Big Help Desks - What do you have to fear?

Scott Calonico

help desk logoEveryone seems to want to provide IT support to SMEs nowadays. Companies including Earthlink and Verizon in the US and British Telecom in the UK now offer helpdesk support services. Should MSPs be unduly worried about the competition from such formidable opponents?

In reality, MSPs who provide a consistent, quality service and work hard to please their customers should have little to fear.

A major factor that works against these huge corporations is that they are all large enough to have annoyed plenty of people with their customer service in the past!

Even so, MSPs should be aware of the competition and work hard to make sure they remind customers, old and new, of the benefits of working with a smaller, specialist provider, namely:

  • Personal service – the advantages of working with a small support team who get to know the clients as names and not numbers.
  • Specialist Knowledge – getting support from those who know the intricacies of a handful of different infrastructures rather than having general knowledge of hundreds.
  • Client Importance – small MSPs are keen to retain their client base and will work harder to do so, rather than accepting a constant churn of clients as a fact of life.

Even though it should be fairly easy to convince clients that they are better off with a smaller “company that cares,” it would be naïve for MSPs to not accept that these large companies are targeting their clients. Also, worryingly, they have marketing budgets and tactics that may turn the heads of loyal customers.man at computer

The way that MSPs should respond to this is to make sure they are constantly aware of the IT support marketplace and exactly what their clients are being tempted away with. By staying aware of the competition, MSPs can be ready with specific ways to demonstrate to customers that “bigger isn’t better.”

Sadly, the one thing the smaller MSP is unlikely to be able to compete on is price. The large companies offering support benefit from enviable economies of scale, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to explain to customers that there’s only so much quality support they can expect for a tiny monthly fee. At the same time, MSPs can emphasize their personal approach, flexibility and willingness to please.

Inevitably, a few customers will be spirited away by the marketing efforts of the big boys. Rather than being unduly deterred by this, MSPs should simply concentrate on providing a service that the big players simply cannot match. It’s probably only a matter of time before a few of the defectors are back on their doorstep.