For managed service providers (MSPs) customer relations are an important part of growth and success.
Having the technical expertise to deliver managed services is only half the battle. Equally critical is how you manage your customer relationships — and that requires so much more than technical know-how.
Strong MSP customer relations help you build longterm relationships.
This blog post will explore the benefits and importance of customer relations for managed service providers (MSPs) and highlight the essentials and benefits of effective MSP customer relations.
We also recommend the best MSP tools to help you create and maintain MSP customer relations.
What is MSP customer relations?
MSP customer relations is customer service targeted to meet customer demands.
A managed service provider (MSP) delivers remote or on-premise services, such as network, application, infrastructure and security, via regular or ongoing support. The service can also be through active administration on clients’ premises, hosting (in their MSP’s data center), or a third-party data center.
Because of the nature of their service, MSPs need the utmost effective customer service.
MSPs usually handle their clients’ daily management services so the customer organizations can focus on improving their services without worrying about system downtimes or service interruptions.
So, while business areas like pricing, packaging and sales are important for MSPs, their customer service and relations need more attention.
Benefits of MSP customer relations
There are so many reasons why it's important to provide good customer service — all of them relate to the fact that the customer is king.
Below are a few things to keep in mind when considering your MSP customer relations.
1. Understanding the customer journey
Effective MSP customer relations and positive customer service start with understanding “the customer journey.” This means thinking about how your customers travel through the sales funnel and interact with your MSP.
It allows you to:
- Identify (and address, if necessary) customers’ expectations, needs and pain points.
- Optimize your MSP services to meet customer demands.
- Get ways to enhance your service offerings that meet customer expectations.
The end goal of understanding the customer journey is to ensure they get the services they expect and value for their time and money.
Like other businesses, your MSP customer journey will help you to understand the following:
- Your target audience and what they want.
- What the geography of your engagement with customers looks like.
- Which resources and people should be available to support each stage of your customer engagement?
- Who is involved in the customer journey, such as sales staff, technicians, account managers, etc?
- Your customer touchpoints.
- Your account lifecycle and possible challenges.
You can document your MSP’s customer journey with MSP tools and process documentation software like Scribe to communicate procedures effectively, troubleshoot issues and answer questions.
By having a centralized repository for all customer-related information, MSPs can easily share relevant information with their clients and keep them informed about important updates or changes.
For consistency across teams, use Scribe Pages to also provide a single source of truth for all processes and procedures. This will help to avoid confusion or errors from different processes or procedures.
2. Increased efficiency & uninterrupted workflow
When providing support services, MSPs need to be efficient. Customers don’t welcome delays or interrupted work.
MSPs provide that which customers need: increased efficiency in service through:
- Support from experts.
- One reliable point of contact.
- Ready Infrastructure.
- Centralized Systems.
By providing these services effectively, MSPs build powerful customer relationships and improve communication and service delivery. This also cuts client downtime and saves time and money.
For example, Scribe via Scribe Pages, MSPs can reduce the time spent on answering repetitive questions or providing basic FAQ information sheets or onboarding training. This allows the service providers and clients to focus on more complex issues and provide a better overall service to their clients.
3. Managed customer experience
When companies commit to a certain MSP, they’re paying for the good experience of obtaining instant support to help their businesses grow.
The keyword here is support, highlighting why MSPs are a business of people through the experience.
Through great customer support, MSPs provide a positive customer experience to maintain and exceed their customers’ expectations.
MSP can manage customer experience across three stages.
- Pre-onboarding. At this stage, be solution-centric and prepared to answer questions about your MSP products and services.
- Onboarding. During MSP client onboarding, make the customer feel important, welcome and cared for by all means possible. Use Scribe Pages to create a client onboarding experience like this one: FAQ Template.
- Post-onboarding. Ensure clients are taken care of and their needs catered for. Follow up with clients with surveys and questions for feedback.
Some of the best practices to help manage customer experience include:
- Providing multiple communication channels.
- Specifying service expectations in the SLA document.
- Providing access to clear MSP Service documentation and other educational materials/resources.
- Personalizing customer communication ensures that each customer gets the best communication methods that fit their needs.
4. Managing customer complaints for client retention
Entrepreneurs know that retaining clients is less expensive and more profitable than taking on new ones and MSPs are no exception. In fact, it can cost up to 25X more to acquire a new customer than to retain one.
This requires managing customer satisfaction complaints. To do this, MSPs need to engage with existing clients and prioritize building strong customer relationships.
No matter how carefully your MSP business processes and customer communications are, you’ll likely receive customer complaints occasionally.
These may be from routine support requests to expressions of dissatisfaction with your business processes.
The best way to handle customer complaints is to do it promptly and professionally and ensure the customers are satisfied with your MSP services. The process of handling complaints should include the following:
- Investigating the problem, such as what went wrong.
- Assessing how your team handled the problem or what’s already been done.
- Always keeping the customer in the loop in your investigations and assessments to keep the customer calm and satisfied.
- Resolving the complaint in a way the customer wants to be served.
- Reviewing your processes used in the complaint resolution and documenting it to prevent the issue from recurring and get instant solutions for when it recurs. You can use MSP tools like Scribe to document and share the process with your teams or the client.
How to build MSP customer relations: tips & strategies
Managed service providers can build strong customer relationships using the following strategies and MSP best practices:
1. MSP documentation
MSP documentation involves creating and keeping written documents or records that describe an MSP’s internal and external processes. The MSP documents can do one or more of the following:
- Classify and streamline MSP or client operations.
- Documenting workflows.
- Unify MSP approaches across teammates.
- Create company standard operating procedures.
- Provide a framework for resolving clients’ issues.
MSP documentation can be challenging and time-consuming to create, but it can be worth it in terms of saved time, increased efficiency, and stellar customer service (MSP customer relations).
MSP documentation saves the MSP’s technicians and engineers hours by providing references for the information they want. Also, with MSP documentation, you increase your team’s response time to customers for stellar customer service success. Effective communication and documentation processes are critical for maintaining strong customer relations.
Examples of MSP documentation are:
- Onboarding checklists and plans.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) and Codes of conduct.
- Customer-facing SOPs.
- Policies and procedures.
- Work instructions and/or job aids.
- Reference guides.
- Passwords and credentials.
- Security and network overview.
- Client backup configurations.
- Managed client assets and locations.
- Instructional materials and Knowledge base articles (such as How-to guides, Troubleshooting guides, FAQ pages, etc.).
- Technical support guides.
- And more.
Here’s an onboarding checklist template made with Scribe Pages.
MSP documentation can drain you and your team’s time and effort. But you can use MSP documentation tools such as Scribe to support your efforts. It has a chrome extension that helps you record your screen and creates step-by-step manuals or how-to guides.
Scribe Pages, for example, allows you to embed Scribes (or MSP templates) inside comprehensive process documents, including videos, photographs and more.
2. Constant communication
Clear and regular communication is essential to building strong customer relationships. MSPs can use MSP documentation to communicate with their customers proactively, provide regular service updates, and promptly respond to customer inquiries or concerns.
Client trust is the key to MSP success. So, constant communication also ensures that the customer can trust that you will always respond.
For a more excellent customer experience, an MSP must design a clear and realistic way to communicate with customers. You can do this by designing a systematic communication plan.
3. Understanding customer needs
Customers aren’t the same, and they have different needs.
MSPs should understand their customers’ businesses, goals and pain points to tailor their services to meet each customer’s specific needs.
This will help them deliver a positive customer experience, build customer trust and increase customer loyalty.
4. Providing value-added services
How does one MSP differentiate itself from others? The answer is not just in the services provided but in quality and value-added services.
MSPs can differentiate themselves from competitors by offering value-added services beyond basic services like IT support.
For example, an MSP can offer cybersecurity assessments, cloud migration services and technology consulting to help the client organization grow its businesses.
The MSP can also offer to document the client’s how-to guides for the services rendered to give them a first-self-service experience before the client calls the MSP’s help desk for service. A self-service portal promotes stronger MSP customer relationships in various ways, such as:
- Meeting customer expectations and beyond. 90% of customers expect an MSP to provide a self-service portal. It helps an MSP strengthen your brand reputation.
- Allow customers to perform simple functions themselves. Examples of such tasks include flexing software license quantities or renewing a subscription.
- IT cost transparency. A self-service portal gives customers cost transparency as they can see how much they’re charged per service offered with accurate breakdowns.
- Accessible spending controls. A self-service portal with inbuilt tools can help customers to manage their costs. Scribe, for example, enables MSPs to document pre-agreed spending limits and give notifications each time they’re accessed.
- Reliability. Customers want a reliable online source of information for service-related questions. A FAQ site or knowledge articles provide the needed.
5. Proactive maintenance
Generally, MSPs handle client management services daily to allow customer organizations to focus on their productivity.
This requires proactively providing services so clients don’t worry about extended system downtimes or service disruptions/interruptions.
This can help build trust and loyalty with their customers.
6. Provide ongoing training
You need to teach your team so many things.
First, you need to focus on addressing the client's needs until you’re sure they’re satisfied. You will also need to pay attention to their needs to understand their challenges. This can translate to colossal profitability or loss, depending on whether you succeed in implementing it.
Next, you need to ensure your client-facing team is up-to-date on the industry's best practices and latest technologies. This will help them better serve your clients and increase their job satisfaction.
You can use MSP tools like Scribe to provide the necessary documentation they need and update it regularly. Scribe is a documentation tool that helps you capture any process and turn it into auto tutorials, documentation and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
7. Regular performance reviews
MSPs should conduct regular performance reviews with their customers to assess their satisfaction levels and identify areas for improvement.
Regular performance reviews are a great way to create a continuous feedback loop where the MSP isn’t left wondering how they’re doing. Receiving accurate and consistent feedback can help employees feel fulfilled in their roles and improve their service offerings while strengthening their customer relationships.
Conclusion: Use Scribe for your MSP customer relations efforts
Running a successful managed services provider business extends beyond delivering technical expertise.
You also need to understand your customers inside and out and create great MSP customer relations. This includes having reliable processes for communicating with them, managing their expectations and handling situations where things go wrong.
Scribe and Scribe Pages provide a secure and efficient way to document MSP processes and ensure team consistency. Using Scribe and Scribe Pages, MSPs can improve their communication processes and deliver a better customer experience, build FAQs and enhance their knowledge base and SOPs. This creates positive MSP customer relations and leads to uninterrupted workflow for clients.
Try Scribe today!