Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner, recently noted that customer experience is the new competitive battlefield in today’s IT market. As a result, most managed services providers (MSPs) are placing less emphasis on product and service differentiation and more on customer retention and ongoing business growth. The hypercompetitive IT arena demands that MSPs find new ways to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Adopting the Virtual CIO Role Changes the Game
An MSP’s value isn’t limited to IT expertise. A growing number of companies now rely on their MSPs for their expertise in strategic planning and solutions creation. Growing into the role of trusted advisor and solutions expert requires a transition from mere IT services provider to a virtual CIO organization. Once positioned into this role, MSPs have a free hand to engage with their clients on a consultative level, starting with an assessment of their clients’ objectives and needs.
As a virtual CIO, MSPs should maintain their client relationships through constant communication and a proactive approach to IT events. Whenever a policy change or potential security breach threatens to affect clients, it’s up to the MSP to address the issue promptly and implement a plan of action for handling the event. To demonstrate and foster loyalty, MSPs should pay close attention to the professional and personal goals of their key contacts and make efforts to align their business approach to reflect those goals.
Be Flexible and Dependable
Taking the cookie cutter approach to product and service delivery can be detrimental to an MSP’s business goals. Clients expect flexibility, and offering customizable services can help add value to the client’s experience.
It’s also important for MSPs to not only meet their clients’ expectations, but to exceed them. This means honoring the service level agreement (SLA) to the letter and incorporating a rapid response to customer requests in the contract. There should also be separate clauses that clearly define what customers can expect in emergency situations.
By taking ownership of and responsibility for the customer experience, MSPs can foster an environment where successes come naturally.
Honor Thy Client
Face time is crucial to the customer experience. For MSPs, this represents an opportunity to create greater business value by nurturing relationships with clients. Regularly scheduled meetings can be used as a discovery process to learn what clients need and expect from their MSPs, as well as how clients handle their daily workflows using their current technology.
Regardless of whether the meeting happens online, via phone conference, or face-to-face, MSPs must always keep the client’s needs front and center. With the latest in executive reporting tools, MSPs can not only showcase current successes, but can also create convincing business cases for addressing the client’s future needs.
Adopt, Plan, and Invest
Creating greater business value also requires MSPs to have a clear view of the IT landscape. This means taking into account all of the client’s assets, including mobile devices and previous software purchases. Having a clear picture of all the resources in play allows MSPs to assist clients in acquiring and deploying their technologies in a beneficial way.
Making sure that current investments see their full potential is crucial for providing clients with the best possible customer experience. Contact us at eXemplify today and find out how our services can bring success to your company.