IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Getting Sticky with IT : Page 3 of 4

MSPs can foster long-term client relationships through documented processes, value-based communications, and a culture of problem-solving. By Geoffrey Oldmixon
Reader ROI: 
CHANNEL PROs develop long-term clients with services, processes, and a culture that makes doing business with them easy.
LOOK FOR CLIENTS that want a true partner, seek to solve their pain points, and continually convey the value you provide.
ESTABLISH SERVICE DELIVERY processes that are aligned and documented, and are supported by a customer success-focused team.

Establishing and Aligning Processes

As the sales process moves forward, MSPs that incorporate a holistic approach will be best positioned to foster a sticky, long-term relationship. For instance, Patent says, sales scripts and marketing materials shouldn’t be crafted in silos, but hand-in-hand with the operational processes that will later fulfill their promises.

“As you move from sales to delivery to support, you need to make sure all those teams align,” she advises. “I’ve seen so many sales teams hand it over and walk away.”

Patent recommends MSPs hold kickoff meetings with new clients or prospects that include all the team members from across departments. For ongoing communication, she suggests using a tool like Slack or Teams. “Make sure there’s a single source of truth,” she says.

Juan Fernandez

After kickoff, the impression an MSP makes in the first few weeks is critical. If you ask Fernandez, the customer relationship is earned—or squandered—during the onboarding process.

“The first few weeks of the customer’s interaction with you says a lot about their future interactions,” he points out. “If you don’t get it right within that first 72 hours of turning them on, it’s really hard to come back from that.”

For Pollack, successful onboarding balances attention to detail with reasonable timetables. “It’s really important to set expectations and consistently come through on them,” he says.

Fernandez suggests MSPs do a few trial runs at an onboarding process. “Go through your own customer journey,” he advises. “Onboard yourself and see where the holes are.”

Documentation is key, which is why Fernandez was a stickler about it when he headed an MSP division of a large company. “Taking pictures, documenting infrastructures—we used to have a 36-page Excel spreadsheet and my people hated it,” he recalls.

Fernandez recommends defining and refining a process of customer success that includes a 30-day onboarding process, a 60-day check-in procedure, and a 90-day quarterly business review. “When you show them the plan, and your process is clearly defined down to the smallest nuances, you’re not leaving things to chance. Every time you talk to them, you can say, ‘Here’s where we were, here’s where we are, and here’s where we are going.’”

Showcasing Your Value

Pollack is a proponent of client management, which includes communicating about and validating services through FPA’s client portal. The self-service portal provides dashboard access to invoices, ticket history, documentation, password management, and more. 

“The thing with MSPs is that a lot of times we just do stuff, and the client doesn’t really know what those things are or mean,” Pollack says. “The more you can communicate is super valuable.”

In addition to presenting key stats in the dashboard, Pollack makes it a point to send out an executive summary each month, highlighting the evidence-based value the accomplished tasks provide the client.

Patent agrees that MSPs need to be better at showcasing their value. “To promote stickiness, QBRs [quarterly business reviews] only work if they go beyond reporting,” she explains. “Make sure they talk about client objectives and how you are helping to create impact.”

In addition to regular QBRs, Patent recommends monthly leadership calls to “make sure you have a high-touch, collaborative environment.” She also suggests including your best clients in presentations or case studies and white papers. “It’s a marketing opportunity, and it’s going to force that client to think about whether the thing provided is adding value.”

Monthly client-specific newsletters are another way to keep value front of mind. Fernandez recommends customer testimonial videos, webinars, blog postings, referrals, and social media posts as additional ways of reaffirming that added-value message.

Coppedge values light training and social events, too, to keep clients engaged. “We also do weird holidays,” he says. “We do Pi Day, where we drive out and leave pies with clients on March 14th. It’s fun.”

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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