Customer experience and managed services go hand-in-hand.

February 28, 2019

3 Min Read
Customer experience

By Dave Sobel

Everyone within an MSP organization, from the receptionist to the systems engineers to the CEO, plays an important role in customer experience. It’s a mistake to think sales representatives or customer support solely own the responsibility.

Customer experience gets ample attention these days because it really is the last frontier in driving efficiencies and performance improvements within an organization. Once you get the operational aspects down, you’re left with the customer touch points. Even when you get everything else 100 percent right, if your customer interactions are unsatisfactory, you’re still putting the relationship at risk.

MSPs should adapt to the fact that customers have become more and more demanding. Eighty percent of consumers and business buyers responding to the Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer” report said, “The experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.” Fifty-seven percent said they have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.

From the first interaction with a prospect, MSPs could benefit from considering customer experience. Are you and your sales team coming across as knowledgeable? Do you truly listen to customer concerns, needs and goals? Does the customer understand what you are communicating?

Too often, MSPs get caught up in technical aspects. If you do this upon initial contact, you’re taking the first step in the wrong direction in terms of customer experience. You must speak the customer’s language and focus on business outcomes, not speeds and feeds.

Customer On-Boarding

When you get to the on-boarding process with a customer, the focus on customer experience must remain just as sharp. This is where the engineering team, which usually remains behind the scenes, should step up and communicate with the customer.

Users will need an explanation and instructions on how their technology is going to change and what to expect from the change. If the explanation is awkward or unclear, or leaves users unsure of what to do, it could lead to bad relations — and of course, a whole lot of calls to customer support.

Even when all goes well, customer-support calls are a possibility. In the best of circumstances, users may forget some details or realize they need more instruction on how to use a specific application or service. How your technical support team handles these interactions is crucial to the health of the relationship. If customers feel they are not getting the help they need, they are likely to remember at contract renewal time and decide to opt out.

Ongoing Communication

Once the customer is online, efforts to provide a good customer experience only ramp up from there. The customer’s point of contact in your organization must be available, responsive and knowledgeable. Customers expect a quick response when calling with an issue, even if it’s just to say you will get back to them after you research their question or issue.

There is also a strong digital aspect to the customer experience. Customers should be able to find information on your website. The more questions they can get answered digitally, the less likely they are to call with issues.

It’s important to maintain ongoing communication, not only with news and updates through email, social media and your website, but also through periodic strategy and health-check meetings. Communication must be clear and straightforward; resist the temptation to oversell and overwhelm customers with your knowledge. The last thing you want is to put them off by overwhelming them.

Built-In Benefit

Customer experience and managed services go hand-in-hand. You’re already providing significant value to the customer by taking over and automating tasks they’d rather not perform. As such, customer experience is a built-in MSP benefit. The trick is not to diminish this by neglecting other touch points that are just as important to the customer.

Dave Sobel is senior director, MSP evangelism, SolarWinds MSP, and a member of the Channel Futures Think Tank.

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