The secret to good customer service in your MSP business

Richard Tubb

As human beings, we all have a need to be acknowledged. If we offer feedback or a complaint to an organisation or a person, one sure way to irritate us the most is for that feedback or complaint to go unacknowledged.

Think about the last time you emailed your Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a complaint about their poor service. How frustrating was it to not get a response back to that email? Or how about the last time you Tweeted an Airline or Rail company to offer some feedback and for them never to respond.

Frustrating isn’t it? It’s human nature to be upset when your communication isn’t acknowledged.

There is a lesson here for any IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP), too. Are you properly acknowledging your clients?

Acknowledging Support Requests

Remote-SupportThe majority of MSPs offer their clients a facility to email in support requests. For low priority or “niggling” issues that the client is experiencing, the benefit of email support is that rather than the client having to take the time to telephone in an issue, they can email at their convenience knowing the issue is in the hands of the MSP.

For the MSP, rather than having the telephone lines tied up with calls that may prevent an urgent or high-priority issue being reported quickly, the emailed ticket can be managed off-line separately.

But even with a low priority issue, there is a danger that if you don’t acknowledge the issue and set expectations properly, then the client may take exception and become irritated.

In these situations it is, at the very minimum, worth setting up an email ticket auto-responder. Such an auto-response might include an acknowledgement that the client's email has been received, along with details of a next step.

For example: “Thanks for your email. We can confirm we have received it and will look into it for you. We will call you within 24 hours to begin work on it.”

This simple response will mean the client is happy that their issue has been acknowledged and is being worked upon. Simple, but effective.

Compare that process of acknowledging the client and setting their expectations to the alternative of the client emailing in a low priority ticket but not receiving an acknowledgement. The client may begin to get nervous as to whether you’ve received their email, or worse still, become frustrated that you haven’t replied! The client may then decide to telephone you to check that their request has been received, and potentially voicing their frustration that they’ve had to make the call as well.

In this scenario, where you have failed to acknowledge an email ticket, you’re looking at a low priority ticket that is suddenly given unnecessary priority, as well as a ticket that has needlessly become a complaint that you need to deal with.

Acknowledging Complaints

Data LossOf all the areas you absolutely must make sure you acknowledge clients in, acknowledging client complaints is the most important.

As we’ve already looked at, all of us know the frustration and anger we feel when we share a complaint with a big company like our electricity provider or ISP, only for them to ignore the issue. We feel that our business isn’t valued. We feel that we as customers are not valued.

Failing to acknowledge and empathize with clients' complaints is business suicide.

If a complaint is not handled promptly and with good grace, either by being left unacknowledged or dismissed out of hand, that complaint can sit in a client's mind for a long, long time. The result? A very bitter client and one that you can be sure will share their experience with friends, family, and other business owners.

If you receive a complaint from one of your clients then treat it as a priority. Acknowledge the receipt of the complaint in the first instance, empathise with their frustrations and politely ask the client when would be a convenient time for you to call them to help resolve the issue.

Never discuss complaints via email! Email neither conveys emotions or intent well, and your words within an email may be misinterpreted by your client. Always call or visit them instead.

Throughout the complaint process, acknowledge the client. Acknowledge how their complaint has affected their work. Acknowledge how their complaint has upset them. Acknowledge how you could have done a better job and what you and your business will learn from their valuable feedback. Acknowledgment is a powerful way to demonstrate that you are on the “same side” as the client – and to reduce adversarial pressure.

The receipt of any complaint is an opportunity for the company involved to listen, acknowledge and then help. If handled well, the complaint can be used to turn an irritated client into a raving fan, one who goes away and tells others how much you care about customer service.

Conclusion

Are you acknowledging your clients properly? For client support requests, this means acknowledging the receipt of the request and setting expectations for the next step appropriately.

For complaints from clients, this means acknowledging the issue, acknowledging the effect it has had on your client, and acknowledging that you are committed to helping your client get satisfaction.

As human beings, we need to be acknowledged. Failure to acknowledge that fact might mean trouble for your business.