4 Ways to Demonstrate Trustworthiness as a Managed IT Service Provider in 2021

Written by Richard Thomas

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    As more and more industries prioritise digital transformation in the post-pandemic environment, the IT services market has both rapidly expanded and become increasingly commoditised. What’s more, an influx of businesses have entered the market in response to greater demand. Now, the solutions offered by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have transitioned from a unique proposition into a simple commodity — this makes customer churn management much more difficult.

    This is because with this transition, customers are increasingly buying on the basis of cost and availability, rather than the value of the service provider. This in turn has led to a price-based race to the basement, increased overall customer churn and has had a profoundly negative impact on service providers’ margins.

    Trust, however, has emerged as both a) the best to remedy this commodification and b) an excellent customer churn management solution. If your customers trust that you’ll do right by them and deliver value above all else, then they’ll trust you above other competitors and keep coming back to you.

    Stuck on ways to demonstrate trustworthiness? We’re here to show you how!

    1. Prioritise customer communication

    As with all relationships, communication is the foundation of trust. Funnily enough, this applies to MSP-client relationships in a surprisingly direct and meaningful way.

    There are several ways that MSPs can, through direct and honest communication with their clients, demonstrate trustworthiness and actively build customer’s loyalty, including:

    • Usage alerts: This can mean either usage that is out of character and usage that is distinctly higher or lower than the average. By demonstrating that you value their business more than a small amount of additional usage fees, you build on the idea that your customer can trust you with their best interests, incentivising retention.
    • Bill shock prevention: If there are fluctuations in their usability that will have an impact on their billing, let them know. This is known as bill shock prevention and it basically costs you nothing. Informing your customer that their usual bill might be higher than usual stops them from panicking and looking for another, cheaper, provider. (P.s. It also shows you value existing customers and are willing to go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service).
    • Be accountable: If you make a mistake that will impact your customers, be honest and tell them as soon as possible. If you’re able, couple that update with the details of the solution that you are putting in place. Customers are far more likely to be forgiving of errors that impact them if you are honest and upfront. Openly taking responsibility is a great indicator that you are a company that can be trusted. 
    • Proactive issue management: If your service managers notice a problem and are able to resolve it before it impacts your customers, let them know. This kind of open communication and transparency highlights your value to your customers and makes them feel like they can trust you, simply because you keep them in the loop. 

     2. Leverage the power of data

    Performance network data will make or break your client relationship. If you need your clients to trust you’ll deliver them value, you need to trust your network to do so… so how can you do that? 

    The easiest way is to build a complete understanding of the ins and outs of your client’s networks and convert that raw performance data in actionable ways to deliver value, such as:

    • Real-time performance monitoring: Analyse performance efficiency to spot issues before they arise and then communicate both those issues and the solution you have put in place to the customer to further demonstrate your commitment to providing a uniquely excellent service. 
    • Holistic understanding: Build a deep understanding of how customers make use of their network to fully understand how you as a service provider can better support them. This kind of understanding can also result in additional business opportunities, as it allows services providers to branch out into consultation services. 
    • Historical reporting: Service providers have access to a wealth of historical network performance data that they can use to their advantage, predicting spikes and lulls in usage and communicating them to their customers to prevent the ‘bill shock’ we mentioned earlier.

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    Visibility is key

    Even if you’re doing all of the actions we’ve listed above, it’s still not enough to just tell your customers that’s what you’re doing. You need to show them.

    A key building block of trust between service providers and their customers is transparency and responsibility. Holistic visibility into networks (for you and your clients) is paramount to creating the required level of transparency and trust to differentiate yourself and manage customer churn far better. 

     3. Emphasise informed network evolution

    Upselling is a hugely important part of improving margins, but, if done incorrectly, it can damage the trusting relationship you’ve spent all that time building with your long term customers. 

    The best way to put effective upselling in place is to do your research in advance and provide evidence for your suggested changes. As we’ve already mentioned, service providers have access to a huge amount of data on their customer’s networks. This data can be transformed into actionable insights that highlight when and where your client’s networks need to evolve to provide them with the greatest amount of value.

    Essentially, instead of simply upselling, you are instead using pertinent data to inform your client of opportunities to transform their network in order to access better performance and greater value.

     4. Become a partner, not just a provider

    All customers understand that service providers are inherently there to make a profit and, to some extent, this has led to the greater commoditisation of IT services. In order to combat the sense that service providers are always angling for the greatest profit, customers are constantly looking to pay the lowest price possible. 

    Moving away from this more contentious relationship towards one based on trust allows service providers and their clients to work as partners to the greater benefit of both parties. But how can you do that? By embedding yourself and your services into your client’s team as a partner in their endeavours, you can add significant value to your offerings. Ways to achieve this include:

    • Service Level Agreements: Write comprehensive, transparent, value-focused Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and, of course, commit to the promises made in them. 
    • Mutual visibility: Offer your clients complete visibility over their network performance to boost their understanding of your job to the point where you can work with them, not just for them, to provide the greatest amount of value. 
    • Honest negotiations: Conduct transparent and honest business-level conversations with your clients that include shared display-views to make sure you are always on the same page.
    • Centralisation: Provide a centralised set of communications, real-time reports and performance reviews that both client and service provider have input on. This both builds trust and facilitates simple communication for both parties. 

    The Highlight platform will help you do this

    Highlight is an easily integrated and effective service assurance platform that allows you to unambiguously demonstrate your value to your customers. The primary benefit of Highlight for service providers is its ability to enable the kind of information-rich communication and transparency that builds trustworthiness in the eyes of your customers.

    Highlight allows MSPs to take advantage of the wealth of data they have at their disposal to provide the right insights at the right time. This creates value for their customers. As well, it provides upselling opportunities backed by data and a differentiated customer experience, rather than just a commodity. How does the platform do this? Its trust-building features include… 

    • A focus on the right data for relevant insights
    • Enabled, outcome-oriented communication
    • Advanced white space analysis to identify opportunities for expansion  
    • Simplified multi-tenancy to effortlessly navigate between estates
    • Straightforward productisation that aligns with MSP commercial models 
    • Reduced customer churn through proactive support 

    In a market crowded with competitors who claim excellence but consistently fail to deliver, Highlight offers MSPs the chance to create superior customer perception by delivering a transparently exceptional service.

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