IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Crisis

During the scramble to set up customers to work remotely, channel pros discovered the importance of proactive communication, setting expectations, leaning on relationships, and more. By ChannelPro

The wave of stay-at-home orders that rolled across the U.S. this March in response to the coronavirus pandemic caught channel pros and their customers by surprise. For MSPs, keeping their own employees safe while helping customers new to remote work and cloud computing stay productive from home was a Herculean effort. What they learned will help with the future playbook.

Communicate with clients early and often: “One thing that I’ve learned … is there’s no such thing as over-communication, especially at times like this,” says Paul Nebb, CEO of Marlboro, N.J.-based Titan Technologies. “We’ve been really getting the word out, making sure that our clients know that we’ve got their back and if they need us, we’re here for them.” Don’t worry about being a nuisance, he adds. His customers have been nothing but thankful for the outreach so far. 

Set expectations well in advance: Customers focused urgently on here-and-now requirements when their offices closed have thanked MNJ Technologies for warning them early about the four or five additional issues they would need to address in the coming weeks in areas like security and bandwidth. “We’ve done a really good job of being proactive,” says Ben Niernberg, executive vice president of the Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based MSP.

Ben Niernberg

Good relationships pay off: MNJ has long cultivated relationships with distributors and hardware makers. Niernberg learned those relationships pay off. Despite inventory disruptions that made many products like PCs, network connections, and collaboration software hard to find for a while, MNJ had relatively little trouble acquiring that gear for customers. “Because we had such strong relationships and such fantastic processes in place, we were just able to react better and get the attention that we needed to fulfill the needs of our customers.”

Don’t let urgent requirements lead you to compromise security: “We’re telling people left and right, ‘Hey, don’t do risky stuff. Don’t just turn on [Remote Desktop Protocol] because you can and to get people running, because you’re going to forget to turn it off,’” Nebb says. And don’t forget security awareness training for your customers either, he continues. Coronavirus-related phishing attacks have surged since March. “There’s always someone looking to kind of take advantage of you,” Nebb observes.

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