- March 2, 2016
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Communication is Key to a Healthy Customer Engagement
Technologists aren’t always known as the best communicators. Knowing the solutions and tools you use backward and forward is well and good, but if you can’t communicate effectively with clients, you’re setting yourself and clients up for frustration.
The need for effective communication starts with the first customer contact. If you can’t convey what managed services is and how it improves client IT operations, there’s a problem you need to solve.
The need for communication doesn’t start and end there. It’s an ongoing process that must continue long after you onboard the customer. The tendency in managed services is to let the technology do the work and speak for itself. You’re ensuring uptime and protecting the client’s data, so everyone’s happy. Right? Not necessarily, or at least not for long.
Remind and Reward
You must keep reminding clients of what you do, and how they benefit from it. Remember, the remote monitoring and management aspect of managed services is fundamental to the model’s effectiveness, but the real value is in how it supports – and advances – the client’s business.
So, to prevent clients from forgetting how important your services is, which could lead them to question why they need you the first place, you must maintain open lines of communication. This should consist of weekly or monthly executive summary reports, quarterly catch-up meetings and annual strategy sessions. Here are a few examples:
The executive summary is arguably the most important means of communicating with the client. In it, you itemize all the work you have performed over the past week or month (perhaps even daily), including any issues or incidents you addressed. Use theses reports to identify all the systems you have checked and kept running, and to flag those that may need repair or replacement in short order. These reports answer the question, “What do I pay you for?”
Getting any client to commit to a regular meeting may be a tough challenge, but you should insist on having these sessions as much as possible. They’re an opportunity to discuss any IT issues, client concerns and updates on ongoing projects. Use these sessions to also raise any red flags about equipment and solutions that are underperforming and need to be replaced or upgraded.
Strategy client sessions are essential to a relationship’s longevity. Here’s when you talk about business goals with the client and come up with a strategy to support them. Take the opportunity to discuss investments and a roadmap to attain those goals. A strategic approach is always better than waiting to the last minute to tell clients they need a new server or service upgrade because they’re about to run out of capacity. Avoid unpleasant surprises.
Customers need frequent reminders of the work you do for them, or they’ll start questioning why they pay you. Having a solid communication strategy in place gets them the information they need and protects the relationship.
Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades. Recognized as one of the first journalists to cover managed services, Pedro continues to track, analyze and report on the IT channel and the growing MSP partner community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.