Written by: Ellie Elphick, Marketing Communications Specialist, Buchanan Associates
Managed service providers and the world of IT is doing their part to help during these unprecedented times. Many businesses – especially small to mid-size – are facing an abundance of challenges, from lack of resources to a newfound remote workforce, and need their IT support partner to address their changing needs.
While much of the world has seemingly come to a halt, IT services have become more critical than ever before. This article showcases a few examples of how managed service providers have assisted their customers to keep their businesses on track for success as they navigate through the fallout from COVID-19.
Providing Infrastructure & Helpdesk Solutions
The way people are working during this crisis is rapidly changing, and it is up to MSPs to meet customer demands and fulfill requirements to keep their workforce functioning. Many companies have transitioned to a work from home model to mitigate the spread of the virus and risk to their employees, but need help managing the logistics.
A service desk is one of the most important components of an organization’s IT solution, as it oftentimes is the single point of contact between an end user or employee and the company. Especially during an unpredictable time such as this, it is crucial to have the ability to provide service desk support to customers who need it.
Buchanan Technologies, an MSP servicing the US and Canada, is one of many MSPs across the nation that has been providing innovative IT solutions, including service desk, to its clients across various industries and verticals.
One of their clients, a fully integrated insurance holding company, needed to deploy several laptops to get their staff working from home. Buchanan was able to quickly provide four field technicians to configure the hardware and VPN connections. Once that was done, it was evident that another need was more service desk resources, so they rolled those field technicians onto the helpdesk team to accommodate the increased volume of calls.
A major US automotive dealership group had their work cut out for them when one of the first shelter-in-place orders was passed in California. It was unexpected and they needed to move quickly. The company needed hardware procurement assistance as well as onsite technical support to give their employees the ability to work from home. Buchanan provided business process support to the HR department and was able to scale its existing service desk to accommodate new VPN users and service ticket increases.
Healthcare companies have been at the forefront of the pandemic and are seeing drastic inflation in the demand for their products. When this translated to an increase in calls for one of Buchanan’s healthcare clients, an expanded service desk was needed. Buchanan supplied additional support to offset call volume to keep them operating at an efficient rate.
Educational institutions have had to drastically change how they are serving their students. Due to COVID-19, one of Buchanan’s higher education client’s onsite services were going to be unavailable to faculty and students, so they requested their after-hours service desk be upgraded to 24/7 coverage to address additional tickets.
Offering Remote Support Where Possible
Buchanan has technicians in every zip code in the US and Canada who can be the technical “hands and feet” in hard-to-reach areas while helping with IT needs. Once a service request is submitted, a tech is dispatched within 24 hours to the location.
With the current travel restrictions and social distancing rules in place, it has become increasingly difficult – and dangerous – for work-related travel. To avoid putting employees at risk, many companies have sourced local service technicians for break/fix assistance, cabling projects, and more.
Mortgage companies’ business is exploding due to low interest rates. A mortgage company Buchanan supports has its own field technicians, but due to travel restrictions, Buchanan’s resources are working directly with the in-house techs to assist with day-to-day IT needs to keep the business optimized so they can focus on helping people in need.
Just as healthcare establishments are seeing extreme inflation in patients, their IT needs have also increased. Field technicians have quickly responded to bandwidth issues, upgraded PC equipment, and more to ensure hospital staff can continue to serve their patients.
It is equally as important for MSPs to address their customers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19. For example, when one of Buchanan’s clients did not require their usual amount of field technicians, Buchanan adjusted the model accordingly. For most MSPs, this can be done by moving resources from the account needing less assistance and onto the accounts needing more. Additionally, offering short term contracts or delayed billing help to match the evolving needs of the customer.
Focusing on Professional Services
Though we are seeing a record number of people out of work due to COVID-19, many companies are still operating and needing to place talent in a vast array of roles, including IT.
Continue to invest time into interviewing resources and placing candidates for clients. Providing a mix of contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire resources will make certain they will find a perfect fit for their needs during this time.
MSPs may see an uptick in contract work, as many customers may not have access to their usual resources due to travel restrictions or sickness and need temporary IT personnel to complete a specific task or keep a project on track.
Delivering Flexible Solutions
Business needs are rapidly shifting, and MSPs need to adapt and provide support where they can. Here are a few tips all MSPs can incorporate as they continue to provide services for their clients during COVID-19.
Offer quick turnaround times
MSPs need to be able to answer the call when an existing or potential customer needs immediate IT support. When a former customer reached out to Buchanan needing onsite IT support to decommission equipment due to a branch closure, Buchanan was able to provide two technicians the very next day. This type of flexibility is what many customers are looking for right now as their needs are constantly changing.
Assist with IT projects
IT projects are another area where MSPs can assist. If a client project that was being done internally faltered due to a lack of resources, an MSP can step in and provide the expertise needed to keep the project progressing, ultimately benefiting the client.
Forego long-term contracts
Potential clients may need IT assistance, but do not want to get locked into a long-term contract or commitment. Similarly, existing customers may need to add on services only for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Like other MSPs, Buchanan is here to provide IT assistance without long-term contracts to give customers the services they need – when they need them – to keep their business moving forward.
Making Every Interaction Matter
Above all else, MSPs must focus on the customer experience during this pandemic. Be understanding and empathetic to situations customers are facing and make each interaction bring them closer to their IT goals and positively impact their company.