How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers


  • Service Provider

    This has come up several times this week and I think it's a great discussion to have, one that might not have any good answer. But the world is full of companies that need IT; and it is also full of companies that provide IT. But how do the two find each other? How does a service provider go about getting its name out there so that potential customers know that they are there? And how to potential customers find service providers that might make sense for them? There is, currently, no service public or private of which I am aware that match makes like this in a useful way.

    There are some obvious things that you can do, like look on communities like ML or SW and see what service providers are posting, how the post, how long they've posted and so forth. But that requires a customer that is already extraordinarily dedicated and technical to make that system work. And even then, it barely works.


  • Service Provider

    One of the problems is obviously that customers don't know a good service provider even when they find one. Things like locality (which doesn't matter to IT) or technology play big roles typically when really, they should play none. Same as hiring good staff. You don't hire because they know a specific tech, that's easy to learn. You hire because they have the skills and experience that you need. You need those vendors and staff to be involved in decision making, not getting thrown into decisions already made.

    But take away locality (vendor within ten minutes of me) and technology (Windows 2012 experience with Exchange) and customers are left with effectively no tools to find or filter service providers.



  • Why does locality not matter? Surely that depends on the type of IT services you're needing?


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    Why does locality not matter? Surely that depends on the type of IT services you're needing?

    Locality of a business and local availability of services are not synonymous. Just because someone isn't local doesn't mean that they can't deliver services locally. Just because someone is local, doesn't mean that they will. It's very true that certain types of IT, although very, very few, need a local presence such as end user desk side support. But that's something for the service provider to figure out, not something to chose services around.



  • OK. I wasn't sure of your definition of local.


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    OK. I wasn't sure of your definition of local.

    Yeah, not locality "of service" but locality "of business".



  • I tend to prefer working with small IT companies, and these tend to struggle a bit with covering areas outside of their locality.


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    I tend to prefer working with small IT companies, and these tend to struggle a bit with covering areas outside of their locality.

    How do you find smaller IT companies with the breadth necessary to not lock you in to a limited skill set? I know some good smaller IT companies, but none that I know that are both good and small struggle with locality that I've seen.



  • I guess I've never particularly required a very large skill set. How big is NTG and how do you cope with your size limitations?


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    I guess I've never particularly required a very large skill set.

    I guess that's one of the complications, how do you know what skill set you need?


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    How big is NTG and how do you cope with your size limitations?

    Around a dozen internal and another thirty or so in a consulting pool. Size is definitely a challenge, but you can work with a lot of partners and hire around it. We maintain rather a broad internal technical pool. And we work hard in lab environments to have lots of exposure, even if customers aren't using a specific technology or needing it yet. It's a huge investment in time, effort and staff to be able to do what NTG does at our size. But we are very lucky that our reputation allows us to reach and leverage a lot of resources that more traditional ITSPs don't have access to (Dell even created special channels just for us to make sure that we had Dell resources as a non-reseller, for example.)


  • Service Provider

    Surely accountancy firms or building companies have the same issue? I'm not convinced this is an exclusively IT industry problem, I've seen this in loads of industries.

    What Scott has left out completely in his post about size, is that it takes years absolute years to build up a partner network to call upon. I spend so much time building links and relationships and 9/10 there is a reason why it does not work out for either party but the 10th time, there is still a lot of link building that happens with that person or company.

    The other key is, continuity, are there systems in place so that when staff change (I've seen this done horribly at big and small companies) does key knowledge depart with that staff member? Not skill or experience, knowledge. A very pointed question to ask is, so if my account manager "bob" moves on, what is the process for "jack" getting up to speed?


  • Service Provider

    @Breffni-Potter said in How Do You Match Good Customers to Good Service Providers:

    Surely accountancy firms or building companies have the same issue? I'm not convinced this is an exclusively IT industry problem, I've seen this in loads of industries.

    In our area, accountancy firms are tiny and work from physical offices. None that I know have the same issue.


  • Service Provider

    I think the question about how to do you find a good IT company and how do you find a good accountant are very closely related. There are a ton of parallels.

    Take the onsite vs remote thing. In some companies they don't want to ever touch a plug, the same way they don't ever want to scan in a receipt. They want someone to show up and do the job. In other companies they have someone with enough IT knowledge to do the hands on stuff, the same way they have someone that does the daily accounting tasks, but needs help with the year end tasks.

    In both lines of work when owners are searching for a service provider a recommendation from a friend will outweigh most everything else.


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