Ask an MSP ExpertQ: We just got hit with the first winter storm of the season, and I know there are more on their way. I want to make sure my customers are prepared in case there’s damage to their businesses in an upcoming storm. As their IT service provider, how can I make sure that their businesses are protected this winter?

We hope it was just a dusting! Here at Intronis there’s been constant chatter around the office about what this winter will bring and if it will be anything like last winter in Boston. We’re all thinking ahead about how we’ll get to work if we find ourselves under another nine feet of snow! So you’re not alone in wanting to prepare for what could potentially be another tough winter.disaster_recovery-1We understand that winter storms can have a harmful effect on businesses. The combination of snow and ice can cause damage to power lines and infrastructure or even lead to burst pipes and flooding. Hopefully you’ve already put a data protection and disaster recovery plan in place with each customer, and now is an opportune time to check in with these customers to make sure they’re comfortable with those plans.

Follow this checklist to help prepare your customers for a winter storm:

1. Check recent backups to see if there are any issues 

Find out as much as you can about each customer and where things stand before you reach out. We recommend starting out by reviewing their latest backups to see if there are any issues. If you do notice any failed backups or errors, address them now. As you’re looking over their account, check to see how recently you ran a full backup set. If necessary, run a more recent backup to make sure all of their data is backed up off-site.

It might also be helpful to perform incremental backups more frequently throughout the winter so you’re protecting the latest versions of your customers’ data. This way, if their business suffers an equipment failure or site outage, you’ll be able to restore all of their most recent data.

2. Reach out to customers in winter storm-prone areas

After you’ve reviewed your customers’ backups, take the proactive step to reach out to your customers operating in regions frequently hit by winter storms. Start by reaching out through an email message or phone call. If you can, try to schedule a check-in meeting with the customer to discuss their recovery plan.

When you speak with your customer, ask what concerns they have and answer their questions. Be sure to let them know that you’re here for them and being vigilant—watching their backups closely and following any winter storm warnings. This type of conversation emphasizes the added-value of managed services.

 3. Find out if anything’s changed with their data protection needs 

In your communications with the customer, you should also ask if anything’s changed with their data protection needs or requirements. For example, are you currently backing up everything they would need recovered in the case that their business is affected by a storm?

Show them what data sets you’ve been backing up and ask if there are any changes to the data needed to keep their business operational. There might be a new workstation or application on their network that holds mission-critical information. You’ll want to uncover these types of updates by asking questions about how their business has grown or changed since you last spoke with them.

4. Review each customer’s disaster recovery plan 

The most important thing to discuss with your customer is their disaster recovery plan. Go over the documented plan to make sure the customer is comfortable with it. Refresh the plan if needed, such as clarifying procedures or assigning tasks.

After you’ve reviewed the plan with the customer, schedule a test for them to participate in. The customer will feel more comfortable running through the plan in a true emergency situation if they’re done it before. Each person will gain a clear understanding of their responsibilities in a disaster situation, and it will help them be ready to execute the plan at any time. Additionally, testing can reveals flaws in the plan and ways to make it more efficient.

After talking with each of your customers, you should have a better understanding of how well-prepared they are for a winter storm, and following this checklist will leave you feeling reassured that your customers are well positioned in the face of a disaster situation. It might also uncover situations where your customers are unprepared, and in these cases, you can take this time to create a reliable disaster recovery plan and help those customers be better prepared.

Photo Credit: Colville-Andersen by Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license. 

Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.

Courtney Steinkrauss

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss

Courtney is an Editorial Associate at Intronis. In her role, she assists in creating and publishing content that helps IT service providers grow their businesses.

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