Onboarding sets the tone for the MSP’s relationship with the customer. A misstep during this process can lead to big problems later, potentially even ending the relationship prematurely.
To avoid an undesirable outcome, MSPs need an onboarding process and checklist based on best practices. Following tried-and-true methods increases your chances of cultivating successful, long-term customer relationships.
The onboarding process really starts with the first customer contact. The first impression you make on a prospect is likely to determine whether the next step in the onboarding process will ever occur. With that in mind, here are four common mistakes to avoid when onboarding new clients:
Even though the managed services model has existed for years, not all customers understand it. Some may not even be familiar with the term “managed services.” So start by explaining what you offer—not by focusing on the complexities of the technology, but instead on how your services can support the client’s business to reach new levels of productivity, performance, and profitability.
Your services should support client needs, not the other way around. In other words, if your offerings aren’t a good match for what the business requires, it makes little sense to move forward as if they do. Instead, evaluate how you can tweak your services to help the client and whether you can recommend solutions compatible with your offerings that would truly support the business. If none of that is possible, consider refocusing your efforts on another prospect.
Customers won’t know how onboarding works unless you tell them. As soon as it makes sense during contract negotiations, start letting clients in on what to expect. You’ll need to explain how services are turned on and when, in what sequence, and what changes will occur in the client’s operation with each new step. Provide a timetable so the client knows what’s coming and when, and make yourself available to answer questions and address issues once the process starts.
While the onboarding process technically reaches completion once all services are live, communication with the client must not cease. There are bound to be questions and support issues that come up, and you’ll also want to keep the client informed of the work you are doing to keep their environment running at its best. Check in with the customers periodically and deliver monthly activity reports so the client doesn’t wonder what—if anything—you’ve been doing for them.
A smooth onboarding process signals to clients they’ve made the right choice in choosing you as their MSP. So stick with best practices to avoid common onboarding mistakes and be sure to review the onboarding plan periodically to determine whether it can be improved.
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.
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