As a service provider, the hard reality is this: Doing great work and delivering exceptional value to clients isn’t enough—it’s the baseline. If key decision makers don’t experience the value being delivered on a consistent basis, your foothold within the account can be more easily challenged. If the only thing a budget ratifier sees of your work is the monthly invoice that gets routed, your services may be deemed expendable, no matter how much benefit your company is actually delivering.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, the perception is the reality. That’s why it’s important to not just deliver, but demonstrate, value. Following are a few reasons why the topic of demonstrating value is so critical to service providers:
Short organizational memories. Within client organizations, leadership will change over time. The managers that approve your invoices and renewals today, may not remember the criteria that led to you to being selected as their provider. New executives that step in may not understand the intricacies of your services or the intangibles your team brings to the mix.
Cost concerns. Particularly if things are going smoothly, executives may not see the effort and expertise your team applies to keep things that way. They may just see an invoice and wonder whether the cost is justified.
Competitors. Your customers are constantly being courted by competitors. It’s important to always remember that a good customer for your business will be a highly prized target for your competitors. To win the customer’s business initially, you had to do the heavy lifting, conveying the validity of your services, your team and your model. All a competitor has to do is demonstrate that they’re faster or cheaper, and they could potentially take your business away.
The Six Venues for Demonstrating Value
There are six fundamental ways your service provider business can demonstrate value to customers:
Reporting is a key means to demonstrate value, a tangible deliverable that can serve to remind the customer that the provider is delivering the services required, and that everything is working well as a result. When it comes to reporting, customer preferences and requirements can run the gamut. Some customers may want to have a detailed report on the performance metrics of every server delivered to their inbox every morning. Other customers may only want a high-level SLA attainment report delivered at the end of each month. No matter what they’re looking for, endeavor to meet and, to the extent feasible, exceed these demands. Ask customers about their information needs, deliver on what they’re looking for and iterate as needed over time.
Dashboards can demonstrate value by providing online, on-demand status to customers, illustrating the service providers’ ongoing commitment and effort on behalf of the client. Dashboards should be developed to meet the needs of specific users. If you’re providing user experience monitoring, a dashboard recapping measurements of synthetic transactions can be useful for a business user. For technical teams, it is helpful to provide dashboards that provide at-a-glance views of the status of specific systems, coupled with capabilities for drilling down to get more detailed metrics.
Portals can demonstrate immense value to customers by providing a central, unified way for users to get self-service, 24x7 access to the information and services they need. Because they provide self-service access to users, customer portals can be a great way for your business to reduce the time it would otherwise spend on gathering and distributing reports. Further, customer portals can deliver exceptional value by delivering convenience to users. Toward that end, portals should offer access to all relevant service desk functions, so users can create new tickets, view ticket histories, get updates on open ticket status and close existing tickets.
Superior Customer Service
Delivering superior customer service helps ensure customers are happy with your company, and it helps build up political capital, so if things should go awry for any reason, they’ll be more accommodating. Humility, consistency and politeness are the hallmarks of excellent customer service. While these traits may be easy to talk about, they can be more challenging to deliver on a consistent basis, particularly for front-line service desk analysts constantly dealing with issues and complaints. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon all representatives to deliver superior service.
To track and quantify your team’s performance in this area, conduct a survey at the close of every ticket that involved interaction between your staff members and clients. The information can be captured to assist with training and analysis, and also presented to customers as another proof point of the value delivered.
Strategic meetings represent an important opportunity to demonstrate value, both because of the role they play in customer satisfaction, and also because they are revenue generating opportunities. For example, on a quarterly basis, it’s important to have business review meetings with clients, ideally in person. These quarterly business reviews should focus on assessing prior activities and discussing higher-level trends that may lead to additional service opportunities. Outline what your team accomplished in the prior quarter and discuss the client’s new opportunities and projects.
Tactical meetings represent an opportunity to demonstrate value by underscoring your team’s commitment to cultivating a partnership, seeing projects through to completion and helping them be more successful. Tactical meetings can be conducted in response to specific one-time cases, or they can take place on a regular basis. For example, over the course of a significant technology migration that spans two months, you may want to have tactical meetings scheduled on a weekly basis.
You may also be asked by the customer to attend ongoing status meetings with relevant teams to ensure projects are running according to plan and to make your staff available should the customer need additional support. Through tactical meetings, you can uncover opportunities to provide assistance where otherwise the customer may not think to ask for help.
Success in managed services requires both science and art. Customer service, how you deliver that service, the offerings you choose to deliver and the service level agreements you establish represent the science—the objective, measurable tactics you need to execute to fulfill your obligations. Demonstrating value represents the art of managed services. It isn’t enough to deliver great service and hope your customers recognize the value. The most successful service providers are the ones that strike the right balance between the science and art of managed services and recognize the value of both to a happy customer.
For more information, be sure to download a white paper entitled, “Demonstrating Value: Keys to Maximizing Opportunities for Boosting Customer Retention and Revenues” at the following URL: http://www.ca.com/us/~/media/Files/whitepapers/demonstrating-value.pdf
This guest blog comes from The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence. The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence delivers the proven strategies and insightful resources that can help your business boost its efficiency, profitability and maturity. No matter where your service provider business is in its evolution, count on the Center of Excellence to provide the guidance you need to more fully leverage your technologies and investments, optimize your operations, enhance your go-to-market capabilities and scale intelligently. To access CA Service Provider Center of Excellence resources please visit http://www.mspzone.com