One of the key points of difference in a mature MSP is that you take a proactive approach to client management. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong, you do your best to ensure that problems do not occur in the first place. But is that something that your clients perceive as value? Do they genuinely appreciate when nothing goes wrong, or do they see that as the default condition and measure your effectiveness only on your ability to fix problems?
One way that an MSP can shape its client relationships in a positive manner is to shift the focus more towards how you can address the client’s pain points. The concept of pain points is commonly used in sales, and refers to the areas where the client is feeling pain. A pain point is not a technical problem, but rather a source of anxiety, stress or anguish that the client feels. It is specifically non-technical. Downtime is not a pain point; the pain point is worrying about all the bad things that will happen if the client’s computers go down — the loss of revenue, decline in productivity, wrath from head office, or whatever other horrible thing they envision happening in that scenario.
Pain points = anxiety
For example, you probably have a client who is anxious about security. They read about hostageware, ghostware, two-faced malware and information theft, and they worry. They can barely wrap their head around what these things are, much less have a sense of what to do about them. Thus, security is a pain point, because the client has anxiety about a facet of IT but not the ability to actually do anything to resolve that anxiety. Even if they have great security, it’s still a pain point because they are worrying about it.
Consider the client view
For the managed service provider, these pain points provide an opportunity. The client is paying you for a reason, and that reason is that they want their IT systems to work perfectly, every time. Because when they do not work perfectly, the client experiences pain. The client’s view of the relationship is going to be colored by your ability to ease their pain, which is not just about your ability to clear tickets. If you can address their pain points proactively, they will feel confident about the service you’re providing.
Understand your clients’ pain points
The first step is to understand their pain points. In a client service survey by Accenture, some major pain points were having to contact client service multiple times for the same reason, encountering service agents who had poor knowledge or were otherwise unable to help, and situations where the company failed to deliver on something that was promised up front. So in that sense, there are near universal pain points, and you can design your business around ensuring that those are always addressed.
But it is important also to listen to your clients, and understand their other, specific, pain points. These might not be obvious, nor the same for all clients, especially if you service clients in multiple different industries. Understand the source of the pain, but also determine whether the pain is acute or not. Learn when this pain matters, too. Clients are more motivated to address pain that is more immediate, or more intense, than they are to address low-level, background nuisances.
Your techs are key
Your techs are the primary point of contact for your clients. They are the people who talk to the clients every day. This puts them in a unique position to understand pain points. If you train your techs to note potential pain points for each client while they are talking to the client, then you can quickly build a file of issues that are important for the client. If they all do it, then multiple perspectives are acquired. That gives your account managers the opportunity to be proactive in dealing with those pain points.
By taking the time to listen to your clients, you can benefit from learning about their pain points. In many cases, they will open up and tell you what things concern them the most. If you and your staff document these pain points, it will provide actionable feedback that you can then use to fulfill your clients’ needs in a proactive manner.