As an IT Support company or Managed Service Provider (MSP), you’ll be familiar with the challenge that your client holds you as the responsible party for anything technology related within their business.
In fact, for most clients you’re also the go to guys for any piece of equipment with a electrical plug at the end of it!
You’re also used to the fact that typically, clients give you little notice of work that needs to be done, then expect that work to be done at the drop of a hat. Does this conversation sound familiar?
Client - “We’ve got a new starter joining us. Can you set them up a new PC?”
You - “Sure. When do they start?”
Client - “They’ve already started. When can you get here?
Humor aside, there’s one situation where this disconnect in communication between you and a client, and unrealistic expectations a client can have of you can not only lead to major stress for you, but also serious damage to your working relationship - and that’s when a client is relocating to a new office.
It’s very, very common that small businesses do not consider their IT requirements when moving to a new office. They typically don’t consult or inform you of an office move until they’ve signed off on the new offices, and then get in touch with you to give you a date when they are moving in. At this point you’re often expected to move heaven and earth to make things happen, and drop any other plans to help the client move.
I’ve seen examples of Small Businesses who have started refurbishing new office locations, and then asked for quotes for IT cabling. When the client is informed that the cabling may damage the new paint job, or require the removal of newly installed partition walls - they aren’t happy.
Or how about the clients who get the electrician to fit one new wall port for each desk, then you find that half of those installed wall-ports don’t work, and that actually, each desk requires at least four wall ports for phones, printers and other modern office equipment.
An all-too-common problem is where the client has set a moving in date, and approach you to make sure they have Broadband and Telephony. You advise the client that there is a 4 week lead time on new line installations, and they ask you why you didn’t inform them of this fact sooner!
Then there’s the challenge of a client signing off on a new office location and after surveying the site, you having the arduous task of informing them that they can’t get a reliable Broadband connection, and the only alternative is an expensive leased line or similar.
In all of these cases, while you are not at fault - there is only one person the client will hold responsible for the stress of a botched office move - and that’s you. I’ve yet to find a client yet who makes one of the mistakes I’ve covered here and then reacts well to the phrase “If only you had spoken to us about this sooner”.
So what can you do?
I’ve written before about the importance of using a Quarterly Business Review to become a Trusted Business Advisor.
One of the other benefits of keeping in regular contact with clients through QBR’s and account management calls is that you have a heads-up of any potential changes within the clients organisation.
Once you get a whiff of an office move, you can share with your client the importance of getting you involved. I find using 3rd party stories work best “We had another client who didn’t tell us about their office move.
They were without Broadband for two weeks” and similar tales will stress to your client that for the office move to be a success, they need to get you involved.
At the end of the day, clients will be clients. They take technology for granted - and don’t worry about how technology works, just that it works. That’s to your benefit - they need you to ensure this happens.
But sometimes they need to be educated on when to involve you in their business decision making processes. The sooner you start this conversation, the less headaches both you and the client will experience.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.
Get the latest MSP tips, tricks, and ideas sent to your inbox each week.