IT Service Provider Red Flags

reg flags

Recent conversations with potential clients about their current IT providers have once again highlighted some of the common red flags we see in our industry.  If you’re struggling with any of these items, it might be an indication that there are serious organizational issues with your current IT provider that aren’t easily resolved.  If you see any of these IT service provider red flags, it might be time to shop for services.

Slow Response Time

Some recent data on average customer support response times indicates that the average response times to customer support tickets is 7 hours and 4 minutes.  That’s almost an entire workday to get back to you. 

Now granted, that is an overall average.  Most helpdesks will prioritize issues by impact and severity.  Server and network down issues that affect an entire organization would have a much faster average response time if you broke them out separately.  Still, that gives us a useful benchmark.

Many of the businesses I’ve talked to recently have been struggling with response times between 24-48 hours.  Typically, they get a call back the next day, or the day after that.  They are also almost universally unhappy about this type of response.  It would also rank the offending service provider in the lowest 25% or so of all IT service companies.  They’re not doing a good job.

The top 20% of service providers are much faster.  They respond on average in 2 hours or less to tickets.  Last quarter i.t.NOW fell into this bucket with our average response at 1 hour and 48 minutes.  Typically, businesses I’ve talked to that are experiencing this type of response time are very satisfied.  In general businesses that expect significantly faster response times aren’t being realistic based on industry averages.

If your current provider falls into that category of the lowest 50%, where it’s taking 7+ hours or more to get a response, it should be a red flag.  It likely indicates a breakdown on the structure of their helpdesk and is not a problem that they will be able to solve quickly or easily.

Broken Commitments

Another conversation I had recently was about an IT service provider that didn’t keep their commitments to their clients.  When the client signed up for service, they purchased some end user security training as well as other security products to help protect their network.  6 months into the relationship they still hadn’t implemented these solutions.

The client then had a security breach.  A bad actor gained access to their email, and then started reading the correspondence from their accounting department.  They then interjected into their billing conversations and informed a dozen clients that their banking info had changed.  They asked them to wire their payments to a new account.  Most of their clients caught on and didn’t do so.  Unfortunately, there was one that got duped and wired $55,000 to the bad guys.

Their provider did work frantically to try and help afterwards, and about a year into their agreement finally got the promised solutions put into place.  It’s possible that if they had kept their commitments the breach could have been avoided.  Broken commitments are a red flag you should watch out for, especially if you see a pattern of broken promises over time.

Unfinished Projects

Another recent conversation found us discussing unfinished projects.  Things that were committed to, and then sat for months and months with no progress.  Eventually the client followed up with the provider, they may some cursory apology, and finally started on the project.  Months after that it still wasn’t complete.

Quality providers should have a system in place to track the progress of current projects.  There should also be follow ups that happen and checks on every open project.  If there is a roadblock that prevents progress that should be communicated to the client so that it can be addressed, and progress can resume.

If your IT provider is making excuses instead of progress on open projects that should be a red flag.

Poor Communication

Communication problems can range from simple items like the helpdesk not following up with users on an open ticket or confirming resolution to their problem.  Or it could be a matter of not having someone to manage the account and discuss strategic planning, inventory, and objectives.

The best providers train their staff to have closed loop communication.  Even if an issue can’t be immediately resolved the client should know the plan for resolution and when the next step will happen.  The best providers are effective communicators.  If you feel like you’re continually left in the dark with questions about next steps, that’s a communication red flag.

Non-Existent Security

Not having the right security solutions in place can put your business at risk.  The best providers should be monitoring active threats, and proactively communicating about what is needed to protect your business.

If you have a provider that hasn’t talked to you about the latest in network security, doesn’t leverage a layered security solution, and doesn’t implement the right solutions, that’s a red flag.

If your provider hasn’t talked with you about endpoint detection and response, multifactor authentication, email security solutions, firewalls, and other basic security, that’s also a red flag.

Competitive Bid

If you find yourself dealing with an IT provider that has any of the above red flags, it may be time to shop for IT services.  Here are a couple of resources that can help you know what to look for.  We put together this guide on how to partner with the right IT company.  Also a guide on IT services and IT Security.

These helpful resources can help point you in the right direction.  If you have questions about IT services or what i.t.NOW has to offer, give us a call.  We would love to help make sure your business gets the quality service and security you need to stay safe and productive.

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash