If you are the owner of a small company yourself, you can often feel the pressure to employ another small company to take care of your computer support in order to support the ‘small guy’. However, whilst quite noble, this is not always the best idea.
On the flipside, if you are the owner of a larger business, it’s not always the most sensible option to choose a large computer support organisation. So, with these two points of view in mind, just how can you make the decision between the small guy and the big corporation and ensure you’ve made the right choice in terms of computer support?
Reviews and Referrals
It is always a good idea to keep the two Rs in mind when deciding to hire a computer support company.
A lot of reviews will be able to be found online, in forums and the like, so make sure you take the time to search these out and consider what people have said very carefully. Be careful not to always go by what people have said if listed on the website; these can be skewed and sometimes manipulated to make the company sound better than they really are.
Personal referrals are always really important when choosing a service. If you have contacts in other local companies why not ask them who they’ve hired to do their computer support. This way you find out if they like the service they’re getting. If they don’t, you should probably avoid hiring their support company. If they do, you should look into hiring the same one they have.
The other advantage of a personal referral is you might get a discount on your service plan with the support company. This is always worth asking about, even if the computer support company is very small. In fact, you are more likely to get some kind of deal with a smaller company, since your business will be extremely important to them and they will want to deal with you on a personal level.
Larger corporations will be more interested in churning deal after deal over than connecting with you on a personal level, so a personal referral will probably not mean as much to them as it does to the little guy. When you let smaller computer support companies know you have been personally referred, they often try a lot harder to impress and please you, so you’ll probably get more for your money.
Don’t be Fooled by Advertising
Advertisements have a lot to answer for since they lead a lot of people into making the wrong hiring and purchasing decisions. You should always keep in mind, the larger the company; the better their advertising campaign is probably going to be. They have a lot more money to throw at advertising than the little guy does.
This is not to say all of the larger support companies value style over substance but it will be true of some, so try not to let impressive, colourful and fancy advertisements sway you too much from weighing up all the important positives and negatives of each company, i.e. what they’re all offering, how well they meet your requirements and obviously the price.
On the other side of things, don’t think you should go with the little guy just because they can’t afford flashy advertising. Advertising is an important part of any business and they should budget accordingly and make sure their business is being portrayed in as good a light as possible. Lack of any advertising at all may be a sign of laziness, so is also something to watch out for.
Try Your Hand at Espionage
This is not to suggest you go all out and try to become James Bond, taking down the big corporations and exposing corrupt small-time criminals. However, there is no harm in doing your own bit of research. After all, it is your money you’ll be spending, so you’ve got every right to look into both the larger support companies and the small ones too.
It is a lot easier to spy on the little guys, although you can also be found out a lot quicker, which isn’t so good. You’ll stand out more browsing round a small guys’ shop then you would in a big computer store, so keep this in mind and try to have a good story prepared in case they quiz you about what you’re after.
So, what should you be looking for when in spy mode?
– Other customers: Keep an eye and ear out for customers who appear disgruntled. If there are quite a few, it may be a warning sign not to go with that company. Likewise, if people appear very happy with the service they’ve received, it can be a very good sign.
– Employees: Try to interact with the company’s employees. If they take a while to notice you or answer your questions, it’s generally a sign they have not been trained very well, which is a definite sign to leave the store and never even think about hiring them ever again.
-Support technicians: Try to identify the employees who actually work in the support team. Can you see them in the store? If you can, look at the way they are working; do they seem distracted, are they mucking about or are they focused and professional?
As well as spying in store, it’s a good idea to give the companies, on your shortlist, a call. Everything from how long you are waiting before your call is answered, through to how long it takes for someone to answer your questions thoroughly and in as much detail as you want, will tell you everything you need to know.
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James writes for Quintech SAP Oxford http://www.quintech.co.uk/. When not blogging, he can often be found buying more computers than he needs.