Never mind the KPI’s – what happened to good old fashioned customer focused services?

Never mind the KPI’s – what happened to good old fashioned, customer focused services? As an owner and director of a South Wales based Managed …

Never mind the KPI’s – what happened to good old fashioned, customer focused services?

As an owner and director of a South Wales based Managed Service Provider, I like to keep a watchful eye on trends in the industry. In the past few years I’ve witnessed a few interesting, and concerning, trends.  These trends often focus on unrealistic and misleading statistics around what a good Managed Service Provider looks like.

There seems to be a race to the bottom with providers trying to do outdo each other.  They are often using statistics based around the time it has taken to answer the phone (in seconds!) and service level agreements being met 100% of the time etc – really?  What does this actually mean? Is your call answered and a call logged / fixed / escalated? The devil is in the detail and in my opinion the statistics are mainly irrelevant.

My point is you still need good processes and suitably qualified/experienced engineers to provide a good level of service and not be blinded by misleading and irrelevant statistics and KPI’s.  I would argue the best service would be where there your call is answered by a suitably qualified and experienced engineer who sees you call through to a satisfactory completion at first response. A great ideal but not always achievable.

In my opinion, a more objective view of the performance of a service desk is evidenced by amount of engineering time required to fix the issue and the amount of tickets that are closed without escalation to more senior members of the team. These are very strong indicators of high service levels and properly trained and qualified engineers.

We are constantly meeting with prospective new clients and hear the same stories day in day out – poor service being hidden behind KPI’s and stats.

For example, having an agreement in place where a service provider is contracted to respond within 2 hours in the event of a critical problem – what does this mean exactly?

From what I’m being told, the call is acknowledged within 2 hours and someone may start working on it but as far as the service provider is concerned the service level agreement has been met so no breach of contract.

With business-critical systems unavailable, costing your business thousands of pounds per hour, you are stuck on the phone wasting more time hassling the service provider to fix the problem only to be tied up in an escalation procedure you don’t’ really understand as it wasn’t explained to you in the first instance. We get it, not good enough!

When I look around the South Wales Managed Service Provider market I don’t see many companies where the leadership team is from a technology company background, in our case HP (Hewlett Packard). The point I’m trying to make is that in our time working at HP on service contracts for huge multinational organisations, there were service delivery managers, engineers and escalation teams as you would expect but we never hid behind a ticking clock or SLA where customer service was concerned. Understanding of the customer business was foremost in our thoughts – when the proverbial hit the fan it’s was all hands to the pump and get the job done. That’s still how I see it today.

It’s this element of customer focus and a pragmatic approach to service delivery is what I believe is getting lost in the quagmire of KPI’s and statistics. We understand you need processes and procedures in place (we are certified ISO 9001) or carnage will ensue. However an understanding exactly when our clients  ‘really’ need us is what sets us apart. It’s a bit of a cliché, but there are service providers who see themselves as partners to the business and those that are mainly transactional with a different focus I don’t think I need to point out which camp we are in.

We still believe KPI’s and statistics have a place in service delivery, just not for hiding behind poor service. We rely heavily on this type of information in evidencing business cases for updating systems or identifying training needs, stuff that really adds value to your business.

In summary, I would strongly advise anyone looking at a Managed Service Provider to see past the meaningless stats that seem so prevalent in the industry and speak with companies with similar requirements of their experiences with providers in your area. In any walk of life anecdotal evidence has a considerable gravitas for me, particularly from people I have worked with and trust.

I’ll finish my blog with a point which I believe holds true in almost every walk of like. You won’t get to really know your service provider until you really need them. I hope you are not left high and dry in your hour of need!

Andy Beer, July 2017

Key reasons why Disaster Recovery limits cyber-attack damage

Experts are already predicting a bumpy year for cyber security in 2017. Whilst proactive security is essential, effective disaster recovery could just save the day …

Experts are already predicting a bumpy year for cyber security in 2017. Whilst proactive security is essential, effective disaster recovery could just save the day if a dreaded cyber-attack hits your business.

Think 2016 was a bad year for cyber security? In 2017 security experts are predicting that cyber criminals will execute more sophisticated, advanced attacks.

It’s a no-brainer that in your business there will be a keen focus on keeping the hackers out but there is always a risk of a security breach. Cyber criminals are determined to exploit vulnerabilities. A key part of your defence should include your plan of action should your business suffer a cyber-attack.

A cyber-attack could be critically damaging

We all know this is the truth, and this is why businesses across the globe are awakening up to the importance of cyber security. But what happens if a hacker succeeds in executing a breach?

The short answer: You risk exposing your business data, disrupting service delivery and the repercussions could be costly.  If your business suffers a cyber attack, it’s essential to limit the damage. It’s at times like these when disaster recovery steps in to save the day.

Reducing the impact of a cyber attack with disaster recovery

When developing a post-attack strategy in your business, take a well-rounded approach. If you assess how your data could be compromised, who this will affect, and how it will impact business operations then you can prioritise your disaster recovery process.

Disaster recovery looks different in every business, therefore, you need to consider how this fits with your organisation and your sector.

It’s important to think about the following:

  • How are you going to be able to recover data? Attacks such as ransomware hold data hostage. Effective backups can be your lifeline if you hit by this malicious malware.
  • What is your communications strategy? Your staff will need to know how to respond and customers will need to be made aware.
  • How can you measure the impact? If your business is breached, you will need to know the extent of the damage.
  • How can you analyse what happened? To recover your business, you will need to understand how the breach happened and how it can be prevented in the future.

How can the cloud transform your business?

The majority of organisations are now operating in the cloud and reaping the benefits. Has your workplace migrated to the cloud? There are many ways …

The majority of organisations are now operating in the cloud and reaping the benefits. Has your workplace migrated to the cloud?

There are many ways to deploy cloud computing in your business. You could migrate an area of your business or your entire operation. Either way, there are many benefits to be reaped from operating in a cloud environment.

These benefits can be ‘transformative’ for both SMBs and enterprises alike. Focusing solely on SMBs, the cloud can enable significant growth and improvement.

To capture the reasons behind our statement above, we’ve compiled a list of 3 reasons to highlight how the cloud could transform your business:

Cutting costs

What could your business do with extra room in the budget? You could invest in service updates, new employees or incentives to reward customers. The cloud helps you cut back on your IT expenses. You could save on hardware, maintenance, support fees and energy.

By saving in these areas and reinvesting into other areas of the business you can achieve more year on year.

Flexibility in the workplace

A cloud-based work environment is flexible, agile and scalable. Your employees can collaborate more efficiently and work off-premise, giving them more freedom in their role.

It’s been reported that by 2020 there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally. To adapt your business and workplace for the rise of mobile, the cloud is the ideal solution. Your employees can leverage working on mobiles without storing data directly on devices.

Customer experience

Your employees are not the only ones who can benefit from a cloud environment, there are perks for your customers. The high availability of cloud computing helps you maintain an efficient, consistent service to keep up with customer demand.

The scalability of the cloud can also be a great advantage to your customers. The increased level of storage can help you scale up and adapt in response to demand and volume.

 

Adapt these to your business. What are you trying to achieve in your organisation? Migrating to the cloud could be a strategic move that could transform how you operate as a business.

Take note that Gartner Analysts have predicted that “by 2020 a corporate ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-Internet’ policy is today.” The cloud will continue to transform businesses as it evolves. Is your business ready?

Make Cyber Security Best Practice Your New Year’s Resolution!

It’s a new year and a new chance to improve cyber security in your organisation. Here’s why you should make cyber security best practise your …

It’s a new year and a new chance to improve cyber security in your organisation. Here’s why you should make cyber security best practise your New Year’s resolution in 2017…

What will cyber security look like in 2017?

Following a turbulent 2016, cyber security will be once again put to the test in 2017. Cyber criminals will continue to target businesses attempting to steal data and disrupt services. Experts predict we will see attacks on IoT, large-scale DDoS attacks and a rise in ransomware.

New year and time for an update

It’s essential to take a ‘360-degree’ approach to cyber security throughout your organisation. You need to assess where you might be vulnerable and how this can be improved.

It’s easy to return to work in January and overlook this critical area of investment. We advise making this a New Year’s resolution to ensure your business to ready to face the growing cyber threat in 2017.

Whether you are looking to make one resolution or more than one, we have highlighted 6 to help you on your way. Take a look at our infographic and let us know which you choose!

cyber security NY resolution infographic

Our Team Get In The Festive Spirit By Fundraising For Help4Wales Foundation

The excellence IT office turned into Santa’s grotto for the day to support a fantastic non-profit organisation in Wales We didn’t just deck the halls …

The excellence IT office turned into Santa’s grotto for the day to support a fantastic non-profit organisation in Wales

We didn’t just deck the halls last week, we got into the festive mood by supporting Help4Wales Foundation’s Come as your (s)ELF Day. Find out what we got up to by reading on!

We dressed up to raise money…

The team donated a chosen amount to come into work draped in Christmas novelty. Our staff made an exceptional effort and really dressed the part. We had a mix of Christmas jumpers, Santa hats, fake beards, festive headbands and even tinsel hair accessories!

We posed for the occasion to showcase our fundraising efforts…

Never a team to shy away from the cameras, our commercial team took plenty of photos! We even managed to pull together the majority of the team (including our Engineers) for a full group shot.

Our team got competitive but all in the festive spirit…

Our team put their knowledge of the festive season to the test by taking the 2016 excellence IT Christmas quiz. Our Office Administrator Stuart took home the prize and proved to all that he had really good skills on Google…

We also had a ‘Best Dressed Elf’ competition. Our Finance Administrator, Liam was voted the winner for his Santa hat/Christmas jumper combo.

We indulged in a Christmas feast…

Some of the staff members brought in chocolates, biscuits, and various other snacks to build a festive feast. All to add to this festive occasion.

We all donated and raised money for Help4Wales Foundation…

We raised a grand total of £75.00 for Help4Wales which will go towards Animal Safe Haven, a fantastic service supporting the animals of victims of domestic abuse.

Help4Wales Foundation are a fantastic organisation. If you would like to find out more about them and how to get involved with fundraising for their projects, please visit their website here.

excellence IT festive fundraising for Help4Wales Foundation