Greg DiDio

7 Qualities of a Superior IT Help Desk

When selecting an IT service provider there’s a lot to consider.  You want to trust your business to an IT company that can keep your data secure.   You value a technology partner who stays current on technology trends and can advise you on tools and services that can help you succeed.  And you should expect a service provider that is proactive to minimize downtime and issues that prevent your employees from being productive. But time and again, one factor seems to rise to the top when we talk to business owners planning to switch IT providers.  They complain that their current provider drops the ball when they or their employees are in need of urgent assistance. This is usually the result of an ineffective IT Help Desk which is one of the most vital services that you receive when you outsource your IT. 

In this article, we are going to explore the seven qualities that differentiate companies with a superior IT help desk from all the rest.  Whether you are currently looking to switch providers or simply wish to evaluate your current provider, this article can serve as a valuable resource to help you make the right decision for your business and ensure that the help desk services you receive are top notch.

1. Superior Help Desks Have Technicians that Answer the Phone

It’s been said that the greatest ability is availability. This adage is certainly true when it comes to an IT Help Desk.  When you need help, you probably need it now. So your IT support needs to answer the phone when you call and respond to your emails promptly when you submit a ticket.

At KiteTech,  we make it a goal to answer the phone in less than one minute. And in the vast majority of cases we answer it with a technician ready and able to troubleshoot your problem.  We accomplish that goal on over 75% of client phone calls and are continuously tuning our process to improve our performance.

2. Technicians Care Personally for the Person they are Helping

There’s a bothersome stereotype that computer techs don’t have people skills.  Consequently, it’s not unusual for some people to dread calling the Help Desk. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the right to expect more than someone who is polite and respectful.  You should expect to interact with a technician who really cares about you and is eager to help solve your problem and get you back to work.

At KiteTech, our technicians refute the stereotype and lean into every client conversation. They set the caller at ease by really listening to their concern and empathizing with the situation. Our core values or what we call Our Flight Plan defines exactly what we expect from not only our help desk technicians but every KiteTech employee.

3. They Have Expertise in Your Industry

Of course, a charming personality can only get a computer tech so far.  If they don’t know your technology and can’t fix your problem, you’re still out of luck.  It certainly helps if your IT Help Desk specializes in companies like yours. That way, they can understand the urgency of the problem, as well as, the nuances of the systems and applications that are most important to you.

Whether you run an insurance agency, a construction company, a non profit, or another professional services business, our techs at Kite Technology Group pride themselves in really understanding your technology so that they can address your issue promptly.

4. Service Level Agreements Drive Performance

High quality IT Help Desks hold themselves to exacting standards when it comes to quickly resolving problems. In any mature customer service business, there is the concept of service level agreements; SLA’s for short.  An SLA specifies the speed at which a problem must be responded to and ultimately resolved.  Mature companies hold themselves to high standards for responsiveness.

At KiteTech our SLA specifies that we will resolve 80% of the client requests within 4 business hours.  For high priority requests the SLA requires even faster response.

5. Rigorous Escalation Process Ensures a Timely Solution

In order to ensure experts are working on your problem and SLA’s are met, it is sometimes necessary to escalate the request   It’s a catch-22, because caring techs often want to finish what they start.  But quality techs need to have the discipline to recognize when time is running out and they need to escalate a ticket in the best interest of the client. 

At KiteTech, their caring attitude means that most techs don’t want to give up in finding a solution to a help desk problem.   But they do it, occasionally grudgingly, for the benefit of the client.

6. They Don't Pass the Buck

Does this scenario sound familiar? You have a problem with your phone system, your computer, or your copier.  You call the IT Help desk and they refer you to the hardware vendor, software provider, or your ISP.  When you call the vendor they say the problem is not theirs and recommend you call your IT Help Desk.  And ‘round, and ‘round, and ‘round you go! 

Superior Help Desks own the problem until it is resolved.  They intercede on your behalf so that you are not stuck in between multiple providers that are pointing their finger at one another.  At KiteTech, we “speak the language” of these other providers and perform vendor liaison on behalf of our clients so that you aren’t caught in the middle.

7. Constantly Improve by Soliciting Client Feedback

And, finally, superior help desks crave feedback.  By getting constructive comments from clients, they are able to continuously sharpen their processes and improve their performance.  Feedback through a controlled, consistent process allows IT service providers to see trends in their help desk execution and compare their results to other IT help desks to see how they stack up.

At KiteTech, we invite clients to tell us how we did after every completed help desk request.  The requester can simply click on a green smiley face, a yellow “neutral” face or a red sad face to review their service experience.  If they choose, they may also add a comment.  In the last four years, we have received over 20,000 reviews from clients.   And 98% of these reviews have rated us with the green smiley face!  We are also proud to have a 5-star Google Review rating.  Our techs are appreciative and encouraged by the positive feedback, but they also greatly value the constructive ratings that help us to improve. As leaders, we take pride in the fact that our client satisfaction rating (CSAT) consistently places us at the top of the leaderboard when compared to our peers. 

Put KiteTech's Help Desk to the Test

If you are considering a new IT service provider, wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually know firsthand what to expect? When it comes to the responsiveness and friendliness of KiteTech’s help desk, you can! Although our Help Desk Services are reserved for clients only, we’d like to offer you a complimentary one-hour appointment for one of our technicians to help you with a technology issue of your choice. This provides you the opportunity to not only get some help but also note how friendly and competent our technicians.  And when you meet with them, ask them anything that helps you gauge their grasp of the 7 qualities of a superior help desk. After you are finished working with our technician, they will be happy to put you in contact with one of our sales consultants to further explore whether KiteTech is a good fit for you. 

To take advantage of this complimentary Help Desk support opportunity please use the Contact Us form to send us a message. A member of our team will reach out to you promptly to schedule your appointment.

Greg DiDio, CEO, Kite Technology Group

Greg DiDio is the CEO of Kite Technology Group.  KiteTech provides Managed IT Services and Consulting to professional organizations and independent insurance agencies across the country.  KiteTech is proud to be one of only two IT companies in MD to earn the CompTIA Security Trustmark +, certifying that KiteTech meets or exceeds security best practices. 

Maximize your IT Services Value with Microsoft 365

If you’ve been a business executive for any length of time, then you’ve probably traveled this familiar journey when it comes to technology and your IT services.  You heard the appeals to move to “the cloud”, so you started taking some steps.  Perhaps, you moved your email to hosted Exchange.  You may have also adopted a hosted line of business application.  For example, if you are an insurance agency, a new agency management system like Applied Epic or AMS 360.

The problem is that as you added new functionality and responded to new requirements, very little went away in your local environment.  You are still supporting and paying for a local network and servers. In fact, you were forced to invest further in the local environment to respond to rapid growth in security threats and the associated compliance requirements. Consequently, you are stuck in the middle. You have found yourself with feet firmly planted in both the old local environment and a new cloud environment. Your technology landscape got more complex, harder to secure, and more expensive to maintain. 

I am here to tell you that good news has arrived for those businesses who have the foresight to take the next natural step.  It is time to abandon your local IT infrastructure!  Thanks to rapid improvements in the Microsoft 365 suite, the tools have matured to the point that you can trust your entire operation to the cloud

The recent introduction of Microsoft 365 Business Premium (M365) brings together the Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel) with advanced security, collaboration tools (SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive) and PC management.   M365 seamlessly integrates security features including user access and mobile device access (phones, tablets, laptops).  It can even replace your phone system.  In short, Microsoft 365 paired with your cloud-based agency-specific applications means you can say goodbye to all your local infrastructure. Your employees just need a workstation or laptop and a connection to the Internet and they can be fully productive from anywhere.

Why Microsoft 365 Should be Integral to your IT Services Stack

The benefits of “cutting the cord” on local IT infrastructure and going “all in” on Microsoft 365 are substantial.  These benefits fall in three categories: security and compliance, collaboration/mobility, and cost.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is built with a “security-first” mindset.  It starts with identity management.  M365 provides “state-of-the art” features that simplify the authentication of your users while taking extra precautions to ensure the user is who they say they are.  With features such as “multi-factor authentication”, Microsoft has made it very difficult for thieves to steal credentials that allow them to access private systems and data.  M365 also becomes the focal point of “single sign-on”, the place where your users sign in one time to access all their applications that they need to do their job.  The result of MFA and single sign-on is a secure and convenient user authentication process. 

But M365 security doesn’t end with identify management. M365 also manages the security of the end-user devices and the user activity once the user is logged in.  InTune is an included device management platform that manages workstations as well as various mobile devices such as tablets and phones. M365 also includes antivirus, spam filtering and advanced threat protection to safeguard your business from cyber-threats including phishing, and ransomware. Finally, M365 can help you maintain regulatory compliance with policies to enforce data loss prevention (DLP) and email archiving.

Perhaps the most profound security impact of a full scale M365 deployment is the “addition by subtraction” that results from eliminating your local infrastructure. Your threat landscape, that is the various ways that your business can be attacked by unscrupulous individuals, gets a lot smaller once your data and applications are no longer kept in your building.  There is no longer a need for sophisticated firewalls, network monitoring, physical security of servers, and local data backups once your technology is entirely maintained in the cloud.

Collaboration and Mobility

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is built with the modern business in mind. It has tools that facilitate the “work from anywhere” mentality that was thrust upon us all when the pandemic caused many of us to work from home.  In fact, M365 flourishes when it comes to overcoming the challenges agencies are faced with when their team members are in various locations.  It includes tools such as SharePoint and OneDrive that allow employees to share documents and collaborate on creating and editing written materials.  These tools also effectively manage permissions to ensure those who are authorized have access while restricting access from others. M365 also includes Microsoft Teams allowing groups of employees to chat one-to-one, hold video meetings, and communicate seamlessly with others that have similar roles and interests.

Since all of the attributes of the user and user devices are managed from the cloud (i.e. M365), the user experience follows the user to wherever they go – from the office, to their home, to the local coffee shop.  Once M365 is fully adopted, your users will quickly discover that they have access to all their technology applications and date from wherever they choose to work.

IT-Services Cost Effectiveness

Microsoft 365 Business Premium saves businesses money on their IT Services in three ways.  First, it bundles all the necessary tools (Microsoft applications, security, device management) into a single license.  Second, it provides a portal to allow technology professionals the ability to manage the deployment, maintenance, and troubleshooting of these tools from a single pane of glass.  And finally, it eliminates the need to maintain and support unnecessary local IT infrastructure.

With the benefits of a full scale M365 implementation clear, let’s move on to the question of how to deploy Microsoft 365.

How to Adopt Microsoft 365 Effectively in your Business

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is a sophisticated and comprehensive suite of tools designed to work together to provide an outstanding user experience while maintaining the security of your data. While anyone can buy the M365 license, it takes an IT professional to configure M365 to ensure you actually achieve the intended benefits. From the security perspective, the fact that features such as MFA, single sign on, and advanced threat protection are included, doesn’t necessarily mean they are configured correctly. Or even turned on. You are going to want to make sure you are working with an IT service provider who has experience with the Microsoft 365 toolset and understands the needs of your business.  That way, the compliance needs of your industry will be accounted for in the security configuration.

Similarly, an IT services provider familiar with your industry can ensure that the collaboration and mobility aspects of Microsoft 365 are designed to work in tandem with your other applications such as your line of business application or agency management system.

In summary, don’t get left behind.  If your IT services provider is not talking to you about a plan to move your technology entirely to the cloud, then talk to us.  We can get you there! Kite Technology provides Managed IT Services and Microsoft 365 Consulting to businesses in the Baltimore area and across the country.  We specialize in serving independent insurance agencies, nonprofits, and many other professional organizations.  Give us a call or schedule a complimentary consultation to get the conversation started.

Greg DiDio, CEO, Kite Technology Group

Greg DiDio is the CEO of Kite Technology Group.  KiteTech provides Managed IT Services and Consulting to professional organizations and independent insurance agencies across the country.  KiteTech is proud to be one of only two IT companies in MD to earn the CompTIA Security Trustmark, certifying that KiteTech meets or exceeds security best practices. 

A Message from our CEO: KiteTech Achieves The CompTIA Security Trustmark+™

CompTIA Trustmark Certification

At KiteTech, we have always taken our responsibility for the security of our clients’ data seriously. But the stakes have continued to grow. As the challenges of data protection and compliance have multiplied and the impact of security threats have escalated, we felt we needed to take our security posture to a whole new level. We wanted to be sure that the services we were providing were unquestionably delivered with excellence. So, we decided to find a third-party expert who could vouch for the quality of our security systems and processes. That led us to systems and processes. That led us to

CompTIA’s Security Trustmark+ Certification.

At KiteTech, we have always taken our responsibility for the security of our clients’ data seriously. But the stakes have continued to grow. As the challenges of data protection and compliance have multiplied and the impact of security threats have escalated, we felt we needed to take our security posture to a whole new level. We wanted to be sure that the services we were providing were unquestionably delivered with excellence. So, we decided to find a third-party expert who could vouch for the quality of our security systems and processes. That led us to CompTIA’s Security Trustmark+ Certification.

The Security Trustmark+ Certification checks all the boxes. First, the certification process is firmly based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework which is the national standard for managing and responding to cybersecurity risks. Second, it provides tons of guidance and templates for us to standardize our security documentation and processes based on best practices. Finally, it includes a review by an independent third-party cybersecurity expert.

We kicked off a project last February to obtain our certification. No sooner than we got started, we had to put the whole project on hold as the pandemic rearranged our priorities. COVID restrictions resulted in urgent requests from our clients who needed us to help get their staff up and working productively from home. Once that emergency was addressed and we settled into “a new normal”, we were able to turn our attention back to obtaining the certification. A lot of the effort consisted of confirming practices that were already in line with the NIST standards. But in other cases, we found that we needed to improve or even rewrite processes to comply with Security Trustmark+ requirements. The effort left us in even better position to advise our clients on security best practices.

Like many of our clients, we have been evolving from local infrastructure to cloud infrastructure over the last several years. One of the most profound insights we had during the certification process was that the benefits of having local systems and data in our main office were outweighed by the risks of maintaining local systems and data. A thorough risk assessment revealed that we were better off “cutting the cord” and moving ALL our systems and data to cloud environments. And so we did. We no longer are saddled with managing the risk of safeguarding local systems and data. It’s kind of like moving the bank vault out of the bank. Robbers might still find their way in, but they will be disappointed to find that the money is elsewhere. The process of moving all our technology infrastructure to the cloud positions us perfectly to help our clients do the same.

Earlier this month, all our efforts paid off. We were notified by CompTIA that we had achieved the CompTIA Security Trustmark+. We are now one of only 2 IT providers in Maryland and 30 IT providers in the country that can boast of achieving this prestigious certification.

The end result is not just the piece of paper, it’s the confidence that we have industry-leading security practices. Consequently, firms who partner with us can be confident that their security needs are being addressed by a technology expert using best in class security practices.

Greg DiDio
CEO
Kite Technology Group

What Your Agency Should Expect from your IT Service Provider

Many insurance agencies across the country are still dealing with remote work challenges. Agencies are struggling to hold virtual meetings, collaborate effectively and share documents. Worse yet, agency leaders are realizing that these issues aren’t a temporary circumstance resulting from the pandemic. This is the new reality. To be successful going forward, agencies need to embrace tools and processes that accommodate a remote and mobile workforce. Unfortunately, many learned the hard way that their current IT provider was ill-prepared to advise and support them when the crisis began. Consequently, they’ve suffered considerable drops in productivity and customer service.

In candid conversations, agency principals we talk to have shared that they’re paying a premium on IT and getting mediocre results. They are frustrated by ineffective support and a lack of strategic oversight. It isn’t surprising. Often, their IT provider is using old solutions unsuited for the new problems. The provider has no idea of the industry-specific needs of independent insurance agencies. Best practices DO exist for technology solutions for agencies. But the typical local IT provider is unaware of them. They don’t understand that the technology and security needs of agencies differ from those of typical law firms, medical practices, or construction companies.

You Deserve a Strategic IT Partner Who Really Understands You

These chaotic times present the perfect opportunity to reassess your technology needs and reevaluate your current IT provider. Changing technology and security requirements are cause for raising your expectations of your IT provider. The good news is that forward-thinking agencies who choose their partner wisely can expect:

  • Greater ROI from their IT spend
  • More bandwidth to focus on their core strengths, such as sales and client service
  • A strategic direction that keeps them ahead of their competitor

What You Should Look for in a Technology Partner

Whether you are satisfied with your current provider, considering outsourcing IT for the first time, or looking to replace an IT provider, it helps to know how to evaluate their performance. We have prepared 8 questions that you can use to help answer how your current IT provider is doing and what you might expect from another provider. Below are these questions and some considerations for each that will help you distinguish the contenders from the pretenders.

1. Why do they do what they do?

How do they start the discussion? Are they focused on you or themselves? Ask the hard questions and find out what the provider’s passion is. Is it just the money, or do they really care about you and the people they serve? Ensure that your IT partner shares your agency’s values. What usually sets a provider apart is the type of people they use to deliver their services. At KiteTech, we understand that how we treat you is every bit as important as how quickly and effectively we solve your computer problems.

2. Are they implementing a cloud-first, mobile-first strategy?

Many agencies found out how integral cloud solutions were when they quickly had to transition to a remote work environment. Access to the cloud ultimately allowed agencies to remotely access their files and complete their projects as easily as they did from the office. Your IT partner should be able to map out your cloud journey and have a plan for sunsetting legacy technology. At KiteTech, we offer fully managed cloud services and collaboration software that is available 24×7. Our experts will work with you to develop a realistic plan for adopting and migrating to the cloud solutions you need to drive your agency forward.

3. Do they understand your business?

Does your IT provider understand the unique challenges related to operating an insurance agency? You will be able to more confidently make IT investment decisions if you have an IT partner who knows your industry and understands your systems and processes. At KiteTech, we pride ourselves on the fact that many of our consultants started their careers as licensed insurance agents and now advise insurance agencies on how to  take their performance to new levels. Our team regularly participates in and presents at local and national Applied Client Network and NetVU conferences. We also maintain strong relationships with the vendors most agencies work with, resulting in more effective collaboration and problem-solving when technology issues arise.

4. Are security and compliance top of mind?

Insurance agencies are a major target for cybercriminals because of the client information they possess. This year you’ve also had to deal with the uptick in cybersecurity attacks due to increased remote work environments. Was your IT provider adequately prepared? Agencies today can’t just depend on the basics like antivirus and spam filtering to stay secure. Many states’ cybersecurity compliance regulations like NYDFS’ 23 NYCRR 500 expect agencies to have much more robust security practices and policies in place. Thankfully, with KiteTech, you don’t have to manage compliance and security alone. We carefully monitor new regulations affecting your industry and update security protocols as regulations change. Our security offerings are designed specifically for insurance agencies, and we ensure your compliance requirements are the starting point for our conversation. 

5. Is their help desk support top-notch? 

Way back in the “old days”, like February, when their PC broke, your employees might head over to another cubicle or ask the unofficial office tech expert for help. When COVID-19 forced everyone to head home in March, things changed. We, like most IT providers, saw a tremendous uptick in support requests as employees needed help with their home setup. And, of course, when things break at home, there probably isn’t another cubicle with a spare PC or an office tech expert to get you back up and running. So, prompt and competent help desk support is more critical than ever.

Here are some questions to help you differentiate the quality of help desk service you can expect to receive from a current or potential IT Partner:

  • Do they hold themselves to clearly defined response time metrics?
  • Can their technicians help you with your agency management system or the company website?
  • Are they familiar with the other applications you use, or do they pass the buck when an issue is related to another vendor?

Our team takes an active role on your behalf as a vendor liaison for technologies we don’t directly support, but you require to reach your agency’s goals.  At KiteTech, we aim to consistently provide amazing help desk support and customer service and are proud of our best-In-class Client Satisfaction Scores. 

6. Do they have a proven process?

Do you find that your IT partner seems to operate by the seat of their pants? Were they prepared for the challenges brought on by the uncertainty of this past year? Immature IT Providers have their head down running so hard that they forget to look up and see the forest for the trees. While it is not always the case, maturity often correlates with size. Larger IT providers, like larger agencies, allow different people to play different roles. The smaller provider doesn’t often have the time to investigate better ways to do things because they are too busy wearing too many hats.

Ask your provider to provide their process for getting to know you and preparing to serve you as a client. Some providers will rush right in and sign you up without truly understanding your needs or your current technology. They have no process. At KiteTech, we have a documented  proven process that precisely outlines how we will work with you. The process includes key steps to ensure your success. It starts with really listening to your needs. It continues with deploying solutions that solve your most pressing problems. Finally, we provide ongoing support and recommendations to help your agency grow. It sounds simple. And it might even feel simple going through the process. But it is the result of a well-documented, proven process for delivering client success.

7. Do you see a commitment to strong client relationships?

Beyond help desk support, your partner should offer an ongoing conversation that helps your agency look forward. You never want to feel like you are just a number to your IT provider. At KiteTech, we assign each agency we work with a Client Experience Manager dedicated to serving your agency’s needs and helping you accomplish your goals. This takes place through scheduled conversations that focus on lingering issues and jointly plan for security and technology improvements. We strive to develop strong client relationships that build trust and make you feel like your KiteTech team is an extension of your agency. 

8. Did they create a strategic technology plan?

Does your IT partner understand everything about your technology? Do they have an in-depth understanding of the latest insurance trends? A strong IT provider will help your agency create a strategic plan by:

  • Listening first to understand your business strategy and goals
  • Assessing Your technology and its suitability to meet your goals
  • Together with you, building an affordable plan for incrementally keeping your technology aligned with your goals

To do this well, your IT provider must understand the insurance industry, the market forces, compliance regulations, and economic realities you are dealing with. KiteTech’s familiarity with agencies position us perfectly to do this.

We have spent the last 28 years helping agencies across the country succeed through insurance consulting. Just recently, at Applied Net, we heard from agency executives about the issues around collaborating remotely, the frustrating help desk queues, and downtime that has stalled agency productivity. That’s why it is our mission as a trusted technology partner to provide best-in-class IT services that help agencies operate more effectively and experience greater business success.

Want more information about choosing a provider?  Contact us for a free consultation. We will talk through your needs and what services are best for your agency. You can also visit  our website to learn more about our managed IT and consulting services.

What’s in Your Closet?

Forgive me if I’m a bit snarky in this post. Serious topics such as an ongoing pandemic and racial injustice have demanded deep thought and careful, well-reasoned dialogue from all of us.

So, I am going to instead channel my snark into today’s topic: What’s in your closet? Specifically, what services and applications are still housed in your server closet?

Ten years ago, I could have confidently predicted that you had multiple servers at your headquarters providing such services as email delivery, file sharing, and user authentication. It’s also likely that servers existed locally to provide remote access for your users. And there’s a better than 50% chance that your agency management system was housed locally on a server. That same closet may have also contained your phone system. The server room was crucial to your operation.

Back in the old days, like in February, you could at least argue that having those critical systems at your main office made sense because that was where your people were. Local access to all those services meant the applications were often more responsive because they didn’t need to rely on the Internet. But you and your employees are not at the office anymore! You’re in the family room, muting your Zoom call every time the dog barks, or junior pulls his sister’s hair. And speaking of hair, you finally turned the webcam back on, because you’ve been able to get a hair appointment after three months stuck at home!

But, I digress.

My point is that as your employees have headed home and/or become more mobile, the benefits of having your services in the cloud have become clearer than ever. Applications such as Office 365, AMS360, and Applied Epic leverage huge advantages of the Cloud including seamlessly permitting access to your users wherever they happen to be. Cloud-based applications are also more secure and more reliable than their local counterparts. They more easily scale as your agency grows because they are not limited to the size of the hardware in your server closet.

It may be economical in the short run to keep local servers running or take the time to carefully plan a migration from a local agency management system to a cloud-based one. But maintaining local services is a problem that will limit your flexibility in the long run as you reconsider your office space requirements, seek to comply with stricter security requirements, and support an increasingly mobile workforce.

So, what’s in your closet? Contact KiteTech and we can help you build a plan to empty it out.