Ask an MSP Expert

Q: One thing that we’ve noticed is that we only talk to our SMB clients when something is wrong. How can we increase communication with our clients—the right way? How often should we reach out to them? 

Communication is a necessary part of helping your customers have a better experience. A study by Right Technologies found that 86 percent of customers would pay up to 25 percent more for a better customer service experience. Communicating with your customers on a regular basis can help you educate customers on best practices, gain insight on what concerns they might have, and strengthen your relationship with them.

To help you improve your customer communications, we talked to Lindsay Faria, the director of partner and content marketing at Barracuda MSP. Lindsay crafts messaging, enablement materials, and communications to help MSP partners succeed selling managed services to their clients. She shared her advice on how to communicate effectively.

How to communicate effectively

How often you communicate with your customers should be influenced by their preferences and how they like to be contacted. Find out what methods your customers prefer, how often they want to hear from you, and what times of day they like to be contacted. This can help make your outreach as productive as possible. Getting this insight can be as easy as introducing a customer survey to existing accounts or to new customers when they’re onboarded. Record their preferences in your CRM software or other record-keeping files so you can easily access the information to help you tailor your approach in the future.

When you’re communicating, it’s important to be clear and concise. Let the customer know what the purpose of the communication is, and then get to the point. You should also avoid unnecessary jargon your customers might not understand. and unnecessary slang or abbreviations. That means no “thx,” “brb,” or “TTFN” in your communications. Your customers are worth taking the time to spell out each word in full!

It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about you talking to them. It’s also about listening closely and learning from what the customer is saying (or not saying — non-verbal communication can tell you a lot, too). Ask them questions to make sure you truly understand their feedback, questions, and pain points.

If you want to grow the account, you must know the account. Invest in learning about each customer’s business and the people working there. What you learn will help you make your communications more valuable to them. For example, one customer might use their lunch break every day to catch up on emails. Knowing this gives you an edge; you can time your future outreach for a time you know is convenient for them and that will put you at the top of their inbox.

Mediums to consider using when communicating

How you reach out to your customers depends on the message you’re trying to communicate. If you have something that the customer will want to share widely within their organization or that contains detailed instructions, then email or a digital format is best. If you’re wishing a customer a speedy recovery after a surgery you discussed during your last call with them, a card or a gift basket sent to their home or office would be more appropriate than a phone call. If you know based on preferences that a customer has indicated that they prefer to stay in touch via text or SMS, do that when appropriate. It can be convenient a way to get a prompt response to a quick, easy question. But, it’s not a good format for pitching a new service or introducing them to a new account manager. Successful communication depends on how well the message is received, and that varies from situation to situation.

Communicating with your customers is essential to building a strong working relationship with them. By following Lindsay’s advice, your communication skills as an organization can improve to help you deliver the customer service experience that your SMBs are looking for.

Ready Set Managed

Photo:  Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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