How do I achieve a 24/7/365 Help Desk Service in my MSP?Digital Marketing: Expectations

We’ve been providing IT support for almost two decades and, since 2009, have offered a Live Virtual Help Desk service. We have yet to do this without learning big lessons and are happy to share them.

If you’re considering offering 24/7 IT support, help yourself to benefit from our experience. Here are our top tips:

1) Hire more people than you think you’ll need (you’ll always need more people)

When starting, it tends to run as a threadbare operation because it’s not bringing in any money. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario, but prepare for over-investment and under-return when you begin.

2) Remember your night team will always end up relying on your day team

The dynamic between your night and day teams is more interdependent than it might appear. While the night team is on the frontline during off-peak hours, their efficiency and effectiveness are often contingent upon the groundwork laid by the day team. This symbiotic relationship is crucial for several reasons:

Knowledge Transfer: The day team possesses a wealth of real-time insights and updates about ongoing issues, customer interactions, and system updates that occurred during their shift. It’s vital that this information is accurately and effectively passed on to the night team to ensure they’re not starting from scratch every evening. Implementing a comprehensive handover process can bridge this gap, ensuring continuity and efficiency.

Resource Accessibility: Night teams might face limitations in accessing certain resources that are readily available to the day team, such as real-time support from vendors or access to decision-makers for critical escalations. To mitigate this, ensure that the night team has a structured protocol for accessing the information or support they need, possibly through detailed documentation, escalation paths, and pre-defined solutions for known issues.

Feedback Loop: The night team’s experiences can provide invaluable feedback on the day team’s preparations and the overall readiness to handle after-hours issues. Establishing a feedback loop where the night team can report back on their shift’s challenges and successes helps the day team refine their processes and preparations.

Training and Support: Continual training and support are crucial for both teams, but the night team, in particular, may require additional focus to ensure they’re as equipped as their daytime counterparts. This includes not just technical training but also soft skills for handling after-hours calls, which might differ in nature and urgency.

Team Building: Promote a culture of unity and mutual respect between the night and day teams. Encourage joint team meetings, cross-training sessions, and social events to build rapport. Understanding and appreciating each other’s roles and challenges will foster a more collaborative environment.

3) For every three people you think you need, add another one

We recommend a three-way shift pattern. This means you have to consider your employee welfare and days off. That includes holiday accruement, shift changes and time between shifts. Add to that sick days when you least need them, and you’ll soon see that extra person rule will come in handy.

4) Handovers are pivotal

You need a ‘multiple life jacket’ approach. Project handovers during the day are hard enough. Imagine handing it off to a team who can’t return it within the hour because you’ll be asleep. You need multiple capture points for handover info. We have pre and post-flight checklists and tag stakeholders in relevant cases. Team handover chats are recorded in our ERP, and stakeholders are reminded (that’s the second life jacket).

5) Protect your systems because they’ll protect you

It might be tempting to go off-piste because you’re rushed or a client is making extra demands, but if you stay within your systems and processes, you’ll avoid long-term issues. Make sure you and your team keep a cool head and take the time to follow procedures

6) Plan for negligence

There’s no use planning for best-case scenarios when the worst-case ones are what your reputation’s built on. How you handle the worst-case scenario will keep your customers happy.

7) Prepare to roll up your sleeves

You’ll need to get stuck in the early days when issues need smoothing out. Do night and day shifts when no one else can. You’ll soon reach a critical mass where you can afford the wasted overhead. While ironing out creases, you might still get those 2 am calls.

8) Select a good team

You want to keep people happy and healthy so they give their best working day. While allowing for unforeseen costs and extra staff, you still want a team that knows when to go the extra mile. Get a good team behind you, be all in it together and build trust.

9) Balance the needs of the business with the customer’s

Customer service is a priority but is only as important as staff wellbeing or your bottom line. Listen to your customers’ requests, but they’re not always right. Sometimes, you must go with your gut and work according to how you do business. That might mean losing some very high-demand customers, but that might be for the best in the long run.