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Each day, a new cloud service or API seemingly comes into play, deeming themselves essential in their particular industry. In the MSP world, RMMs, anti-virus, and backup services have all undergone commoditization. It used to cost thousands to offer a backup service; now it’s pennies per GB – commoditization never sleeps.

Similarly, MSPs can’t remain still – you have to differentiate your services and deliver value that is distinct from other providers. This leads to the same spiral of commoditization, where competing with other MSPs in your city or vertical can turn into a simple matter of who can offer services at the lowest price.

To get ahead of the rest of the pack, you need to have a way to efficiently scope services for potential customers and dive deep, without expending too much effort determining a proper fit. Once the customer is won, the work doesn’t stop there.

The good thing is that commoditization happens over years, not days. With the proper amount of foresight, you can catch yourself before the spiral of commoditization takes control of your MSP. Fight the spiral by bringing personalized services that’s driven by automation to the forefront of your business model.

Personalize your service with a franchise mentality

The customer experience is something that will likely never become commoditized. This is where you can separate yourself from your competition. Customers don’t know exactly what to buy or what benefits are better than the others.

Tell your sales team to focus on understanding the business so that they can then develop the correct IT solution. Help the customers grow, learn how to manage risk, and see that their agendas match what the company can provide.

“One-size-fits-all” is not a reality in today’s ever-changing IT landscape. Showing the customer that you can adapt to fit their needs as they grow and change is crucial. Each organization is different, with its own series of strategies and goals. You need to show customers that you are willing to grow with them, face their challenges, and adapt to any changes with ease.

One MSP, Concertium, is already doing something like this with its Captain’s Chair IT, which allows its customers to access the information that typically only MSP service teams could access. By being transparent, customers are able to invest their trust in Concertium, reversing the spiral of commoditization through personalization.

Automating documentation

In a world where customer personalization is crucial, implementing processes to consistently document your client’s database allows you to spend more time on addressing your customers’ needs, rather than scrambling to maintain oversight. Automation allows your employees to spend less time on boring administrative tasks and more time on personal tasks that can’t yet be automated.

Ironically, a scalable, repeatable process needs to be developed for consistency in service delivery while still allowing for these individual customer needs to be met. Automation plays a crucial role in this for MSPs experiencing growth, and helps keep up with rising commoditization by giving teams additional time to provide a greater customer experience.

Furthermore, automating documentation can help your business rapidly scope services for potential customers. You will be able to spend more time on expansion and figuring out how to fight commoditization with additional personalization.

Consistent and automated onboarding

Lengthy onboarding processes vastly hurt the customer’s experience. If you need to spend the first two weeks of the relationship documenting manually, you may already be missing information to best serve the customer.

Setting expectations is critical for customers to understand what your service is – and isn’t. If they can’t differentiate your service from your competitors, then they are going to jump ship to the cheaper option whenever possible. 

Quickly getting them over the hurdle of onboarding is an easy way to build credibility with your client. It is here where you can show them that you are more than just a product: You are a consultant for any of their IT needs. Automating as much of that process is critical for success and will allow you to make a mark on the new customer from the get-go.

All too often, the effort put into documentation during the sale process fails to translate properly over to onboarding. Automation helps to speed up the assessment process, allowing it to land in a centralized repository, which ultimately enables clean handoffs between teams.

It’s important to be a partner to your customer, providing more than just a product by acting as a guide throughout your relationship. By proving to your customers that you are there to make their life easier, you will be able to avoid many of the downsides of commoditization.

Be warned: Even customer experience insights such as those seen in this article aren’t free from being commoditized. Continue to be flexible, try new things, and you’ll be able to keep the spiral of commoditization at bay.

Photo: Master1305 / Shutterstock

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Vincent Tran

Posted by Vincent Tran

Vincent Tran, CISSP is COO at Liongard, an automation platform which enables MSPs with visibility beyond the endpoint and into critical on-premises apps, the network stack, and cloud services.

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