Frequently Asked Questions
21 Questions You Should Ask Your Computer Consultant Before Hiring Them To Support Your Network
OUR ANSWER: We answer our phones live from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and give all clients an emergency after-hours number they may call if a problem arises, including weekends. Why? Because many of the CEOs and executives we support work outside normal hours and find it 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.
OUR ANSWER: We have dedicated Service Level Agreements that guarantee swift responses to all levels of problems, from printer malfunctions to total internet loss.
OUR ANSWER: Our technicians are trained to have the ‘heart of a teacher’ and will take time to answer your questions and explain everything in simple terms.
OUR ANSWER: We invest in training and education to understand the latest offerings that will fit into our client’s businesses. We conduct 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 arise. Our goal with these meetings is to help our clients be more profitable, efficient, and competitive.
OUR ANSWER: Our detailed invoices 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. With our fixed fee managed IT services, you always know what your monthly bill will be!
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 better make darn sure 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 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 a client’s laptop (and subsequently all the data on it) and tried to cover it up. Bottom line, make sure the company you are hiring has proper insurance to protect YOU.
OUR ANSWER: All projects are fixed priced and guaranteed in writing to be completed on time. 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.
Maintenance Of Your Network:
OUR ANSWER: Yes; our remote network monitoring system constantly watches over your network to look for developing problems, security issues and other problems so we can address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.
OUR ANSWER: Every month 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, performance, etc.).
OUR ANSWER: All of our clients can receive this information in written and electronic form, at no additional cost. This information is updated in our client portal live, and key players within your company can access it at any time.
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 (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!
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 one has left off.
OUR ANSWER: Our “all-inclusive” support plan is just that – all inclusive. 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:
- Do they have experience with small to mid-sized businesses?
- Is phone/e-mail help desk included or extra?
- What about network upgrades, new PC implementations 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 you charged every time a technician needs to come to your facility?
Backup And Disaster Recovery:
OUR ANSWER: We do not allow our clients to use tape backups because they are incredibly unreliable. We make sure all of our clients have an onsite and offsite backup, which is the only way to guarantee full data protection.
OUR ANSWER: Our backup software tests every offsite backup before it is sent to the cloud, ensuring its quality. This means every successful offsite backup is able to be securely restored in a disaster recovery scenario.
OUR ANSWER: We do and that’s simply as a precaution in case a hardware failure or software glitch causes a major problem.
OUR ANSWER: Our disaster recovery clients receive a simple 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:
OUR ANSWER: We provide a Pennsylvania-based 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 vital in keeping your data secure.
OUR ANSWER: Our technicians are required to keep the most up-to-date vendor certifications in all the software we support. We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and our hiring process is so stringent, 99% of the technicians who apply don’t make it through (guess who’s hiring them?)
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 cannot (for some odd, unforeseen reason) we always notify the client immediately. We believe these are minimum requirements for delivering a professional service.
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.
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.
The 4 Most Costly Misconceptions About Maintenance & Repair
MY COMPUTER NETWORK DOESN’T NEED REGULAR MONITORING AND MAINTENANCE.
This is probably one of the biggest and most costly misconceptions that business owners have. Usually this is because they’ve been fortunate enough to never have encountered a major disaster; but that’s similar to someone thinking they don’t need to wear a seat belt when driving a car because they’ve never had an accident.
Computer networks are complex and dynamic systems that need regular updates and maintenance to stay running fast and problem free. In fact, it’s surprising how fast a brand new PC will slow down after a few weeks of use without proper updates and maintenance. Here are just a few of the critical updates that need to be done on a weekly – if not daily – basis:
- Security patches – with new viruses and hackers appearing daily, this is critical
- Antivirus updates and monitoring
- Firewall updates and monitoring
- Backup monitoring and test restores
- Spam filter installation and updates
- Spyware detection and removal
- Monitoring disk space on workstations and servers
- Monitoring hardware for signs of failure
- Optimizing systems for maximum speed
- Continual monitoring of entire network to maintain a consistent health score
Just like a car, if you don’t change the oil, replace the filter, rotate the tires, flush the transmission, and perform other regular maintenance, your car will eventually break down and cost you far more to repair than the cost of the basic maintenance – and cars are far simpler than a computer network!
If your computer support tech does not insist on some type of regular, automated monitoring or maintenance of your network, then DO NOT hire them. Lack of system maintenance is the number one reason most people end up losing valuable files and incur heavy computer repair bills. If your technician isn’t offering you these services, you need to find someone else to support your computer or network for two reasons:
- Either they don’t know enough to make this recommendation, which is a sure sign they are horribly inexperienced, OR
- They recognize that they are profiting from your computer problems and don’t want to recommend steps towards preventing you from needing their help on an ongoing basis. After all, they’ll get paid more to remove a virus than to make sure your system is patched, updated and secured.
MY NEIGHBOR’S KID/OFFICE MANAGER KNOWS COMPUTERS AND CAN TAKE CARE OF OURS
Most people look for a part time “guru” for one reason: to save a few bucks. This often comes back to haunt them. We frequently get calls from business owners who desperately need our help to get them back up and running, or to clean up a mess that was caused by an inexperienced person who was just trying to help.
If the person you have working on your machine does not do computer repair and support for a living, there is a good chance they won’t have the knowledge or experience to truly help you – they are a hobbyist at best. And do you really want a part-time, inexperienced person responsible for handling something as important as your data and computer network? As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. That’s not to say you need to go broke to find a great technician, but you shouldn’t be choosing someone on price alone.
ALL COMPUTER TECHNICIANS ARE CREATED EQUAL. YOUR BEST OPTION WILL BE THE ONE WHO OFFERS THE LOWEST PRICE.
As we stated a moment ago, you get what you pay for. A cheap price usually means a cheap job. Really good technicians do NOT work cheap because they are in high demand just like every other professional service category. The only technicians that will work cheap are those that are just starting and they are grossly inexperienced.
And some shops will hire college kids or newbie technicians because they will work for next to nothing to gain experience OR they allow interns to support your network because they don’t have to pay them at all – but what you don’t realize is that an inexperienced technician like this can end up costing more because:
- They improperly diagnose problems, which means you’re paying them to fix the wrong thing that STILL won’t resolve your problem. Case in point: A few years ago a TV reporter went undercover to 8 computer repair shops in LA with a perfectly working PC, but simply disconnected a cable in the back (a fix that the AVERAGE computer tech would have caught in minutes with a visual inspection). Several shops improperly diagnosed the problem and wanted to charge them anywhere from $59 to over $275 to fix it!
- They could take 3 to 5 times as long to do the same repair an experienced technician could fix quickly. Again, you’re paying for those extra hours.
- They could do MORE damage, costing you more money and downtime.
With your client data, accounting records, e-mail and other critical data at stake, do you really want the lowest- priced shop working on your machine?
We take the view that most people want value for money and simply want the job done right. You will find that we are not the cheapest, but we don’t apologize for that. As the owner, I decided a long time ago that I would rather explain our higher rates once than make excuses for poor service forever. That said, we aren’t the most expensive either. We simply feel that we should offer a good service at a fair price.
AN HONEST COMPUTER SUPPORT COMPANY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU A QUOTE OVER THE PHONE.
I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Just like a good doctor, an honest and professional technician will need to diagnose your network before they can quote any price over the phone; consider the example above where all was needed was a simple cable being plugged in. If someone brought that to us, we would just plug it back in and not charge them; but without SEEING the machine, we could have never diagnosed that over the phone.
Also, some consultants will quote you a cheap rate over the phone to get in the door, but then jack up the prices once they get in your office by taking 3 times as long, selling you add-ons and up-sells. Finally, reputable firms don’t charge by the hour anyway — they give you a fixed, flat rate. Here’s why…
One of the easiest ways to take advantage of a customer is to get them to agree to a time and materials repair. Unless you know what’s wrong and how long it should take, they can soak you on the fees. And what are you going to do when they get 5-6 hours into a repair or project and then spring on you the news that it will take even longer than they anticipated to fix, costing you MORE money?
Always, always, always make sure you get a flat-rate, fixed fee quote in advance so you don’t end up getting burned – and NEVER take a phone quote!
Are you looking for a reliable IT consultant?
Look no further than Simply IT for trusted, personalized, and result-oriented solutions
in Allentown, Reading, Bethlehem, Easton, Emmaus, PA, and the surrounding areas.