MSP Anywhere™ has been part of our SolarWinds® RMM platform since September 2016. Gerry O’Donnell, product manager for MSP Anywhere at SolarWinds MSP, remembers some of the initial teething problems in the switch from TeamViewer.
“At the time, we received a lot of customer feedback through channels such as LinkedIn® and Facebook®, as well as the IdeaScale page,” he explains. “This input proved to be a goldmine of product development ideas. In fact, it is this feedback that has influenced almost every single customer-facing enhancement in the product since September 2016.”
Gerry continues: “The combination of this input and having a very active product development team has enabled us to take MSP Anywhere to a position where we believe it is competitively superior to other products.”
He highlights the addition of important things like voice-call functionality, enhanced cut and paste, and remote printing, as well as a whole roadmap of other enhancements ahead.
“MSP Anywhere exists both as a standalone software platform and as an integrated version for SolarWinds RMM and SolarWinds N-Central®,” he adds. “The great thing is that everything we’ve done to raise the quality of the product since its initial release benefits everyone using the product in whatever format they have and across whatever platform (whether it’s Windows®, Mac®, Linux®, iOS®, or Android®).”
“IdeaScale has been hugely important for us in developing all our products,” says Gerry. “We have 2,500 live ideas covering everything in the whole SolarWinds MSP platform, from support for obscure backup products to completely redesigning the entire interface of the product. This means we have to give things a weighting depending on how easy they are to implement and how many people vote for the idea.
“We pay an awful lot of attention to this and we care what people are voting for, because it gives us another channel of insight into our customer base. We have a 17% turnaround on all the ideas—on 2,500 ideas, this equates to over 400 ideas being integrated into the product. Even with a large development team, this is a lot of work.”
“One of the things I’ve been very active in throughout the whole process has been approaching customers directly to get their feedback face-to-face,” says Gerry. “If support is getting burdened with customer issues, then my best response has been—where possible—to get out and meet with them, rather than just getting on call after call.”
Gerry explains how this helps him figure out where the customer’s pain points really are. “What people say on social media differs from what they say face-to- face,” he says. “On social media, they may say ‘you suck’, but in person, they’ll tell you that they’re going to leave you for competitor X because their product offers Y functionality—all of a sudden they’re qualifying exactly what it is they are struggling with. This helps us to understand them more and be able to deal with the issues directly. Naturally, it also really helps with customer relations.”
Gerry cites an example of how he was able to turn around a customer who was concerned about session quality. “There was a perception that session quality was poor,” he explains. “However, through dealing personally with the customer, we discovered a lot of the issues were down to the fact that the colour palette made it feel inferior. That led directly to us implementing a 24-bit color palette.” This added a level of graphical accuracy that really upgraded the user experience.”
Another example was when a customer was struggling with what he saw as a lack of scalability in the product. “They were saying MSP Anywhere was a having issues with firewall ports and proxies,” says Gerry. “Our investigations enabled us to accelerate the implementation of a connection port idea we’d had on the backburner for some time.”
He continues, “Customer feedback has been front and center for everything we’ve done in the product. There are a number of customers who have my mobile number, so they can contact me directly for anything to do with MSP Anywhere—a valuable direct line to customers for me and helpful to our customer retention efforts.”
“It’s crucial to speak to your customers,” says Gerry. “Not only will this help you understand the issues they face every day, but it will help you build relationships and deal with problems much more efficiently.”
He also adds that MSPs need to learn to pay attention to social media—listening to where the noise is coming from. “You need to listen to customer feedback and show accountability,” he adds.
“If I get a customer satisfaction call, I take the time to sit down with them and get them to explain exactly what the problem is. I’ll let them know that if they’re prepared to work with me, I have a high degree of confidence we can work this out for them—maybe not immediately, but as quickly as possible. This approach has been extremely successful,” Gerry concludes.
Gerry O’Donnell is product manager for MSP Anywhere at SolarWinds MSP.
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