Archive Monthly Archives: December 2013

How to Find the Right Help Desk Provider

 

Despite the importance of maintaining a high-quality help desk, a number of companies either don’t have the internal resources to do so, or struggle in finding an outsourced vendor that is truly high quality. By asking the right help desk qualification questions, you can be sure you’re choosing a vendor who will meet your needs and the needs of your clients.

Factors to Consider

Whether outsourcing for the first time or looking for a new vendor, there are several benefits to choosing an outside help desk provider… as long as it’s the right one. Every company has different specifics required of their help desk, and before shopping around, you must first have a good understanding of what you’re looking for and the role you need the provider to fill. Start by auditing your current support levels, and then assessing where reinforcements are most needed.

Once you have a solid benchmark in place, you can start comparing vendors. There are several help desk qualifying questions you can ask to help narrow the field:

  • How are the engineers with the help desk vetted? What does the provider look for in a help desk agent? Do they check backgrounds? What typical education and certifications do they have?
  • Do help desk technicians understand HIPAA compliance? As the definitions of HIPAA compliance continue to evolve, it’s essential for help desk techs to always be up-to-date with the latest compliance regulations and be able to answer any questions that may arise regarding compliance.
  • Does the help desk provide any SLAs? SLAs ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to response expectations, which is an essential component of an effective help desk. This will help you manage your clients’ expectations as well.
  • What objective metrics can you show? Ask potential providers to offer specifics about their service. What’s their average speed to answer (ASA)? What are their abandoned rate (AR) and their percentage of first contact resolution (FCR)? These numbers are an excellent indicator of your prospective vendors’ efficiency and effectiveness. Lastly, don’t forget to ask for their customer satisfaction (CSAT) statistics.
  • How does your number of calls/tickets per month stack up against your customer satisfaction rating? Be wary of vendors who only boast about how many calls come through. The volume isn’t as important as how well customers’ issues are resolved and how pleased those customers are with their resolution. Metrics should reflect both quality and quantity to really determine the effectiveness and work ethic of the help desk team.
  • How are metrics made available? Are metrics available in real time? Do you receive raw data or interpreted information? What types of reports will you receive? Will you only receive information according to the vendor’s timeline, or can you request them on an as-needed basis?
  • How does your help desk compare to industry standards? If you’re unsure about the quality of a help desk provider’s metrics, check them against industry standards to see if your candidates are coming out ahead. Metricnet.com is a great source for industry metrics.

By asking these qualifying questions and putting in due time and effort in hiring your help desk providers, you’ll ensure that your vendor can take on your immediate help desk needs and grow alongside your own organization into the future.

What other metrics should you ask for when vetting your help desk? Did we miss any important ones?

Holiday Cyber Scams – How to Avoid The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

 

Now that we’re officially in the middle of the holiday season, there’s a flood of emails flying through cyberspace from family, friends, online retailers and charities. This heavy online traffic makes it easier than ever to sneak in malicious emails, targeting unsuspecting users looking to connect with old friends and find holiday deals. Whether it’s a phishing scam that is trying to snag your credit card number or a malware campaign that installs unauthorized code on your system from an email link, ‘tis the season to protect yourself.

Taking Precautions

So where, exactly, do these seasonal cyberscams come from? Many of these malicious Grinches send emails from fake URLs, disguising them to appear legitimate. Faux charities are another common scam designed specifically to take advantage of your generosity during the season of giving. Even friends and family may send what looks like an innocent forward your way, only to discover that they inadvertently launched some decidedly un-cheery, unpleasantness to your inbox instead.

However, if you take some basic online protective measures you’ll be in a lot better shape to avoid the latest cyberscams this holiday season:

  • Change your email settings so that attachments aren’t automatically downloaded. This gives you more control over what gets into your system.
  • Never open attachments or click URL links in emails from unknown or unverified senders. Even be cautious of known senders.
  • Remember that cyberscammers can spoof return addresses; their malicious emails might look like a holiday e-greeting from Grandma judging from the subject line alone. If there’s nothing specific in the subject or body of the message (i.e. “Check out the great Holiday pics I took!”), it’s worth verifying with the sender before opening the attachment.
  • Never respond to requests for financial information that arrive via email. Instead, visit the applicable site or account directly from your web browser to verify any claims.
  • Always research charities and other organizations before you donate a penny.
  • Keep your antivirus and anti-malware software updated and run regular scans to keep your system squeaky clean.  Also assure that patches are applied regularly to the operating system.
  • Listen to your intuition. If something seems fishy about an email, even if it’s from someone you know, don’t download any attachments or follow embedded URLs. Again, return addresses can be spoofed to look authentic and familiar, so use caution even with trusted senders.

Spread Cheer, Not Fear

There’s no better time than the holidays to wrap up a nice bit of malicious code masquerading as an online promotion for a major sale or a holiday e-card. That’s why the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) has released a security alert that focuses specifically on how to avoid holiday-related cyberscams. Additionally, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) offers a comprehensive list of suggestions on avoiding phishing scams that are good any time of year.

The holidays should be a time for celebration. Use smart online practices to help spread seasonal cheer, and stay safe this holiday season.

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