The acid test that separates the pretenders from the contenders

The acid test that separates the “pretenders from the contenders”.

How to select best-in-class multi-vendor IT hardware support providers.  Use the simple evaluation secret used by Fortune 1000 companies.

Selecting an IT hardware service provider can be a daunting, time-consuming and stressful task.  A bad decision can have significant ramifications to your IT estate’s uptime, time-to-repair and quality, not to mention your own personal stress. Hardware is increasingly complex to support and the availability of quality replacement parts is problematic, especially for newer servers, storage and networking equipment.  What to do?  How do you select the best IT support companies?

You’ve already made the wise decision to free yourself from the OEM’s exorbitantly priced “cookie-cutter” service offerings. Not to mention their constant pressure to sell you replacement hardware for your completely functional equipment. After all, OEMs are hardware vendors, first and foremost, and not service companies. Now, how do you find the most capable independent service companies?

Fortunately, there is an answer. To mitigate your risk and instill confidence in your decision, learn what other seasoned IT professionals rely on when evaluating IT hardware support providers: The service test call. Yes!  A test call will immediately frighten away lesser service providers, the pretenders. The simple test call will exercise their entire service delivery process. It’s a first hand vetting that will expose their true capabilities to you.  You’ll experience first-hand their Response Center, contract entitlement, engineering troubleshooting expertise, parts availability and on-site performance. It’s no wonder so few agree to a test call.

Place your test service call on the off-hours, or on weekends.  Rate your experience with their Response Center (was it truly 7x24x365?), were they able to quickly locate your contract entitlement details (company name, system type and serial number, location and service level) and were they able to quickly diagnosis your problem and create a remedial Action Plan?  Did the on-site engineer arrive on time and with the correct parts?  Was the on-site engineer knowledgeable on your hardware?  Or were they just a “free-lancer”, working a one-off service call?

The simple test call will reveal all.  It will allow you to better gauge your future service experiences. Below is a step-by-step test call evaluation checklist.

1.  Setup – Simulate a real contract that’s loaded into their service database.  Provide the critical entitlement details:  company name, system type and serial number, location and service level.  Get a contract number.

2.  Execute – Call their Response Center.  Use your contract number or system serial number to open a service ticket.  Explain your “problem”.  (You could use a previous real service event where you knew the resolution and the time it took to resolve the problem as a useful yardstick.)

3.  Evaluate:

  • A. Response Center:
    • What was your wait time?
    • Were the operators helpful and professional?
    • Could they quickly locate your contract and entitlement details?
  • B. Engineering:
    • Were they quick and accurate in their failure diagnosis?
    • Did they provide the on-site engineer’s name and time of arrival?
  • C. On-site:
    • Did the on-site engineer arrive on time?
    • Did they bring the correct part?
    • Were they knowledgeable with the failed system?
    • Could they efficiently carry out the remedial action plan?

The test call – the acid test that separates the “pretenders from the contenders”. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your IT service provider. Uptime of your IT assets is now more important than ever. You have more important things to worry about these days.