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Where MSPs go wrong with Customer Feedback – TubbTalk18

Richard speaks to Brad Benner, founder of Berlin-based SmileBack on how MSPs can improve their customer feedback.

An interview with Brad Benner

Where MSPs go wrong with Customer Feedback - TubbTalk18About Brad Benner

Brad Benner is the founder of SmileBack, based in Berlin, Germany. A client service experience product, users say it helps them build better relationships with customers and set value-based prices and it’s used by over 600 IT providers around the world.

Brad sold his Managed Service Provider (MSP) business in Seattle and founded SmileBack on the basis that customer service is the only sustainable competitive advantage to grow revenue.

Why Brad set up SmileBack

Brad explained that he was inspired by his own experiences as a small business owner, and his attempts to understand his clients better. One experience really affected him: a company decided to part ways with his MSP and he was distraught that he’d done something wrong and should have done better.

This was pivotal, because he realised he hadn’t paid enough attention to the customer journey, and issues had built up over time without him knowing about them.

Looking for clues in the regular customer feedback questionnaires they sent out, it became obvious that the surveys themselves were part of the problem. Brad concluded that this was an issue other companies were having too and made it his mission to find a solution to improve customer response rates.

Why SmileBack is Different

SmileBack is designed primarily to improve feedback response rates, and the platform uses a simple but clever design to do this: they don’t use the word ‘survey’ and let respondents click on smiley faces to answer basic questions about business performance.

As the brain processes these in the same way as a human face, there’s little effort from the end user, who simply chooses the face that matches their satisfaction level. Using this method, SmileBack customers get an average 39.1% response rate, sometimes up to 65%. Traditional ways of gathering data give a response of between 1 and 5%.

Where Businesses go Wrong with Customer Feedback

Brad says that while MSPs believe they’re giving good service, they don’t listen to clients or actively measure satisfaction. They need to be able to back up their claims. The customer journey starts much sooner than companies realise, and they need to acknowledge this.

The feedback system MSPs have in place tends not to work – either they don’t get replies to their surveys, or if they do they don’t have a practical way to analyse the results and identify ways to improve their processes.

Statistically, a customer complains one out of every 20 occasions when they’re not happy, but while they might complain to their friends, the MSP is none the wiser. Having a system in place allows the business owner to address problems, turn the situation around and make the customer satisfied. I’ve written before about the difference in responding and reacting to angry customers.

It can be hard to hear negative feedback, but it really gives MSPs the opportunity to fix problems. And Brad adds: “Most of the responses are positive and appreciative. When there’s criticism, being aware of it means the MSP can address it immediately and not lose a customer.”

'When there’s criticism, being aware of it means the MSP can address it immediately and not lose a customer.' Click to Tweet

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Richard Tubb

I help IT companies grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. My clients are business owners of small to medium sized IT firms. at Tubblog
I help IT business owner's to free up their time, concentrate on what is important, and build a business that can run without them.


  1. Interesting subject and I agree that the only really competitive advantage a MSP has is in customer care. It can also be very difficult to get very techie engineers to empathise with the customer and see things from their side.
    I’ve also come to the conclusion that, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never please everyone…mistakes happen, things take longer than expected, you can’t control everything and some folk are just never happy!
    As a MSP owner, it’s my job to deal with the negative feedback but one must always remember to look at the jobs well done too.

    • Paul — you make a fantastic point. Too often MSPs (and any business) are quick to respond to complaints but don’t take the time to acknowledge positive feedback nearly as thoroughly. Both are important!

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