There’s nothing more important than customer satisfaction in the business of managed services, and the keys to that satisfaction are transparency and great communication. For this reason, Quarterly ...
There’s nothing more important than customer satisfaction in the business of managed services, and the keys to that satisfaction are transparency and great communication. For this reason, Quarterly Business Reviews are one of the best tools you can use when it comes to keeping your clients updated on all the work that you’re taking care of for them. You may know them as Technical Business Reviews, Semi-Annual Business Reviews, or any one of a dozen different names. No matter what you decide to call them, they serve as an excellent opportunity to touch base with clients, highlight the value of the services you provide, and create a strategic agenda moving forward. In our managed services business, Compuquip, we learned a lot about perfecting these reviews and they served as a cornerstone in our efforts to keep clients happy and informed. Let’s take a deep-dive into what a QBR meeting should look like, and how to leverage these meetings for closer, more fruitful partnerships! Timing for a Quarterly Business Review The timing of a QBR is incredibly important, because you have to make sure that the meeting is convenient for all stakeholders. You also want to do your best to choose a time when everyone is going to be alert and in a good mood. Not easy, right?! That’s why we always suggest to avoid the late lunch or a meeting near the end of the day. To be more specific, we found that setting up our QBRs as a breakfast meeting gave us the best results. Why is that? Well, to start, it’s at the beginning of the day. People are more likely to be in good moods, alert, and ready to take part in strategic discussions. Another reason to push for the breakfast meeting is that it’s likely the best time to ensure all stakeholders can attend. Meetings are rarely scheduled first thing in the morning, so choosing an early time can help you to stand out from the crowd, and also provides a higher chance that all stakeholders will be available. Not to mention that people are in a hurry in the morning and don’t always have time for breakfast if they’re dropping kids off or fighting rush hour traffic. Knowing that you’ll have breakfast for them means one less thing they have to worry about as they start their day. Pro tip: Don’t think you have to assemble an entire spread of breakfast choices! Trust us... after years of successful QBRs, the secret is bagels and coffee. Easy for you to transport, practically everyone loves them, and the price is great too! If quarterly business reviews are too frequent, it’s okay to meet less often. You know your clients best, and it is important that you’re able to provide them with a valuable interaction, which isn’t always possible if you’re meeting too often. We do recommend that you try to meet a minimum of three times per year, because that keeps you top-of-mind and continues to build a stronger partnership. Who Should Participate in QBRs? Knowing that the first step to QBR success lies in picking a time that will yield the highest attendance, it’s also just as important to make sure the right people are present in the actual meeting. This helps to ensure that the QBR is given the proper gravity. Let’s take a closer look at who those stakeholders are that we mentioned earlier: Your Technical Account Manager: You want to bring the person who manages this particular account on a day-to-day basis because they know the ins and outs of the client’s business. This is the person who puts together the report, sets the agenda, and generally leads the actual meeting. Your Point of Contact: The person that your team interfaces with should be there because they have an understanding of your daily operations and is likely someone that you already have a rapport with. Depending on the size and structure of your client, this may be someone such as an Office Manger, or even a COO or CIO. The Boss: Who’s the top dog, so to speak, on the client side? Again, this will depend on the size and structure of each client, but we’re talking about someone along the lines of Founder, Owner, or CEO of the business. The Person Who Signs Your Check: Who signs off on your partnership? It’s absolutely critical that this person sees the value in your services and they are the most important attendee. For your smaller clients, this may be the boss, but with your larger clients, the money person may be a CFO. Find out who it is, and make sure they are included at each QBR. Other Department Heads: Here we’re talking about people who are one level down from the Executives, perhaps a leadership team. Invite anyone who is relevant to the discussion, especially if you plan on pitching changes in processes that will involve their department. If necessary, provide an explanation for why you would like them to attend when planning the meeting. Make QBRs Strategic, Not Tactical Your Quarterly Business Review isn’t the ideal time to get down into the nitty-gritty of daily operations. This is one of the few times that you have executives from the client company there to listen to what you have to say — make the most of it and don’t get bogged down in the details. Instead, zoom out and take a high-level approach to subjects that you discuss. Executives and stakeholders are unlikely to be involved in day-to-day operations, so they don’t care about execution. They care about results. Sometimes MSPs are tempted to use QBR time to discuss tactical issues, but we advise against it because those points should be discussed and coordinated directly with your day-to-day contact person. Instead, you want to come to the QBR meeting armed with data. Show real-world returns from prevented problems and increased uptime. This approach will help you to build trust and further your relationship as a trusted business advisor, rather than a role as just another vendor. Additionally, make sure that during the meeting you address the various roadblocks and obstacles that must be overcome to deliver an ideal service. Identify areas where improvements can be made, and take a big picture strategic approach to problem-solving. Make sure that you also listen closely to their concerns. In the end, both teams should align on ways to drive more value through your partnership. What You Should Include in Your Reviews As an MSP, there are some very specific considerations that must be included within a Quarterly Business Review. Your goal should be to provide a top-down view of operations, making sure that each discussion offers transparency and highlights the value that your MSP has provided in that specific area. Service Ticket Review First, your QBRs should include a comprehensive service ticket review from the past quarter that shows how your team is handling the volume of tickets coming in. The metrics are very straightforward - you want to compare the number of open tickets to the number of closed tickets. If your open and closed numbers are fairly even, it shows your customer that your team is handling support requests quickly. If the numbers are not relatively even, then you may have some explaining to do! Or more likely, it may be an indication that the customer is over utilizing the service desk or they may need a different structure for their support. SLA Review Your QBR should also address your SLA. Compare your agreement to the services that were rendered, and highlight areas where you have gone above and beyond. If there have been disputes or issues, now is a great time to discuss the matter while decision-makers are present. In your report, you’ll want to take a deep dive into your agreement and provide updates on goals. How quickly have you responded to service requests? Have you met or exceeded your agreed-upon standards? If not, is there a reason why this is the case? Have you reached your service request resolution goal? The SLA Review portion of your QBR is a good place to leverage positive client satisfaction surveys as well. As always, focus on the value that you’ve provided while being honest about how you can improve moving forward. Technical Review The technical review should make up the bulk of your Quarterly Business Review. It gives you the opportunity to put the value that you’ve provided front and center, while also providing some insight into where improvements in process could be made on both sides. The technical review must include all aspects of your services to provide a complete picture. Endpoint Management Having the ability to centrally deploy, update, and troubleshoot endpoint devices for your clients is critical to a successful partnership, which is why most MSPs will agree that endpoint management is the “meat and potatoes” of your partnerships. You probably also know from experience that when done well, the client will rarely be aware of everything that goes into endpoint management. For this reason, focus on detailing your endpoint management actions - it’s low-hanging fruit in terms of demonstrating value. Your QBR should include several aspects of endpoint management that should be covered in your report and meeting: Patch management. Because patches are the first line of defense for your clients, it’s important to showcase details about your patch management in your report. You should detail which machines are fully patched, which machines are missing patches (and how many patches they are missing), and reasons why those machines are behind. For instance, if those machines were powered off during that last installation window, that is an important fact that you should relay. Endpoint Security. Provide stats regarding your threat reporting and antivirus efforts. How many threats were detected? How many scans did you complete to identify those threats? Endpoint security is an important but often overlooked aspect of an MSP’s services. Often, clients only look into endpoint security when something goes wrong. Make sure that you set aside time in your QBR meeting to discuss your proactive efforts on endpoint security. Warranty Reporting. Which machines will have their warranty run out soon? What are the recommended next steps? Will you soon provide a quote to extend the warranties? Infrastructure Management The infrastructure management section of your QBR will include a lot of critical yet also technical information. While this is another excellent opportunity to showcase your value, you can’t do that by reeling off a list of techie terms, speeds and feeds. So make sure that in this section, you take the time to explain why each one of these areas is a big deal for the client’s business. Hint: If you use BrightGauge to monitor these areas, this is a great place to include your gauges! If not, you can always include this data from other sources. Overall network uptime. Include network uptime data for all relevant servers. If uptime can be improved, provide insight into why the numbers are lower than expected and make recommendations for improvement. Alert trending data. Provide insight into recent trend reports. Is there a vital piece of equipment, system, or network that is consistently running into issues? What steps should be taken to improve performance? Server backups. How often are you backing up data? Have there ever been any issues during data backups? A summary of all relevant backups is a good thing to add, as it provides a detailed picture of how you are protecting their business. Domain admins audit. Who has access to the domain admin security group? Keeping a close eye on domain administrators that have access to servers, workstations, and files is important for protecting clients. How often is the user list being audited? Will that change moving forward? Server patch status. Which servers are up to date? Which servers are missing patches? Why are they missing patches? Offer a plan to ensure that all servers stay up to date moving forward. Network Security Defense Since protecting networks against viruses and other threats is important for maintaining the security of the entire organization, you’ll want to detail some key aspects of your network security efforts in this section of your report (this may also be a good opportunity to touch on your GDPR compliance efforts): Server Virus Protection. How many updates and scans have been performed? Have any threats been detected? Provide a complete picture of server virus protection using data. Email Security. Detail the protection efforts of the company’s emails and email server. Provide any relevant data that you can regarding threats detected. Many organizations are compromised through employee email, and clients know this. Reassure them that you have airtight protections in place. Strategic Planning Keeping the subjects that you just discussed in mind, now is a good time to dive into big-picture strategy and proposals to improve the business relationship moving forward. Make sure that everyone at the meeting has a solid understanding of what you are currently working on, what is planned for the future, and any recommended changes that you may have. Include these recommendations in your report, and come to the meeting prepared to discuss those aspects of your partnership. User-Training Let your clients know which of their employees may require additional training, based on the support tickets that you have received. Training not only enables your organization to save time, but it is also another way for you to prove useful to your clients during the QBR meeting. Benefits of Quarterly Business Reviews After ironing out the QBR process in our MSP, we found that there are quite a few results that it offered. To start, it offers a personal touch that clients will appreciate. As MSPs, we’re all too familiar with the dreaded “why am I paying you” question. Of course, we at BrightGauge advocate for weekly or monthly reporting to help avoid that question from popping up, but adding in the face-to-face QBRs is a different kind of touch point and an opportunity to actually explain things in detail or answer questions that wouldn’t come up from emailed reports. Second, having several people there from each company makes it easy to pinpoint issues and receive input from multiple viewpoints. Additionally, you’ll have everyone there that you need to come to decisions for those problems. By ensuring that several high ranking employees within the company attend, you will dramatically improve your CSAT scores and ultimately, your customer retention. By being thorough in your QBR, it allows your company to be proactive in dealing with issues. As you put together your report, you will likely identify several key areas where process improvements can be made. Then, you can go into the meeting having those suggestions on hand, or even implemented before the meeting even takes place. Another often overlooked benefit of conducting a thorough in-person QBR is the fact that it will help you to highlight which of your customers are not a great match for your services. During your meeting preparation, you may find that there are conflicts within your SLA that inhibit your ability to provide a valuable service. Some common examples include machines not receiving timely updates, or an unwillingness to invest in critical infrastructure. You can also use these reports to gauge the overall profitability of a customer and decide when it may be appropriate for both parties to go their separate ways. In fact, Andrew Hutchison, Network Ops Manager at BlackPoint IT, confirms “we had some hard conversations, but having the data available took us down the path of getting rid of unprofitable customers.” Next Steps for Mastering Your Review Quarterly business reviews are a critical tool for your success. Instead of putting together a report and attaching it to an email, take the time to schedule a meeting with all relevant stakeholders. Use that meeting to highlight the value that you’ve provided, identify areas for improvement, and establish your business as a trusted partner, rather than a simple vendor. In our MSP, we created a QBR template in Word that we could easily customize for each client with screenshot images from BrightGauge - and you can too! Download a copy of the Quarterly Business Review template that worked like a charm for us:
We’re excited to welcome Katarina Ondrejovicova to the team as a Customer Success Specialist! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family… In the beginning Katarina is the first BrightGauger to come to us from Europe - she was born and raised in the country of Slovakia. Katarina graduated from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, which is the second largest city after Prague and is widely known for Moto GP. While in university, Katarina was lucky enough to study abroad in southern Spain, which helped to fuel her love of travel. She started off her career working for IBM, where she was tasked with improving the overall service level quality for their Sony account. About 5 years ago, Katarina moved to the US and worked for Itopia, a software company that partnered with Google Cloud to create a cloud automation tool for remote desktop provisioning and management. There, she was in charge of Customer Success and managing the support team. With that great experience, we were lucky to find Katarina and welcome her to BrightGauge. Joining BrightGauge Katarina was first intrigued by our software itself. Plus, in her words, “the company culture that respects individuality, promotes a stress free environment, and supports collaboration” helped to seal the deal. She’s really motivated to be part of the Customer Success team, especially because in her role she will work with both customers and internal teams like sales, support, marketing, and product. She’s excited about working across the board to improve our customer experience. We can’t wait to see what Katarina brings to the table. Out of office When Katarina has the time, she loves to travel and explore new places and cultures. Her love of photography means that her travels are well-documented, thanks to her Sony Alpha camera. Katarina strives to keep a zen state of mind through yoga, meditation, biking, and beach time. And she’s always down for some live music. Fun fact: Katarina speaks Slovak, Czech, English, and Spanish! What will she learn next?
When it comes to your key performance indicators, sometimes more is more. The deeper the insights, the better the decisions you can make. So, how can you get deeper insights from your BrightGauge? One way is to use dataset or datasource mashup*, which allows you to build gauges using data from more than one source. When doing this, the metrics that are displayed back to you are more complex and more granular, allowing you to be a bit more specific with your results. In this tutorial video, we show you how to utilize the data mashup function. If you have questions about doing this within your BrightGauge, please reach out to our support team. For more tutorial videos, check us out on YouTube. *Available on Enterprise Plans only.
We frequently get asked how to choose the right metrics to report on, whether for client reports or internal ones. Ideally, any report you send out will be easily consumable yet impactful, so you want to be careful not to weigh it down with way too many metrics. Go for metrics that are direct and that clearly get your message across. When it comes to BrightGauge, a lot of our customers tell us how useful it is to see how their peers are using the app, so this month we’re highlighting Weston Technology Solutions’ internal Agreement Performance Report. Weston Tech has been in business for over 25 years and at the core of their managed IT solutions is a passion for being a true partner - not just a vendor - to their clients. Brock McFarlane, CEO and Founder of Weston, shared that their team works off of fixed-fee agreements, a departure from the hourly agreements they previously used. For Weston, fixed-fee contracts allow team members to be more valuable and efficient with time, but reporting on these contracts can get tricky since it’s not based on hour-by-hour work. What Brock has found is that looking at Gross Margin is a truer representation of how a contract is doing versus just how many hours were billed. Identifying their most important metric - Gross Margin - laid the foundation for how Brock and team would build reports moving forward. Brock also includes Hours by Tech within the reports, as any red flags in those hours can paint a picture as to why a margin percentage may be too low or too high. Reporting on a client’s margin percentage can pinpoint where inefficiencies lie - perhaps a tool a client is using is giving more trouble than it’s worth - so that they can operate at an optimal level. Also, by managing Gross Margin, Brock is sometimes able to avoid raising contract prices in the future, which his clients love and is a big reason why they repeatedly invest in Weston. This is a perfect example as to why consistent reporting is hugely important. We’ve recreated Weston’s Agreement Performance Report for your reference: Think this report would be useful for your team or want some more info? Check out our Report Key to recreate it yourself or feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help. Thank you to Brock and Weston Tech for sharing your insights! Link to Public Report Link to Report Recreation Key
In the last few months, we’ve added several new datasources to our stack, and here’s what you need to know! Now available to our customers: Liongard Roar, Solarwinds N-Central (previously N-Able), Simplesat, and PRTG. Keep reading for details on these integrations, which you can connect to at any time. Liongard Roar Liongard Roar is a documentation system that was specifically built for MSPs. Having important docs and processes documented is great for establishing accountability and understanding what actions took place when. For customers using Liongard Roar, integrating with BrightGauge provides a lot of flexibility in terms of the metrics and KPIs you can pull. There are several datasets customers can report on, including users, environments, agents, detections, timeline, and metrics. Within the metrics dataset, users can easily create custom metrics and report on Office 365 and Active Directory data. Lots of you have been asking for this, so we’re thrilled to make it available. The Liongard Roar integration comes with 56 default KPIs, two pre-built dashboards, and two report templates, conveniently categorized by Office 365 or Active Directory. To add Liongard Roar to your account, please follow the steps outlined in our support document. Solarwinds N-Central Formerly known as N-Able, we’re happy to report that Solarwinds N-Central is live. This RMM platform allows users to keep an eye on pertinent machine metrics. Paired with BrightGauge, users get real-time visibility into those metrics and are alerted to issues before they become any bigger. Plus, customizable, automated reports help customers prove their value to clients and show why they are trusted partners. Customers using the N-Central integration in BrightGauge are going to get 83 default KPIs right off the bat, pertaining to Devices, Servers, and Workstations. The integration also comes with 2 pre-built Machine Monitoring dashboards, and 2 Machine Monitoring report templates. This support doc guides you through the quick process of adding N-Central to your BrightGauge. Simplesat We’re excited to introduce yet another CSAT tool to our stack, as CSAT is at the forefront of metrics that business owners want to stay on top of. Simplesat was designed for small to medium sized MSPs and tech companies, and is a simple way to embed CSAT surveys into email signatures or helpdesks. Integrating BrightGauge + Simplesat allows you to see customer information, specifically how they rated, scored, and answered Simplesat questions. The ever important Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of 19 default KPIs that are automatically included in this integration. There are also 2 built-out dashboards and reports each, one for CSAT scores and one for NPS. Follow these steps to add Simplesat to your BrightGauge account. PRTG Finally, we recently rolled out an integration with PRTG, a network monitoring tool. When you connect it with BrightGauge, you can easily keep track of metrics like sensor data, stale tickets, uptime, and active/inactive devices. The PRTG + BrightGauge integration comes with 27 default KPIs, one pre-built dashboard, and one report template. The kind of visibility you get with BrightGauge + PRTG allows you to stay proactive and keep the networks you monitor up and running. Adding this datasource to your account is easy - just follow these quick steps. For questions about any of our datasources or to chat with somebody about your BrightGauge account, contact us today. We’re always happy to talk shop!
We’re excited to welcome Jorge Rusiel to the team as a Senior Software Developer! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family… In the beginning While so many members of our BrightGauge family hail from these South Florida parts, Jorge was born a bit further south. In Cuba, to be exact! He comes from Santiago de Cuba, which is the second largest city in the country. Jorge earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Central University Marta Abreu de Las Villas in Cuba before jumping on the opportunity to move to Spain and obtain his Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence at the University of the Basque Country. His Ph.D. research included the application of advanced image processing and statistical methods to computer-generated 3D models of the brain. Taking this research, Jorge moved to Boston, Massachusetts to work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Radiology at Mass General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. His work included the development of an open source library used in longitudinal data analysis. Most recently, he worked as a Software Engineer - his true passion - at the Department of Radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where he was the lead engineer in the design and development of an important scientific software platform. Fortunately for us, Jorge has brought his incredible wealth of knowledge to BrightGauge. Joining BrightGauge Jorge feels that BrightGauge will have a number of exciting technical challenges in the years to come and looking forward to being on the forefront of it all, whether this means integrating AI into the product or simply improving the software platform architecture. Our BrightGauge culture is just the cherry on top. “I’m excited to use my broad background to scale BrightGauge’s SaaS platform,” says Jorge. “This includes designing and implementing new REST APIs, writing high quality software that improves the existing platform, and implementing optimized workflows.” We’re confident that with Jorge on our team, the future of our product is very bright (pun intended). Out of office When Jorge isn’t living out his passion as an engineer, he’s spending time with family and friends by going running, salsa dancing, hitting the beach, and playing brain-intensive card games. Welcome to the fam, Jorge!
As an Account Executive at BrightGauge, I speak with dozens of potential and current customers each month. Each MSP comes from a different background, with varying goals and needs, but one universal struggle I hear is the need to show better value to customers. One of the paradoxes of the MSP world is that customers rarely need to see you when systems are running smoothly. When clients don’t hear much from you because things are working correctly, they might assume you aren’t delivering value. How can you solve this? One obvious way is through regular, automated reports, which is one of the main reasons companies hire BrightGauge. This may satisfy most customers, but there are still those for whom this will not provide enough insight into why they’re paying thousands of dollars each month for your services. For the clients that crave more up to the minute information, our Customer Facing Dashboards are a great solution. There are two main ways you can create live Dashboards for your customers - Add your client to your BrightGauge instance as a Viewer or utilize our new Public Dashboards. The first thing I would do in either circumstance is determine what metrics or KPIs you’d like your client to be able to access at any given time. Add the metrics you choose to a new dashboard Use the dashboard filtering option to filter down to that client. Clone the dashboard and title it accordingly. One good option is to create a master client dashboard, then filter and clone to each client that will have access to a dashboard. If you use ConnectWise Manage, AutoTask, Kaseya BMS, or TigerPaw as your PSA, you should have a default dashboard called ‘Client Dashboard Template’ that you can modify to your needs. Add Client as a Viewer The first way you can give your client access to the dashboard you’ve created for them is by adding them to your BrightGauge instance as a viewer. Every BrightGauge plan includes unlimited Viewer licenses. To create a new viewer, click on the admin button at the top right corner of your BrightGauge account, then select ‘Viewers’ from the dropdown. You simply need to provide their name and email address, then select the Dashboard you’d like to give them access to. They will then have a login to your BrightGauge instance, but the only thing they will be able to see is the dashboard you’ve given them access to. As a viewer, they won’t have any permissions on the dashboards or gauges except to drill down, and of course you’ll determine what, if anything, they’ll see on the drill-down. Provide Your Client with Public Dashboard Your other option is to utilize our new Public Dashboards feature, available on our Enterprise plan. To enable this, click on the ‘More’ button at the top right corner of the dashboard, and select ‘Public URL’ from the dropdown. This will provide you with a URL link you can copy and send to your client. Your client can bookmark the URL and will not need to log in to your BrightGauge instance. The Public Dashboards do not allow for drilldown. Again, your client will not have any permissions on this dashboard or on any of the gauges. There are a few great benefits to Customer Facing Dashboards: Customers receiving real time data on their tickets, machines, or projects will have less need to open tickets or call for status updates This shows a level of transparency most MSPs aren’t providing to their clients For your larger clients, this will show the extra benefits they gain by using your services rather than moving their IT operations in house Want help determining what metrics to share with your client, or how to build a great Customer Facing Dashboard? Contact BrightGauge for help with selecting relevant data that will show value to your customers!
We’re excited to welcome Natalie Dinkins to the team as a Customer Support Specialist! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family… In the beginning Natalie was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up right here in South Florida. After graduating from Plantation High School, Natalie decided to stay local, attending Broward College for two years before earning her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami (C-A-N-E-S!). Later on, she also earned a Master’s degree from Florida International University. Since then, Natalie has explored several interesting avenues, working in energy conservation, higher education, and banking. Most recently, she was a Program/Project Manager for an all-women web development cohort. In that position, Natalie managed an all-women web development bootcamp, spearheading the project by recruiting students, providing input on the curriculum, and hiring teaching staff. That tech-focused role was the perfect springboard for the next opportunity in her career. Joining BrightGauge While going through the interview process here at BrightGauge, Natalie had a chance to meet several team members, who all talked a whole lot about how much they enjoyed their work. Plus, it was really clear that everyone truly loved working with one another, which gave Natalie the sense that this was a team she really wanted to be a part of. Aside from the culture, the opportunity to learn something new while applying her past skills and experience appealed to Natalie and solidified her decision to come on board! Next time you submit a support ticket, you may just hear from Natalie herself. Out of office Outside of work, you can find Natalie spending time with her siblings, whether they’re tailgating at a football game or barbecuing in the park. And recently, Natalie has rekindled her love for running, but it’s a love that sometimes goes unfulfilled. “Between the extreme heat and torrential downpours, running outdoors in South Florida can be a challenge,” says Natalie. Ain’t that the truth!
Dispatch data for amazing service delivery One of the keys to a high-performance help desk is managing the flow of tickets through the service queue. The quality of your service as an IT provider will often be judged not by if you can fix the issue, but the experience that the user has while you do your magic on the back end. Think about the last time you went out for a nice dinner. I’m sure the food was great - that’s why you choose a place with great reviews and a high price tag. So what differentiates fine dining from casual dining? It’s often the experience. Consider the user experience for your clients when they open a support ticket. Is it the equivalent of a casual diner or fine dining? BrightGauge can help ensure the client experience is managed like a 5-star restaurant, differentiating you from other IT providers that are simply providing a sandwich shop experience. Dispatch Role The first point of contact for your clients is usually managed by a dispatcher. I personally don’t support the idea of a pure dispatcher role like some in the industry advocate for. I find this is often an administrative crutch that is put in place to compensate for staff not being accountable for the ticket queues. Instead, the dispatcher role can simply be a designated role that is shared amongst the Tier 1 staff of the helpdesk. Each day or each week a person is designated as the dispatcher and they are responsible for ensuring that tickets get managed according to the expectations of the users and the IT provider. The dispatcher role as a shared responsibility does two things: 1. Helps everyone respect the role a little more When a single person is a dispatcher, especially a non-technical person, the techs have a habit of not respecting the direction of the dispatcher. This is cultural and can be changed, but it’s a persistent hurdle for implementing this role. If everyone does this role from time to time, they are likely to respect the direction of others that they view as peers, especially if they are going to be asking for similar things on a different day. 2. Avoids administrative waste Why have a non-technical dispatcher that can’t pitch in and help the team with tickets when it gets busy? A pure dispatcher role is a consideration when the scale of the team is so large that it becomes a full-time role. Properly structuring your tiers and distributing the dispatcher role within the technical team is far more cost-effective. Even if you have a team of 20 people, this still works. Dispatch Board The first two boards that I build for my clients in BrightGauge are the service manager board and the dispatch board. The dispatch board is a fantastic way for the person doing dispatch to have a 500-foot view of the ticket queue. The dashboard helps the person see the exceptions and can act quickly on those exceptions. Managing by exception is a key methodology for working with a high volume of information. Asking a person to know the status and juggle 100 tickets a day is a recipe for burnout. Humans are good at keeping 5-8 points of information in their heads. Here is an example of a dispatch board. There is a rule in the LEAN methodology that dashboards should follow the five-second rule. Meaning you should be able to glance at the dashboard and be able to understand it in five seconds. Less is more with dashboards. A great way to make the dashboards more readable in BrightGauge is to use size and color-coding. You’ll notice in the example dashboard graphic above the numbers on the left are black. This indicates that they are informational. The colored gauges moving to the right are coded to indicate the severity of their compliance with expectations. In this example dispatch board we have 6 gauges that are color-coded to manage the ticket queue and service the client experience. Unassigned/New Industry best in class response time to new tickets is 15 minutes, but 30 minutes is acceptable if you’re just getting started. Therefore, this number needs to be either 0 or 1. When the number is 0 the gauge is green. Once there is a new ticket, someone needs to respond immediately to acknowledge the ticket and set an expectation with the user of when that ticket will be scheduled. To be very clear, acknowledgment is NOT the autoresponder from the PSA. It is contact either via email or phone from a tier 1 resource or the dispatcher. Actioning the tickets immediately when they come in should help ensure the acknowledgment time stays under 30 minutes and users are given clear expectations about when they will get support. In the restaurant experience imagine this as how long it takes for you to wait at the door before you’re greeted. Nicer restaurants will have a greeter there all the time welcoming guests and setting expectations for when they will be seated. Even in a standard restaurant where you seat yourself, if a server doesn’t come by to welcome you and get you a water within 20 minutes, you would justifiably be annoyed with the experience. Stale A stale ticket means that it has not been touched for more than 3 days. The importance of this gauge is to ensure that there are no tickets left behind. Like the unassigned gauge, stale should be kept to zero. No tickets should go stale if they are assigned to a technician's queue. They should have a routine of touching each ticket every few days to reset expectations with the user about what is being done to resolve the issue. Nothing drives people crazier than to have their support ticket disappear into a black hole. If the technician is waiting on the user, they should be following up via email and phone calls to try to contact the user. This process can largely be automated by your PSA as well to take the load off the tech. If the tech is waiting for a 3rd party vendor or someone else, they should still be updating the user about what they are doing to progress the ticket to resolution. You can buy a lot of grace by just setting and resetting expectations. In the restaurant analogy, this would be how many times the server comes back to your table to see if you need anything while waiting for your meal. If the plates are delayed it’s much nicer to have someone come by and say, “So sorry, I realize you’ve been waiting a while. I just checked with the kitchen and I should have your plates out to you in 10 minutes.” Without this simple polite update, you may grow annoyed that you’ve waited over 30 minutes and not even seen the server. Past Due The past-due gauge indicates a technician was scheduled to work on a ticket and that schedule has not been updated. This either happens because they didn’t enter time on the ticket or they didn’t do the scheduled work at all. Like Unassigned and Stale, this number should be kept at zero and will be green when it is zero, but will change color to indicate it requires attention when the number starts to click higher and turn red. Tech scheduling and time entry is much easier to keep under control when done hour by hour. If you get to the end of the week to try and manage time entry and scheduling, you’re always going to be chasing your tail. The dispatcher role can assist the team by at least informing the user that the scheduling of their support has been pushed. This is not something you can do frequently as the person will grow more frustrated by the ticket being delayed, but communicating with them and setting expectations is better than them expecting to hear from someone at 11 am, and getting angry when they don’t hear from someone the rest of the day. The dispatcher can support the team by ensuring they reschedule their tickets and manage their time entry. This helps to re-enforce the growth of this habit over time. It’s IT, it gets busy, so having someone ping you on IM or tap you on the shoulder to ask you to reschedule your tickets helps drive individual accountability. SLAs The above metrics are important to ensure the tickets are moved into the service queue and kept current, so they can be resolved as soon as possible. These would be lead indicators. When they turn red you are more likely to fail on the associated lag indicators. SLA compliance is a lag indicator. If you manage the team accountability and the process is followed your lag indicators should be green. I have a detailed blog on SLA management on my website that you can see here. Average Time to resolution The average time to resolution indicates how long it took for the ticket to be resolved. This is not the elapsed time, but the SLA work time to complete the ticket. This should be under 8hrs and the lower the better. It’s important that techs don’t game this number by using statuses that park the ticket and turn off the SLA. The client experience is the goal. Not the number itself. Average Time to Acknowledgement This gauge is the lag indicator for the new/unassigned gauge. If someone is responsible for the acknowledgment and dispatching of tickets at all times, this SLA is extremely easy to achieve. The one caution here is to train the techs not to try and hero their way through tickets, especially if they are currently holding the dispatch role. If it’s a 5-minute fix, sure do it, but otherwise, queue up the tickets and answer the next call/email. Not Started This gauge indicates tickets that have not been started after being put into someone’s queue. Notice this number is yellow despite being quite high relative to the thresholds of the other gauges. The size is also smaller than the other gauges, which communicates its importance. In this case, it’s not necessarily a problem that these many tickets haven’t been started. The thresholds on this number will depend a lot on how many techs you have available to service the support queue. The gauge gives the dispatcher an indication if work is piling up and not moving through the Helpdesk. The number may ebb and flow, but if it steadily climbs, it would indicate to the dispatcher or service manager that someone is stuck on tickets and probably taking too long on a single ticket. This can be great for catching complex support issues before they get out of control. An escalation or a second set of eyes may be helpful. Arming Dispatch With The Right Data “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” - Danny Myer, famous restaurateur. A well-configured BrightGauge dispatch dashboard can support the person responsible for dispatch management to focus on the right things: Managing by exception, keeping support requests flowing, and ensuring users are being kept up to date on the status of their support requests. Danny Myer’s quote underlines the importance of any service based industry. Make no mistake IT support is a service industry. How the client feels about their support is equally if not more important than the actual service provided. The experience the users receive is key to creating a sense of value for the support they are receiving. They expect you to be smart and to be able to fix the issues, but actively managing the experience they receive during that support request is what will set you apart from other providers. BrightGauge dashboards are a much easier way to provide an overview of the key metrics required to deliver a high-end support experience for your clients.
We’re excited to welcome KC Backofen to the team as a Director of Marketing! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family… Where did you grow up? I grew up in Kingston, NY Where did you go to school? I graduated from FIU (GO PANTHERS) Where did you work? I was a consultant at NCL for their International Digital Marketing team What did you do at your previous job? I oversaw international digital marketing initiatives for NCL, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas. While At BrightGauge: What are you most excited about doing? I'm excited to help grow BGS to new levels while working with a great group of people. I'm excited to feel challenged every day. What made you decide to join us? The culture and the energy around the office. What do you like to do when you’re not working? I love being active outside. When I'm not working, I'm usually out and about, trying to be active. I love the water, I play golf (poorly), tennis, or just wandering around town. When I'm home, I'm usually watching some kind of sport. Football, Golf, Tennis, and anything on the ocho. Any passions outside of work? I'm passionate about ocean conservation. Whether it's beach cleanups, water quality efforts, or supporting sustainable fishing, I'm passionate about it all.
Having comprehensive insights into your company’s performance is a basic necessity for any organization. However, gathering these “company insights” quickly can be quite the challenge. This is especially true if the organization doesn’t have the structures in place to collect quick insights and report them easily. What performance insights does your organization need? What are the challenges to gathering performance data? More importantly, how can you leverage performance insights to optimize your organization and build long-term success? What performance data should you monitor? When planning to gather quick insights into company performance, it’s important to establish what performance data you need to track first. Choosing the wrong metrics to track can end up wasting precious time and effort. However, different organizations and departments within an organization may need to track different things. So, when choosing the performance metrics you’ll use to garner company insights, it’s important to: Consider your organization’s primary goals. What is it that your organization most needs to do to meet its goals? Any key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with those goals should probably be the first ones you consider when looking to create performance insights. Be sure to periodically reevaluate which metrics you track. Because your organization’s priorities may change, it’s important to take some time to evaluate which metrics you’re using to generate quick insights and reevaluate them against the organization’s current needs. Make getting quick insights easier by limiting your KPI list. There comes a point where, in trying to track everything to get more comprehensive performance insights, an organization ends up tracking too much information. This data bloat can actually end up causing leaders to miss important insights into their company. To avoid data bloat and get fast insights into company performance, it’s important to prune the KPI list to a manageable level—such as what can fit onto a single screen of a data dashboard. Top challenges to consider when gathering quick insights There are a few obstacles that may prevent an organization from gathering performance insights in a timely fashion. Clearing these obstacles is a must for gathering actionable business intelligence that benefits the organization as a whole: A lack of data collection methods. To fill a data dashboard or other performance reporting tool, it’s necessary to have a data source that is accurate, reliable, and timely. Manual data collection is often inefficient and unreliable (though it may be your only option sometimes), so having a data source that you can pull performance data from whenever you need can be helpful. When such data sources are lacking, it can be hard to gather reliable information when you need it. An overload of information. As mentioned earlier, it’s possible to try to collect too much information all at once. Keeping track of too many data sources and performance metrics can lead to decision paralysis as people struggle to make sense of all the information presented. Knowing how to narrow down the data feeds and KPIs you track is crucial for gaining fast insights that are still useful. Turning data into reliable company insights. Simply having access to performance data doesn’t mean that you have reliable company insights. It takes some time and effort to translate raw data into actionable performance insights that can be used to improve business processes and employee performance. This often requires looking at multiple data sets and correlating events with specific causes or taking a look at patterns within data (such as historical drops or increases in certain metrics at specific times of the year). The ability to turn raw data into an accurate insight into the organization’s performance and needs is one that should come with practice. Creating quick insights. Timeliness is important for leveraging insights while they’re relevant. If collecting, organizing, and interpreting data takes too long, the insights generated from that data may not be as impactful. For example, say that an employee’s performance is lagging, but it takes a full financial quarter to address the issue with him or her. At this point, whatever was causing the performance drop may have become a bad habit that is hard to correct (or resolved itself without the employee receiving any support). This exposes the organization to more loss from reduced productivity—potentially creating excessive expenses due to lack of action. Data dashboards are one tool that can help organizations gather quick insights into employee, team, and company performance with ease. How can you use data dashboards to gather fast insights into performance? How to use data dashboards The basic idea behind a data dashboard is that it is a dedicated report that displays only the most crucial employee or company insights into a single overview. By distilling KPIs into a data dashboard view, it is easy to avoid data bloat and quickly check on company performance (or employee performance). There are a few ways that you can use data dashboards. One of the most important is as a live feed for monitoring employee and company performance. Using live data feeds, a data dashboard can display information in real time, helping provide early warnings of potential dips in key performance areas. Data dashboards can also prove to be a vital employee assessment tool, allowing managers to identify both high- and low-performing employees. This way, top performers can be rewarded for their achievements, while underperformers can be given the opportunity to improve with training that is geared towards their specific needs. Another use for data dashboards is to monitor the financial health of a company. By tracking important information such as past due receivables, earnings, and accounts payable, an organization’s leadership can verify whether they’re in the red or in the black, and make changes accordingly. How to use client reports to assess services Sometimes, it isn’t just the organization that needs insight into how it is performing—the organization’s customers/clients may also need some quick insights so they can understand the value that they get from being a customer/client. This is where client reports can be useful. A client report is a great opportunity to share important performance metrics with a client, showcasing how the organization is meeting or exceeding its service obligations and providing value. When creating a client report (or a report template in BrightGauge for automatic updates and sends), it’s important to consider: Who the report should be sent to; What the report should include to provide quick insight without wasting the client’s time; When the report should be sent to avoid inconvenience or delay; and Why the report should be sent. Need help with gathering quick insights into your company’s performance or setting up data dashboards and client reports? Reach out to the BrightGauge team to learn how you can gather fast insights into key areas of your business.