Jakub Jirsk - Fotolia
Providing IT and security services is not a “set it and forget it” business. To maintain client relationships, managed service providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) need to continually evaluate and evolve their services, the technology they provide and their communication strategies. Customer needs and demands change all the time, and service providers must keep up to ensure long-term, mutually beneficial business partnerships.
But as an MSP, how can you achieve this? Here are a few best practices you can follow.
Demonstrate value through improved reporting
If your clients lose track of why they’re continuing to pay you, you may not be effectively communicating what you’re doing for them on a daily basis. Regular reporting is key, as is transparency.
Provide reporting of all the services you’ve provided, including successes and failures. Reporting bad news isn’t exactly appealing, but if you can demonstrate how you quickly responded to and addressed those issues – and what you’ll do to make them less likely in the future – clients will appreciate the information.
How often clients want those reports will vary based on your business and that of your customers. Some many want to keep it to a quarterly update, but many will want more frequent reports, particularly regarding uptime and security details.
Providing regular updates on ticket and patch status, as well as incident reports outlining threat levels and attack or breach mitigation, will help clients see how much value you’re creating. Schedule regular meetings that focus on your performance, as well as strategic approaches to emerging client needs.
Invest in robust RMM technology
The right remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool can help you quickly identify and address potential system failures or security issues before they create costly downtime or data breaches.
These tools not only provide a centralised dashboard for full visibility across the client base, but also help to automate more remediation and service delivery tasks and enable remote support and resolution. RMM tools also can help you more easily create the comprehensive reporting outlined above.
Review internal workflows
Just as you would encourage your customers to review and optimise processes before a technology deployment, you should periodically review your own workflows and processes to improve efficiency. The methods you established when you first set up your business, or when you first began offering a particular service, may not have evolved with your offering.
The more process steps and manual activities you can remove, the more responsive (and profitable) you’ll become. You’ll also want to audit your internal security practices and training to ensure your employees are providing a strong human layer of security to complement the solutions and services your business delivers.
Create repeatable processes
Once you’ve reviewed your processes, make sure they’re well defined, repeatable and thoroughly documented. This will not only help you internally, it will also demonstrate to clients that you can quickly and professionally address their needs.
Establish reasonable SLAs
When trying to win new business, it’s tempting to promise clients the moon, with little regard to exactly how you’ll achieve that.
Make sure service level agreements (SLAs) are reasonable and achievable, given your current capabilities. That will help you maintain profitability and set client expectations in a way that won’t lead to disappointment.
As your services and capabilities evolve, revisit those agreements and update them.
Empower and reward your staff
Your team is interacting with customers and deploying your technology service offerings every day. Make sure there are clear, open processes in place so that they can contribute new ideas to improve operations, create new service packages and identify emerging customer needs that you can potentially address.
When you’ve identified new services or solutions, adjust your compensation approach to help encourage your team to promote and sell those services actively. Changing compensation can help accelerate the transition from older products or business models to newer ones.
By regularly evaluating your processes and services, and leveraging reporting that keeps clients updated and your staff actively engaged in improving the business, you can continually increase the value you provide your customers. This not only helps maintain your current business, but also puts you in a much better position to attract new clients.
Read more about managed service provision
- May’s marking of the contribution of managed service providers is coming at a time when most are delivering high levels of support to customers coping with coronavirus.
- We look at how managed service providers can ensure they make the most of the SME opportunity and how prepared they are to support SMEs as they shift spending to managed services.
- One of the themes of InfoSec is the ongoing move by vendors to appeal to the managed service provider community.