What is one of the worst things an MSP can hear? “You’re fired!”
When a client leaves you, that’s called churn… and it’s really bad for your business. Churn not only represents a client leaving, but it can be incredibly costly to replace that business. It’s important to minimize client churn and therefore, you need to be able to identify the early signs of churn so you can reduce the chance that your client leaves you.
Let’s look at a few of the key warning signs that your client may be getting ready to leave you.
Top 5 Warning Signs That a Client Might Be Leaving
1. They've Become Unresponsive
If a client is dodging your phone calls and not responding to emails, this may mean that they’re getting ready to leave you. No need to panic and start stalking them to see who they might be talking to. But maybe you try to schedule a business review session or just offer to buy them lunch.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with all of your clients, make sure to speak with your account managers and identify potential churn candidates each month.
Sometimes all they need is a quick personal message to reconnect. You’d rather have them tell you they’re unhappy then have them go silent. At least then, you can work on the issue with them, rather than them work on the issue with a competitor.
2. You’re Having Troubling Getting Them to Pay
If you’re putting on your best Tony Soprano impression each month and needing to shakedown your client for money, it’s probably a bad sign. This could mean one of two things. Maybe there are cash flow issues and they can’t pay. It could also mean that they don’t value your services and don’t want to pay for them.
Either situation is a red flag for you.
You don’t want to chase down your money each month. If they’re having cash flow issues, you may want to consider firing them as a client. However, if you feel they’re just reluctant to pay for your services, it’s probably worth sitting down with them and understanding their issues.
3. You Have Become Too Remote
Becoming too remote from your clients is a common mistake many MSPs make. Sometimes a customer would be responsive if they had something to respond to. If there are customers that are simply not getting attention from you or your staff, the implied message to them is that they are not important. That’s a free pass for the customer to look elsewhere to get the attention they feel they need.
Do you have a database of customer accounts and team activity? If so, you should be able to pull a report of when each of your accounts was last contacted. This is a good habit to get into to make sure none of your clients are falling off the map.
Your quietest clients may be your easiest clients, but they also may be your closest to leaving. Don’t forget about the wheels that aren’t squeaking, they may still need fixing too.
4. They're Looking for Discounts
If your client is looking for discounts, this boils down to one simple issue, they don’t see the value of your services.
Perhaps they’re shopping around and have found a cheaper solution. Perhaps money is tight and they’re just looking for ways to cut costs. Either way, this is a sign they might be close to leaving you.
This doesn’t mean you should give them a discount, but you should be able to recognize this sign and have a conversation with them. Understand why they’re looking for a discount and work to make sure they understand the value of your services and why it’s important to their business.
5. They're Questioning the Value of Your Services
Sometimes your client begins to question the value of your services. This is often associated with a personnel change with your customer. You may lose your ‘champion’ on the customer side and his/her replacement has their own way of doing things. This is also a frequent result of a customer whose business is merged or acquired.
For whatever reason, if your customer starts questioning your value, that’s a strong sign that they’re unhappy and/or a change is coming. Make sure you identify these situations and can clearly address. It’s a good drill to run on yourself and your staff every so often. If a client were to call you up at that moment and ask you, "What am I paying for?" make sure you can answer that question clearly and confidently.
What to Do if You See One of These Signs
It’s important to recognize these signs, but you should also be prepared for how to deal with them. Here are some good things to keep in mind:
1. Perform Regular Business Reviews
Scheduling regular business reviews allows you to maintain consistent face time with your client, which helps strengthen your relationship. It also helps you identify potential issues so that you can address them head-on.
Make sure that you and/or your account managers are sitting down regularly with your clients to assess their business goals, uncover opportunities and reinforce your value as their MSP.
2. Don’t Get Too Remote with Your Services
Remote monitoring and management software allows you to do most of your job remotely—but make sure you’re not getting too remote with your services. As I mentioned above, the quietest clients may be your best, but they may be closest to leaving.
Try running a report of when your accounts were last contacted and see who hasn’t gotten some love in a while.
3. Be Direct and Honest
At its core, a client leaves you if they don’t see the value in your business. The best way for them to recognize your value is to have an open, honest conversation with them.
Work to understand their needs and then reinforce how you help them solve those needs. Offering discounts or incentives for them to stay won’t help you out. They’ll come to expect it and ultimately, that will just end up costing you money. Be direct and honest and make sure you can clearly identify what makes you unique as an MSP.
Churn can be disastrous for your business. While there is no way to completely eliminate it, there are warning signs that help you identify it and strategies you can use to minimize it. If you sense something is not right, just address it. You might be surprised how far a little concern goes towards reconciliation and towards building an even stronger relationship in the future.
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel