead utilize the Vendor Technical resources at their disposal.
The most successful MSPs realize that by utilizing Vendor Technical Support services they are delivering more efficient support to their clients *and* lowering their own costs - all while increasing MSP profitability and service.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.