How does Microsoft stack up when you need help with Office 365?

Everyone gets stuck with something on their computer occasionally. Or if you’re like our friend Dan, it’s more like once a day! Considering the rapid pace of technological development, it’s almost impossible to know everything about the apps and devices you use in your business– there’s always new software to learn, new tricks to acquire. This is especially true of Microsoft apps, which are now being continuously updated. This highlights the persistent need for access to IT help when you need it. While Microsoft does offer free online and phone-based support of apps like Office 365, it may not be as helpful as it seems—especially when you have a difficult issue that can’t be solved by searching for the answer online.  

Let’s review the good, the bad and the ugly of Microsoft support for Office 365 as well as what you can do to get the help you need for your business. 

Minimal Support 

If you’ve been searching Microsoft’s online forums and you can’t seem to find the answer to your problem, Microsoft does offer direct email and phone support. The only catch is that this support is only available to the IT administrator that manages your subscription. So you’ll have to ask your IT admin to get in touch with Microsoft to provide help with the issue, hopefully obtain a solution, and then have them relay the message back to you. If your issue is urgent, you might find this to be a painfully slow process. This is certainly not a fast way for solving problems.  (Source)

This brings us to our second issue:  

Long Response Times 

If your firm is on any Business plan (less than 300 employees) and if you have any issue with Office 365 that isn’t considered “critical” (incidents that prevent a user from using O365), Microsoft does not guarantee a response time – at all. Not within the hour, or within a day, or even a week – nothing at all! If your firm is on an Enterprise plan (300 or more employees), you can expect a response the next day if the issue is considered “high priority” (incidents that affect the productivity of a user). (Source)

Availability of Support 

For companies on any Business plan, they can only reach Microsoft phone support during business hours. Although that’s fine most of the time, it can be a pain if your department is staying late at quarter’s end and you encounter a problem in Office 365 that you just can’t seem to solve.  

What to do if you can’t easily get the help you need 

Many small and medium-sized businesses choose to (wisely) outsource their IT to a consultant because they don’t have enough demand to justify hiring someone full-time. However, since these IT consultants aren’t on-site, it can be difficult to access them when spur-of-the moment issues arise. Even if they do have time to assist immediately, it’s can also be questionable as to whether or not the consultant has significant expertise with Office 365 – a platform that (as we’ve already mentioned) is constantly being updated. As a result of these challenges, many small and mid-sized businesses are opting for outsourced helpdesk services as an effective, high-value solution.  

There are various helpdesk services that offer support for Office 365, but the help doesn’t end there. They can also take care of all of your other computer needs – laptop, printer, Internet connectivity--you name it. And it’s not just the IT administrator that has access to this support--you can invest in a cost-effective per-user service that enables every member of your team to have access to the helpdesk. There’s even 24/7 support for those late nights at work.  

Many helpdesk services offer low wait times and offer guarantees (called Service Level Agreements) on maximum response times depending on the severity of the issue. The expertise these helpdesk services offer is vast because it’s their job to know the in’s and outs of all the technology you use—and if they don’t know how to resolve an issue, they have a direct line to the companies that make the software your company uses. All-in-all, helpdesk services make sense for organizations who need fast IT assistance for their staff and don’t want to spend a fortune on keeping in-house talent to do the job.