IT Help Desk and IT Service Desk Strategies: Back to Basics

IT Help Desk and IT Service Desk Strategies: Back to Basics

Before you race toward cloud services, mobile device management and other shiny opportunities, it's time for VARs and MSPs to get back to basics. Start with your IT help desk and IT service desk strategy. Over the past three weeks, I've come to realize just how much your IT help desk will influence customer retention, customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

Why am I sold on your critical need for a great help desk? Let me paint the picture.

From January 2008 to August 2011, I had multiple roles at our small business (Nine Lives Media). In addition to running our blogs and websites, I was a virtual CIO of sorts -- selecting and testing our IT platforms, and putting out IT fires from time to time. Was I very good at the job? Not really. Generally speaking, I can keep my own systems up and running pretty well. But I'm not an IT guru, and I have a day job running our online communities. I wasn't very responsive as virtual CIO. And I often lacked a quick fix to IT problems.

Generally speaking, I think our small business was similar to the small businesses that VARs and MSPs support. Every small business has that de facto "tech support person" who isn't really a tech person -- and doesn't really want that job. Those small businesses will surely value a stellar help desk experience.

Seeing the Light

I know I do. The reason: I'm no longer our virtual CIO. I gave up that responsibility on August 30, the day Penton Media announced it had acquired Nine Lives Media and our online communities. We now have an IT help desk to dial at Penton Media. In essence, Penton's corporate IT department has become our managed services provider.

In recent weeks, our team of contributors has been dialing the Penton IT help desk for support as we set up our email systems, IP phone systems and more. Yes, we had plenty of questions. But we always got answers from experts. And the "customer experience" has been great.

What About Your Business?

So how does my example apply to MSPs? Roughly a year ago, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini told me that MSPs need to use IT help desks and service desks to maintain customer control and deliver superior service and support. I "heard" the message but didn't really "listen" to the meaning until I experienced Penton's IT help desk.

For MSPs, an effective IT help desk can help to spot common issues across your customer base -- and perhaps even a few emerging opportunities. In other words, your IT help desk, service desk and NOC (network operations center) are your eyes and ears into your customers' businesses.
  • Listen closely to incoming IT help desk calls and you'll always know where to go next.
  • Deliver a superior customer experience and your customers will always march forward with you.
Some big opportunities await MSPs and VARs. But sometimes it's the simple stuff -- a great IT help desk -- that can drive customer loyalty and increased IT investments.
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