One of the keys to success as an MSP is to ensure your clients can reach you quickly and easily at any time of the day or night. Managed services play an increasingly important part of more and more businesses, and if something goes wrong, your clients want to know that either you or a member of your staff are available to help them immediately.
Costs of Being Unavailable
Being unavailable when your client experiences a technology service disruption can cost your client time, money, and business. In fact, according to a 2012 study by Aberdeen Research Group just one hour of downtime can cost a small business $6,900! In addition, it may cause significant damage to your own business’s reputation.
Here are just a few of the negative outcomes that may occur if you don’t have an availability and communication strategy in place:
- downtime cost to client
- damaging to your relationship with client
- damaging to your reputation
- cost to client’s clients – word of mouth negativity spreads fast
- potential lost business and lost income for you
Staff on Call
No one person can (or should) be available 24/7 – everyone needs a break. If you run a small managed service provider business with just a few staff, take turns being “on call” for service issues. This may mean forwarding phone lines to the on-call person’s cell phone for the night, or pushing emails to their individual account.
If you are completely on your own, and don’t have staff or a partner, you may want to consider a mutually beneficial arrangement with another MSP in your local area. Perhaps you prefer to be on call for your clients throughout the weekdays, and take turns providing on-call services for each other’s clients on the weekends so that you each get at least a 48 hour break every two weeks. Find a schedule you’re comfortable with, and remember, the key is to ensure your valued clients have access to a knowledgeable expert with just one phone call or email.
Phone Calls and Emails
Cell phones and smartphones are a low cost and convenient way for entrepreneurs in all lines of business to stay in touch with clients. Include all contact information on your business cards, including local phone number, toll-free number, website, and email address.
If you don’t employ an office person such as a receptionist, forward all calls to your cell phone when you are away from the office. Check your smartphone to see if you can enable voicemail to text messaging. This allows clients to leave you a voicemail which will convert to a text message you can read discreetly on your phone – an easy way to screen the true emergency calls from those that can wait. On your voicemail message, include a reasonable time frame to return calls – ie. within two hours or by the end of the business day.
Your Website as a Communication Resource
Does your website have a “Frequently Asked Questions” page? If not, it’s time to set one up. An FAQ page is a great way to share commonly asked questions and address issues or situations that often arise. This can also be accomplished through a Troubleshooting page.
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