As a managed service provider, your core business depends upon being able to provide services for a lower cost than your customers could do it themselves, and better than your competitors can. Keeping ahead of the competition is critical to the success of your business, and differentiating yourself from the other MSPs your customers have to choose from, might make the difference between feast or famine. Looking at things from the perspective of your customers, here are the 5 biggest risks to your core business.
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1. Customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is vital if you are going to maintain and grow your customer base. Referrals are the best way to get new business, and with many managed services now moving to a subscription model it is easier than ever for a customer to quit your service in favour of a competitor’s. Even with annual terms, ensuring your customer is not just satisfied, but actually happy with your services should be a key and ongoing part of your relationship management. Customers are people, and people hold grudges, and a bad experience in September will weigh heavily on their minds during next June’s renewal process.
2. Inability to adapt
Part of an MSP’s ability to keep costs low is by standardizing on the way things are done. Henry Ford is credited with saying “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.” While you need to stick with standard offerings as much as possible, be flexible enough to consider customer requests for exceptions and one offs. That strange widget or setting they want may be important enough to them that they will look at replacing you if they can get it elsewhere. Don’t think that means you have to say yes to every customer request, but at least be willing to consider, and don’t be afraid to ask the customer to bear some of the costs if they are significant. They may think it is a simple option to toggle and not understand the complexities behind their request.
3. Missing the next big thing
Whatever the next big thing is, you need to be aware of it as it relates to your services, and be ready to offer it if it is relevant to your customers and within your capabilities. Be willing to scale up if need be if whatever is trending or was featured at CES is something you think your customers will ask for, or at least have a plan and estimates in place should they ask about it.
4. Not offering what the customer wants
Do you have some optional or add on service that you offer, but customers don’t ask for? Have you considered that they either don’t know you offer it, or don’t understand what it means? Make a point of promoting your services, especially those that distinguish you from your competition. Send out a monthly newsletter or review the things in your portfolio that your customer doesn’t already use when you meet with them. You’ll be surprised at the upsell opportunities you get once your existing customers find out that you can do that, whatever that happens to be.
5. Not responding to your customers
Nothing alienates a customer more than being ignored. No matter how busy you are, even if you can only dash off a quick email that you will get back to them, acknowledge every request for information, set a time they can expect a full reply, and stick to that.
These are the five biggest risks to your core business; the things that can cause customers to jump ship and go with the competition. These are all from the customer’s point of view, so when you look at them and think that one or more doesn’t apply to you, consider how your customers view things.
Stanislav Krotov is a technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of mobile application development and IoT technology. ( Moscow State University of M.V. Lomonosov )