Turning to an outsourced MSP help desk can feel like handing over the keys of your car to your teenage kid for the first time–nerve wracking. But unlike your kid who’s never driven a car before, there are many outsourced help desk providers that are seasoned drivers in the remote MSP landscape.
Thus choosing the best outsourcing provider is seamless when you have the knowledge of what to look for when partnering with a company who has mastered the art of remote help desk support.
And just as important, you have to really know what type of outsourcing model you want and what your priorities are in hiring a technician so that an outsourced help desk fits like a glove with the culture and ethos of your MSP.
As an outsourcing provider ourselves, we at Support Adventure know that it’s always a great match when the outsourcer and the MSP have a shared vision, understanding and respect of each other’s operations.
So in this article, we want to guide you on how to make sure you find a great partner for outsourcing your MSP help desk. We will walk through the following:
- Choosing the “best-fit” outsourced help desk provider
- Overcoming the fear of the risks that keep you up at night
- Knowing what to look for in IT techs
- The impact of interviewing candidates well
- Maintaining an organized help desk
Advantages of Outsourcing Your MSP Help Desk
In case you’re still on the fence about outsourcing MSP help desk support, we first want to remind you of some of these amazing benefits we’ve seen for so many MSPs.
- Remote Savings: We probably don’t need to tell you that hiring and training MSP techs in-house is often more expensive than outsourcing your help desk to talented techs in more affordable locations.
- Remote Expertise: Reputable outsourced help desk service providers are masters of managing technicians remotely, so you can relax if that is an area of your business that you need more consultation on.
- Scalability and flexibility: By outsourcing your help desk, the entire team will have more breathing room to focus on what they do best, allowing the business more space to grow.
- Concentrate on key business processes: You’ll have more free time and resources to zero in on other aspects of your business that need your attention.
- Broaden your MSP’s support coverage: By using the “follow the sun” model, you can offer 24/7 support to your clients and increase their satisfaction with your service. This is especially impactful for MSPs who are looking to expand their services to international clients.
How To Choose the Best MSP Outsourced Help Desk Provider?
There are a number of things to take into account if you’re thinking of outsourcing your MSP help desk. Let’s go over them in detail.
Outsourcing Should Feel Like a Collaboration
Your chosen outsourcing provider can become your long-term staffing partner, for it’s their responsibility to find talented technicians while you focus on managing and expanding your firm. Some outsourcing partners will place a special emphasis on recruiting individuals who will rise and thrive within your organization as long-term employees, while others might specialize in providing temp or part-time workers.
It’s imperative that you understand what their focus is and if it matches your needs. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole to cut corners or save on costs because it will destabilize your help desk in the end.
Also, work with a company where you really trust that they’ve taken the recruitment task off your plate, as your goal is to obtain techs that are truly a cultural and operational fit with your company.
The Best Models of Outsourced IT Helpdesk Support for your MSP
Outsourced IT staffing companies typically have three formats through which they provide service for an MSP:
- Full-time dedicated help desk staff
- Part-time dedicated help desk staff
- Shared helpdesk staff
Here’s a summary of how each one works:
- Dedicated Help Desk Staff – Full Time
A technician works 8-9 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, following all of your internal procedures, just like someone working in your office. This tends to be the most culturally compatible option.
- Dedicated Help Desk Staff – Part Time
This is pretty self-explanatory–hiring a remote tech to perform tasks on a contract of 20 hours per week, give or take. This can also take the form of ad hoc work.
- Shared Helpdesk
This is where a team of technicians handle support issues. Many who seek this option are also aiming to provide 24/7 support with a team of techs working around the world. For more insight on these options, check out our article Benefits and Models for Outsourced MSP Support, which goes more in-depth for these options and the best use cases for each.
Are there any risks associated with hiring outsourced MSP help desk technicians?
You won’t have to worry about risks when you work with an outsourcing provider that you’ve properly vetted and is culturally compatible with your company.
But if you don’t properly vet or you cut corners, you could run into some of these risks:
- Lower Service Quality
- Hidden costs
- Loss of Control
- Difference in the communication and work culture
- Miscommunication and misunderstandings
- Lack of procedural structure
- Compromised security
But please don’t hyperfixate on these risks because we know from working with over 70 clients that outsourcing help desk support is not as scary as you may worry about. As long as you thoroughly examine your options and take your time in finding a secure outsourcing match, it should go well.
How to Choose a Reputable Outsourced Help Desk Provider
Many businesses provide outsourced MSP help desk services, so how do you choose the one that fits like a glove with your brand and ethos? To find the right provider for your MSP, you should follow these best practices:
- Choose a service provider with seasoned experience in the MSP sector: Partnering with a provider that has a proven track record of working with MSPs is crucial. This will guarantee that they are aware of the distinct nuances the industry faces, and have already troubleshooted issues your company will experience.
- Study reviews and get references before selecting a provider. MSPs ought to look over reviews and request references prior to deciding on a provider. This will give you an idea of their reputation, as well as help you sense whether or not your companies will actually fit well together.
- Be smart with pricing: To make sure you are receiving the greatest value possible for your money, it is crucial to evaluate the costs and quality of services offered by various suppliers to get the best value for your money. And it’s important to remember to prioritize the quality of a cultural fit over finding the cheapest price possible.
Investigative questions to ask your potential outsourced staff provider:
Going blindly into an outsourcing deal that will affect your overall quality of service is a bad idea. Venturing into a partnership without a clear understanding of its potential impact on your quality of service is akin to playing with fire. So don’t leave your success up to chance by not asking the right questions! To help you with this, below are 21 crucial investigative questions that are designed to empower you when speaking with potential outsourcing providers:
1. Are you a premium, average or low-cost provider?
2. How does your pricing model work?
3. What are your core values?
4. What do you promise to MSPs?
5. What kind of MSP is your ideal client?
6. How can I be a good client for you?
7. What are mistakes to avoid when using your service?
8. How do you pick staff for your helpdesk? What attributes do you look for?
9. How do you train them in general?
10. How will you train your staff for my MSP and our clients?
11. What are the limitations of scope and how do we define what is supported or not supported?
12. What documentation do you need from us?
13. What standards of ticket notes do your technicians follow?
14 . What kind of escalation channels and policies do you have internally?
15. How and when will you escalate to us?
16. How can we ensure that results improve and prevent recurring mistakes?
17. What’s your security policy for providing access to systems?
18. What kind of liability insurance do you have?
19. What kind of culture do you have internally?
20. How can you ensure my clients get the level of customer service they need?
21. Can I talk to some references?
Find out the ideal answers to these questions in: How to choose an MSP outsourcing provider: 21 questions to ask
What to Look for in IT Technicians for Your MSP Help Desk
You can maximize the potential of your MSP help desk by looking for outsourcing companies that provide clever, quick-thinking IT candidates that are trained. This means their CV isn’t always stacked with hundreds of certificates, as that doesn’t always translate to the nuances of an MSP’s environment and software used.
CVs often don’t reflect the following:
- How intuitive someone is when learning a new software.
- How intelligent someone is when using different resources.
- How they utilize workarounds to create results.
- How they problem-solve under pressure.
Instead of solely relying on CVs and certifications as a barometer for who’s qualified, focus on a more solution-oriented approach. That is prioritizing candidates’ intelligence, experience, creativity and practical skills.
Avoiding Bad Hiring Practices = A Positive Outsourcing Experience
If you want to get the most out of outsourcing, you should be aware of these mistakes MSPs make when hiring:
- Focusing too much on credentials and certifications
- Not screening for social skills
- Not having a well-defined role that you are hiring for
- Not testing candidates for real-world scenarios
- Having scarcity mentality
- Hoping for the best instead of sobering up to red flags
We’ve come across many MSPs who had a bad first go at outsourcing. Often, it’s because they were in a rush to get a technician through the door, and they chose the first and cheapest company they came across with a shared help desk full of techs with nice looking CVs. In the end however, it was a bad match culturally, the techs couldn’t acclimatize quickly to the MSP landscape and clients were turned off.
So it’s imperative that you understand the part you play in choosing an outsourcing partner, and that you have to be open to taking your time to make the best decisions that will save you in the long run.
Read more about this here: The top 6 hiring mistakes
Successful Interview Techniques for MSPs Looking to Hire Top IT Staff
If you end up working with an MSP outsourcer providing dedicated technicians, whether full-time or part-time, you have to keep in mind that their best techs are in high demand. That is why it is important to avoid interrogation-style interviews when talking to potential IT staff. This can make your offer seem unattractive to those rockstar candidates.
Instead, focus on the differences between what makes for a pleasant, and thus successful interview, compared to a tense and authoritative one.
|Interrogation Style Interviewer||Non-Interrogation Style Interviewer|
|Interviewer was more domineering which made him feel uncomfortable.||Interviewer was more interactive which made him feel more welcome.|
|Interviewer was cold and uptight which made Jonathan feel unwelcome.||Interviewer made some jokes which helped Johnathan to bond with him.|
|Interviewer was all business which made Jonathan feel like he had to be a “yes-man” to get the job.||Interviewer and Johnathan disagreed about something, which created a healthy discussion where they found resolution.|
Outsourcing Your Helpdesk and Onboarding Properly
Winging it when onboarding can be a disaster for your MSP, especially when bringing on remote techs who live in different countries. Even with the best technicians, disorganized onboarding conditions will create chaos and a lack of procedural understanding for everyone.
The most important points when onboarding new members of your MSP are to define:
- Rewards and repercussions
- Hours, time tracking and work-from-home policy
- Hierarchies for escalations
- Job distribution and responsibilities
- Escalation policy
- Communication policy
- Documentation policy
- System and Software
- Auxiliary tasks
If you’re working on scaling your business, you’ll probably want to create an onboarding system that:
- Is consistent
- Is reproducible
- Has your companies values built into it
- Has a clear framework of expectations
- Has all the resources needed for getting the work done in one place
- Provides a step-by-step procedure and escalation guide
- Has an overview of the Communication Policy
Read more here: How to onboard properly
Healthy Signs of a Well-Functioning Remote MSP Help desk
When you’re finally off to the races working with an outsourced MSP help desk, everything will work out as long as it’s a well-oiled machine. How?
- Have procedures for documenting issues in the ticketing system
- Employ communication and escalation policies
- Consider hiring a dispatcher
- Take feedback seriously
It’s important to be as organized as possible. Wanna know what’s the opposite of organized? Techs cherry picking tickets from the queue, everyone having to scroll through Teams for details about an escalation and senior technicians who are working on projects having to stop every 15 minutes to answer the phone.
Maybe those types of workflows can survive in an office where you can swirl your chair around to a colleague and get a quick answer, but for the remote world, this creates so much dysfunction. So stay organized and remember that the devil is in the details… and those details should be documented in the ticketing system!
By the way… you can use our free downloadable ticket notes writing guide here.
If you’re looking for full-time tech rockstars, consider working with us!
With over 7 years of experience, we’ve worked with over 60 MSPs–each with their own unique set of needs that we’ve fulfilled. And we are happy to say that we are continuously able to meet and exceed expectations. You can explore our unique approach of working with expats and other proficient English speakers around the world that has helped so many help desks thrive for years! Click here if you are interested in becoming a client.