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.

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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IT support: self-service portal improvements

Find out how we're continuously improving the service our Managed Service customers receive through our bespoke self-service portal.
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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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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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What are Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

Find out what Microsoft 365 Managed Services deliver and the benefits of outsourcing this IT operation in this article.
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White label IT support for technology companies

Does your technology company require white label IT support? Here's what to look out for and what to avoid.
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Women in tech: Kerry Burgess, Service Desk Manager

Only 19% of people working in tech are female. One person bucking that trend is our Service Desk Manager, Kerry Burgess. In this interview she talks about her career to date.
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IT support services for education

Over the last 12 months several trends in IT support services for education have developed. Find out more about these and how they may impact you here.
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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.

IT support: self-service portal improvements

We have recently added a new feature to our customers’ self-service portals called Service Reports. This area is for operators to access information about incident management, change and request management, and Monthly Service Reports.

Cloud Business is committed to continuous service improvements. The new Service Reports area has been deployed to increase visibility for our customers and in response to demand from their IT teams.

Service Reports overview

The Service Reports area is only accessible to operators, not end users, and can be found on the homepage of the portal.

User-friendly insights and trends

It provides insights and trends on the all inbound incidents or requests over different time periods, status or categories, via user friendly graphs, charts and tables.

You can choose the way you view each dataset and switch between different views.

Monthly Service Reports

Customers can also download their Monthly Service Reports from this area and leave feedback to help us improve the service further.

Live chat is also available, so if you have any questions about the data you can speak to an available service desk analyst.

We’re pleased to say that this feature has already been welcomed by customers who have trialled it for us. We think you’ll find it very useful.

Not a Cloud Business customer?

If you would like to find out more about our Managed Services including End User Support, please get in touch. You can also request a high level quote for outsourcing IT support by clicking on the link below:

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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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 >

What are Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

Microsoft 365* doesn’t stand still. To maximise your investment, admins need to continually manage, monitor and optimise 365, as well as provide end users with support. 

This can be a significant drain on internal resource. That’s where Microsoft 365 Managed Services fits in. Outsourcing this element of your IT operations helps your organisation maximise return on investment in 365, and frees up your internal team to focus on core activities. 

In our experience, many organisations are paying higher than the market rate for internal teams to manage and support Microsoft 365. Or they’re over-staffed in order to meet fluctuations in demand. Shared managed services address these issues, typically saving 1 – 3 people in your IT team. 

What are the benefits of Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

As well as driving cost efficiencies, outsourcing Microsoft 365 management and support delivers the following benefits:

  • Increases uptime of your 365 environment: proactive and reactive management and monitoring minimises downtime, pre-empts and quickly resolves any issues.
  • Boosts end user satisfaction: faster ticket response and resolutions times, managed by a professional service desk team, equates to happy users.
  • Interoperability of solutions integrated with 365: highly qualified Microsoft analysts ensure workflows from different apps work seamlessly in your 365 environment.
  • Better security, governance & compliance: access best practice and support to ensure your 365 environment is secure, data protected and your organisation meets compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Increases productivity, collaboration and user adoption: maximise return on investment with end user support that empowers your people to do more with their technology.
  • Boosts your IT team’s productivity: free your team from 1st, 2nd & 3rd line support, tenant level admin, and service, incident and request management, so they can be more productive in other areas.
  • Access Microsoft 365 expertise: service desk analysts and technicians continually update their Microsoft qualifications and training, so your organisation has access to these specialist skills.

Find out how much outsourcing Microsoft 365 management and support would cost, click here to get a quote >

Microsoft 365 Managed Services methodology

Best practice is to take a holistic approach to managing your Microsoft 365 environment. Here at Cloud Business we like to visualise it as a wagon wheel, where our service wraps around every element of 365 and the ‘spokes’ integrate different aspects of the service.

With this approach your Microsoft 365 environment is aligned with your organisation, users and operational goals.

Got any questions? Book a discovery call for a chat about your IT environment, challenges and goals, and to explore if our Microsoft 365 Managed Services can help you get more from your technology.

*formerly Office 365, the Microsoft 365 stack includes Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and other capabilities depending on your licensing plan. 

White label IT support for technology companies

In the last 12 months we’ve experienced several enquires about white label IT support from technology companies.

For many, this has been driven by an increase in demand for their products – particularly those selling SaaS solutions and online tools – coupled with increased 1st and 2nd line IT support ticket volumes. We’re also seeing higher demand for out-of-hours or 24/7 support, to provide coverage for users outside of traditional business hours, and multilingual IT support for companies who are experiencing global growth.

To this end, we thought it would be helpful to provide some information about white label IT services and what best practice looks like.

What should you expect from white label IT services?

The clue is in the name! The best white label managed service providers deliver a customer experience that gives the end user the impression they’re dealing with you. This means not only communicating as your brand but also understanding your culture and protecting your organisation’s reputation.

A great white label managed service provider becomes part of your team. Extensive culture training as well as in depth product training ensures analysts provides the service your customers expect from you. Find out more about the importance of cultural fit here >

1st line IT support is more than referring to a knowledgebase!

If you’re outsourcing 1st line support, product training is extremely important. From conversations with new customers we’ve learnt that not all 1st line IT support providers deliver the resolutions expected. Some providers simply refer to the technology company’s knowledgebase (which is often already available to end users), and anything not included is triaged and escalated to 2nd line.

1st line support, in our view, should do more than triage issues and provide copy and pasted responses: this is what 0 line (also known as T0 and L0) is for. Self-service options like FAQs, ChatBots and knowledge banks are increasingly the first port of call for end-users who need support. Therefore, if they raise a ticket, they’ve already exhausted self-service support and need someone with technical expertise to resolve their issue.

A 1st line service desk analyst should know your technology product inside out and have received training in order to resolve common issues at first contact. For example, each team member (analyst) should undertake a customer specific learning programme; including a business overview, culture and philosophy, technology environment, application training, historic issue profiling and, if applicable and geographically possible, a site visit to meet key stakeholders.

Usually, when we on board a new customer in the technology sector, the customer’s technical team will initially provide our analysts with system / application training as well as any knowledge bank articles already written. We will then continually update this resource with new fixes or information as we are made aware, as well as undertaking training in-house for new team members. When knowledge bank articles are not available, we will develop this content ourselves.

As a result, analysts are able to provide more first contact fixes for end users and avoid escalating 1st line tickets to 2nd line. This is how 1st line should work; reducing the number of tickets your technical team has to deal with, allowing them to focus on other activities and resolve more complex technical issues at developer level.

Global technology platforms require global IT support

Cloud technology has broken down many barriers including borders between countries. If your technology product is available to users around the world, support also needs to be available in their time zone and native language.

One option is to provide local IT support either internally (if you have technical teams available in different regions) or by outsourcing to a local managed service provider. However, a more straightforward option is to partner with a provider with global reach and multilingual analysts.

A 24/7/365 IT service desk team covers all time zones as well as anyone working or using your products outside of normal business hours. The cost of providing out-of-hours or 24/7 IT support is usually less with a managed service provider than staffing this requirement internally.

IT support can also be provided in key languages, with bilingual or multilingual analysts available to respond to and resolve tickets in English and other languages, and staffing aligned to relevant time zones.

For many technology companies, 24/7 and multilingual IT support has been a key driver in their ability to grow in overseas markets.

Does your business need a white label IT support?

Here are 3 things to ask potential providers:

  1. What is your definition of 1st line support?
  2. What’s your on boarding process?
  3. How do you approach service improvement?

We’re always happy to have an informal chat about managing IT support and ensuring end users get the best possible experience. If you would like to speak to a member of our team please get in touch, or book a meeting using the calendar link below:

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Women in tech: Kerry Burgess, Service Desk Manager

Even though the technology industry is becoming increasingly diverse, only 19% of people working in tech in the UK are female*. To celebrate International Women’s Day we thought we would shine a light on one women in tech: Kerry Burgess. Kerry is our Service Desk Manager. In the interview below, she shares what her role entails and her technology career to date.

Q: What do you do at Cloud Business?

Kerry Burgess: “My responsibilities include supporting the Service Desk team leaders in their day-to-day roles. I’m also in regular contact with our customers, both for service reviews and escalations. Ensuring everyone on the team are all trained up in the customers they support is also key to my role, especially recently with the two Service Desks becoming one big team.”

Q: What’s your background?

KB: “I joined the business on an apprenticeship as an Office Administrator straight from college in 2011. Once I had completed my apprenticeship, I joined the Service Desk team as a first line analyst and then after a few years moved into the First Line Team leader role. In 2017 I became the Service Desk – Assistant Manager and last year was promoted to the Service Desk Manager role.”

Q: Do you have any specific qualifications or expertise?

KB: “I completed the Service Now Fundamentals Training Course and manage certain parts of the configuration of Service Now for one of our customers.”

Q: What’s a typical week at Cloud Business like for you?

KB: “I know it sounds cliché, but no two weeks are the same. Day-to-day I can be helping our customers implement new processes or helping facilitate the needs of the team including resource management. My role is varied, continually liaising with customers ensuring that their needs are met or exceeded. Each week presents new challenges to overcome and help us grow as a Service Desk.”

Q: What do you most like about working at Cloud Business / your job?

KB: “I get to communicate with all levels of the business and generally colleagues become friends. There are always opportunities to learn and at the end of the day I feel a great sense of achievement knowing the work I am doing is helping our team and customers.”

Q: How are you finding working from home?

KB: “I am very fortunate to have a spare room that we have labelled ‘the office’ (although it is also a Christmas decoration holding area at the moment) so I still have a differentiation between work and home, which can be difficult to achieve if you are working from your kitchen or relaxation space. I enjoy working from home, although I do miss the face-to-face interaction with the team that you get from working together in the office. It is good to have a video chat, rather than a phone call, with colleagues every once in a while, to help bring some of that interaction back.”

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

KB: “Before Covid I enjoyed visiting National Trust properties at the weekends and exploring new towns. The Cotswolds is a regular place I enjoy visiting, there are lots of villages and hamlets to explore. During Covid, the highlight of my week is a walk with my Mum and a visit to the supermarket!”

Q: Tell us something surprising about yourself?

KB: “I am an avid Formula 1 fan and aspire to go and watch the Belgian Grand Prix live one day.”


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IT support services for education

In the last 12 months IT support services for education establishments have undergone a dramatic transformation. The move to remote learning has changed how IT support is delivered. Before the pandemic many schools, further education and HE institutions provided on-site support, with service desk analysts and technicians on hand to resolve issues for the user community including staff and students alike.

Now remote IT support is the norm and demand has increased significantly as teaching, admin, research and other activities have moved online with a greater reliance on technology.

51% of educators believe that remote education is a sustainable way of continuing to offer high quality learning in the future.

Trends in IT support for the education sector

Now, that the initial mass deployment of remote learning / remote working strategies have bedded in, we’re noticing a number of key trends.

Level of IT support is linked to remote learning success: Being able to access IT support services easily and with rapid response times is crucial for successful remote learning outcomes. Both for teaching staff and students. Any technology issues that impact on a student’s ability to access to education are going to have a detrimental impact, whether it’s a teacher unable to take a live online class or a student unable to log in to resources. Adequate provision of support is therefore essential during teaching hours as well as private study times.

It’s about morale and engagement too: How engaged students are with remote learning is also linked to their experience of IT support. Many students are struggling to motivate themselves and any difficulties with technology can be overwhelming. Younger students, who are not as used to working independently, may find IT issues particularly challenging and some may lack the confidence to ask for support. Clear communications about how to access IT support and multiple channels for raising tickets, are vital.

Teaching staff are also likely to find remote learning challenging and, as a result, their job satisfaction levels have fallen. Reducing technology barriers and providing high quality support will ensure that your IT team department are not solely held responsible for a poor teaching experience.

Demand for flexible IT support: With many people having to juggle family commitments with remote work (such as home schooling their own children) teaching, admin, faculty and support staff may need to work outside of normal working hours. Many organisations are extending IT support hours into the evenings to ensure productivity levels are not adversely affected by IT issues.

Virtual desktops: To support remote learning many universities and other institutions have rolled out desktop and app virtualisation services. Solutions like Windows Virtual Desktop provide users with access to all the systems and applications they need to do their job – whether that’s teaching, learning or other roles – in the cloud. Users get the same desktop experience on their own device as they would on their work computer. Their virtual machine is set up just like their desktop in their office, in the ICT suite, library or on other corporate-owned machines. To ensure end users experience zero disruption and high application availability, consider how this service will be managed and what support your user community will need. IT support is also a critical part of user adoption of new technologies.

Self-service portals: Another key trend is the increase in demand for self-service IT support portals. These don’t replace analysts and technicians but can help to reduce ticket volumes and streamline support requests. Self-service portals provide ‘0 line IT support’ in the form of knowledgebase content so that your user community can troubleshoot common issues for themselves. As most education institutions are full of tech-savvy individuals, this can have a very positive impact on productivity and downtime.

Self-service portals also allow your user community to report issues that are not time critical, make requests for software, hardware, changes to user accounts and a variety of other common IT requests. This helps both users and IT teams, making it easy to log tickets and also to manage workflows.

Shared support services: Some organisations that have traditionally delivered on-site IT support to their user community, have struggled to provide remote support and manage the increase in ticket volumes and demand for extended hours. That’s why we’re seeing a substantial increase in enquires for shared support services.

A shared IT service desk offers you highly qualified analysts providing the right coverage for your user community, without the associated costs of hiring additional internal staff. This solution can scale with demand, allowing a certain amount of flexibility if ticket volumes increase or fall. With the continuing uncertainty about when education will return to ‘normal’, a shared IT service desk can be a cost effective option for delivering the support students and staff need.

Cloud Business provides IT services to many public sector organisations. You can find out more here >

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