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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Retention Tips: How to Show Your Clients the Love

Posted February 14, 2018by Nicole Hunter Hart

Retention Tips: How to Show Your Clients the Love

When it comes to successfully managing client relationships, there are four key principals: making your client feel important to your business, demonstrating you understand their business and needs, helping them succeed in their goals, and lastly, committing to a long lasting, mutually beneficial relationship. These are the core tenets that will assist you in developing more profitable relationships and showing your clients the love!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re going to add a bit of hearts and flowers into this post and talk about how you can leverage your value and knowledge of the IT landscape to communicate more efficiently and effectively. Hint: it’s not about getting clients flowers or chocolates, but simply showing them you have their needs taken care of.

Achieving Maximum Client Retention

Let’s start by looking at some of the homework questions I left you with in my last post and discuss important ideas to think about:

Why do clients choose you?

This is your key differentiator! Know why clients are smitten by your services or choose your business, and be sure to reinforce this at every interaction by being authentic.

Do you currently have a client management strategy? If so, what is it?

This can vary from MSP to MSP, but no matter what stage you are in, it’s important to be aware of and honest about where you stand. Whether you have a client management strategy or not, knowing will help you formulate your next steps. The goal is to work towards a strategy for managing clients that is simple, scalable, and repeatable by your employees.

Post-onboarding, how often do you interact with your clients? What is the most common means by which you have these interactions?

Again, this can vary widely. The important task here is to take the time to map out your communications and look at the bigger picture from the client’s perspective. Are you interacting at the appropriate times with valuable input? If not, now is the time to note where you can improve.

Do you have many clients asking to see the value of the services they pay for?

If you answered yes to this question, this blog series—along with my previous series—will provide you with guidance and tools to proactively demonstrate your MSP value. With a little bit of effort, your clients will not only feel their money is well spent, but you will be able to focus client interactions on more fruitful topics—securing this client for many Valentine’s Days to come!

Much like in our personal relationships, the root of an issue is rarely what it seems to be on the surface, and so is true in the case of client management issues. For this reason, I want to focus on engagement today. No, I’m not talking about putting a ring on it, I’m talking about engagement in the sense of constant and meaningful communication.

It seems appropriate since Valentine’s Day is all about love, and most of us want to hear we are loved and, more importantly, to be shown we are valued. So, how can you show your clients the love through communication and engagement?

5 Best Practices for Engaging with Clients

Here are five easy ways to let your light shine through to clients (and remain top of mind and relevant while you’re at it):

1. Non-Opportunity Communication

Take the time to communicate to your clients, even when it isn’t centered around an opportunity. Let them know you are pleased with their stable environment and elude to the work you have been doing behind the scenes via your knowledge of their business/IT environment. The central focus of each communication should be around sharing with them something important in the technology landscape, like an emerging threat, exciting new tech gadget you know would appeal to their business, or relevant tech trends. The key here is to remind them they are doing great with seamless business continuity, while also dropping them a quick tidbit of interesting info.

2. Be Proactive

Many MSPs get into a cycle of reactive communications with clients. This means the bulk of your day is spent troubleshooting, putting out fires, and managing potential risks. To become more proactive, start by carving out a small amount of time about twice a week to focus on proactive client communications.

Examples include a monthly newsletter applicable to your broader client base, setting up quarterly business reviews with a few accounts, making impromptu site visits, or creating social media content to keep your business top of mind with your clients. This content should showcase your knowledge of the IT landscape while also considering who your audience is (technical vs non-technical). You want to steadily build a presence with your clients, centered around demonstrating the value your services bring while also taking the time to get a better understanding of your clients’ businesses. Then, when the time comes for an opportunity, your suggestions will carry more weight.

3. Consider the Client

Every client is unique. Take the time to learn each clients’ goals, constraints, and pertinent details, and be sure to document and communicate them internally with your team. Not only will this help you meet the client where they’re at, but it will also insure every member of your team is on the same page when interacting with your clients.

For larger clients who have IT on-site, ask to be included in strategy meetings to provide your unique perspective (adding to the conversation, not overtaking or replacing on-site IT). For smaller clients, start small and consider their level of technical knowledge. Then, you can provide value through education!

4.  Start Slow When Re-Engaging

For existing clients who you have not recently engaged with regularity, now is the time to create and execute on a re-engagement strategy. Take it slow by using this opportunity to re-learn your client, their key employees, and their goals. Then, you can develop communications and interactions accordingly.

Some of our most successful MSPs take this time to make a site visit centered around education. Make it fun by holding a “Lunch and Learn” or “Technology Breakfast.” Give your clients a chance to reacquaint themselves with you and your expertise. 

5. Focus on the Educational Value Add

Every interaction should add value. No exceptions. This is easily achieved by centering communications and interactions around information and education. Newsletters, Lunch and Learns, Quarterly Business Reviews, monthly client calls, and social media should be used to help clients be more efficient and effective in their day to day tasks, or to learn something new that will positively impact their productivity. Clients will begin to see you as a credible source of information and a go-to for technology advice, all without having to “sell” them on a service or product. 

Incorporating these five best practices will help you effectively communicate the love to your clients and shift the focus of interactions away from defending your usefulness to positioning yourself as a strategic advisor and thought leader on their IT needs. When you show your dedication to clients by interacting at the right time—with the right message to illustrate your knowledge of their goals and your willingness to help them be even more successful with your services and advice—you’ll be set up for a long and loving relationship.

Click here to read part three, where we cover the fundamentals of an Executive Business Review!

 

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Nicole is a passionate Customer Success leader specializing in cross-functional programs to drive an elevated customer experience and promote customer retention and revenue growth. In her role as Senior Manager, Partner Success Programs at Continuum, she leads strategic efforts across the organization centered around bringing our partners’ voice into every interaction for a customer centric approach. She does this via Voice of the Partner, Partner Survey programs, advisory councils, and customer lifecycle optimization initiatives. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, interior decorating, catching the latest superhero movie, and traveling to new locations.

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