What is a customer? If you ask that question to 100 managed service providers (MSPs) you’d probably get many different answers. Attracting customers is the primary goal of MSPs, because it is the customer who creates demand for your goods or services. In the IT Industry, you never want to underestimate the value and reach of your loyal customers. MSPs have to be creative to keep customers coming back for more, so eventually they will bring their friends with them. Here are four tips to remember as an MSP when developing relationships with customers:
1. Build your network
You’ve probably heard the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” When you Google that phrase, you get various answers to exactly how many days it actually took. One site suggests it took more than 1,009,491 days to rebuild Rome. As an MSP, when building your network, you have to be quicker than what it took to build Rome. Today, MSPs have many options available to build their network of customers, either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and social and business networking websites. A successful network should include business colleagues and professional acquaintances, as well as prospective and existing customers.
2. Communication is a contact sport
Ready, Set, Hike! We all love sports and the feeling we get when our favorite team wins, just like we all hate that gut-wrenching feeling when they lose. Athletes become good at their sport with practice. Just like in sports, an MSP has to practice their communication process for current customers and new lead follow-up. Nothing shows a lack of communication more than when you meet a prospective customer or collect leads at an event and you do nothing with the information. When communicating with your lead targets, you have to engage early and often, delivering the right message. If you met a lead at a conference, your competitor was probably there collecting that same lead. There is nothing worse than calling a lead and having them telling you that they went with another option based on response time. Don’t get left behind by your competitors.
3. Practice the Killer B’s
- Be Reliable - Reliability arises from consistent follow-through and execution.
- Be Credible - Credibility is enhanced when you do exactly what you say you will do – every time.
- Be Responsive - Share your customer's sense of urgency. Provide customers with easy access to information they may need.
4. Reward loyal customers
This is the most commonly missed opportunity by businesses. Companies spend so much time and efforts to attract “new” customers that they end up forgetting about their most loyal ones. New customers are very important to a company’s future growth, but if you are alienating and losing customers at the same rate, what’s the point of doing business? I won’t name any names, but I go through this every year with my satellite provider. Each year I renew my content package, and while watching TV, I see commercials advertising that new customers can get their NFL Sunday Ticket (oops, I gave away the provider’s identity) for free. Each year, right before the football season, I call this provider for my annual pitch as to why as a loyal customer for over 15 years, I should be getting this same sports package offer. When I finally threaten to no longer renew my service, they come around and offer me the package. In the IT industry, MSPs must always remember that their most loyal customers should be taken care of first, as these are the customers you depend upon each year to continue the relationship. A satisfied and loyal customer can become your voice, and will help recommend your products to potential new customers.
Building a relationship with your customers is a long-term investment. Do it right by adding value to the relationship, and the contacts you make can really pay off. Communicate with your customers like the future of your business depends on it.
I’ll leave you with this:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou, Poet and Author
About the author:
Richard Parker (aka “The Legend”) is currently the Business Development Manager within the Cloud division for Tech Data. Being a 20+year veteran in the IT Industry, he has experienced the evolution of the computer industry from the launch of the worldwide web to cloud & mobile computing