caution-geekBy Tom Lambotte, GlobalMac IT

Have you ever had an experience like this? You have a tech issue that you can longer ignore. That tech-savvy paralegal down the hall from you that usually helps is out sick today. You are left with no choice but to call Tech Support. If you're like most people, your body tenses up and you brace yourself - how bad will it be this time?

The sad truth of IT support is that as a whole, it sucks. Computer users are fed up with the pain and suffering of poor technical support -- across the board – it is missing the mark. Most people dread calling in for help. Has someone ever made you feel stupid when you called a support line? Had someone ever talked down to you? Perhaps the person providing support has an accent that is thick and difficult to understand. If you're not very tech-savvy to begin with, that accent, stacked on top of technology terms you may not be familiar with, often sets you up for a frustrating experience from the get-go. Have you ever had a recurring issue, that no one seems to be able to fix? You feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, right?

What do most people do at this point? Give up. Deal with it. Find a workaround. Suffer in silence.
Let's assume your firm is paying for IT support; ideally, a company providing Managed Services, where you pay a flat fee per month for proactive services and at a minimum, an hourly IT company you can call on when problems arise. If your staff is not completely confident and happy with the support provided, I guarantee you it costs you firms thousands of dollars in lost productivity.  I can confidently say that 100% of our clients, when we first assumed their technology needs and support, were suffering in this way. The majority of firms are literally bleeding tens of thousands of dollars due to not having outstanding IT support. The worst part is that they are completely oblivious that it’s even happening.

Bad IT support is more than a bad customer service experience that people need to deal with. The impact and cost to your firm is far more than a frustrated employee. When you and your staff lose confidence in the IT provider, they simply stop calling when they need support. They suffer in silence. Every single client we have supported had a long list of issues that had gone unaddressed when we first started. Many issues were ignored for a long time. Some were small issues, which still impacted their staff's productivity. Others should have been nothing more than small issues, but because they went unadressed for so long they eventually turned into massive emergencies that brought the firm down for days and cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Sure, the major events are easy to quantify, but it's the leaking faucet that really makes its toll. How bad can a leaky faucet really be? A slow drip can waste about 7-10 gallons of water per day, adding up to more than 3,600 gallons of water per year.  This simple small leak can cost you about $20 per year.  A more significant faucet leak can produce 30 to hundreds of gallons of wastewater per day.  The average costs of these fast dripping faucets will end up costing you $60 to $200 per year.  If every American household had a leaky faucet dripping at just one drop per second, we would waste 928,000,000 gallons of water per day.

Labor is of course exponentially more expensive and impactful than a leaky faucet. Let's quantify what suffering in silence may be costing your firm. First, determine your fully burdened labor cost. You incur additional costs, such as taxes, benefits, and supplies, which increase your actual employment costs. The fully-burdened labor cost is the full hourly cost to employ a worker for the hours she actually works, which includes wages and the “burden” of the additional costs. This may be a bit tricky using office staff, paralegals, associates, and partners, but this exercise in itself will help you better value your cost of time.

Losing 10 minutes a day adds up to 200 minutes a month per person. The cause of lost time can vary from inefficiencies with the server, calendar, email, printers, slow/old computer, etc. Things they have just found workarounds with or have chosen to put up with. With 5 people, that is 1,000 minutes or 16.6 hours per month.

Let’s use a very conservative fully burdened cost average of $50, that adds up to $830 a month. Over the year, that is $9,960 per person at 10 minutes a day. Everyone I have ever spoken to agrees it is often far more than a 10-minute impact per day. If we use 15 minutes per day, that jumps up to a cost of $15,000. At 20 minutes a day with 5 people, that's a $20,000 impact. Keep in mind this only takes into consideration addressing the issues, problems, and bottlenecks people are dealing with. It does not even consider the productivity gains that a proper, proactive IT technology company can provide by provising leadership and direction in what technology to use and how to implement it in your workflows.

The next time you hear your staff by the water cooler discussing their bad experience they had calling IT support, consider the impact on your overall profitability. If you hear this from one person, there are very likely others who feel the same way but haven't told you. They think you're too busy. They have accepted to just accept the fact that IT sucks, and deal with it on their own, rather than put themselves on another phone support call like the painful one they just experienced. I mean, it is the industry norm, why even bother to complain? Nothing will change, all the IT support I have received has sucked and they resort to suffering in silence.

You now know the truth and can strategically and logically understand its impact. Will you continue to turn a blind eye to not having good IT support in your firm? Or will you choose to raise the bar in terms of your technology solutions and support that you have in place?  This is costing you thousands and thousands, so go out there and fix it.

image002 (4)Yours truly,

Tom Lambotte