Success stories

Our customers come in all shapes and sizes.

We work with organisations from all walks of life, with different ambitions and requirements. Explore how we’ve helped them reimagine everyday, and align technology with their culture and business goals.

Why you need Microsoft 365 end user support

What are the benefits of outsourcing Microsoft 365 end user support, and is now the right time for your organisation? Find out here.
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Technology in manufacturing header image - case study

A day in the life of your IT team

IT teams! Does a typical day look like this in your department? Find out how to work more effectively and minimise disruption to your working day here.
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2021 at Cloud Business, we’re ending on a high!

As is traditional at this time of year, we thought we would highlight some of our successes from the past 12 months.
View case study >

5 end user support best practices to transform your user experience

These end user support best practices will not only transform your user experience, but also transform your IT team too!
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How to prioritise 1st line support tickets like a pro!

How can your IT team prioritise 1st line support tickets effectively? Find out in this blog post where we share how it's done.
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Best practices for running an effective service desk

If you want a more effective service desk, read our blog post to explore what steps you can take to improve the service your user community and organisations receives.
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5 ways to drive IT service desk improvements

If end user satisfaction rates are not where they should be, read this article exploring how to make effective IT service desk improvements.
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Your IT service desk and the end user experience

Does your IT service desk provide an end user experience that makes your user community happy and productive? Learn more about delivering a great user experience here.
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5 reasons to review your service desk performance today

Is it time to review your service desk performance? Here are 5 things that highlight it's time to review your provider or internal team.
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IT outsourcing: 6 things to consider when selecting an IT provider

Selecting the right IT provider can be a daunting task. Read our recent blog for the 6 main aspects to consider when selecting an IT provider.
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What makes a great IT service desk?

What makes a great IT service desk? The most important thing is great people - the technical analysts who become an extension of your team. Watch our video to learn more.
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Tech trends for 2020: Automating 1st line IT support

Automating 1st line IT support is a key trend for 2020, but how do you do it? In this blog post we share 5 ways to automate your IT support.
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Why you need Microsoft 365 end user support

Microsoft 365 is intuitive to use and, should you need support to troubleshoot an issue, there are plenty of answers on the Internet. 

However, that’s from the viewpoint of someone working in IT. Someone who already knows their way around the apps and services suite, knows a few workarounds to resolve common issues, and also knows where to get help if needed.

Not the average end user. While your end user community is increasingly tech savvy, not everyone is confident about trusting their intuition or searching for tech advice on the world wide web. While you know that to get permission to access something in SharePoint you can just click ‘request access’, your end user community might not know this. 

Learn more about End User Support services here >

Microsoft 365 end user support – where does all the time go?

That’s why most IT teams spend significant amounts of their working days, resolving Microsoft 365 related tickets. Password resets, registering a new phone with MFA, requests for permission to view somebody else’s calendar, and SharePoint permissions, are daily occurrences. 

As well as end user support tickets there are other M365 task that can be a drain on your time. Starters and leavers can be a bit of a headache. Setting up accounts, allocating licenses, providing the right permissions, and then making sure leavers are removed correctly and there’s no chance that a disgruntled employee could still access important data.

M365 licence management is another task that can take your IT team away from more strategic activities. With the recent price rise, it’s more important than ever to make sure your licensing is optimised effectively. Ensuring that you’re on the right plans and using the services to the max, means monitoring usage and making adjustments to ensure you’re getting value for money.

If you haven’t got enough resource internally, what can you do?

Outsource Microsoft 365 end user support!

Did you see that one coming?! Of course, if you’re time poor, don’t have internal capacity, or don’t want your highly skilled IT team spending their time on password resets, outsourcing Microsoft 365 end user support is the solution.

Typically, the right time to do this is when you agree with one or more of the following statements:

  • Projects are getting delayed because of the volume of 1st line tickets 
  • We’re thinking about hiring additional staff to help with IT support
  • Morale is low because the team don’t spend enough time on the things they’re paid for
  • IT support is costing more than it should because the team are paid more than the going rate for a 1st line service desk analyst
  • IT’s reputation is poor because we’re unable to offer end users support in a timely way
  • Organisational productivity is impacted by our current end user support model
  • We’re not getting value for money from our Microsoft 365 subscriptions

Outsourcing Microsoft 365 end user support is generally a more efficient way of managing tickets and requests than managing it in-house. It can deliver cost savings, increase productivity and technology adoption, minimises downtime and frees IT teams up to focus on their core competencies. 

With a Microsoft 365 Managed Service you can also get support with procurement, licence and cost optimisation, 1st, 2nd and 3rd line tickets, and also flex days that give you access to 365 professional services too.

Does your 365 license provider give you the support you need?

If you buy your Microsoft 365 licences direct from Microsoft, it’s down to you to provide your end users with IT support. However, if you procure your Microsoft 365 subscriptions from a Cloud Services Provider (CSP), they should also be providing your organisation with 1st line end user support. As part of a Microsoft reseller agreement, CSPs must provide their customers with support. 

However, not all IT support is equal. If your end users are not getting responses and resolutions that meet SLA targets, or the SLAs are not aligned with your organisation’s needs, you may want to explore an alternative service.

Recent changes to Microsoft’s CSP programme has made switching providers a little more challenging. Prior to the new NCE Per Seat model, you could move your 365 licence plans at any time to a different CSP. Now you are locked into the subscription term – monthly or annual – with the CSP, which makes it even more important to be happy with the end user support they provide.

This is not a problem for organisations with monthly 365 subscriptions as you can move to a different CSP relatively quickly. But if you have annual subscriptions and you’re thinking about switching, make sure you have visibility on when your annual terms end before they auto-renew.

For those organisations that procure 365 plans directly from Microsoft it’s worth exploring the benefits of purchasing via a CSP instead.

As well as Microsoft 365 end user support, CSPs can often offer more competitive pricing, and give you access to licensing experts to ensure you’re on the right plans and getting value from your services. You’ll also get access to cyber security experts too. If you need support exploring best practices and security options such as MFA, conditional access etc., a CSP is there to help.

Are you ready to outsource Microsoft 365 end user support?

Ultimately the reason organisations outsource end user support is to get stuff done. 

A high performing service desk reduces downtime, increases productivity and technology adoption, and helps end users get more value from the Microsoft 365 suite.

Outsourcing also helps your IT team get more stuff done. Freeing them from day-to-day support tickets so they can focus on the work they do best. As a by-product of a great service, it can also elevate IT’s reputation across the organisation and increase morale.

If you’re ready to outsource Microsoft 365 end user support and would like to discuss your options, please get in touch. We’d be happy to explore with you whether the time is right and make recommendations.

To find out more about end user support services click on the graphic below.

Technology in manufacturing header image - case study

A day in the life of your IT team

IT Directors and Managers, does this sound familiar?

08:40 – Arrive at work, fresh brew and boot up computer

08:45 – Start working through inbox

08:50 – Email from team member, “Sorry I’m feeling unwell…”

09:00 – Impromptu team meeting to cover absence

09:03 – Coffee now cold

09:07 – Email from HR, “Apologies for the short notice but we have a new starter joining us today, could you…”

09:08 – Raise ticket and reply to HR

09:10 – Back to inbox, read interesting email from Cloud Business

10:00 – Start work on RFI to kick start new digital transformation project

10:27 – Walk in, “I know I’m supposed to raise a ticket but can you quickly…”

10:45 – Reread draft RFI to try and get back in the zone

11:30 – Teams meeting with the Board to discuss Q1 IT strategy

11:41 – WhatsApp message on internal IT group chat, “We have a P2, I don’t know who to contact…”

11:58 – Resume meeting

12:14 – Email from internal VIP, “No one in Support is answering my calls or emails, can you escalate…”

Lunch? Who in IT has time for lunch?

End User Support is essential for supporting productivity across an organisation and minimising downtime. But without sufficient internal capacity or high service levels from a Managed Service Provider, it can have a detrimental impact on your IT team’s ability to deliver on strategic projects and other core activities.

To transform your user experience and free up your team to focus on what they do best, read this article exploring 5 end user support best practices >

2021 at Cloud Business, we’re ending on a high!

2021 has been another year of ups and downs, twists and turns for all of us. While a much-needed semblance of normality returned over the summer months, more recently Omicron has reminded us that ‘normal’ is a bit of an abstract concept.

At Cloud Business we are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had in recent months to meet face-to-face, attend events like the Surrey Business Awards and work alongside each other again. Those human interactions away from Teams video meetings, have been so important for reconnecting with colleagues, customers, partners and other human beings! With a return to work from home, we know that we have the agility, resilience and technology to keep moving forward, but we hope that those freedoms will return as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Digital transformation in 2021

Although 2021 has been another year of uncertainty and challenges, we’re ending the year on a high! As is traditional at this time of year, we thought we would highlight some of our successes from the past 12 months.

As a specialist Cloud Technology and Managed Services company, we have had a critical role in helping our customers adapt to remote and hybrid work models. Digital transformation has accelerated massively in the last 2 years and the new way of working has provided many organisations with opportunities to increase productivity, streamline operations and drive efficiencies. 

In fact, earlier this year we were featured in a Sky TV programme on digital transformation and COVID 19. The world’s rapid and agile response to the pandemic and speedy adoption of technology to aid us throughout, is the focus of “Digital Transformation: A Strategic Approach”. If you missed the broadcast, you can watch below:

Trends in Managed Services

Demand for Managed Services has increased significantly in the last 2 years. Many organisations, including our customers, have experienced higher demand for end user support as employees and customers work remotely. Extended and out-of-hours support requirements have also increased to help organisations cope with flexible working, where end users work around other commitments and often outside of traditional business hours. 

Many of our customers have also outsourced more IT functions to us, so they can free up their IT teams to focus on other activities. 

Over the last 12 months we’ve on boarded some fantastic new customers. Key business drivers for outsourcing IT are often around improving the end user experience. The need to centralise the service desk for global users, provide 24×7 support, EUC management, device and peripheral procurement are also common reasons to outsource IT. 

As an example, for one of our new customers we have delivered the following:

  • A centralised 24×7 service desk for 300 global users
  • Support for all line of business applications, with integration into GSuite for SSO
  • Multi-channel service portal including chat, email, phone and portal
  • Bespoke service catalog which includes a workstation and peripheral ordering process and delivery process
  • Deployment of Microsoft InTune for device management including Microsoft Autopilot for Windows & Apple Manager for MacOS, to leverage the ability to ship devices ready to be user provisioned

In just a few months since on boarding this customer we have hit 100% responsiveness and over 92% resolution SLAs. We’ve also increased end user satisfaction significantly, compared to customer’s previous support resource, with over 30 “excellent” survey responses to date.

Our Service Desk Management Team has invested considerable time this year enhancing the user experience with a host of new measures. These include a new ITSM tool, a new platform for our customers’ self-service portals, dedicated service desk teams, bespoke support channels and incentives and awards for team members who champion the user experience.

Cyber security focus in 2021 and beyond

Our cyber security practice has had a busy year helping customers secure remote and hybrid work models, and ensure they are ahead of new threats created by the pandemic.

Zero trust platforms, multi-factor authentication and end user training are the key focus areas to protect organisations today. As ransomware attacks are increasing year-on-year, with phishing the most common attack vector, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and end user training are the most effective ways to reduce the likelihood of an attack. ZTNA is also a more secure option for managing remote access compared to VPNs.

On our customers’ behalf, we’ve also been reviewing the cyber security controls they have in place and what is and isn’t enabled. For example, multi-factor authentication (MFA) which helps protect against brute force attacks and stolen passwords. While some end users may grumble about the extra security step to login, it really isn’t onerous and provides much better protection than just a password; however complex that might be.

If there’s one thing you want to do before the Christmas holidays we recommend enabling MFA on all available platforms. This is one simple action you can take to prevent 99.9 percent of attacks on your accounts.

Cyber Security as a Service

This year we have also introduced some additional cyber security services to help better protect our customers. Phishing and Security Awareness as a Service, is in direct response to the rise in phishing attacks and provides a ‘hands free’ training and awareness subscription service via campaigns, on demand training modules and intelligent reporting to help identify weaknesses.

We have also had a lot of interest in our Cyber Security Posture Assessment service which explores the organisation’s current level of threat activity and risk level/vulnerability exposure. Using the output from this assessment, organisations can benchmark where they are now, the adequacy of existing security control against their risk level and industry threat landscape, their level of compliance required by industry, relevant regulatory authorities & international best practices, and prioritise remediation activities.

Surrey Business Awards

In November, we dusted off the black tie to attend our first in person awards event since the pandemic. The venue, Denbies Wine Estate, lived up to expectations, rolling out the red carpet for the finalists, sponsors and their guests.

Attending an event was exciting after months of virtual activities but walking away with the most prestigious award of the night, Company of the Year, was quite overwhelming. We are delighted that the award sponsor, NatWest, thought we were worthy winners and it was a pleasure to meet news anchor and the first ever winner of Strictly Come Dancing, Natasha Kaplinsky who hosted the event.

Host Natasha Kaplinsky, Cloud Business’ Matt Garrett, James Butler and Jane Woodyer, and Mark Christie from NatWest

The Company of the Year award reflects the hard work put in by our talented team over the past year and also the support of all our customers and partners who have entrusted their IT projects and services to Cloud Business.

Thank you for your partnership with Cloud Business, we don’t take this for granted! We remain committed to supporting you and your organisation, finding solutions to navigate the ongoing uncertainty and to do all that we can to help you thrive.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and a happy, healthy and successful 2022.

5 end user support best practices to transform your user experience

End user support resolves IT issues, minimises disruption and boosts technology adoption and productivity. But a poor service has the opposite effect, tarnishes your IT team’s reputation, and can have a detrimental impact on morale across an organisation.

With demand for end user support at an all-time high because of remote and hybrid work environments, ensuring your user community gets the best possible experience from technical support is vital.

Find out more about our End User Support services here >

End user support best practices help your productivity too!

Often undervalued, but just as important, is the impact of end user support on the productivity and morale of your IT team. Ensuring you have sufficient capacity and implementing tools and processes to streamline IT support, allows you to focus on areas of IT that deliver strategic value. 

Whether an internal team or an external service desk, the best technical support teams follow these end user support best practices.

1. Self-service portal: the first port of call for end users

A self-service portal that allows end users to log and track tickets, helps you prioritise issues and requests and manage tickets effectively. In turn this provides end users with a better user experience and minimises interruptions for team members focusing on non-support activities.

2. Knowledge base content

A key feature of any self-service portal should be a knowledge base with ‘how to’ style content addressing common issues and requests. This can reduce ticket volumes significantly, empowering end users and helping them get a speedy resolution.

3. Multi-channel support

Providing dedicated communication channels such as a support email address, unique phone number, messaging apps, and live chat functionality helps end users reach the right team straightaway. Other members of your IT team, focusing on non-support activities, can work uninterrupted, hidden from view!

4. Hire the right people and train them well

If you are running an internal IT support team, make sure you’ve got the right level of skills and experience to resolve issues quickly without escalation to the wider IT team. Similarly, if using a managed service provider, they should do more than triage tickets. Expect, and demand, the right skills to resolve all 1st line tickets as well as making sure you (or they) can handle escalations to 2nd and 3rd line in a timely way.

5. Always champion the user experience

Service desk analysts, whether supporting internal users or external customers, should deliver a superior customer experience and communicate effectively and personably with the end user. The ability to listen, defuse tense situations and communicate in a meaningful and helpful way, are essential skills for any technical support team.

With the right soft skills, your end user community will be happy to contact IT support, reducing any attempts to bypass your preferred channels and contact you directly.

Implementing these end user support best practices is beneficial to everyone. Happy users equate to a happy IT team and bottomline benefits for the organisation as a whole.

How to prioritise 1st line support tickets like a pro!

All 1st line support tickets are a priority! At least to the user who’s generated the ticket. Whether it’s a minor technical hitch, a request for a password reset or a more major IT incident, every ticket is a top priority for the user.

Of course, your IT team is going to have a different opinion on what’s a priority and what’s not. Naturally a major incident that’s threatening the organisation’s bottom line is going to be top of the list. But thankfully these kinds of incidents are not everyday occurrences and most 1st line support tickets are much less serious.

However, they still have an impact on business and on the individuals effected. Collectively they have a greater effect, which is why if your IT team regularly has a backlog of unresolved tickets it may be time to outsource 1st line IT support to a service desk provider.

Learn more about driving IT service desk efficiencies and improving service levels here >

How do you prioritise 1st line support tickets when everything is a priority?

Even when you outsource your IT service desk, you still need to prioritise support tickets to meet the needs of your users and business. If you feel that you’re getting a poor service from your IT support it could be because tickets are not being prioritised effectively, or aligned with your business needs.

Most organisations will prioritise tickets in a similar way, for example an issue effecting the sales team that has a direct impact on the bottom line will be given a higher priority than a comparable issue effecting an HR department.

However, there may be factors that are unique to your business that mean your tickets will need to be prioritised in a different way to other organisations. There can also be some tricky decisions to make about how users are prioritised: are issues effecting production more important than those effecting distribution or sales? Should a ticket raised by the MD be prioritised over other senior managers?

Obviously, different issues or incidents need to be prioritised too, and the nature of the problem might override a ticket from a high priority department or user. For example, if the email server is down across the whole organisation that’s going to be a higher priority than the CFO getting locked out of the finance system.

To develop an effective process for prioritising support tickets, we recommend the following:

  1. Establish priority levels for different IT problems by users, departments or groups
  2. Introduce Service Level Agreements with rules for closing tickets

The first step is to consider all commonly occurring IT issues and occasional technical glitches, as well as more infrequent major incidents, and their impact on different user groups. IT teams or service desk analysts use this as the basis for prioritising tickets.

If you have very low volumes of IT support tickets this can be enough to ensure that the business is not adversely effected by any IT issues. However, a common scenario for many businesses is that as high priority tickets come in, lower priority tickets start to stack up and don’t get resolved. It becomes more and more difficult to clear the back log and user satisfaction levels plummet.

By introducing Service Level Agreements (SLA) that define rules for closing tickets this problem can be resolved. Different types of tickets are assigned a resolution time that might vary from 30 minutes for a critical issue to 1 day for a low priority ticket, helping the IT support team manage their time and tickets more effectively. Low priority tickets are escalated as the SLA targets become more pressing. This can also improve user satisfaction levels as it helps to manage expectations.

Finally, one important step to ensure that tickets are prioritised effectively is training.  While your IT team may have priority level guidelines to help them and SLA targets to meet, training will help them make better judgements on the priority of different support tickets and improve the experience for users.

Asking the right questions is fundamental to this. With the right information service desk teams are in the best position to understand the urgency of a problem and the impact on the business. It’s not rocket science! Basic questions such as ‘how many users are affected?’ and ‘what services are affected?’ provide a clearer picture of the impact of an issue, but are often not asked.

1st line support key takeaway

If your IT support team or service desk is not delivering the service you expect, review the way tickets are prioritised to identify any issues that can be easily rectified.

Best practices for running an effective service desk

When a service desk is efficient and proactive, the positive impact is felt across an organisation. No longer is the service desk reactive, or only seen as cost centre, it can make an entire organisation more efficient when the right strategy is put behind the service desk.

An effective service desk can proactively prevent downtime. Find new ways for employees to manage their workloads. Look for ways a company can save money, and even increase profitability through service delivery improvements.

If that sounds like the service desk of your dreams, then here are best practice methods you can use to improve your organisation’s IT service desk.

Download our guide, How to drive IT Service Desk efficiencies, here to get more advice and support >

Service desk improvements – where to get started

1: Define what winning looks like 

  • Does your service desk have and meet targets?
  • Are your staff satisfied with the service they receive?
  • Do they hit minimum SLA or KPI metrics?

If you aren’t sure, or don’t know the answer to those or similar questions, then it’s time to redefine your service desk and what success looks like. Unless you measure outputs, it is impossible to know how to make improvements and what the service desk – whether internal our outsourced – should aim for.

Ideally, at a minimum, a service desk should adhere to an SLA and customer satisfaction scores. Your staff and stakeholders need to know the minimum turnaround times they should expect when a system goes down or an incident happens. Beyond that, look for ways the service desk can make a positive, proactive contribution to team activity and targets.

2: Map out a plan 

Take a view towards where you want your whole organisation to be in the next 1 to 5 years.

  • How can technology help you achieve those goals?
  • What technology is holding you back?

For many organisations, legacy and on-premises technology is slowing them down. Older systems are more expensive to maintain and when your company is responsible for hardware too, that increases upkeep and security costs. It also represents a much higher risk factor than more secure cloud-based technology.

Look at where you are and the target destination. Then work with your service desk and IT teams to map the journey. It might also be worth working with a trusted external IT partner to look at the most effective solutions for your goals.

3: Take incremental steps 

Until you start making changes, it is difficult to know how effective new technology rollouts are going to be with your team. New software and systems often require new processes. Which means your staff need to be trained. All of this should be factored into any service desk implantation plans.

It is also one of the most effective ways to successfully implement new technology and processes. One of the main reasons digital transformation projects fail is a company attempts to do too much in a hurry. Instead, take a steadier pace and make sure staff and stakeholders are fully bought-in to new ways of working before making further changes.

4: User experience 

The most successful service desks put the user first.

When your user community contacts the service desk they should feel like a customer, not a problem. One of the advantages of outsourcing to a trusted IT partner is your team are always put at the heart of the solution. IT specialists take care and attention to solving problems and helping staff to overcome challenges.

5: Automate processes 

With the right systems in place, an effective service desk can handle a large volume of calls and tickets, whilst also managing long-term projects. Users are keen to try and solve their own problems, so make sure there are systems in place to ensure they can find answers to questions and even implement simple solutions themselves.

An IT service desk can play a valuable role in your organisation. It can empower your team and find solutions that make it easier for your team to work more efficiently, cutting costs and workloads for everyone, which should have a positive impact on the business overall.

5 ways to drive IT service desk improvements

How can you improve your IT service desk? The ability to access IT support quickly and easily is essential for your users, whether they are employees, customers or partners. If your IT service desk is unavailable, or hard to reach, it can have a negative impact on productivity, revenue generation and reputation. Therefore, if user satisfaction rates and ticket resolution times are not meeting the grade, it’s time to make some improvements.

Here we share x5 IT service desk improvements that deliver positive results.

IT service desk improvements – try these…

  1. Improve self-service options

An effective way to improve your IT service desk is to reduce the number of tickets raised. This has the benefit of reducing your IT support team’s workload so they can focus on resolving other tickets and also work on more strategic projects. Improving your self-serve options is the first step, by giving users solutions to resolve the issue for themselves.

Review your knowledge banks and troubleshooting guides to see whether they can be improved and updated. Are there common problems that a self-service option could address? Many people are happy to fix a problem for themselves if it means they can get a faster resolution, so make sure users know about self-serve options and how they can help them.

  1. Listen to your users

Customer satisfaction rates improve, alongside positive outcomes, when service desk analysts really listen to your end users. It’s important to identify how significant the issue is to the end user, however low a priority it is to your IT support team. That way they can be reassured that they are being listened to, that the issue is being taken seriously and that the service desk analyst understands them. That doesn’t mean that their ticket is escalated, unless it is clearly a higher priority than you thought, but it does mean that the user has more confidence that the service desk will deal with it appropriately. Invest in training to ensure your service desk team are really listening to what users are saying.

  1. Outsource 1st line tickets

1st line tickets can be very time consuming for an in-house IT department. They distract your team from doing other more value-adding work, and are also difficult to manage when you require out-of-hours cover. Outsourcing 1st line tickets – such as call logging, password resets, account unlocks, distribution list changes/creations, closing sessions, clearing print queues, user training, basic desktop support, basic hardware issues and third party triage – can deliver significant improvements to your service desk. It can also be a much more cost effective way of providing basic IT support.

  1. Collect user feedback

Without feedback from users it’s difficult to know how to improve the performance of your service desk. Even if you can’t always act on improvement-based feedback, you can increase customer satisfaction rates just by replying and acknowledging the user’s input. Explain that you’re grateful for their input and outline what steps can or have been taken to address the issue raised.

When you can act on feedback, and especially if you see trends developing where users give very similar improvement-based feedback, act on it! Then make sure you inform all parties of the improvements that have been put in place so they know you take their feedback seriously.

  1. Go above and beyond

Service Level Agreements set out what users can expect from your service desk, but what about doing more? When a user receives more value, their whole perception of your IT support team changes from a ‘necessary evil’ to a department that’s genuinely there to help. Promote a culture of delivering value. Instead of just logging tickets, encourage service desk analysts to think about how they may be able to help outside of pre-defined procedures. For example, if a user has an issue printing an important document, as well as logging the ticket and booking an engineer to repair the printer could they help the user get that document printed by other means?

It may not be easy to drive improvements to your IT service desk when you have limited resources and budget. Implementing self-serve solutions, having the time to really listen to users and collate feedback, and going above and beyond when time is short and tickets are piling up isn’t always feasible. However, you can implement these improvements by outsourcing to a specialist provider. They have the resources and infrastructure needed to improve the performance of your service desk, and will also free up your IT department’s time to focus on delivering more value in other areas.

Download our guide to learn more about driving IT service desk efficiencies… 

Your IT service desk and the end user experience

Resolution times are a standard way to measure the performance of your IT service desk, but what about the end user experience? This measurement goes beyond time bound targets for your IT service desk provider, such as response and resolution times, and instead measures the quality of your service desk.

Happiness + productivity = a quality end user experience

Why bother if SLA targets are being met? End user experience is really important. If end users have a good experience, they’ll get more value from the service desk and more value from the technology you provide. This metric is about ‘happiness’ and productivity, it asks ‘did the user get the resolution they wanted, and did this have a positive impact on their productivity?’

Service desk ticket resolution times vs. quality resolutions

Not all ticket resolutions are the same! While users want a speedy resolution they also want the best resolution for the issue they have. Focusing purely on time can, in some cases, result in users not getting a satisfactory resolution and this might affect productivity. When service desk analysts factor in the end user’s happiness, you get much better outcomes.

What makes end users happy?

Below are some of the things that our customers report back when rating our IT service desk:

  • Being listened to: perhaps the most important thing a service desk analyst can do is listen to the end user. Service desk analysts who listen get a much better idea of what the issue is, how it might have come about, what the user may have done to resolve it, how important a resolution is to them, and what impact it’s having on their productivity (and the business overall). The analyst then has all the information needed to prioritise the ticket and offer the right resolution that has the best outcome for the user.
  • Expectation management: most people understand that the service desk team has to prioritise tickets and that some issues take time to fix. However, they do want a realistic idea of when they can expect a resolution. Sometimes service desk analysts need to explain why a resolution will take a certain amount of time, and also why a ticket is a lower priority than others. By managing expectations in this way, users are happier with the service they receive.
  • Good communications: users also want to be kept informed about progress. Updates can be delivered in a number of ways, such as a portal that allows them to track the progress of their ticket. With regular updates the service desk team can provide reassurance that the issue is being addressed in the timeframe agreed.
  • The right resolution: end users are generally happy to wait longer for a ticket resolution if that resolution is better in the long run. This balances ticket resolution times against productivity. A quick resolution would seemingly result in the minimal amount of lost productivity, but if the resolution isn’t aligned with their specific needs they may not be able to return to maximum productivity.

KPIs like ticket resolution times are still a useful way to measure your service desk’s performance, but end user experience should also be part of how you measure its value.

One important point to consider is that when end users are not happy with the service desk, they will often try to avoid using it. This can mean trying to resolve the issue themselves, finding shortcuts (that might not be secure), or simply being less productive as they work around the IT problem.

How do your end users rate your service desk? If they’re not fans it might be time to change the focus of your end user support to an user-centric approach, or find a new provider who already puts end-users first.

Download our free checklist to benchmark your IT service desk and find out how well it performs against industry standards:

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5 reasons to review your service desk performance today

IT service desks should have an on-going positive impact on companies they serve. Whether your service desk is in-house or outsourced, your organisation should notice consistent operational improvements as a consequence of the work your service desk undertakes.

Service desks can operate in two ways: proactive or reactive. Proactive service desks do more than answer support tickets and reset passwords. Reactive service desks, rarely do anything other than respond to issues and aim to resolve problems within agreed service level timescales.

Businesses that want to drive forward growth in an uncertain world need IT that supports these goals, a proactive service desk that will encourage forward-thinking and innovation. If your service desk isn’t supporting you this way, then here are 5 reasons to review their performance today.

Review the performance of your service desk

#1: SLA Levels

Almost every service desk should have service level agreements (SLA) in place. It’s a major red flag if they don’t, or don’t make reference to SLA metrics in a monthly report. This is the minimum standard every service desk should use to hold themselves accountable: do they respond and resolve problems in a timely fashion, according to agreed timescales and priority indicators?

If your service desk is consistently failing to hit these minimum KPIs, then something needs to be done. You aren’t getting the service you’re paying for or should expect and, consequently, your team will suffer from lower productivity as a result of IT inefficiencies.

#2: Time until a customer / user receives a response 

When it comes to technical issues, everything – to a customer – can seem urgent. Especially if a password needs re-setting, emails and phone lines are down, or people can’t access Wi-Fi, and someone has an international call via Teams. Many of these problems should be easily and quickly fixed, or something that customers can resolve using self-serve tools and platforms.

Service desks that don’t provide fit-for-purpose self-serve tools are slowing down your team when issues do arise. So are those that fail to respond fast enough, even if they’re still within SLA timescales, the impact on team members who can’t work will have a knock-on and effect on productivity.

#3: Customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores (NPS) 

Service desks with happy users are good for everyone. When your team is happy, they are productive, and this has a positive impact on how they interact with each other and your customers. Service desks should embody a positive customer service mindset, putting your staff at ease when there are problems and at the same time, employing that mindset when working on more complicated long-term projects.

Poorly performing customer satisfaction responses are a clear indicator of trouble.

#4: Value for money 

Whether in-house or external, do you feel as though you’re getting value for money from your service desk? Are they worth the on-going investment?

Cost-benefit analysis, assessing KPIs against performance and how happy – or not – your team is with their work are all worth weighing up against the on-going cost of working with them.

#5: Added value 

Do they generate more value? Is the impact of their work much larger than the investment made in this operational area? Are they helping improve operational efficiencies and at the same time, saving your company money?

Ideally, this is what a service desk should do. Proactive service desks are worth their weight in gold, with the right combination of talent, experiences, skills, software and automated services. Balancing immediate needs against long-term goals, the right service desk should be a trusted partner of any organisation they serve, generating impactful, long-term results for those they’re working with.

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IT outsourcing: 6 things to consider when selecting an IT provider

Digital technology is essential to the operation of most businesses. Without comprehensive IT systems and services, businesses struggle to have sustainable growth, and employees are unable to be as productive as possible. The move to hybrid work has only increased the need for IT services to include timely support, flexibility in solutions available and a focus on security.

Although some businesses manage their IT services internally, it is often easier and more cost effective to rely on the expertise of a third-party IT provider. An IT provider or Managed Service provider can combine all the necessary products, services and systems into one solution that suits each individual business. However, with so many IT providers to choose from it be can difficult to find the perfect one for your business. This article shares 6 things to consider when selecting an IT provider.  

How to choose an IT provider

1: Experience with past customers

Each industry has its own IT requirements so it can be beneficial to work with an IT provider that already has experience in your industry. Thankfully, many IT providers have a case studies or testimonial section on their website with first-hand accounts of how they provided a solution for a specific client in an industry. Similarly, many providers will have reviews online that can give examples of other customers’ experiences. 

2: Availability and response times

One of the most important aspects to consider when selecting an IT provider is their response times and service availability. Regardless of how comprehensive and well set up an IT solution is, there will be times where there will be an issue and a business will require support. During these times, it is essential that an IT provider can respond quickly and solve the problem without significant downtime. 

It is also important to consider what communication channels available, as often it is faster to receive support over the phone, rather than email. Similarly, your IT service provider should be able to provide functional services 24/7. Ideally, an IT provider should monitor these services at all times to ensure that any issues are detected early before resulting in other complications.

3: Value for money

When selecting an IT provider, cheaper is not always better. For something as essential as IT, it is more important that the solution is comprehensive and good value for money. Having a low-cost solution that has a high downtime and poor support can lead to lost revenue from being unable to access data. It may provide a poor experience for a businesses’ customers and may not include appropriate security. In contrast, a cost effective IT service provider will be able to deliver a solution that functions as intended, allowing employees to remain productive and help drive cost efficiencies in your business.

4: Scalability

When selecting an IT provider, it is important to consider both where your business is now and where it will be in the future. As your business grows and evolves, your IT requirements will too. When discussing current requirements with a potential IT provider, it may be beneficial to discuss growth potential, if they will be able to accommodate this growth, and how it will affect pricing in the long term.

5: Comprehensive and flexible solutions

No two businesses are the same and this is true for their IT requirements as well. When selecting an IT provider, it is important to ensure they can offer a solution to fit your business’s specific needs. This will provide your business with a better experience and may potentially reduce costs by only including what is necessary. An effective IT provider should also be able to find any gaps in your IT requirements and suggest a comprehensive solution that will ensure longevity of service and keep your business safe from potential cybersecurity threats.

6: Technical expertise

One of the key benefits of outsourcing your business’s IT is that you can rely on the technical expertise of your chosen IT provider. It is vital to select a provider that will be able to fix any technical issues promptly, regardless of the complexity. It can be difficult to vet a provider’s technical expertise without having worked with them previously, however businesses should be able to form an opinion based off reviews, case studies and customer testimonials.

As IT is a fundamental component of a business’s success, it can be a daunting task to select the perfect IT provider. However, selecting the right provider can boost employee productivity and drive business growth. They will also be able to deliver a solution that keeps your business secure and limits downtime, allowing you to focus your time on providing excellent customer experiences. 

If you are considering outsourcing your IT, or moving from another IT provider, get in touch today to find out how we can provide a solution to meet all your IT needs.

What makes a great IT service desk?

In this video Mark Watson, Operations Director at Cloud Business, explains what makes a great IT service desk. If you’re looking to outsource your organisation’s internal service desk for the first time, or switch providers, these insights will help you identify the good, the bad and the ugly!

What to look for when outsourcing your IT service desk

In summary, these are the key things to look for when outsourcing your IT service desk:

Great people – ensuring your end-users can use their technology is all about delivering a fantastic service. And to do that you need great people. People that have the technical skills needed to resolve issues quickly, and also the communication skills that help your users get the most out of their technology.

Personal relationships – as an extension to your IT team, an IT service desk has to build working relationships with you, your team and your end-users.

Amazing customer experience – people should be at the heart of any IT service, but IT service desks need to go above and beyond to deliver a customer experience that turns what are often problems into positive outcomes.

Flexibility & adaptability – your organisation is constantly changing, so is technology, so no IT service desk should stand still. Every customer is different, so trying to fit them to a service rather than designing the service around their needs is never going to be a satisfactory experience.

Continued service improvement – learning from our experience and yours is also part for what makes a great IT service desk. We continually review our service and adapt it to deliver more value for our customers.

Innovative tools – ITSM tools ensure the service desk team manage tickets effectively and meet SLAs, but other tools are also important. A self-service portal provides users with different ways to make requests, raise tickets and also access basic support through a knowledge base. The key is to give your users choice so they can get the support they need in their preferred way. As a result this has positive impact on technology adoption as users find it easy to access support and get answers to their questions.

If you would like a chat about your IT service desk, please get in touch >

Tech trends for 2020: Automating 1st line IT support

In its ‘Predictions 2020’ report, Forrester says that in 2020 CIOs will automate 10% of tasks, including 1st line IT support. If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to reduce the amount of time spend resolving these kinds of tickets, here’s how to do it. 

5 ways to automate 1st line IT support 

Whether you need IT support for customers or for staff, the strategies below can help you automate your 1st line IT support; transforming technical support, increasing productivity and saving time and money. 

1. Streamline your IT support journey 

The first step is to review how your end users access support and whether this process can be more efficient. For example, if you provide self-serve options (see point 2) but end users bypass this and call your technical team directly, you’ll need to explore ways to get end users to follow the right support journey.  

Signpost users to your preferred journey and give them clear reasons to take that route rather than draining your technical team’s resources with 1st line tickets. Highlight the benefits of self-serve or logging tickets via a support portal, such as faster resolution times. 

2. Implement self-serve options 

From knowledge banks to AI support bots, many 1st line issues can be resolved by the end user without direct contact with your technical team. This has advantages for everyone concerned, and obvious productivity gains. Investing time in building a comprehensive and easy to navigate knowledge bank will provide solutions for common issues time and time again. With this in place it also becomes easy to implement AI IT support bots that help users get the information they need and enhance the support journey so they get the best outcome. 

3. Outsource 1st line IT support 

Technical teams can get overwhelmed by 1st line tickets that take them away from other activities. Outsourcing your service desk to a Managed Service Provider is a cost-effective option which increases productivity both for end users and your IT team. 2nd or 3rd line tickets can be escalated back to your in-house technical support, or also outsourced to a trusted provider.  

IT service desk providers also invest in technology to automate 1st line IT support, so you don’t have to. Choose a provider that can clearly demonstrate a commitment to driving efficiencies for your organisation, without compromising on the quality of the service. 

Find out how much outsourcing 1st line support could cost your organisation. Get a high level quote here >

4. Supercharge your technical support with big data 

Use data to manage demand for 1st line IT support and supercharge your service desk! Big data can help you identify common issues, how much resource they need and what scenarios create them. Data can pinpoint the types of end user – the device they use, their location and other factors – that have high demand for IT support. It can also help you spot trends in demand.  

With this information you can optimise technical support to meet users’ requirements and identify key areas that can be automated. For example, you may find that your technical team provides more support for end users in a specific country, in which case you can explore localising the support journey to meet demand. Translating your knowledge bank for this market could be appropriate. Or outsourcing 1st line support to a multilingual service desk provider might be more cost effective. 

5. Put in place scalable processes 

Demand for IT support is not going to decrease any time soon! In fact, with organisations using technology to automate more and more processes – HR, accounting, supply chain etc. – IT support is a business-critical function. It’s therefore important to ensure that any automated processes can scale with demand: from more users and for more IT systems.  

Automating 1st line support is a scalable solution, especially when scaling your technical support team is not feasible or cost effective. But make sure the processes and providers you use have capacity to scale and flex with demand and technical innovation.  

If you would like to discuss the subjects raised in this article in more detail, please get in touch. We’re specialist 1st line IT support providers and can help you identify how to make this function more efficient in your organisation.  

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