The relationship between IT companies and clients is a strange one. With the exception of maybe data center operators and colocation providers, many of these companies rarely ever meet their customers in person. Heck, I’d be willing to bet there are web hosts, email marketing firms, and managed service providers who’ve never seen any of their clients. It’s not a requirement when the entire relationship is maintained exclusively over an Internet connection. Obviously, this type of relationship can work, but it’s still somewhat difficult to forge genuine bonds with that digital barrier between you.
It’s simple. Strong relationships foster trust and trust breeds loyalty. These are key objectives every business strives for. This guide will introduce MSPs to the fundamentals of building trust with customers and sustaining it for the long haul.
- Deliver on Your Promise
The trust-building initiative starts from the moment a potential client goes to seek out information about your services. Knowing that you could close the deal or lose out to the competition on each interaction, it can be very tempting to do a little embellishing in the copy that sums up your business oath. You know … tell them whatever they want to hear now and worry about the consequences later. Whether it’s staying true to your advertised support hours or supplying select cloud features guaranteed at sign-up, delivering on your promise is the number one rule of building trust.
- Be Honest – Even When the Truth Hurts
No one likes bad news. Outside of Bad News Barrett, few like to deliver it. I’m sure eBay didn’t get a kick out of explaining to customers how its servers had been hacked and their information possibly exposed in the process. Breaking the bad news is a bummer. What’s even worse, though, is withholding it. Whether it’s a security breach or mix-up with payments, get in front of the situation by informing your customers as soon as possible. They might not be thrilled, but they’ll appreciate the heads up and come to trust that you’ll have their best interest at heart no matter what. If curious how to break bad news to clients, we have some great tips.
- Don’t Mislead the Customer
After browsing through the portfolio of managed services on your website, a visitor calls for more info regarding your mobile device management offering. They specifically want to know if your platform supports the integration of security tools and other existing applications in addition to managing their mobile devices. The prospect has their ideal solution in mind, but even if you can’t fully accommodate them in one area, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be willing to compromise. Either way, always give the real deal on your capabilities and allow them to decide whether your solution can meet their needs.
- Communicate with Your Audience
Communication is a vital part of the relationship you have with your customers, especially when face-to-face visits are far and few between. Knowing the game, MSPs should take it upon themselves to strike up conversations when opportunities are presented. A conversation is a two-sided affair, so when clients contact the company via email or social media, make sure your response team is open to listening rather than spitting sales pitches or controlling jargon. It’s possible to engage customers in meaningful, business-focused discussions without small talk of snow storms or deflated footballs.
- Provide Awesome Support
I firmly believe that support can either make or break you. Sure, one bad experience won’t send the empire a crumbling, but credibility will surely take a hit as those bad experiences mount and word travels. Support is especially pivotal in the IT arena, where things can and will go wrong. So what do you do? Provide a convenient path to the help and complaint lines. Make your phone numbers, email addresses, chat apps, and other communication channels easily accessible. More importantly, provide support that begins in responsive fashion and ends in resolution for the customer.
- Maximize Value Perception
As a provider of application hosting, network monitoring, IT security, or whatever you offer, you’re already a valuable resource to your customer base. But why stop there? Why not go that extra mile to provide an even greater value? In browsing a list of the top MSPs, I noticed that most of the best vendors have one thing in common: they have created value beyond their products and services. From regularly updated blogs to pages of IT resources, clients can depend on them be a go-to source for readily available, relevant information they don’t have to pay extra to use.
- Stay Consistent
An aspiring blogger must give their audience at least a good post or two every week. Companies that want to capitalize on the reach and engagement qualities of social media need to provide buzz-worthy updates day in and day out. In order to achieve any goal, you have to be consistent, and garnering the trust of your customers is no different. Scheduling maintenance around the same time each month so users can plan accordingly is a simple example of how consistency can put you in better standings with your audience. They’re more likely to trust you when they’ve seen you come through time and again.
- Let Your Customers Sell Trust to Your Customers
In checking out the MSP heavyweights, I also noticed that they all believe firmly in the subtle effectiveness of testimonials. The power behind word of mouth is still unmatched even in a world of marketing options that include search, video ads, and mobile devices. Jon, the father of two, trusts the word of another father on which little league school might be a good fit for his son. The CIO shopping for a reliable disaster recovery solution trusts the review of a company endorsing the service they’re evaluating. Don’t be shy. Tout your testimonials and let satisfied customers bolster your credibility.
Salespeople are trained to master of the art of building trust with consumers. Fortune 500 companies spend mega bucks on marketing and branding initiatives designed to ensure it’s built in mass. You don’t have to take out a Super Bowl ad, but you can put forth a super effort to foster trust and sustain it throughout the lifespan of your business.
Did you know StorageCraft has a partner program? Visit our Profit-Ability page to learn more about MSP pricing, marketing development funds, and more.
Photo Credit: Terry Johnston via Flickr