One of the tenets of Managed Services is scalability - the ability of a single engineer to manage dozens and perhaps hundreds of client networks from behind their desk at your office, to monitor and maintain all of those infrastructures without ever having to visit a client site.
Modern Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) and remote access tools make this idea a reality, and within a short period of time it’s possible to eliminate the majority of issues from a clients network and ease (or eliminate) the clients pain - often without having to visit them in person at all.
Unfortunately, one of the challenges most MSP’s then find at some stage after easing or eliminating their clients pain in this way is that things become *too* quiet and the client ends up asking the dreaded question “What are we paying you for?”
You see, clients typically have short memories. They might have hired you to help them because they were experiencing high levels of pain and inconvenience with their IT systems, but once that pain has gone away they find themselves wondering what the value in paying you on an ongoing basis is.
Frankly, they don’t see all the work you do behind the scenes to keep that pain they experienced from re-emerging and if they’re asking you the question “What are we paying you for?” then when you answer in terms of monitoring and maintenance, they won’t be impressed. Yes, it’s illogical to us as IT business owners, but to the client who views IT as a necessary evil - and not a value add - this is the mentality.
One of the ways to avoid being asked the “What are we paying you for?” question in the first place is to maintain a visible presence on your clients site.
While this might go against the idea that Managed Services is all about keeping a client's systems safe and sound remotely, there is some sound logic in making sure your clients see engineers regularly. You see, clients don’t really understand remote technology and still equate work (and sometimes, value) with time and presence. Therefore by seeing an engineer on site, your client sees something tangible they are getting for their money.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that you revert to the days of dispatching an engineer to site for every issue - not at all! Clients *definitely* understand the value in having instant remote support when they need it. However, there is value in understanding scheduling regular site visits for your engineers to deal with issues that might benefit from closer interactions with clients, and indeed scheduling visits when there are *no* technical issues outstanding on site.
These visits - where a client has little or no outstanding tickets, but you dispatch an engineer to site anyway - are called “Floor walks”.
The idea of a floor walk is that an engineer visits site to do some hands on maintenance. Perhaps cleaning the Comms Room, tidying the network cabinet, and then, importantly, walking the floor of your client site and asking people whether they have any issues that need to be dealt with.
You may be surprised at the number of issues your clients are experiencing that they haven’t reported to your Helpdesk. Clients often feel like a “nuisance” if they report niggling issues that they perceive as not very important - a mouse that doesn’t roll smoothly, a printer that jams intermittently, a monitor that is too bright or too dark. These are the issues that a floor walk will help bring to the surface and enable you to nip in the bud - and your clients will thank you for it.
While one of the fundamental ideas of Managed Services is to embrace remote monitoring, maintenance and support tools to enable your engineers to support dozens or hundreds of clients from their own desk, it’s worth remembering that to many clients an on-site presence is still important.
Scheduling regular floor-walks of your client sites can be an important element in nipping small (but important to your client) technical issues in the bud before they fester into larger issues and importantly, helping you avoid the dreaded “What are we paying you for?” question from clients.
Richard Tubb works with MSP's to help them focus on what is important, free up their time and make more money. You don't have to do it alone any more!