The coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going away, with new strains of the virus recently breaking out in South Africa and the UK. The pandemic has been a major contributor to the rapidly growing number of businesses moving towards digital mediums, often simply to keep their businesses afloat.
For IT support teams, this is a double-edged sword; on one hand, they now have more customers because more people need assistance with their digital infrastructure. On the other, more people are starting to sell IT support services, which makes the market more competitive.
For IT support companies to maintain their foothold, they need to know how to provide outstanding IT support for SMEs, whether that means carving out their niche, selling a unique type of service, or addressing a particular audience.
Without a doubt, not only is IT support going to be a massive industry on its own, but it’s also going to play a pivotal role in keeping all other industries functioning smoothly.
SMEs and IT Support
As businesses move towards a digital infrastructure, the amount of money they spend on IT-related hardware, software, and services is – naturally – also rising. For businesses today, having a website, a social media presence, and offering clients an eCommerce platform are seen as ‘standard services’. However, these ‘basic’ functions require significant work and technical expertise to be properly developed – and as operations expand, these aspects become increasingly more complex.
According to research, small to medium scale businesses that employ an in-house IT expert end up spending up to 70% of their IT budget in the form of a salary for this one role alone. This leaves little room for anything else, and isn’t a cost-effective way to manage the situation. The problem is only compounded when you factor in that one IT person cannot be proficient in all the businesses’ IT-related needs, and they still need to hire third-party services to accomplish what their in-house expert can’t do.
What are SMEs Doing?
Gradually, SMEs are realizing that the in-house IT role isn’t a solution for all their needs. This is when they begin looking for remote IT assistance in the form of a freelance expert or a third-party IT support team.
There are other specific ways a business can reduce their IT costs while improving functionality and performance, but these aren’t 24/7 solutions.
What SMEs need is a full-time solution that’s always available to help in case something goes wrong or they need help.
How Can IT Support Teams Cash in on This?
This is where you as an IT support provider can come in and save the day for the business. However, it’s not just about fixing a network issue or straightening out a faulty website.
It’s about what kind of value you bring to their business as an IT support provider, and how you are more valuable than someone else offering the same solutions.
Try to look at it from an SMEs perspective and you’ll quickly see that clients place more value on these five benefits of working with you than the solution to the problem itself.
Start off with clarity
Make sure everything is clearly understood by the client right from the start. If you have an SLA, that’s great, but whatever paperwork you have in place, make sure your client knows what to expect and they know how you’ll attend to them.
A client should know what kind of communications channels they can use, and how soon they can expect a response. Promise a little less than what you can do, so you always over-deliver rather than fall short. Make all expenses and prices very clear so neither of you find yourself in a headlock when it comes to money.
Clarity helps streamline future interactions and makes it easy for both parties to work together.
Teach to fish rather than feed a fish
Contrary to common sense, training your client to be self-sufficient will increase their dependency on you rather than decrease dependency. Teaching your clients to manage minor day-to-day issues will show them you’re interested in helping them improve their performance rather than just making money from every little hurdle they experience. Moreover, it’ll give you space to focus on larger problems and will turn your clients into your best salespeople.
This complements the previous point, and is something that clients look for in any IT support team. FAQ forums for the most common problems and everyday processes help give your clients autonomy.
As a service provider, it makes your job significantly easier, and you can take on a much larger number of clients through these kinds of automated systems. If you make such a forum available for the public, this will improve brand awareness and company value tremendously.
Be More Available
All IT support providers are available through the standard avenues such as email and phone, but if you can go above and beyond to be more available on more platforms, this will increase your perceived worth.
You can go a step ahead and have a customized app or software that your clients can use for communication. An advanced system could give you a report on every person contacting you, informing you about 1) what kind of device they’re contacting you from and 2) specifics about the hardware and software they are using. This gives you a lead when in getting back in touch with them to address the issue, and shows the client you’re paying attention.
Faster Response Times
Slow response times are usually the number one problem for clients. Faster response times can easily be achieved through automated services, chatbots, and an interactive platform. You don’t necessarily need to hire more staff, but if you do, that’s a bonus.
- In these digital times, adding a human touch to any exchange can alter the entire experience for the client. Many times, it isn’t just the solution to the problem, but rather how we, as IT support staff, provide that solution. This is how you can improve your clients’ experience, and also make yourself stand out from the crowd as a high-quality service provider and valuable asset for any SME.