Instead of a dedicated IT department dedicated to server maintenance, many small companies can begin by pursuing managed IT services from a managed service provider. Unlike traditional break-fix IT services, which depend upon your technology just breaking down, managed IT services aim to maintain your technology in optimal working condition, and take proactive action to solve problems before they turn into long-term issues. This is a great way for small businesses to cut IT costs while maintaining IT efficiency. Here are several services you might want to look for when choosing an IT managed service provider for your business’s data center:

Server Monitoring. Some companies choose to go with managed service providers because they offer their own network monitoring. If your data center experiences unexpected downtime or if your technician detects a problem, you can immediately trace the problem from the command line. By using network monitoring, administrators can also resolve problems in real time, greatly improving your business’s response time.

Email Redirection. Many small businesses make their own email accounts, which can be cumbersome and time consuming when outsourced to a third party. However, some administrators decide to go with in-house email addresses because they’re more closely tied to the in-house team. An email redirection is a great tool for many small businesses that want to avoid outsourcing costs and increased operating expenses. In-house mail servers allow users to access their email from any computer, even if it’s located in a different office.

Webmail. Many small businesses have found that when they outsource their email needs to managed service providers, they’re able to receive automatic updates and upgrades to their server software. These upgrades can make managing the business easier, and allow business owners to spend more time focusing on their staff and operational activities. Webmail is also a big advantage for outbound or virtual sales calls, which make it easier for business owners to contact their customers in the fastest way possible.

Live Chat. One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is dealing with long hold times for customer service representatives. When a call isn’t answered within five to ten minutes, many customers are likely to hang up without speaking with a representative. To combat this issue, many service providers include live chat options for their clients. While some business owners may prefer to work without live support, most would be glad to have access to an easy to use chat option that makes it easy to talk with a live representative.

Technical Assistance. As with all managed services providers, some managed services providers have technical support as a service. This means that instead of hiring a group of employees to deal with customer issues, the business owner simply needs to contact the support team and they’ll take care of any issues that come up. While this might not seem like a big deal for smaller businesses, having one person dedicated to taking calls and helping solve problems is a huge benefit.

Knowledge Base. As a managed services provider, your service team will be responsible for maintaining an extensive knowledge base on the products or services your company offers. Since your team will be responsible for answering questions, posting blogs, articles, and providing the information customers need to know, they’ll be a great source for product and service information.

Support from a Systems Integrator. While most Managed Service Providers focus primarily on the phone and web experience for their clients, there are still some that provide their clients with support via systems integrators. Systems integrators are professionals who specialize in network security, PC security, VoIP, security testing, and software testing. If you choose to outsource these services to a systems integrator, you can rest assured knowing that your data is secure.