While technology services may be what you offer as an MSP, it’s your relationship with your customer that moves the needle for your business. In fact, with so much automation and remote control in use today, personal relationships serve to differentiate and drive customer retention.
A scheduled business review—in which you listen to your customer, respond to concerns and present reports that illustrate the business value of your services—is your best opportunity to make a high-impact impression during the post-sale engagement process. And, it can help drive your retention rates by giving your client a clear understanding of the time and frustration you saved them and the expertise you deliver.
Business reviews are commonly held quarterly in the managed services world—and that’s why they’re referred to as a Quarterly Business Review (QBR).
What do you need to accomplish during a QBR? Here are six tips that have worked well for our elite MSPs:
It’s true that effective meetings will give you the opportunity to upsell, cross-sell and expand your customer relationships. But that shouldn’t be the MSP’s number one pursuit going into the QBR. Instead, the focus should be on the client’s goals and the outcomes they want to achieve. The time should be used to have a productive conversation about how you will help them get where they want to be.
Technological advances have allowed MSPs to spend less and less time in the customer environment. That said, you still want the customer to think of your company as an irreplaceable extension of their team rather than a group of faceless technicians that can be easily substituted with another MSP’s employees. During the QBR, you’ll want to ensure the customer comes away from the meeting feeling their money is well spent, that you clearly understand the challenges in their environment, and that your efforts are working around the clock behind the scenes to ensure their workday remains uninterrupted. So study up for the meeting by preparing reports, reviewing the data you’ve collected, and assessing what your client’s next IT moves might be.
During the meeting, find out how you’re doing. Ask the customer what is working and what isn’t. Discuss the devices or applications that fail most commonly. Have a conversation about which users need the most help and might benefit from training. Take time to map out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that impact your customer’s IT environment and address each one.
Typically companies are not equipped with the information they need to plan or budget for their IT needs. They are often unaware of how outdated their old backup or disaster recovery plan is, they aren’t prepared to budget for hardware replacement, and they don’t know where all their licensed software suites are deployed. Or, they want to talk about expanding their investment in cloud or exploring how innovative new tools can impact their business. These are all things that you can help them understand, and your guidance will be valuable.
Your clients rely on your support team daily. Find out how the experience was for your customer. Ask them if they are happy with your performance and communication, and if anything can be done better. This is an opportunity for your customer to tell you if you have been doing a good job in their eyes and for you to take feedback, whether positive or negative, and apply it to your own internal processes. Be sure to share this information with the rest of your company, and don’t make excuses for anything that the customer wasn’t happy about. Accept the criticism and promise to review the process that resulted in a poor experience. If this customer is unhappy with something, chances are others are feeling the same pain but may not have vocalized it. On the flip side, if the customer seems enthusiastic about your services, consider asking them to provide a testimonial for your next marketing campaign.
Don’t make the mistake of filing your meeting notes away without taking immediate action. This is key information that should be quickly sent to those in your team who can make use of it. Any support issues should be dealt with right away—while they are fresh in everyone’s mind. Process problems should be explored with those responsible for your service delivery. Find a solution that fits your business and solves the customer’s issue, and follow up to let the customer know your recommended action plan. The roadmap for hardware refresh should go straight to your account managers to address. A question on a new technology solution can go to your account managers or technical team for investigation. Make sure they follow up with the client as quickly as possible. As a best practice, you may want to set an expectation with the client on when you will be following up.
QBRs offer a way to demonstrate your complete understanding of the customer’s IT environment, your responsiveness and your commitment to helping their business succeed. Remember, your clients are primarily investing in you and your team—not your services—and that’s a major reason why face time, even if it’s only quarterly, is one of the biggest drivers of customer retention.
JP Jauvin is senior vice president, sales and customer operations, SolarWinds MSP. This article was first published in Channel e2e on April 27, 2017.
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