The Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry is a not-for-profit, membership organisation for businesses located in North Lancashire. Working with clients across different sectors, the Chamber provides day-to-day business support, as well as financial guidance and networking opportunities.
With a small team of five, the Chamber relies on outsourced IT support from Q2Q to help with everyday operations and technical solutions. In this Q&A, the Chamber’s CEO, Vicky Lofthouse, talks about the reassurance that Q2Q’s managed IT support services have brought the organisation and the help they’re providing with future infrastructural planning.
You’ve worked with Q2Q IT since 2015, have there been any standout moments for you?
It’s always the case with IT support that you never realise how important it is, until you’re looking for help with something – and urgently! Over the years, the team has proven to be an absolute lifeline in times of need.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, I was incredibly impressed with the efficiency in which Q2Q got us set up and operating from home. Plus, the team made a point of checking in with us throughout the lockdown, to make sure everything was working as it should be.
Not only that, but we were scammed out of £14,000, one month into the lockdown. I found out late one Thursday evening, and the first person I picked the phone up to was Q2Q – even before calling the police.
I needed someone to guide me through what to do, and to make sure the rest of our organisation was protected. Although it was caused by human error, the lengths Q2Q has gone to in order to get us back on our feet is testament to the team’s commitment to keeping us afloat.
Amongst all that, even when my personal computer crashed, the team answered my questions about cables and connections – even though it wasn’t strictly part of our retainer. It’s this personal, attentive and patient service which makes them excel as an organisation.
What are your short and long-term business goals – and what role does Q2Q play?
Q2Q has been a member of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce since 2012, so the firm completely understands who we are and what we do – as well as our pain points. This is compounded by the fact that Lorna Stellakis (Q2Q’s managing director) just ‘gets us’ as a business, which is absolutely the reason we work together so well.
We also undergo an annual review, which doesn’t just examine the tech and how our equipment is performing, but looks at our growth and recruitment plans too, before assessing whether our current infrastructure supports our ambitions.
By understanding our sustainability needs, and essentially being an extension of our own team, Q2Q ensures we remain ‘switched on’, come rain or shine.
Why did you originally choose Q2Q and did you research other potential partners?
The nature of our business means we regularly review our suppliers, with IT and technical support coming under that remit. We live and die by our budgets so – like an insurance policy – having a set annual fee gives us the business certainty we need.
Therefore, one of the things that immediately drew me to Q2Q was the fact that no matter how much – or little – support we needed, most of our IT budget was wrapped up in a monthly subscription fee, rather than a large bill at a time when we probably needed it the least.
What services does the Q2Q team provide currently?
As a small team ourselves, Q2Q is essentially our entire IT support department. They help with all our day-to-day tech management, as well as the longer term ‘healthcare’ of our infrastructure too – and any ‘emergencies’.
COVID-19 brought an incredibly hectic time for us, as we help our members – usually local businesses – with daily support, in order to save and make money. Therefore, it was imperative we had as little downtime as possible when it came to working from home.
The regular chats with the team provided a sounding board for questions we didn’t feel warranted a ‘support ticket’, at a time we knew they were stacked. But they also never let things slip either – where I might have done without prompting.
For example, the last thing on my mind in mid-April was whether I had upgraded my licences. But thankfully, the team were there to remind me of updates I needed to be doing to protect our technical infrastructure and, in turn, business operations.
What do these services mean on a day-to-day basis?
Knowing someone has your back, no matter what happens, is priceless. While Q2Q isn’t the cheapest option on the market, when it comes to high-quality service and value for money – they’re worth every penny.