6 Questions To Ask a Managed IT Provider

By: Dustin Bonn
February 14, 2024

A managed IT provider can do a lot more than just provide IT services and support. Many providers have the capacity to serve as key strategic business partners, but unless you ask six key questions, it might be hard to separate them from the rest of the pack. 

1. What Exactly Is “Excellent Customer Service”?

Customer service rep

Ask immediately to see a breakdown of services so you know if what they’re offering fits your needs. The price of service and the tools they use are important, but neither will compensate for poor service. 

There’s not a company in the world that doesn’t say somewhere on its website that it offers “excellent customer service.” So you may need to get more specific with your questions: 

  • What’s their help desk’s live call answer rate? 
  • What percentage of issues are they able to resolve remotely? 
  • How quickly are most service tickets resolved? 
  • What percentage of your customers would recommend you to other businesses?  
  • Will I have a dedicated team that will get to know my business? 
  • Can I ask for your help when additional needs arise that are outside of our contract, or would I need to call another company? 

What “Service” Looks Like at Marco

At Marco, every client is assigned a primary team, which includes a dedicated supervisor and six to eight technicians devoted to providing support and other IT services to their organization. This team also has access to an army of additional specialized engineers and technicians to help tackle more complex issues. 

In that way, even though we’re a large national provider, every client still gets to have a closer relationship with their IT experts, who will get to know their business from front to back and help them plan for the future. 

We maintain a 98% live-call answer rate on our managed IT service calls, and we also offer a warm-call transfer, which allows technicians to hand off calls to the best resource to achieve prompt resolution. It saves our clients from having to repeat themselves, and important information doesn’t get lost in transit. We keep tabs on key service stats like these not just as a selling tool, but because statistics help us make sure we’re delivering exceptional service every time, and if we fail to do that, we can address it quickly. 

Our constant attention to detail and continuous improvement is a source of great pride throughout Marco, and one that continues to earn us top marks among our peers.

2. How Do You Onboard Your Clients? 

Provider and client shaking hands

When technology is involved, there are always going to be learning curves and adjustments required as new resources are engaged and new processes are implemented. Listen carefully to a provider’s answer because a good provider should have a plan in place so that you are not left on your own to deal with the transition and adjustment period.  They should also not rush the onboarding process — a thorough onboarding can easily take a month or two. 

 At Marco, our onboarding process looks like this:

  1. A dedicated project coordinator is assigned to a client by mutual fit
  2. Time is allotted to ensure clients understand our managed IT program and what it can do for their organization 
  3. A timeline is established for the "go live" launch of services
  4. After services are launched, day-to-day IT tasks and communication responsibilities are turned over to a technical account manager, and a help desk team is assigned

Once onboarding is complete, that’s when a good provider can really show you how much better life can be. Recurring problems fade away, and you can start to enjoy some smoother sailing. 

3. How Are Issues Addressed?

Person with sticky notes of problems

Modern IT has moved past the old break/fix model to a more proactive approach, where more time can be spent preventing problems and helping you work smarter and faster instead of just fixing problems after they’ve impacted productivity. No tool or component is immune to failure, but in your provider’s answer, you should hear a balance of proactive and reactive plans.

Our approach to managed IT includes an ongoing, proactive review of each client’s IT infrastructure to make sure it is performing optimally, avoiding downtime, preventing security threats, and analyzing other issues. Our teams will also routinely check the status and performance of every client’s IT network to help catch any potential issues before they cause problems. Our clients can also contact their dedicated team supervisor if an unexpected issue does arise, so their team can begin working on a solution immediately.

If you suspect your provider is less focused on preventing problems and more focused on profiting from them, you can ask a follow-up: How do you price your services? There are a few different pricing models IT providers use, and some providers will make more money the more problems you have. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suspect there may be a huge conflict of interest there. 

4. Do You Have an Ideal Client?

Client and provider hugging

Don’t be shy! Some providers may be better suited for your needs than others, and when there’s not a good fit, you might not get the ROI you’re looking for. At Marco, we use a compatibility matrix to determine if your organization is a good fit for our services. 

We ask questions like these:

  • What value do you put on technology?
  • What hardware currently exists in your environment?
  • What growth plans do you have?
  • Do you currently have or are you hoping to cultivate a security-first culture?

Yes, we have an ideal client! We work with organizations of every size and shape, but we’re a good fit for an organization that understands the importance of technology and is hoping that it can do a lot more for them. We like to talk to businesses in terms of goals and outcomes, so we love working with a client that can give us a broader mission, like, “Help me increase productivity and employee satisfaction.” 

On the other hand, we’re not a good fit for an organization that is reckless with their staff and customers’ sensitive data, and doesn’t see the need to change. That’s not to say that every business has to do things “our way,” but we’re hoping to build a lasting, mutually beneficial partnership. If we can’t use the tools we need to do a good job and keep our promises, we can’t deliver the ROI that we’re capable of. 

5. How Do You Benchmark Client Success?

You want to know that your Managed IT provider values your opinion. Does the company you're considering collect feedback, place a high value on it, and react in beneficial ways?

Our Managed Service account managers conduct regular reviews to check on the status of your account and gauge your satisfaction. Additionally, you will be invited to participate in our company-wide client survey process. We believe the most important thing a managed services provider can do is to help clients manage how they interact with technology. To get a better sense of what we have in mind when we say “client success,” read this recent case study

6. What Cybersecurity Services Are Available?

IT tech

By the end of 2024, cybercrime is expected to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion. But let’s put that in terms that feel more real: Cybercrime is now the world's third-largest economy, trailing only the United States and China.

Cybersecurity is a serious business and a very specialized one. And while technology improves each and every year, cybersecurity threats shift by the month. A good managed IT provider should be able to provide the following:

  • Organizational compliance with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) or other nationally recommended guidelines
  • Their SOC 2 Type 2 report indicating they’re consistently following best practices
  •  A detailed assessment of current vulnerabilities
  • Multi-layered email and network security to guard against spam and malware
  • An intrusion detection system with unified technologies to stop breaches
  • A backup and recovery plan to minimize potential damage

In-depth answers to these six questions should give you an excellent barometer to decide if a Managed IT Services provider is a good fit for your organization. If any answer doesn't line up with your goals and expectations, or if you see any other red flags, keep searching.

Getting More ROI From Managed IT Services

A truly great Managed IT Services provider can provide you with far more than a suite of world-class services. They can provide you with peace of mind and the ability to focus on growth…and those things are worth their weight in gold. 

But just to bring it home, here’s one more pro tip that I wish more people knew… 

I alluded to this previously, but there are a few common pricing models IT providers use, and some are more advantageous to clients than others. Marco prices our IT services by user, which means our services scale up or down alongside our clients, and small to midsize businesses can get access to world-class experts for less than they might think. 

Click the link below to get a quick estimate!  

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Topics: Managed IT Services