Are You Paying Enough for IT Support?

By: Dan Bremner

Several years back, I was referred to a prospective customer, a successful business with about 25 employees in the Chicago suburbs. In my meeting with the owner and the office manager I learned that they were paying their existing IT provider a flat monthly fee to manage their network and computer systems. On paper, it appeared a lot like our Managed IT service. But they were frustrated with the service, and they certainly weren’t seeing the kind of results that our customers get. There was a great opportunity here for us to help them.

While they were paying for “unlimited” support, their employees didn’t want to call the IT company when they had issues. It took days to get a call back, and the service often wasn’t thorough, so problems lingered. Employees preferred to “live with” their computer problems and annoyances, eating into their productivity for months before it got bad enough to call. Talk about defeating the purpose!

I assured them our customers don’t experience those frustrations, and offered customer references to back me up. I also told them I had a pretty good idea why they were having these service problems.

Sure enough, they told me our price was almost double their current cost. It surprised them when I said this was a good thing for them. It meant that we charge enough to keep our promises and follow through on what we said we would deliver. It’s simple math: if we charged half our price, we would need to bring on twice as many customers without hiring additional staff; our team would be stressed, overworked and unable to keep up with tickets. By charging enough to support our customers properly, not only can we be responsive, but we also take the time needed to improve our processes, stay up on new technologies and come up with new system checks that help us do our job even better and prevent problems for our customers. That just wouldn’t be possible if we were constantly running from one fire to the next. They thought they had gotten a good deal. But even if their current IT company promised to “do better,” their business model made that impossible.

Information Technology support in a business always has a cost. You can pay someone like Castema enough to make sure your IT systems are being managed and maintained properly. Or you can pay that support cost in more hidden and indirect ways that mostly boil down to lower productivity and greater risk. It could be server downtime, slow response times and nagging problems; or increased risk from data loss, lack of compliance, or no disaster recovery plan. Those “hidden” costs add to the stress of business owners and employees alike, which itself is another hidden cost: not having the peace of mind that comes from knowing your systems are in good hands.

So what happened with our prospective customer? They couldn’t justify paying more so they stayed with their existing provider…until a year or two later when they were finally ready to make a change. The happy ending to the story is that they have been with us for two years now, and the owner of the business has told me directly that it’s one of the best decisions he’s made.