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The relationship between you and your customer will be heavily influenced by your customer service strategy – and whether you actually have a thought-out strategy in this area, or just respond tactically to customer requirements. This becomes increasingly true when we talk about customer retention and acquisition — it typically costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an old one. Customer service has never been more paramount.
One of the core features of an effective customer service relationship is of course value — but actually knowing when, where and how to deliver that value is one of your key challenges if you’re to nurture lasting customer relationships.
At Highlight, one of our core goals is to empower customer service managers to improve outcomes – so we spend a lot of time thinking about this. Here are some of the things we’ve learned.
Recommended reading: For more information on how you can procure healthy MSP/client relations for profit growth in an era of service commoditisation, check out our eBook — Transforming the Value of Networks
The benefits of an upgraded customer service experience are plenty —
- Effectively standing out from your competitors
- An increase in positive referrals from happy customers
- Better and more consistent profit margins
- Protection from the commoditisation which is rife in the market
- The ability to plan for additional growth
So we’ve covered why your MSP customer service should be considered carefully, now let’s look at how to form a strategy that is effective and valuable.
Practical steps to improve your customer service experience
We’re going to lay out some ideas for providing better service, but be aware that these won’t work if you just implement some of them piecemeal. If you want long-term customer relationships, you have to start with long-term thinking. Identify the steps that work for you and then invest the effort to embed them, top-down, in your business.
Step 1: Become a partner, not a provider
It’s too easy to fall prey to the idea that MSPs aren’t much more than service providers who give status updates. It’s far more effective to provide a service that comes wrapped in strategy too.
Helping clients make decisions on technology and strategy, rather than simply responding to their RFPs, gets you involved farther upstream in the decision-making process. And equipping them with the tools to access crucial data points is mutually beneficial in two ways —
- It creates relationships that are based on more than selling.
- It embeds you as an indispensable part of your client’s IT team.
Selling the same basic products as everyone else hampers your sales team and opens the door for customers to challenge your pricing and to treat your service as a commodity. Being part of your customers’ effort to “move the needle” makes them see you in a different light.
Step 2: Learn your clients’ businesses
Successfully executing step 1 hinges on understanding your client’s business — their industry, their competitors, their business goals and product offerings. The by-product of understanding the what, why, when, where, and how of any given client is that you’ll be able to give more effective strategic advice.
In other words, aim to stay a step ahead in terms of technology that might benefit them. Your client knows their business well, but so should you. Are there industry trends you need to watch carefully? Any changes in technology worth taking stock of? Maybe there are new tools you can proactively (not reactively) introduce your customer to that’ll help their bottom line.
It’s thinking beyond the basics that cement you in your customer’s workflow as a crucial puzzle piece. Throughout the process, don’t be afraid to meet with your clients over any recurring issues and how they can best be solved.
Step 3: Be proactive
Being proactive is about managing customer expectations by managing your solutions to ensure they align with the standards you’ve established — which of course means having these standards in the first place. If you haven’t laid down what you’re going to provide, and set your customers’ expectations with crystal clarity, you won’t know whether you’re delivering, and they won’t know what they should be getting. Then, you have the space to over-deliver, and go beyond your client’s expectation.
Are you able to reduce customer downtime? Maybe you’re able to help pad your client’s bottom line. As you implement proactive strategies and garner results, you can then turn around and use those results as a powerful selling point for new customers who likely have similar problems.
Step 4: Prioritise security for you and your clients
Prioritising security is a surefire way to reduce risk for you and your customers. While you don’t want to make false promises about the security you offer, you do want to make sure you monitor and stay on top of the security you provide, and take it seriously. Increasingly, enterprises want to see the right policies in place..
Simply providing the basics to the tune of selling malware and firewall solutions won’t get you very far. Prioritising security by being proactive about your network services gets you one step closer to a differentiated and deeply entrenched customer relationship.
Step 5: Make adoption easy
One of the greatest points of friction when it comes to onboarding any technical solution is the initial adoption process. Ensuring you sell your clients on your services is one thing. But MSPs which go the extra mile to ensure their clients actually know how to use the tech are surprisingly rare.
A great yet simple way to make adoption easier? Provide training for all your services. At the very least, offer it as an option that’s readily available if needed, so you’re not scrabbling for an answer if someone asks.
Suggested reading: For more information specifically on the Highlight platform’s compatibility and integration, check out our blog — Compatibility and Integration – everything you need to know
Step 6: Focus on valuable outcomes
Focusing on valuable outcomes means understanding what your customer values – it sounds obvious but don’t assume that what matters to you, matters to them. Giving advice should be two parts listening, and one part talking.
Signing the contract is only the beginning of relationship building. You want to have an ongoing conversation to understand your clients and make yourself invaluable to them. This, in turn, also increases your visibility— a crucial part of not becoming another commoditised service provider they can easily cut out at the first signs of things going south.
In the same vein, you want to do everything you can to empower your sales team. There are as many ways to sell as there are fish in the sea (well, almost) so giving your team comprehensive training on how you want them to close new business and upselling existing clients is one of the best investments you can make. It will pay dividends long-term.
Suggested reading: For further information on how to deliver valuable services that increase your profit margin, check out our blog — Can Connectivity Grow Margin in 2021?
Step 7: Harness the power of an insights platform
Achieving these outcomes is easier with the right analytics and insights — and being able to actually leverage these insights is about deploying the right insights platform. Key features that will help you achieve better outcomes and that you should consider include —
- Share the information: When both you and your customers have simple access to the right insights and information, communication is easier, more rewarding and more outcome-oriented.
- Become a consultant: With actionable insights about your customers’ technology and how they’re using it, it’s a simple step to include consulting services within your portfolio. Increase margin and add value.
- Grow their Confidence: if customers can see how their technology is behaving, and feel they have an honest and open conversation with you, they’ll be more confident in using that technology, exploiting it, and relying on it. That can only be good for both sides.
How Highlight can help you
By now, you’ve likely already sensed a trend as you read through these steps. Ultimately, you need to be proactive about delivering value and not just sit back waiting for the customer to call.
Anticipating problems, solving present issues collaboratively, and looking out for your customer’s best interests by advising on strategy, keeping up with trends, and keeping tech up to date are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can offer your clients as a path to differentiation and higher customer retention.
As you implement a better customer experience strategy, Highlight is the solid customer service tool you want to have in your corner. If you want to increase your profit margins, sell more services, retain more customers, and ultimately transform the way you connect with each client, learn more here and talk to one of our experts.
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