In mid September, Smart Dolphins took a calculated leap that permanently and fundamentally changed our company for the better. We came to the realization that we could not be the best at running an efficient and effective help desk (the part of our team dedicated to servicing our common and relatively easier reactive computer support service) while also running the best managed services business. So we established an IT partnership with a local Victoria Help Desk company, LiveVHD (VHD = Virtual Help Desk), who is the best at running an efficient and effective help desk.
When we first starting thinking about this potential change back in the summer, it seemed too scary. “We can’t turn our treasured clients over to a bunch of strangers.” Our core values include “Healthy Relationships” and it felt initially like we were going to be turning our backs on an important part of what we were doing for clients. That feeling started to subside when we met with Dan Sturgill and some of the LiveVHD team. We could see that this company had very similar core values, they focused exclusively on the help desk component of what we do (so they provide this particular type of network support better than we ever could) and they were specifically built for companies (internationally) who are JUST LIKE US. LiveVHD fit Smart Dolphins like a glove.
It seemed like it would make good business sense, but it was still a leap. How would the onboarding process work? How would clients react? How would our team react? Of course, we learned, LiveVHD stick-handles these transitions all the time so they had a lot of really good answers to these worries. We were also extra relieved by the unique offer they gave us: because they are just down the street from us, they were able and willing to hire our internal help desk guys and would assign them to our clients. So, to our clients, there will only be a new phone number and only occasionally a new voice. If we weren’t vocal and open about the change (and of course we were), most clients probably wouldn’t even have known the difference.
Some of the Smart folks at LiveVHD:
The results so far have been nothing short of great:
- Our clients agree: on the previous 100 feedback surveys prior to the transition, our clients gave us an average score (out of 5) of 4.72. The LiveVHD surveys so far have averaged 4.84!
- We also have been amazed by how much they have been able to accomplish: they have closed over 97% of the service orders (tickets/problems) that they have opened.
- And for our clients, they have an even larger team at LiveVHD to help maintain fast response times when we have a peak in demand.
The impact this change had on our operations has also been striking. By removing the “noisy” bulk of the reactive work that we had, our team can now almost exclusively focus on the most challenging reactive work and, more importantly, concentrate on the proactive work and larger projects we take on. This is really good timing as we have just finished redefining our IT best practices framework and now need our newly freed up proactive resources to apply this template to each and every one of our managed services clients.
So besides what I hope is an interesting story, I offer this up as a lesson to other businesses out there. Sometimes big changes can seem too scary and it is easy to find reasons why they won’t work. However, if you can get a large and important block of work out of your hands and into the hands of a partner company that is focused exclusively on that type of work, you will almost certainly be better off. And well, I guess I wouldn’t be a very good “sales guy” if I didn’t close this by suggesting creating IT Partnerships is EXACTLY what we do for our clients!