Although every business has unique challenges, MSPs will continue to face three in particular in 2019 and beyond:
1) How do you keep current customers satisfied when the customer experience is more critical than ever?
2) How do you attract new customers so you can grow and thrive?
3) How do you do the above while also developing solutions that keep you competitive and valuable in a dynamic market?
Here are a few approaches to overcoming each of these challenges.
Managing Rising Client Expectations
Customer service is harder than ever. The always-on business demands that all communication channels, applications, networks, and systems work 24/7. When it comes to support, customers expect a response to emails within an hour. More than half of customers will never do business with a customer after a single bad experience. And when the public can see every good or bad review of your company, an honest mistake can tarnish your reputation and prevent you from gaining new customers. Luckily, there are a few ways to amp-up customer service so you don’t end up with nasty reviews to begin with.
Invest in Tools and Staffing
First, invest in staff and tools that improve your response times and make your team more accessible. As customer demands increase, so too does the availability of solutions that can help you serve them. AI chatbots can help out with support. Automated email systems can offer quick responses to your customers. Online wikis, videos, and web pages can quickly put answers at your clients’ fingertips. Take a moment to consider what new service strategies can make life easier for your customers, find your success metrics, and then put your plan in action.
Next, be sure to set appropriate expectations with your clients. You need to know what they expect from you, and they should understand exactly what’s outlined in your service agreement. You don’t want your customers surprised that something they thought was included in your agreement actually isn’t. You can help them avoid a bad experience by being open about what your service entails. Certainly, there will be situations where you go above and beyond to support a customer. But if cases like these become the rule rather than the exception, it may be time to update a client’s service agreement.
Finding New Customers
Marketing is still a struggle for many managed service providers. Finding prospects and turning them into customers seems like a simple enough concept, but with so many marketing strategies and channels, it can be overwhelming. Plus, it’s easy to waste money on marketing if you don’t define a strategy first. As you think about customer acquisition, consider these effective but sometimes underused approaches.
Many MSPs get new business from referrals and word-of-mouth. These businesses understand the power of doing great work and asking for contacts from their existing clients. Setting up a referral program can give your existing clients a reward for bringing you referrals that become new customers. You get a new client, they get something nice—everyone wins.
While it seems like an old-school tactic, canvassing can be an effective way to pitch to potential customers. Few businesses would turn down a box of doughnuts in exchange for a quick chat with a sales person, so consider whether simply visiting local businesses with a gift and a brochure can bring you opportunity.
If you’re looking to land a big client, account-based marketing is a good approach. Instead of blasting a generic message to many prospects, account-based marketing is a tailored, customized approach to winning new business. It’s about understanding a prospect’s unique challenges, proving your value to them, then offering solutions that make an impact. For a more thorough look at account-based marketing, check out this post.
Monetizing New Technologies
Blockchain, AI, and edge computing are a few tech trends you might be wondering how to monetize. First, understand the technology itself. What does it do? Is it mature enough to become a profitable service or is it still an early trend? Second, consider the challenges your clients have today. Can this new tech help them conquer these problems? Third, can you create a service that brings value to customers and profit to you?
Let’s look at data analytics as an example. Data pools continue to grow, and many businesses are gaining a competitive edge by using data. How can you help? Since various white-label data analytics solutions are available, it’s relatively easy for an MSP to begin offering data analytics as a service to help clients get more from their data.
MSPs have the same challenges that plague many businesses, yet they have the added burden of working with some of the most technical and quickly evolving products and services out there. If they’re to be successful, they must continually invest in technology, powerful customer service initiatives, and marketing programs that get results. Only then can they rise to their biggest challenges year after year.