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March 7, 2022
June 1, 2022
Performance

15 ways managed service providers can develop deeper client relationships

The deeper a relationship an MSP or MSSP has with its clients, the more likely it is to retain them and upsell. Here's how to work on yours.

~ 0 min read

The stronger a relationship you have with your clients, the more likely you are to retain them and upsell them other services. But of course, with resources stretched and expectations high, how do you develop and maintain deep relationships with your clients? This post will explain.

1. Conduct regular customer satisfaction surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys are an important part of customer relationship management. The data from such surveys will reveal whether or not you’re meeting expectations and identify any challenges they experienced during your service delivery. This information can then be used to improve on these areas next time round. It’s also a great opportunity to dig deep into your clients’ challenges and goals to identify new service opportunities for the future.

While many of your competitors are likely to conduct digital surveys that their clients can complete in their own time, why not treat your clients to a free lunch and conduct the survey face-to-face? This will ensure that you get detailed answers from your clients and can push further into certain areas if required. For some ideas of what to ask, check out this helpful list from Boast. To allow for honest feedback, have a team leader who is not associated with the account run the survey.

2. Face-to-fact contact

The pandemic has driven mass adoption of video conferencing tools. While these are better than email or phone communication, they still don’t afford you the same ability to build connections with people that face-to-face contact does.

As soon as you can, reinstate (or introduce) regular face-to-face meetings with your clients and your team so that they can build a rapport and discuss anything that might be missed in an email. The other benefit of having more than one member of your team involved in the meetings means that your client has multiple contacts and shouldn’t be too affected should one of your team leave.

There are particular topics such as changes to the team, pricing or approach, as well as the identification of a problem, that should always be discussed face-to-face.

3. Be honest at all times

In the case where something goes wrong, you can relieve the situation by being honest with your clients as soon as possible so that you can try to find a solution together. You should also always tell the truth about your product and services before making any claims or promises so that everyone knows what to expect.

Trust is essential when developing deeper client relationships.

4. Offer more than just a service

In this day and age, managed service providers need to go above and beyond just offering services. By also providing advice to clients on how they can improve their business and security posture, it could go a long way in developing deeper relationships. It ahould also make the job of vulnerability management easier.

Another option could be to offer free training on how to use a product or service that your MSP or MSSP uses.

5. Keep them updated

If conducting a project or fixing a problem, it’s great to be able to keep clients updated on progress. Every client is different, with varying priorities or workloads and so the number of updates they’ll need will differ too. That’s why if you can create a page or system for them on which they can check in on progress as much or as little as they want, you’ll keep everyone happy (and limit the interruptions your team has to face).

6. Be consistent

There are points in time when having happy clients is particularly important: the first few weeks of a contract; annual review time and when you need a testimonial. The problem is clients can see straight through the extra attention you’re giving them and it’ll do more harm than good. Instead, pay your clients the same level of attention all year round.

Not only that, but make sure that with every new win you understand what that client needs at every stage of the process, from sales to implementation. This will avoid any peaks or troughs in support.

7. Only offer 24/7 support if it’s truly possible

In this day and age, customers expect all companies they deal with to be there at any time of the day or night which is why the promise of 24/7 support can be so attractive. However, if you cannot offer that without incurring huge costs or inconvenience for your staff, be honest about what you can provide. It could be that your clients will be willing to work with you on funding an out-of-hours support service that means you both win.

8. Broaden your offering with outsourcing or automation

To truly provide high value to your clients, every one of your services needs to be delivered by experts. We know the pressure of trying to stay ahead of clients’ complex needs can mean that you say “yes” to doing something out of your comfort zone but there are ways to quickly introduce new expertise when it’s needed.

One option is to outsource some of the client’s work to a trusted partner or freelancer. The beauty of using external support is that you can scale up or down depending on your clients’ needs without incurring any huge recruitment bills or delays. Another option is to look at automation, whereby machines take over the work of humans to save you time (and often money).

One such example is the automation of vulnerability prioritisation. Done manually, this can take a team hours and hours with every new scan, delaying the critical remediation work and wasting precious resources. By automating it with RankedRight, the platform follows the rules you’ve set to prioritise every vulnerability in order of criticality to your client’s business and assigns it to the best person in your team to complete.

9. Minimise staff turnover

By investing in the relationships your team has with the client, you’re making the connection they have with your business about people over everything else. This can be incredibly valuable in instilling trust but also quite damaging if one of the team leaves.

Whenever an employee leaves a business, it can be highly disruptive to operations and to the rest of the team. What’s more, finding a replacement can be costly and time-consuming.

Therefore, it’s important to do all you can to maintain a dedicated team. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to avoid a skills shortage by looking at offering competitive salaries, regular reviews, training and more. You can also ensure that your employees are passionate about what they do by providing them with a working environment that they enjoy. Automation can help here too!

10. Don’t make it all about work

We know how little things such as remembering a birthday or work anniversary, asking after their loved ones or just chatting about the weekend, can make a huge difference to someone’s day. The same can be said for your clients – they’re people too. Even if you can’t meet face-to-face, make sure your phone or video calls always start and end with some informal conversation to show you care.

And once a quarter to say thanks for their continued support, organise a get-together that takes the form of a fun team-building exercise and lets them forget you’re all at work. Good examples include crazy golf, bowling, darts or wine tasting. If you know your clients well enough, you’ll know exactly which activity to go for.

11. Report both monthly and long term to show the improvements you’re making

Weekly and monthly reports can look very repetitive and uninspiring and often lack the bigger picture of what’s going on.

As well as meeting the SLAs in terms of weekly/monthly reports on activity, it is imperative that you also take time to demonstrate to your clients how your work has improved their business throughout the length of the contract. A six month or annual presentation should do the trick.

12. Accept that there will be problems and work towards finding solutions with your clients

In the world of cybersecurity, things can always go wrong which is why you should always have a solution for your clients to any of the issues that might arise during their contract. A managed service provider that accepts this will be the one who develops stronger client relationships, as they are working towards solving any potential problems together.

When things go wrong, it’s an opportunity for the client to see how their MSP is under pressure so make sure you react in the best way possible.

13. Be available to talk when they need you most, not just when it suits you

All managed service providers can benefit from being more available to talk with their clients and offering assistance as soon as it is asked for. You’re busy so that probably feels like a ridiculous ask but there are ways to give the client the impression you’re always available even though you’re not. For example, provide everyone in the company with a list of names that should be treated as priority and a script on what to say if they call. Upon taking a message, they should promptly alert you over text or email to call them back as soon as possible.

Another option is to have up your sleeve a number of things you can give your client to make up for not being available. For example, if you’re unable to return their call same day, email them in the evening to explain that the reason you weren’t able to call back was because you were deep in research for a new solution for them.

14. Turn to your client when you’re looking for new ideas and product development

You should be looking to collaborate with your clients if you want to build better client relationships. Turn towards them for advice and recommendations or to offer free trials to new approaches or services, and this should give them another reason to trust you and appreciate what you do.

15. Underpromise and overdeliver

This is an old saying but it still very much works because it enables you to consistently beat client expectations and trains you to allow for extra time to complete work.

It’s very easy to be pushed into committing to doing things faster than is realistic and you never know what unforeseen hurdles will come your way.

To conclude, making the client feel that you are a part of their business can be crucial in forging a long-term relationship with them. If they see you as an integral part of their IT strategy, rather than merely someone who fixes bugs and updates their systems for them, they are more likely to want you around for the long term.

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