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An Enhanced Focus on Client Needs Can Improve IT Managed Service Providers Bottom Line

One of the keys to a successful business is a well thought out customer service program, one that ensures good customers remain satisfied. Not only so they keep coming back, renewing service contracts or agreeing to new projects, but it to lead the conversation towards referrals and continued sales growth. Of course, there are exceptions, but companies that don’t monitor customer service program satisfaction levels often find their clients aren’t as happy as they thought. Perceptions are much easier to accept than the reality, especially if business is good and revenue continues to climb. But when the truth comes to light, it usually comes crashing down hard.

One prime motivator for an MSP to provide quality customer service is that it’s often much less expensive and easier to do than recruiting new clients. No matter how effective you are at prospecting business, it still requires an investment of time and energy. Lead generation is a complex process, requiring not only a good marketing strategy, but proper execution on that plan to locate and qualify the best prospects. Forging a new business relationship and closing the first technology deal isn’t easy, and often involves employees from the sales, engineering and executive teams. Those resources don’t come free, and the expenses associated with them typically come due well before the client makes the first payment.

On the other hand, while the efforts required to maintain a current customer may also be substantial, the payoff in revenue growth and referral business is usually well worth it. A satisfied individual or business client will often tell friends and colleagues about their experience and make introductions when appropriate. Generally, happy customers will not only recommend your business to others, but tell them how your company helped improve their operations. That type of promotion can’t be purchased, but it can be a goal of a good customer service program.

Coordinate Quality Service Plans with Outsourced MSP Partners

And if your clients are not content with your service or portfolio, they are likely to warn others about their dissatisfaction. One unkind word can spread exponentially throughout a small community, and faster within specific markets or industries. Defensive measures should be a part of every customer service plan, including measures to rectify situations where the company may not necessarily be at fault.

In the eyes of a client, when an IT helpdesk support call doesn’t solve their issue, the blame falls quickly on the MSP. That’s why it’s so important to coordinate service plans with ALL your outsource partners, including those who provide IT helpdesk support or help with other parts of your business. Are these companies able to meet your SLAs to ensure your meeting customer needs?  If not, it’s important to make changes that can bring them up to those standards, or find a new outsource partner who can.

What’s the Plan?

Before you can improve client satisfaction, a comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand program has to be developed. Make sure to involve all the key support personnel when creating customer service plans and SLAs, including subcontractors and their employees who work with your clients. Ask for suggestions on how to improve the current processes—and listen closely to their ideas. Those who are closest to the clients can most often offer the best insight into what will (and what won’t) work.

Another key step in developing a customer service plan is to do your homework. For established MSPs with existing subcontractor relationships, a wealth of information should be available to help the research process. Many outsource partners document messages and calls from end users and will gladly provide the details to the account owner. Whether that information comes in a written report or from a face-to-face review meeting, those particulars can be essential when fine-tuning or creating a new MSP customer service plan.

A best practice is to look for trends in client requests and service issues by researching online help desk support chat details and notes from client calls. While it’s impossible to address every potential problem that can affect customer satisfaction, collaboration with outsource partners can help tackle a vast majority of them. When MSPs put the proper processes in place and communicate the specifics to employees and clients, it helps to alleviate prospective issues.

Customer Satisfaction is a Constant Process

Of course, the feedback from outsource partners should be continual—with problems and opportunities communicated quickly. With a streamlined PSA (professional services automation) platform in place, tickets and files can be efficiently shared and escalated among the personnel of both organizations. For example, if a serious complaint is made during a call to a subcontractor service desk technician, he can create a note in the system to quickly alert the account management team. That could and should be a step in any customer service plan, allowing the MSP to rapidly address issues before they cause damage to their client’s business —or their own reputation.

Remember, customer satisfaction should be a proactive, not reactive, process. When you identify potential issues or spot service metrics that aren’t up to your standards, it is imperative to address them immediately. When an MSP strives to improve response times or adds a new service that improves the quality of their clients’ experience, it will likely aid in client satisfaction and retention. In most cases, the changes that will help your customers will be simple to implement and cost little to implement, such as altering the escalation process for tickets or making an extra call each month to a critical client. In the end, the value you receive will likely be greater than what you give.