No matter what industry you’re in, every business owner ultimately wants to set their business up for success and differentiate themselves from their competition. So, what does a successful managed services business look like to you? Does success mean adding on a handful of clients on every month? Does it mean maintaining your current accounts and keeping customers satisfied?

How MSPs define success can vary from one individual to the next, but putting your business on the right path is a recipe most MSPs can follow. It all boils down to one thing: your customers and what they’re looking for in a provider.

We recently came across a book written by Josh Wilmoth, CEO of Central Texas Technology Solutions. With more than 15 years in the technology industry, Josh has come across a variety of customers, but he often sees that most business owners don’t know exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to hiring a managed service provider. To help potential clients and reassure current customers about their managed service contract with CTTS, Josh wrote a book: The IT Survival Guide for Business Owners. Through it, we picked up a few tips we thought would be useful for other managed services providers to know about what their SMB customers are looking for, so you can set up your business for success.

Three costly mistakes you can easily avoid

While most of your SMB customers might not know exactly what they need from a managed services business, there are a few things you can do to look like a superstar consultant rather than a super screw-up consultant, the book explains. As you would expect from any business professional, you should always be on time, presentable, and return customers’ calls in a timely manner. These should be no-brainers. But, you might still be missing the mark in one of the following three areas, and that could end up costing your business money down the road.

1. Not following up with a formal written agreement. Written agreements can include guarantees, deliverables, timelines, and pricing. Instead of arguing with your customer in a classic I-said-you-said conversation—where the customer is always right, or should be—document your conversation and send a written record of what was agreed upon. Did you agree to complete the project within the next month? Are there any contingencies if the timeline gets pushed backward?

Documenting conversations protects both parties involved. Not only will the customer have a clear expectation of the service you’ll be providing them, but it can also protect your image as a reputable IT business—and not someone who’s trying to take advantage of customers, deadlines, or previous agreements.

  1. Lack of reporting or failing to show SMBs the results. Highlight the value of your MSP services by showing SMBs how you’re protecting them each month, the book suggests. Did your firewall protect them from any threats entering their networks? How many days did you successfully backup their systems? Without proper reporting about what you’re doing, your customers will fail to see the value of what you have to offer them.

Set up monthly, quarterly, or bi-yearly check-ins to sit down and discuss the reports with your customers. While some customers might not have the time to formally chat about what the reports show, they may be interested in receiving an emailed copy of the report at the beginning or end of the month. To gauge their interest and understand what kind of visibility they would like, simply ask them what their preferences are.

  1. Failing to follow up after service. Ensure that your customers are satisfied by following up with them after they received service. How did they feel about the technician that helped them? Were they helpful, professional, and most importantly did they solve the problem? The book recommends a simple five-minute check-in a day or so after the service to allow the customer to communicate any problems. It gives you ample time to fix any mistakes that might have occurred.

If you consistently follow up with customers, when a customer decides to leave your company and use another MSP, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Providing your customers with excellent customer service can help you continually grow your IT service business and retain more customers over time.

While it’s important to continually work on your business processes and improve your customer support, these three points from Josh’s book can make or break your IT business. To learn what other costly mistakes you might be making, check out Josh’s book: The IT Survival Guide For Business Owners or to hear more IT service tips from Josh, subscribe to our blog to read our exclusive Q&A session with him in the coming weeks.

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Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is an Editorial Associate at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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