How a customisable ITSM solution can be a platform for success

Customer satisfaction is a key goal for any Managed Service Provider (MSP). If the client is not happy with the service being offered, they are likely to vote with their feet and move to another MSP.  So, responding quickly and effectively to requests must be apriority for MSPs.

Yet MSPs are also businesses and need to service as many clients as possible to be profitable. Getting the balance right between quality of service and quantity of clients served is essential to running a successful business. Spend too much time keeping a customer happy and the business won’t make money. Conversely, if a business has too many clients there could be difficulty in meeting service level agreements. For MSPs, such as ourselves, the ITSM platform is fundamental to this balancing act.

A quality ITSM, or IT Service Management, platform will help streamline efficiencies for both the business and its clients, enabling staff to resolve customer issues in an effective and timely fashion.

Flexibility and customisation

For the ITSM platform to deliver the benefits an organisation wants to achieve, it must have flexibility and the potential for customisation, otherwise a business is restricted by the capabilities of that particular platform. At Utilize, the rigidity of our previous ITSM solution meant we were forced to develop processes to fit the package, not the business. This is not a good situation to be in for a number of reasons. For example, creating a unique selling point and introducing new services to the market are next to impossible if an organisation has to change its business model to fit in with what is effectively one of its business tools. Also, the full potential of the skills and experience of staff can never truly be realised if they are stifled by such constraints.

So, we looked for an ITSM platform that could be built around our own business needs, whilst having the flexibility and scalability to change and grow as we do. One of our key criteria was that the ITSM platform has to be customisable by the team in-house; after all nobody is going to know better what a business needs than those working within it. For this to happen, changes should be easily made to the platform without the need for any code. It was with these objectives in mind that we partnered with Cherwell Software, who were able to deliver what we were looking for and could provide unparalleled support.

When deciding on what the new platform customisations should be, it’s important to get the team involved. So, we set up engineer focus groups, something we’d recommend to other MSPs if they are undertaking similar projects. In these sessions, engineers can discuss what has worked and what hasn’t, explore metrics and use customer feedback to recommend changes to the platform. Metrics explored can include helpdesk efficiency, call closure rates and customer satisfaction through the tracking of its Net Promoter Score.

To ensure the smooth running of the business, a customised platform should be robust and sophisticated enough not to encounter any issues with routine system updates.

Automation and integration 

To really drive efficiencies, the ITSM platform must have the ability for processes automation and solutions and services integration from third parties.

From our own experience, being able to integrate Microsoft Partner Centre with our Cherwell Software ITSM platform has been a game changer. Previously, if customers wanted to adjust or renew Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, we would have to send out quotes that would need to be signed and returned. This was followed by a manual process internally where our purchasing department had to adjust the subscription and then accounts would raise the relevant invoices and adjust the contracts.

Now, however, a customer can adjust their subscription via the portal, which is automatically updated as live in the Microsoft Partner Centre in their Office 365 tenant. The invoice can then be downloaded, and the customer is billed accordingly.

The benefit of automation is that the platform drives processes through a business rather than having to rely on staff. Automating the Microsoft Partner Centre has saved us two hours per order, equating to a significant 120 hours per month, freeing up staff to get on with other tasks.

How to use ITSM monitoring to scale the business 

Through ITSM customisation it’s possible to better manage and monitor the performance of teams and staff through setting KPIs and creating dashboards. This can then inform training requirements, role changes, allocation of workloads and potentially recruitment requirements.

In terms of customer service, using integrated reporting tools means we can track trends and reoccurring issues and get to the root cause of the issue to prevent it returning. Trend reporting can also be used to help plan customer upgrades and training issues.

Providing customers with easier to use systems that deliver quicker responses and turnarounds naturally encourages greater use of the system. For example, we have increased portal requests by nearly 25% since the Cherwell deployment, along with positive feedback from customers. Greater customer satisfaction and use of a flexible and customisable ITSM solution can only be good news for ambitious MSPs.

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