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How chat can help you stay ahead of emerging IT service trends in 2024

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Seventy-five percent of global consumers just want to talk to a real-life human support person when they need help from a business. Instead, they’re often caught in the dreaded customer service queue. 
While companies would prefer to offer a personal touch,  IT service is complicated and expensive to scale. Todd Kane, President of Evolved Management Consulting, has a solution: For scalable IT and business profitability, brands need to use chat. 


About the expert

As a naturally talented IT guy, Todd began a home-grown consulting business in high school, which grew into a high-growth consulting company. He moved from technical concerns to procedural and people puzzles, taking several clients from hemorrhaging cash to profitability. 

Over time he learned a thing or two about how to create a positive customer service environment while efficiently addressing problems. He ultimately started a consulting company, Evolved Management Consulting, to help IT service companies become scalable, profitable organizations. 


Why MSPs should use chat for customer service 

Todd offers a simple reason for why MSPs should use chat for customer service: As long as your chat function works well, people will like it, and you’ll increase operational efficiency. 

Let’s back up and set the scene for MSP customer service. Most MSPs follow an “all-you-can-eat” model that’s based on how quickly they resolve requests. But service requests are more complex than that — some issues are far more urgent than others.
Instead, MSPs need to resolve the most urgent tickets as quickly as possible. Chat streamlines these requests because MSPs can quickly sort through everything on their plate and determine which issues to triage first. This contrasts with phone calls, where techs don’t know what’s wrong until they listen to the customer describe their problem. 

However, there hasn’t been a central standard for customer service chat or an AI tool to reliably help out. Creating one isn’t simple, thanks to two main challenges:

  1. Prioritization: Determining which requests and actions can be automated is complex and time-consuming. MSPs can’t afford certain problems to be systematically addressed incorrectly.
  2. Categorization: It’s also challenging to effectively categorize customer requests since people don’t frame questions or messages the same way. This means many of the standard ticketing solutions fall short, even if they use AI or automated routing.

Getting either of these aspects of ticket routing wrong leads to more work for agents and a lot of disgruntled customers. Ultimately, MSPs are left with more problems than they started with.

Todd sees two trends in IT services that underscore the importance of chat for improving customer service experiences:


1. Renewed focus on project management & service

As the amount of tech in the world has increased, the number of services needed to manage that tech has scaled accordingly. In order to deal with the resulting service and education requests, MSPs require more organizational capability. So they have placed greater importance on project management. 

The answer to this renewed focus on service? Chat. Todd says it’s the perfect way for techs to communicate efficiently at scale. 

He explains that chat helps maintain internal focus on projects. It ensures that dispatchers focus on the right tasks by auto-categorizing and prioritizing chats based on predetermined groupings, lessening their overall workload and only passing them chats that need a tech’s attention.

2. Customers and clients want efficient service

If tech services must scale with the proliferation of tech, customers will also spend more time troubleshooting their tech. 

Everyone wants efficient service, but phone support has historically monopolized resources and kept customers waiting. That’s because it’s a 1:1 activity. When a person calls in, a technician must dedicate all their focus to helping that person until they hang up. That ties up that tech entirely – which is not scalable and means people may be dedicating precious, uninterrupted time to simple or automatable tasks. 

In contrast, chat is a highly scalable service. One technician can support three to four chats at once without harming customer relationships.

Chat is also the most modern, popular way to communicate. Younger people don’t like talking to support on the phone and are highly interested in automation and AI. Chat is also the ideal setting for asynchronous interactions that benefit all customers. With chat, customers have a simple way to initiate customer service outreach. They can easily do other tasks while chatting with customer support. This perception of availability streamlines the customer support relationship. 


Chat is the most scalable, efficient way to handle service requests

Todd says chat easily supports these two trends because it conveys information securely, improves service by wasting less time for clients and techs, and automates more straightforward requests so techs can deal with complex issues.
This all adds up to improvements in operational efficiency that make it far easier to resolve requests and improve your business’ margins and employee experience:

1. Higher gross margins

Chat improves the operational efficiency of MSPs, which in turn improves their gross margins.

Chat is the overarching solution that simplifies everything by standardizing and adding consistency to customer support responses. It handles simple requests by itself, and eliminates human error that can crop up in communication. No matter how many times or ways customers ask a question, chat will always give the same clear response.

This makes techs’ jobs far easier. Without chat, organizing and categorizing requests is difficult. Chat allows you to automate those tasks to make sure techs are talking to customers who need that 1:1 attention the most.

With the uniform client environment chat creates, the entire workflow is far more predictable — and when it’s easier to support products and platforms, doing so costs less money. And voilà, that improves gross margins. 

2. Frictionless request resolutions

Standardizing your client stack by having chat sort and prioritize your requests makes them easier to solve. When your service environment is consistent, customer support isn’t reactive. Instead, you’re prepared for any situation and have the bandwidth to address problems.

However, Todd points out one pitfall of creating a seamless support experience. MSPs need customers to understand that they’re integral to their business, and an incredibly smooth customer experience can make them think they don’t need you.

He says you can avoid that pitfall by ensuring you’re reporting on the value you’re providing. Send consistent updates on how you’re running your services, and use your industry knowledge to provide customers with insider insights and niche consulting. 

3. Engaging work environment for techs

Chat is the ideal way to create a positive remote work environment as techs can use it to seamlessly work together behind the scenes to resolve requests. Chat’s internal functions make it easy to ask questions, send problems to the group, and generally attack queries as a team while maintaining a one-person client-facing conversation.

On the customer side, chat is a great way for customers to receive immediate human attention when needed. This is highly satisfying for customers, 90% of whom say that receiving a swift service response is critical to their experience with a company. The quick response time drives engagement with your platform when customers have positive interactions time after time.

4. Lower support costs

Chat supports the fundamentals of managerial economics: Not every employee needs to be senior level. In other words, all of your techs can’t be pricey engineers because that’s unsustainable for the company.

Instead, chat categorizes requests and creates workflows so any engineer, regardless of their skill level, can succeed at support. When you no longer need every one of your techs to be an expert, you can hire more sustainably — increasing efficiency for your company and saving your business money. 


How to decide when to use Chat

People often call IT services rather than email them because they’re afraid they won’t receive a response to the email. Everyone’s inboxes are inundated these days, so that’s understandable. The issue is calls aren’t economically scalable — the only response to higher call volume is to hire more technicians, and that’s expensive. Routing people to email can be helpful, but only if your technicians can stay on top of everything — otherwise, a backlog develops, and queries get lost.

Or as Todd puts it: Chat is often the best modality because it’s the most scalable. He says it may take consistent messaging to steer customers toward chat, but your responsiveness will build trust with them. Ultimately, they would also rather not be on the phone. You just have to prove that your techs are equally as available and helpful on a different platform.

To determine which channel is right for a particular request, start with these three main categories:

  • Incident: The client is reporting that something is wrong.
  • Problem: A collection of incidents or the recurrence of an incident.
  • Task: The client needs techs to set up a new user or create a file.

Then, look at your most common support requests, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there an SLA? Depending on turnaround time, you can determine how quickly to escalate the request.
  • Is it time-sensitive? You may need to hop on a phone call, but chat can do the trick as well.
  • Is this billable? If it’s not, it may be a request you can deal with over email. 

Once you have assigned your core tasks to categories, it’s time to assign these categories to the right channels. 


Chat: The jack of all trades 

Chat is the ideal way to address incidents — issues that are not emergencies but require swift resolution. This could be a situation where a line of business app is not working as expected, but it’s not halting operations altogether. 

Issues best suited for chat:

  • Password resets
  • Account creation
  • Scheduling a time for collaboration with the user with Planner
  • Gaining approval for work requiring elevated rights

Phone calls: The backstop for emergencies

By using chat for incidents, your call lines and technicians have the bandwidth to address emergencies via phone. When there’s a product or hardware issue holding up important tasks for the customer, it’s time for a phone call.  

Issues best suited to phone calls:

  • A customer is locked out of their account, and password reset isn’t working 
  • A new user is onboarding and can’t figure out how to use a system
  • There is an urgent, multi-user, or site-wide outage

Email: The suggestion box for low-priority requests

Once customers realize that you’re always available and happy to help via chat, they’ll be less worried about sending you requests that aren’t time-sensitive via email. Emails are ideal for information that needs to be conveyed without immediate action. 

Issues best suited for email:

  • Alerts about features clients would like to see in the future
  • Suggestions on how to improve existing tools
  • Service quality follow-up after incident resolution


How Thread facilitates human touch

The ideal chat solutions give you a clear line of communication to customers and offer immediate personalized responses to customer needs. Thread takes those capabilities to the next level for your MSP: 


We communicate directly with customers

Tickets are artificially restrictive. Techs spend just as much time attempting to resolve tickets and navigate the ticketing system as they do communicating with customers. They also set up an unnecessary barrier between techs and customers. Why would anyone want to send in a request that gets turned into a ticket when they can communicate directly with a human being?

Instead, Thread’s chat-based service desk model allows people to communicate directly with technicians, intelligently sorts requests with AI, and eliminates annoying extra steps. 

We help MSPs form long-term relationships

To create positive, long-term customer relationships, MSPs don’t want their IT service associated with soulless robots. Using Thread, MSPs can create pod structures where certain techs always work with certain clients. This creates personal trust between the two parties because clients know that the technician who has helped them before is waiting on the other side of their chat window to resolve any issues.

That being said, people want better service — personalized or not. Thread solves that desire, too, by giving people immediate, human-like automated responses when they send a chat. This way, technicians aren’t held up with small talk and can focus on problem-solving while customers receive that immediate response.  


How Thread uses AI to eliminate ticketing and improve customer experience

Thread was created to be ideal for MSPs, and continues to innovate in the space. Here’s why our tool is unlike any other: 

We’re using AI to do the jobs tech people hate

It’s a tale as old as time: Employees are bad at entering data in time sheets. Why swim against the current? Instead, Thread uses AI to enter timesheet information on behalf of technicians, freeing up brain space and ensuring that MSPs have the data they need.

Thread also uses AI to provide technical notes — an infamously variable task requiring consistent diligence from technicians. Using AI for this benefits your entire team because excellent technical notes are great guides for future techs and fool-proof ways to retrace your steps if something goes wrong.

We’re minimizing friction in client interactions

For customers, trying to figure out where they can communicate with IT support feels like yet another frustrating hurdle stopping them from fixing their problem. Instead, Thread’s Chat is incredibly convenient and doesn’t introduce a new program or website. You can meet clients where they are — from Teams to Slack, you name it.

Communicating with clients on their preferred platform also doesn’t add more work for techs. They seamlessly use the Thread interface for everything, no matter how the client receives their communications but retain the ease of operating in a single platform. No more switching from app to app to hunt for past conversations.

Our UI is modern and easy to use

Despite how multifaceted our chat solution is, it’s not a click-heavy interface. And techs don’t have to input tons of data, either.
Ready to kick the ticket? Book a demo with us today. 

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