Client Communications Strategy

Img. courtesy of Collegbound.net

Recently, my two sons had the opportunity to travel to Ontario for a quick visit with Dad.  Although we had a great few days getting reacquainted, it didn’t start or end that great.  Their visit was tarnished by a horrible customer service experience with Air Canada that drastically shortened the amount of father/son time we had.

What lessons can we learn from these experiences with Air Canada, and how can MSPs improve the overall level of service provided for their own clients?

Where did Air Canada go wrong?  First off, my sons’ flight was delayed leaving Calgary by over six hours, which got them into Toronto at 5:30 AM versus their scheduled 10:30 PM arrival the night before.  The delay was caused by weather and then safety precautions halted the flight from leaving the gate. We all understand that safety comes first, but where Air Canada failed was in how the airline handled the overall situation.  Simply put, it could have avoided upsetting over 150 customers by communicating the challenges effectively and putting the needs of the customers first.

Air Canada, in my opinion, has lost “the why” factor.  Why is Air Canada in business?  The airline demonstrated that it is simply a technical business like many managed IT services providers.  Many MSPs struggle to communicate effectively, leaving clients wondering what is happening and then wondering, “Is this computer company taking care of us or are they too big for us?”

Why is an airline in business?  You can tell the difference between those that must please their unions and those that focus on pleasing their clients and guests.  The biggest difference is that those airlines that get it, know they are in the business of connecting families or getting business people to meetings on time.  How can we relate this to our MSPs and our client services?

Many of my closest friends know that I have elected to abandon Air Canada after being a loyal, raving fan for many years.  Today, I elect to support (even at an increased price) companies that get client service and know why they’re in business.

Why is your MSP in business?  Are you taking care of the basic needs of your clients?

Air Canada lost my business simply because it failed to take care of the basic needs of its clients, failed to communicate with paying customers when challenges or situations arose and failed to respect why we fly Air Canada in the first place.

While in Houston, I shared some time with Houston IT professional BJ Farmer.  BJ and I sat down and reviewed some video from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and noticed how many of the best MSPs are experiencing double-digit growth simply by addressing the basic needs of their clients.

In one example, a US-based MSP with over 400 clients has his staff touch every single client each day.  Farmer went on to share that one of the reasons his firm won the Microsoft Partner of the Year award was simply because his team speaks with his MSP’s best vendors every day.

Is it safe to say that effective communication on a daily basis is the secret sauce to business growth and profitability?  I learned from Arlin Sorensen, during my early days in HTG, that there is no such thing as over communicating. No client has ever complained about Sorensen’s reaching out on a regular basis.  Clients would complain when they did not hear from him.

When you look at what Farmer, Sorensen and the MSP in the video are experiencing with their communication strategies, it only makes sense that regular communication, no matter if it is just a simple “check in call” or a more formal official communication, is important and essential to your business’ overall satisfaction.

So, what happens when you communicate effectively and have a strategy to constantly WOW your clients on a daily basis?  You have the ability to turn all of your clients into raving fans and a natural extension of your marketing strategy.  Now, you don’t need to work as hard to come up with crafty schemes to attract new business, because your clients are doing this for you.

Today, I am a raving fan for airlines such as JetBlue and WestJet.  Why?  Their why is aligned with what I believe in; their values are perfectly matched.  They get me and, most important, they communicate with me in a manner that resonates with me as a customer.

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