When operating an MSP, the company must offer more than technical expertise for managed services. It also needs to provide excellent customer service — an aspect of business that is nuanced and takes more than technical know-how to navigate.
Below are essentials to mastering customer service and providing great value to customers beyond technical support and management.
Master The Customer Journey
The first point of mastery for customer service is to understand where the customer is on what’s referred to as “the customer journey”. That is a sales funnel term. Where the customer is located in the funnel indicates how it is interacting with an MSP.
Understanding what part of the journey the customer is in helps all MSPs with the following:
- Identifying and addressing customer needs, expectations, and pain points
- Optimizing an MSP marketing strategy to meet demands
- Identifying areas of improvement that can meet expectations effectively
The MSP should have a customer journey map. While many owners think they know where customers are based on intuition, relying on intuition can end up causing staff and business owners to make big mistakes and lose customers in the long term.
Through the help of a map, MSPs can take a step back and analyze how customers interact with their business. This provides more information which allows MSPs to provide better services to customers and address customer needs faster.
Creating this map is simple, but it involves four key questions to create an effective map. Those questions are:
- Who is your target audience?
- Who is involved in the customer journey?
- What are your customer touchpoints?
- What is your account lifecycle?
The purpose of this “map” is to get a deeper understanding of the customers that are coming to an MSP. The better an MSP understands their customers, the better support can be offered.
Master The Customer Experience
Another cornerstone of an MSP Is the customer experience. This means setting accurate expectations through clear communication and being realistic with customers. To do this, a communication plan must be in place.
To make this the most effective and to tailor communications based on the different steps of the customer journey, an MSP can break the communication process into three main stages:
- First is pre-onboarding communication. This stage is about being solutions-oriented and an MSP must be prepared to answer hundreds of different questions on services and products. In this stage, an MSP must be accurate, and promote offerings that best suit the customer’s needs.
- The second stage is Onboarding communication. In this stage, the goal is to make customers feel welcomed and for them to familiarize themselves with the new account and business processes. In this stage, customers should readily know how to use services, how to get support, and how to navigate the dashboard effortlessly.
- The third and final stage is post-onboarding communication. Many MSPs skip over this part thinking that customers are okay once they have an account and are using the services and products. The reality is customers can still have questions or they could run into bugs or other problems. The idea with this step is for MSPs to contact their customers periodically to ask if they are happy and satisfied with the product or if changes are necessary. This can also lead to opportunities to upsell existing clients who may have purchased one service and realized that other services can enhance the experience.
Beyond meeting the criteria of those stages, some other methods of communication include:
- Providing multiple means of communication. Some customers prefer communicating via email rather than calling, video meetings, or in-person meetings. The more ways a customer can contact a company, the better.
- Specify service expectations in the SLA. This is a good best practice to follow and it sets the expectation for what services the customer is getting.
- Provide access to documents and educational resources. Allowing customers the opportunity to self-resolve problems helps. Making information readily available ensures a smoother experience.
- Personal customer communication. To some degree, have each communication tailored to a customer’s specific needs. While this is easy to do for smaller MSPs, this can be challenging when handling multiple large accounts. Some ideas of personalization in those instances can be having sales staff or account managers send personalized check-in emails or phone calls on a quarterly or semi-annual basis.
Mastering Customer Complaint Management
While no one likes a complainer, there will occasionally be some issues to address. The types of complaints can range from expectations not being met or a certain business process requires some fine tuning. Regardless, part of the customer service experience is to handle these complaints in a timely and professional manner.
Best practices to handle complaints should include:
- Investigating the problem. Determine exactly what went wrong. Do note that customer complaints don’t always get to the root cause. For example, if a customer complains about the server being too slow, the issue isn’t the server but rather the network.
- Assess how the problem was handled by the team. Figure out what the team has done thus far – if anything – to address the issue. It also helps to know why the steps taken haven’t resolved the situation if actions have been taken already.
- Keep the customer in the know. Customers deserve to know their issues are being resolved if it will take a long time for the issue to be resolved. Getting an email or a phone call with an update can ensure customers know work is being done, even if the solution isn’t fully provided yet.
- Review the processes. Once the problem is resolved, evaluate whether the specific business process should be changed or if there are tools that can be used to prevent this issue from occurring again.
In addition to the best practices, some other considerations are:
- Do not take complaints personally. Complaints typically stem from a need not being met. As a result, complaints and criticism can often be harsh and hurtful, but it all comes back to a specific need not being met.
- Maintain open communication channels for complaints. The easier it is to contact a company the better it will be to have a complaint resolved in a timely manner.
- Let customers know about the outcome of their complaint. A complaint from a customer could reveal a problem in one of the MSP processes. Through resolution, the MSP has become more efficient in that area. Letting customers know the outcome from resolving their specific issue can result in positive change for them and the business.
- Collect metrics on all complaints. Keeping track of how often a customer files a complaint or the type and nature of the complaint can help in identifying trends. Making changes based on that can minimize complaints as well.
About MSP Corp
MSP Corp understands you’ve worked hard to build your business and you want to protect it. With a mission to be a world-class business partner for MSP owners across Canada, we actively seek to acquire and partner with owners looking to secure the value of the business they have built and provide a seamless exit process that ensures business continuity and employee and client stability.
Contact us today to learn more about selling your business and maximizing its value.