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21 Questions You Should Ask Your Computer Consultant Before Hiring Them To Support Your Network

 

Customer Service:

 

Q1: Do they answer their phones live or do you always have to leave a voice mail and wait for someone to call you back?

Our Answer: We answer our phones live from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pacific Coast time, and we give all clients an emergency after-hours contact they may call or email if a problem arises, including weekends. Why? Because many of the CEOs and executives we support work outside normal hours and find it to be the most productive time they have. If they cannot access their computer network AND can’t get hold of anyone to help them, it’s incredibly frustrating.

 

Q2: Do they have a written, guaranteed response time to your calls?

Our Answer: We guarantee to have a technician working on a problem within 30 minutes or less of your call. This is written into every service agreement we give to our clients because it’s standard procedure.

 

Q3: Do they take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms that you can understand, or do they come across arrogant and make you feel stupid for asking simple questions?

Our Answer: Trained in customer service to have the ‘heart of a teacher, our technicians are patient and will take time to answer your questions and explain everything in simple terms. Just look at what Nicholas Connon, CEO of CWS, had to say:

 

“Edge is the best. Top professionals. They have great industry knowledge. They’re honest and accessible. I could not recommend an IT company with more enthusiasm than I do for Edge”

                                                                                                                                            ––NICHOLAS CONNON, CONNON WOOD SCHEIDEMANTLE, LLP

Q4: Do they consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network’s performance, or do they wait until you have a problem to make recommendations?

Our Answer: We conduct quarterly review meetings with our clients to look for new ways to help improve their operations, lower costs, increase efficiencies and resolve any problems that may be arising. Our goal with these meetings is to help our clients be more profitable, efficient and competitive.

Q5: Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are paying for?

Our Answer: We provide detailed invoices that show what work was done, why and when, so you never have to guess what you are paying for. We also double-check our invoices for accuracy before they are sent to you. Every minute spent on every IT related issue is documented and supported with event logs detailing exactly what was done. You won’t get charged for anything unless you specifically requested our assistance. Unlike in-house IT consultants, we only bill for what we actually accomplish. Sure, we can play angry birds and browse the web from time to time, but you’re not going to pay for it, nor should you.

 

Q6: Do they have adequate errors and omissions insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance to protect YOU?

Our Answer: Here’s something to consider: if they cause a problem with your network that causes you to be down for hours or days or to lose data, who’s responsible? Here’s another question to consider: if one of their technicians gets hurt at your office, who’s paying? In this litigious society we live in, you need to make sure that whomever you hire is adequately insured with both errors and omissions insurance and workers’ compensation – and don’t be shy about asking to see their latest insurance policies!

 

True Story: A few years ago Geek Squad was slapped with multi-million dollar lawsuits from customers for the bad behavior of their technicians. In some cases, their techs where accessing, copying and distributing personal information they gained access to on customers’ PCs and laptops brought in for repairs. In other cases, they lost clients’ laptops (and subsequently all the data on them) and tried to cover it up. Bottom line: make sure the company you are hiring has proper insurance to protect you.

Q7: Do they guarantee to complete projects on time and on budget?

Our Answer: We provide many options, including fixed prices and guarantees to be completed on time, in writing. This is important because many unethical or incompetent computer guys will only quote “time and materials,” which gives them free reign to nickel and dime you as well as take as much time as needed on completing a project. We put in writing the services performed and you agree before the project begins. When it comes to managed services, we provide options for monthly fixed price for unlimited support hours, or bill for time and materials approved by you in writing. So you have multiple options and we will only push for the option that saves you the most money. Remember, we don’t want to alienate our clients we want to save them money. If you believe a project or time is over charged we can always negotiate a solution to keep you happy.

 

Maintenance Of Your Network:

Q8: Do they insist on remotely monitoring your network 24/7, 365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions and security patches up-to-date and PREVENT problems from turning into downtime, viruses, lost data and other issues?

Our Answer: Yes. Our remote network monitoring system watches over your network and constantly looks for developing problems, security issues and other problems so that we can address them before they turn into bigger problems.

 

Q9: Do they provide you with a weekly report that shows all the updates, security patches and status of every machine on your network so you know for sure your systems have been secured and updated?

Our Answer: Every week our clients get a detailed report that shows an overall health score of their network and the updates to their antivirus, security settings, patches and other important network checks (like hard drive space, backups, speed, and performance, etc.).

 

Q10: Is it standard procedure for them to provide you with written network documentation detailing what software licenses you own, your critical passwords, user information, hardware inventory, etc., or are they the only person with the “keys to the kingdom?”

Our Answer: All clients receive this in written and electronic form at no additional cost. We also perform a quarterly update on this material and make sure certain key people from your organization have this information and know how to use it, giving you complete control over your network.
Side Note: You should never allow an IT person to have that much control over you and your company. If you get the sneaking suspicion that your current IT person is keeping this under their control as a means of job security, get rid of them (and we can help to make sure you don’t suffer any ill effects). This is downright unethical and dangerous to your organization, so don’t tolerate it! Technicians work for you, not the other way around.

 

Q11: Do they have other technicians on staff familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?

Our Answer: Yes. And since we keep detailed network documentation (basically a blueprint of your computer network) and updates on every client’s account, any of our technicians can pick up where another left off. We also keep this information secured and backed up. Nobody wants passwords, SonicWall credentials, and other vital network information floating around unsecured.

 

Q12: When they offer an “all-inclusive” support plan, is it truly all-inclusive, or are there “gotchas” hidden in the fine print?

Our Answer: Our “all-inclusive” support plan is just that exactly what it claims to be. One of the more popular service plans offered by consulting firms today is an “all-inclusive” or “all-you-can-eat” managed services plan. These are actually a good thing because they’ll save you a lot of money in the long run – HOWEVER, make sure you REALLY understand what is and isn’t included. Some things to consider are:

  • Is phone/e-mail help desk included, or extra?
  • What about network upgrades, moves or adding/removing users?
  • Is hardware and/or software included?
  • What about 3rd party software support? (We recommend that this IS included).
  • What are the costs/consequences of early cancellation?
  • What if you aren’t happy with their services? Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
  • If the hardware and software is included, what happens if you cancel the contract?
  • Are offsite backups included? To what degree?
  • If you have a major disaster, is restoring your network included or extra?
  • What about onsite support calls? Or support to remote offices?
  • Are home PCs used to access the company’s network after hours included or extra?
  • Is mobile phone support, and other peripheral device support included. What about when I’m working from home?

 

 

For Edge solutions group, the answer is yes to everything. If you can think of a scenario, we include it. Regardless of time, type of service, or complexity, the answer is always YES for our all-inclusive option because there simply is nothing we cannot or will not do in terms of technology if you choose this plan because we want to keep you happy. To do that, we will go above and beyond for our clients who want unlimited support.  It’s that simple.

 

Backups And Disaster Recovery:

 

Q13: Do they INSIST on monitoring an offsite as well as an onsite backup, or are they letting you rely on outdated tape backups?

Our Answer: We do not allow our clients to use tape backups because they are incredibly unreliable. We make sure that all of our clients benefit from multiple layer backups including cloud, raid, and QNAP support. In other words, our backup files have backup files for their backup files, and they’re all in different locations. Even in the worst of scenarios, you will never lose data, we guarantee it. Well almost every scenario. We don’t cover the end-of-days, when our sun explodes and tapers off into a black dwarf 7 billion years from now.

Q14: Do they INSIST on doing periodical test restores of your backups to make sure the data is not corrupt and could be restored in the event of a disaster?

Our Answer: We perform a monthly “fire drill” and perform a test restore from backup for our clients to make sure their data can be recovered in the event of an emergency. After all, the worst time to “test” a backup is when you desperately need it.

 

Q15: Do they insist on backing up your network BEFORE performing any type of project or upgrade?

Our Answer: We do; that’s simply as a precaution in case a hardware failure or software glitch causes a major problem.

 

Q16: If you were to experience a major disaster, do they have a written plan for how your data could be restored FAST and/or enable you to work from a remote location?
Our Answer: All clients receive a simple disaster recovery plan for their data and network. We encourage them to do a full disaster recovery plan for their office, but at a minimum, their network will be covered should something happen.

Technical Expertise And Support:

 

Q17: Is their help-desk US-based or outsourced to an overseas company or third party?

Our Answer: We provide our own 24 hour in-house help desk and make sure the folks helping you are friendly and helpful. We consider this one of the most important aspects of customer service, plus we feel it’s an important step in keeping your data secure.

 

Q18: Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in on-going training – or are they learning on your dime?

Our Answer: Our technicians are required to keep the most up-to-date vendor certifications in all the software we support. We are Dell Preferred partners, certified many times over by Dell and Microsoft in areas like networking, security, data Storage, backups, server administration…etc. Our technicians are educated from some of the world’s most prestigious universities.  As such, our hiring process is stringent, but mostly based on a holistic approach. We want our technicians to be well-rounded and excel in many different areas, not just computers.

 

Q19: Do their technicians arrive on time and dress professionally?

Our Answer: Our technicians are true professionals that you would be proud to have in your office. They dress professionally, show up on time and if they are delayed (for some odd, unforeseen reason) we always notify the client immediately. We believe these are minimum requirements for delivering a professional service.

 

Q20: Are they familiar with (and can they support) your unique line of business applications?

Our Answer: We own the problems with all line of business applications for our clients. That doesn’t mean we can fix faulty software – but we will be the liaison between you and your vendor to resolve problems you are having and make sure these applications work smoothly for you instead of pointing fingers and putting you in the middle.

 

Q21: When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, do they own the problem or do they say “that’s not our problem to fix”?

Our Answer: We feel we should own the problem for our clients so they don’t have to try and resolve any of these issues on their own – that’s just plain old good service and something many computer guys won’t do.

 

 

If you’re a business owner and you even think a lingering “No” could answer any of these questions about your current IT consultant, call Edge Solutions Group and ask for the IT Mamba Michael Kaman, at (310) 499-4929. Tweet us @edgemanaged

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