When it comes to marketing technology support services, “proactive” is one of those words that gets thrown around left and right.
The problem is that, across the IT industry, there seem to be fairly loose definitions of what the term “proactive” actually means. This not only makes it hard for businesses to differentiate between support companies, but it also tends to cheapen the effect of the word in the long-run.
What should proactive technology support look like? How do you know if you’ve found a provider who is dedicated to providing it?
Below we’ll walk through some misconceptions as far as proactivity, along with the key elements of true proactive support.
What does not qualify as proactive technology support
We’ve seen companies equate “proactive support” with “fixing problems before you notice them.”
In other words, the company will use intricate monitoring and alerting programs to locate problems almost immediately after they occur. This, in many cases, allows the engineers to intercept and remediate the problem before the “end user” (you) realizes there was any issue in the first place.
Another popular service model involves companies sending an engineer to their client’s office on a regular, pre-scheduled basis to address any and all problems that staff members have encountered.
Neither of these practices is bad; addressing technology issues quickly and effectively is certainly a critical aspect of IT support.
But neither of these practices is proactive, either, as both are reacting to issues that have already occurred.
The key elements of proactive technology support
If you want true proactive attention, look for the following in your provider’s methods, and in their internal processes and procedures:
- Pre-scheduled on-site visits. Your engineering visits should not be dictated by emergencies, or by fixing problems that have escalated to the point where they’re impeding your business’s operations. Your visits should be ongoing, consistent, and pre-scheduled.
- Regular health checks. Your engineer should be running health checks on your servers to identify warning signs and trendsearly on, and before they develop into problems that will impact your operations.
- Staff walk-arounds. At each visit, your engineer should also take some time to visit with your staff face-to-face and ask them what tasks they might wish were easier, or what nagging questions they may have been keeping to themselves. This often covers simple ways that your team can boost their productivity and minimize their frustration.
- Issue analysis. If you have helpdesk support, your team should periodically assess your “tickets” to identify any trends that may point to a larger problem that could be forming within your environment. Your team can then intervene before and reverse the trend before it blossoms.
- Periodic high-level reviews. Your provider should have some process in place to systematically “zoom out” and analyzing the overall health of your client relationship. A damaged relationship can present itself in many different forms (late payments, lack of engagement with company events, etc.), and is often the result of frustrations or concerns that may not be articulated outright.
All in all, your provider will be committed to doing everything they can to isolate and eliminate problems before they can even be defined as “problems.”
Unfortunately, it won’t always be easy to determine whether or not an IT support firm has this kind of commitment; when selecting an IT vendor, be sure to have them demonstrate how it is they plan to provide your organization with proactive support.
Have them show you their method for assessing your systems and your relationship. Ask their references if they followed through with their promises. Don’t accept their marketing at face-value, since words can sometimes be deceiving.
Once you’ve found a team that fits the bill, you’ll be on the right track to progressing far beyond a client/vendor relationship, and to a strong partnership that will help accelerate your organization’s business objectives.
You can only get so far with fixing what breaks, after all.