You'd be hard pressed to find an IT services provider who wouldn't agree that strong client relationships are crucial to the success of their business. When you build, foster and maintain strong client relationships, you increase the loyalty of your clients and lower the chances of losing them to your top competitor. In order to build strong relationships with your clients, you have to be available to them. Your clients should feel like you have their best interest in mind and that you're there for them when they need you. Going on client visits and picking up the phone for regular check-ins is a great way to show your support, but there is another avenue that you should use to support them. Social media.
I have brought up the topic of social media to the managed IT services provider (MSP) audience in the past, and at times, have been met with some hesitation. For those that work extremely closely with their clients, connecting with them on social media can seem unnecessary. One particular MSP's viewpoint is highlighted below...
"It's a REAL relationship, it's conjoined businesses. As an MSP, it sounds utterly ridiculous that our customers would talk to us on Facebook. We are on email, IM, the phone all day, every day. It's like sitting in the living room with your family and then someone gets up, walks across the street and calls from a payphone instead of just talking in the room that they were just in."
Do not think of social media as a means to replace the methods that you already have in place for communicating with your clients. Instead, use social media to supplement those communications and make your client relationships even stronger. There are a few ways that you can do this.
1) Share Informative Content
This is the most important of the three methods. MSPs should position themselves as thought leaders. If you manage a blog on your company's website, share the content that you produce on your social media channels. When you share content socially, you don't have the same one-on-one conversation like you would on the phone, but you make content available that your clients might be interested in. In this way, you build a higher level of trust and credibility with your clients, as now they will feel more confident in your company as IT professionals that they can trust.
If you don't manage your own blog, you can still find and share content. Follow a few publications that regularly post material that your clients would be interested in. Share that content on your own social media channels, and tag the original source or reporter in your post. The third-party publications will be happy that you have shared their content, and your clients will be happy that you have answered their questions without them even asking! Local news is always good to follow, especially during this winter season. Let's say, for instance, a snowstorm is predicted for your area. Share that forecast across your social channels, and either warn clients to stay safe or power off their computers when they leave for the night so there isn't a machine surge with a power outage. Hey, you could even take this opportunity to reassure them that even if there is a disaster scenario, all of their data is back up and protected!
2) Post Company Updates
The more you build up your presence on social media, the more people will turn to your accounts and pay attention to what you post. Post any important company updates to your social media accounts. You should still reach out to your clients with important information though the usual methods (email, phone call, etc.), just add posting to your social media accounts to the process. This way, you'll cover all of your bases.
Lets say for example a portion of your website is going to be down for routine maintenance. After you've reached out to your partners via email or phone to alert them, post an update to your social media channels.
3) Open Another Avenue for Communication
Finally, being active on social media simply gives your clients another way to connect with you. While it won't replace the typical methods of communication between you and your clients, it can certainly supplement it, and could even end up benefiting you in more direct ways than you'd expect. Lets say, for example, you complete a timely project for one of your clients and they are thrilled with the service of one of your technicians. Sure, they could pick up the phone and tell you this, but maybe they send out a tweet singing your praises. This message will not only reach you, but also all of that particular client's connections. Essentially, they're giving you a social media testimonial without you having to lift a finger!
At the end of the day, supplementing your client relationships through social media is only going to work if you commit to it. If you're of the mindset that it simply isn't worth your time and won't benefit your business, you're probably right. Still, I highly recommend keeping an open mind and giving social media a shot.
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