Q: My MSP has had trouble in maintaining customer satisfaction customers. What part of our partnership, beyond our traditional delivery of services, should we highlight to demonstrate our value to their SMB businesses?
Many managed service providers (MSPs) are initially brought on board by their SMB customers to serve as outsourced IT managers for the business. In the early days of the relationship, the delivery of services themselves often serves as the basis for how the SMB evaluates its partnership with the MSP.
The longer the partnership lasts, the more likely the customer is to begin looking beyond this focus to evaluate other aspects of their partnership with the MSP. To continue investing for the long-term, they will want to determine the ultimate value the MSP provides to their business. This is a common problem faced by MSPs, so you’ve asked an important question. We’ve rounded up some best practices that can help you shape how you think about how to continually add, and prove more value for your customers.
Six pillars of demonstrating value
- Impact – This is one of the most important factors clients consider when assessing the value that an MSP brings. It’s important to be able to communicate not just the service you are providing, but what that service actually provides the customer with. For example, they may not see value in you providing “network support”, but they certainly will care about their uptime vs. downtime. If you’re able to illustrate how you’ve limited downtime for both their entire system and individual employees, that helps them to recognize the real-world, day-to-day impact you’re making on their business.
- Service – The breadth of an MSP’s service offering impacts the customers’ perception of their capabilities, and whether they have the skills and resources available to make the customer successful. MSPs must expand their portfolios beyond a single service or focus. For example, if an MSP only offers backup services, without also offering preventative security and security response, they will be leaving their customers needing more. By offering a well-rounded, comprehensive solution portfolio, an MSP will be seen as more likely to help its SMB customers in their business operations and growth, thus demonstrating the MSP’s value.
- Pricing – Pricing plays a significant role in in value perception and does not offer much room for error. An MSP must price its services to be competitive within the channel, while being in line with the customers it serves. A too-high price for managed services will dissuade an SMB for obvious reasons, but going too low when setting a pricing structure can raise questions in the customers mind about the quality they would be receiving from an MSP, as well. Managed services pricing should be indicative of the layers of solutions and services that they offer, to show how seriously they take protecting their clients’ operations. Clients understand that any savings they earn from paying a cheap price when initially signing on can be eliminated in the blink of an eye when hit with extended downtime or ransomware.
- Responsiveness – How easy is it for your customers to reach you or to get a response from you? Part of your value proposition is likely that you’re always there for them; so be sure to deliver on that promise. Beyond responding quickly and with comprehensive answers to questions, customers want to feel taken care of by your team, so it’s important that you’re focusing on customer service in every interaction your team has with members of the customers’ teams. And, it’s not just about reactive responses – be sure that your team is checking in on customers proactively, whether it’s a quarterly check-in, or a quick follow up email or call after an issue is initially resolved, to make sure that all is going smoothly again.
- Reporting – Offering services with built-in, branded reporting capabilities is another way MSPs can demonstrate value to clients. With assessment and reporting tools as part of the managed services offering, the MSP and client can work together to identify areas where improvement is needed. At the same time, this builds a system of continuous assessment and evaluation where the strengths of the MSP’s service delivery can be noted. It also reinforces the concept that the MSP and client are partners in achieving success for the client’s business.
- Relationship – A critical factor in the success of the relationship with the managed services client, and their satisfaction, is setting appropriate expectations. If you set the expectation too high up-front by doing things you don’t typically do, that can result in customers feeling disappointed down the line when you’re not able to sustain that service level consistently. Conversely, if you don’t do what you say you will do… well. That’s certainly not good either. The key is to set clear expectations up front. Let them know what you’ll be doing to keep them productive and secure. If you have to go beyond that in order to deliver on your promise to secure them, be sure to let them know, so that they can understand what you’re doing and can appreciate your commitment to not just meeting, but exceeding their expectations.
MSPs who place a real focus on effectively demonstrating the value they provide can build strong reputations, win new customers, and enjoy business growth. Using the key items to consider on this list should help to identify ways to consider enhancing your current business practices to achieve this.
Want more details on how to demonstrate more value to drive more business? Download our eBook, The MSP’s Guide to Demonstrating Value, today.
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