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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Don’t Forget to Show Your Clients Some Love this Valentine’s Day

Posted February 12, 2014by Frank Bauer

While most people think about their romantic relationships on February 14th, the sentiment surrounding Valentine’s Day can also be applied toward your clients, at least to some extent. There are many intangible benefits to showing your clients appreciation that will help you in the long run, yet many Managed Services Providers (MSPs) don’t always show their clients the love they need. Maybe you don’t need to send flowers or chocolates, but it is important to take the time to show your customers how much they matter to you.

Putting a Face to Remote Services

With all the benefits provided by Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools, it’s all too easy for clients to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to their managed services providers.

RMM software helps many MSPs by enabling them to monitor more devices with fewer technicians, allowing them to achieve much higher margins. If you aren’t careful though, RMM tools can be a slippery slope. MSPs run the risk of becoming too remote. Clients love to know that you’re fixing something because it helps them understand the value you’re actually delivering to them. This doesn’t mean you need to call them every time you resolve a ticket, but you should find ways to summarize the work you’ve done and the money you’re saving them (some strategies to do so in the following section).

Face time is also important because people like knowing the people they’re working with, especially if they’re trusting their technology systems to them. These days, businesses need IT consultants, not simply repairmen. They want to be sold a solution, not just a bunch of parts. To sell them a solution, you have to understand their business, and to understand their business, you need to sit down and talk with them regularly. This will help you do a better job of selling (and delivering), while also making your client feel secure and confident in your capabilities as a MSP.

 

Face Time Isn’t Wasted Time

No matter how easy RMM might make it for you to fade into the background, planning in-person interactions is crucial to your business relationships and will keep your role and your contributions top of mind:

  • Find an excuse to stop by their office for a quick chat. Even if it’s just dropping by unannounced with a pizza, bagels or bowl of fruit, it’s good to get in the habit of spending regular time with your clients.
  • Send regular reports (monthly or quarterly), along with operational reviews and business reports. These help summarize the activities you’re performing and value you’re delivering each month/quarter.
  • Designate a technician or representative to schedule friendly check-ins with clients on an ongoing basis – and ask them questions about their business and IT problems. Clients like to know that you care about their issues.

Sure, this may feel redundant and wasteful at times, but regular interactions with your clients go a long way for building trusting and sturdy business relationships. It also makes it easier to upsell them and add new revenues to your business as you adopt new technologies.

 

Why Personal Connection Matters in Business

Like personal relationships, business relationships are built in stages and by degrees. By interacting in person more regularly, you’ll develop a clearer understanding of your clients’ personalities and goals. This is the first step in achieving your own goals as well: MSPs grow in response to their customers’ growth.

You can make it clear to your customers that you have a vested interest in their success simply by asking plenty of questions and being interested in their answers. This not only helps you gain a better understanding of what they truly hope to accomplish, but also makes your clients feel valued as customers. This combination builds loyalty and trust, two essential components for a long-term business partnership.

 

What to do about Valentine’s Day

Yes, this is a question guys ask every year. Even when it comes to businesses, what are some ways to effectively “appreciate” your clients? We’ve discussed some in-person ideas, but here are a few other ways that you can show clients some love:

  • Ask them questions, even if you know the answer. We know about the benefits of RMM software. You can easily tell if a device has had any issues. Even if you know the answer to your question, ask your clients how their systems are performing, especially if you recently did an implementation for them. This will make them feel that you care about them.
  • Send them occasional gifts. You don’t have to shower them with presents, but sending an occasional bottle of wine or company t-shirt is a nice gesture.
  • Send them relevant articles and news stories. This shows them that you’re thinking of them and it’s also a way to proactively address potential issues. If a new form of Malware comes out, don’t be afraid to address it and tell your clients that you’re watching their systems. This is better than them hearing about the Malware elsewhere and asking you if they’re safe.
  • Celebrate Anniversaries. This is a good rule of thumb for any relationship. If a client hits their one-year anniversary with you, do something to commemorate it! Candlelit dinner…maybe not. But something as simple as an Amazon gift card goes a long way.
  • Just say it! Don’t be afraid to simply pick up the phone or send an email to say “Hey, I appreciate your business. Are there any issues you’re having that I can work on for you?” Worst case – they mention something and you can address it head on. Either way, it will make them feel like you’re readily available to them and truly working for them.

While you shouldn’t be afraid to show your clients just how much they mean to you this Valentine’s Day, be sure to extend that extra effort throughout the rest of the year as well. Maintaining a more personal connection is the key to developing and maintaining strong MSP relationships.

What have you done recently to show your clients some love?


MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]

Frank Bauer is Sr Channel Development Manager for Continuum. Frank can talk, a lot, trust us, but doesn’t feel comfortable talking about himself, so we’ll do it for him. Frank has been serving the IT Channel since 1998 starting as a marketing assistant with a regional white box manufacturer. His career has spanned many positions in sales management with organizations such as Tandberg Data, Zenith Infotech and Artisan Infrastructure. Frank is also a proud, honorably discharged, veteran of the United States Navy, serving 2 years in Yokosuka, Japan and Everett, Washington. When we can get Frank out of the office, he enjoys tasting craft beers, spending time with his father and Pittsburgh sports.

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution
MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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