At Superfast IT, we’ve been providing IT support to businesses in the West Midlands for 15 years. In that time we’ve spoken to a lot of people about the problems they’ve experienced with the industry. Here are five of the top complaints we hear about IT support companies:
A Sales First Approach
People complaining that their IT company is too sales-focused is something that I’ve heard a lot.
In my experience, there are two types of IT company serving the Birmingham/West Midlands market. There are those that are sales-led and those that are engineering-led. What I mean by this is: the founders of the companies were either from a sales background, or a technical background, and they create very different types of organisations.
The sales-led IT companies often have as many sales, marketing and administrative staff as they do engineers as they seek to grow as quickly as possible, maximising profits in the process.
The big problem for the customer is that they’ll often find themselves under constant pressure to spend, on the receiving end of all manner of sales tactics, and the solution to every problem always seeming to be to throw money at it.
The second major problem is that a big chunk of the money you pay for IT support goes towards funding the expensive sales and marketing team.
Don’t get me wrong. Sales growth is a vital part of any business, but when it’s the only real aim, then you as the customer stand to lose out.
Tip: Check out the owners of the company on LinkedIn. If they’ve only ever had a string of sales jobs before starting their IT support company, they probably didn’t get into the business because of their love of technology and helping others.
Long Onerous Contracts
Another bug-bear is the dreaded three-year contract. If only I had a pound for every company I’ve spoken to that’s been trapped in a long contract with an IT support company that wasn’t performing.
Furthermore, most of these three-year contracts had an automatic renewal that rolled the contract on for another three years if notice wasn’t given three months before the end date. Sadly, many of the companies we’ve spoken to were already in the final quarter and were unable to change IT support provider. Not a good situation in which to find yourself.
In the worst cases, I’ve heard of companies paying for three-year IT support contracts up-front as part of a hardware lease, only for the IT support company to deliberately cease trading with directors having pocketed the money. Ouch.
Tip: Many IT companies offer monthly-rolling or annual agreements, so there’s no need to sign a three-year contract, and don’t pay in advance for support as part of an arrangement with a third-party leasing company.
IT Companies All Say The Same Thing
A quick Google search for “IT support companies in Birmingham” will bring up a list with more providers than you can shake a stick at. If you care to take a look at some of the sites, then you’ll start to get a familiar feeling. Here’s a list of the most common claims:
- We’re proactive
- We’ll monitor your systems and fix problems before you knew you had them
- We work in partnership with our clients as an extension of their business
- We provide the best service
- We’re a Microsoft partner
- We’re award winning
The big problem here is that it’s mostly just marketing speak and it makes it impossible for people who are looking for an IT support company to choose between them.
The problem will likely continue should you even get in touch with some of the companies, with salespeople spouting the same lines. You could then find yourself in a quandary, not knowing who to choose, resorting to price as the determining factor, or even worse, falling prey to one of the aforementioned sales-focussed IT support companies with their slick killer-salespeople and shiny marketing. Gulp.
Tip: Ask other business owners or your advisors for recommendations.
They Take Too Long to Respond
One-man-bands and very small IT companies can be renowned for being slow to respond to customer requests.
While you’re phoning their mobile for support, they’re likely under someone’s desk attempting to untangle a plethora of cables. They try in vain to answer your call, straining to reach the phone in their pocket, but they don’t get to it in time. By the time they emerge victorious from under the desk, they’ve already had two other calls, and your message has disappeared into a voicemail abyss. Frankly, you deserve better. Time to look elsewhere.
If you’re getting a slow response from a bigger IT support company, or one with more than 3 or 4 people, then the issue is likely to be one of the following. Either they’re not charging you enough to provide a quality service – spreading themselves too thinly – or they couldn’t organise a p’ up in a brewery. In any case, you need fast IT support, so if you’re consistently not getting it, it’s time to find someone else who can give it to you.
Tip: Check out our article on the cost of business IT support in Birmingham. If you’re at the lower end of the scale, that could mean you need to look for a better provider.
IT Geeks Are Confusing to Deal with and Use Jargon
I think I saved the best for last here. Certainly, one of the most common complaints I hear about the IT support industry is having to deal with geeks who use so much jargon that it’s like they’re talking a foreign language. Ugh.
You can talk directly to computers in plain English these days. Given this miracle of science, it stands to reason that you should be able to speak to another human about computers in plain English too, right?
Once you find an IT company that speaks your language, check they understand the language of business too. That way you’ll both be on the same page and can hit the ground running, empowering your team with technology so that they can take your business to the next level.
Oops, I slipped into business-cliche mode there. That’s what happens when IT guys try to avoid using jargon 😉
Well, there are the most common complaints we’ve heard about IT companies over the last 15 years. Do you have another complaint? Let us know in the comments below.