Change is scary because it involves risk, but some risks are worth taking. And if you’re a solution provider looking to adopt the managed services model, the upside is considerable, especially as it relates to customer relationships.
Becoming an MSP changes your customer relationships for the better. For starters, there is a fundamental difference in the nature of the relationship. It exists not to put out fires when something goes wrong but to prevent fires from igniting in the first place. This has the psychological effect of removing the negativity that typically underscores interactions between service provider and client.
That’s a big deal – and it provides the foundation for a relationship that focuses more on the customer’s business rather than IT and, as such, is more strategic. You focus on the business to help the customer be successful and stay profitable far into the future. With that in mind, let’s look at four ways in which the MSP model improves customer relationship
1. Getting to Know You
If you’re monitoring and maintaining your customers’ environments day in and day out, you’ll need far more than a superficial knowledge of a client’s business to do it successfully. You have to understand what the business does, the market in which it operates, what its challenges and goals are, and how to address those challenges and goals. The better you get to know the customer, the more effective you’ll be in proposing and implementing technology solutions to support the business.
2. Anticipating Problems
As already noted, MSPs take a proactive approach to their clients’ IT needs. While as a VAR, a good chunk of your business depends on repair and troubleshooting, MSPs work to prevent breakdowns and outages. It costs you money to roll a truck to the customer’s site for unscheduled work. And because you aren’t showing up at customer sites only when there’s trouble, the customer’s perception of you changes from negative to positive.
3. Standing Out in the Crowd
Competition in the IT channel is always fierce, and gets even more intense as technologies and related services become commoditized. To fight commoditization and stand out from the crowd, you must do something different from competitors. While it’s true some managed services also are becoming commoditized, you have a better chance of fighting this pattern by setting up your business to support new technologies and build value-added services around them. In doing so, you become more valuable to customers than you could ever be by selling the same products and services everyone else carries.
4. Sticking to It
VAR models rely disproportionately on troubleshooting and one-off deals. It’s tough to nurture a long-term customer relationship that way. But as an MSP, you keep tabs on customer environments on an ongoing basis. That on its own provides stickiness, but when you add the ability to add value on top of your technology offerings and talk strategically with customers about future IT needs to support the business, you greatly increase your likelihood of keeping the customer for the long term.
If you get these four basic components of the MSP-customer relationship right, your business will benefit. Customers will come to you for more services when they need them and, as a result, you’ll be able to maintain a profitable business for many years to come.