Meet Our Service Manager: Aaron Burkey
A relatively new member of the Astute Technology Management team, Aaron Burkey has a big job: to ensure that every single client support request gets a fast, high-quality response.
As service manager, Aaron lives on the front life of our client-facing teams. His work here at Astute runs a wide gamut of technical and nontechnical skills, which means helping our technicians do their jobs well, designing new processes to keep our client satisfied, and working with our senior leadership to help them reach their goals.
We sat down with Aaron to talk about what keeps him up at night and what his goals were for his role at Astute Technology Management. Here’s what he had to say about the jobs and struggles of being a service manager at a service-obsessed company.
Heya Aaron, can you start by telling me what your role as a service desk manager means in terms of day to day?
My job is to ensure that our clients love our service to the point where they consistently give us high marks in our client satisfaction polling. We do that feedback polling constantly.
There are many metrics that help me understand how well we’re doing, and I must stay on top of all those. Average ticket resolution times, average first-time resolution, and many others; there’s a big data component to the job.
Fundamentally, I’d say that the job is about people. I’m managing technicians, and they’re all individuals. Helping them develop their hard and soft skills while ensuring that the whole team is working together as a single unified unit is probably the biggest and most fulfilling part of the job for me.
It’s not just technicians, though; there are service delivery coordinators too. These folks aren’t technical staff, but they look at the support tickets that are coming in to help prioritize tasks.
At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we hit all our client’s service-level agreements. That’s one of the overall guiding principles, and most of the tasks I do are organized around that goal.
It’s a very specific job. What was your career path to service manager?
I have a degree in computer science from Ohio State and spent the early part of my career as a programmer, but I can confidently say now that programming just wasn’t for me. Staring at a screen of code all day, I just didn’t find it satisfying. This led me to go looking for more hands-on leadership roles in the IT services field.
Before landing at Astute Technology Management earlier this year, my previous job was as an IT director at a technology company in the area. I was there for about 10 years. That role was much easier than this job because there, I was focused on the needs of one company, while here at Astute, I’m constantly juggling the needs of dozens of companies simultaneously.
This is a much faster-paced, much more dynamic work environment than being an IT director.
What aspect of the role do you find most challenging?
The Astute Team is constantly implementing new technologies. They’re very on top of cybersecurity here, so there’s constantly new tools to learn. It’s a fast-moving place; there are data protection tools as well, and a host of constantly evolving processes around data backup, which really keeps me on my toes.
The benefit of all this is that I feel very well rounded. My skills as an IT professional are improving just through osmosis, being around our engineers, and listening to them talk about what’s new and on the horizon. That’s all been very edifying for me, so it’s challenging, but there are upsides as well.
I will add that Monday always feels like the toughest day! I’m not sure how or why, but people get to work, and things aren’t quite as they were on Friday. We get slammed with tickets, so there’s always a bit of hustle on Monday to make sure everyone is getting what they need to start the week off on the right foot.
What goals do you have for your job? Anything that you’d like to improve?
Another of my favorite things about the job is that I contribute directly to the overall health of the company. For example, employee turnover. Employee churn—that’s a huge problem in this field.
We want our team to be rock solid, and the best way to do that is to make sure that our technicians are happy, and they stay here for a long time. There are lots of fly-by-night or low-cost MSPs who treat their staff poorly. Those MSPs inevitably get stuck in a vicious cycle of rehiring and training; service quality is just hard to ensure in that situation.
Anna Madden is deeply involved in the company’s HR components, so we work together on initiatives around that. Right now, everyone is getting along well, which is great. We want to eliminate any negative drag on the company, so it’s great when all the personalities are in lockstep, and things are running smoothly.
My goal is to empower Eric, Kane, and Anna to focus on bigger-picture stuff so they can just rely on the fact that customers are getting served the way they need. At the same time, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
It’s been fast-paced so far! They’ve grown so fast here that the company they are now is really different from where they were just 6 months ago when I came on board, so I guess my biggest goal is just to use my experience to keep ensure that in that rapid growth, service always stays front and center.
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