Carl Rowles, Customer Success Manager at Smartdesc discusses how charities and non-profit organisations can get the most from their outsourced IT Providers or Managed Service Provider (MSP).
Watch the full interview here.
We know that a healthy IT function within a charity or non-profit is not just about the technology, it’s about both about the process and most importantly the people/the end users. What would you say is most important in ensuring that the customer really gets the most from their IT Supplier?
So, firstly I would say the most important out of everything is for the IT Supplier/Outsourced IT partner is to build a great relationship.
Building a great relationship = high priority.
We do this with our customers, we make sure that we pick up the phone or when guidance allows, go on-site to visit. We also make sure we have regular account review meetings and SLA (Service Level Agreement) stats reviews.
A charity or non-profit should expect their IT supplier to be forward thinking, defining an IT roadmap and, also looking at how time logged can be improved – dealing with the issues not just reacting.
This means that we can build trust with our customers and it’s then an equal partnership to meet the overall business objectives.
How important is it for an IT Supplier to be proactive?
It’s really important for your outsourced IT team to be proactive. You really do want to be able to get to the stage where the IT Supplier is thinking for the charity/non-profit and staying ahead of any potential issues before they arise.
Your supplier’s 24/7 monitoring devices should highlight any issues before they become a problem and if this is backed up by a proactive team, it should mean success in staying ahead of any potential problems and stopping them before they progress into a big problem for the organisation.
For instance, a reactive service desk should know there has been a data breech and your supplier should act on in before an attempt becomes a reality.
What about those issues that perhaps niggle a customer, but they never mention until it becomes a bigger issue?
Yes, this can be a tricky one, but again it goes back to having a really good relationship. Hopefully any issues would come out in the account review meetings, but we also provide the opportunity for 360 feedback and secret surveys. A ‘nice to have button’ is always a good idea. We are constantly aiming for open communications from all levels across the organisation.
Transparency is always a key part of the relationship and utilising the governance team, being open to audits and risk registers all help.
How can an IT provider help a customer, who is not IT fluent, not feel overwhelmed by technology? Or Technology can be intimidating, especially for those who do not have experience with IT. How do you help your customers embrace technology on the ground level?
- Jargon-free language
- Regular face-to-training – weekly webinars, drop-ins – however it may benefit them.
- Digital champions; sharing best practices – empowering users to self-help.
Each customer would have their own set of challenges and pressures, how do you ensure you are meeting their requirements?
- Understand what their pressures and challenges are
- Listen to them, holistic approach
- IT Health Scorecard
- Not just a pre-defined set of products/services. Bespoke to the customer
Most charities do not have an internal IT department and so will not be aware how technology can solve their problems. They do not know what is out there, so cannot ask for it. What do you think can take the customer/supplier relationship to the next level so that it is more of a partnership?
It’s all really about building the relationships and the IT provider becoming a trusted supplier, so if the IT provider consistently carries out the tasks and promises that are made, then the charity/non-profit will trust that provider more.
If the provider spends time getting to know the users including the trustees and volunteers – all stakeholders – they are much more likely to be able to fully understand the needs and deliver what is required.
More on that point, how important is it for an IT provider to understand the broader organisational aims of a customer, beyond their technology needs?
- Very important – We are passionate about the missions of the charities we support – part of their fabric almost. Long-term.
- Non-profit specialists.
- Take time to understand the customer’s aims in serving their own beneficiaries. This could be any new services or events they have planned.
- e. organisation looking to expand the amount of users in the future/looking to expand their reach (locations/centres etc.).
- We ensure IT continuously proves to serve our customer’s mission = the heart of everything we deliver. Tech can help charity achieve their broader strategic aims
- Being a part of that conversation is key.
If anyone has any questions, who should they contact?
If you contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.smartdesc.co.uk for more information.