One of the recurring themes I hear when speaking to IT Solution Provider and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) is that while recruiting new customers is important, retaining existing customers is equally if not more important.
Think about it. It feels good to win a new customer, but how does it feel to lose an existing customer? Pretty awful.
Some customers are price conscious and leave for a cheaper option. But some customers leave because they feel they could get a better service elsewhere – and that really stings.
Retaining MSP customers
So how can you retain your MSP customers?
I was honoured to be asked by GFI Max to host a panel session on that very subject at the GFI Max UK Conference at Twickenham Stadium in October. Joining me were three very successful MSP’s who shared a very valuable insight with both myself and the audience into what great MSP’s do to retain customers.
Joining me were
- Jeremy Hemus, Infrastructure Director at GCC Innova Ltd.
- Dave Helm, Director at Blue Logic Computer Systemsw.
- Kyle Heath, IT Director at CSCM IT Solutions.
Interestingly, all three shared one common message in regards to how they retain their customers.
Don’t just be a great IT business, be a great business
That message was that it’s not enough to be a great IT business, you must be a great business full-stop.
That means creating a culture in which every touch-point with a client or prospective client delivers value. Appreciable value.
This doesn’t just mean offering a great IT Helpdesk function. As Dave Helms told me, Blue Logic realise that every interaction their employees have with customers emphasises their impression of how Blue Logic are as a business – from Admin and Finance to Customer Service to Account Management. All are equally important.
Here’s a 90 second video Dave kindly offered to record with me to explain further.
Maintaining the Relationship
As Dave says in his video, customer account management is important. This was re-iterated by Kyle Heath of CSCM who shared that maintaining the relationship with a customer was fundamental to his business.
The benefits of maintaining the relationship are two-fold.
- One – you’re reinforcing the belief of the customer in you, demonstrating that you are there to support the growth of their business as a trusted partner.
- Two – you’re listening. Listening to feedback. Listening to concerns. Listening to customers asking you to offer them additional services.
Many of us find it difficult to express frustrations or concerns with what we perceive to be poor or sub-standard service. Customers are no different. Sometimes, sadly, the first you get to hear of this is when the customer calls you in to end the relationship. By keeping in regular touch and listening to what the client is actually saying, you’ve got an opportunity to resolve issues before they escalate. As Kyle says in his video on regularly meeting with customers face-to-face “There’s nothing a good lunch can’t fix!”.
I didn’t realise you did that!
Listening to customers also highlights opportunities where you may not have expected to find them.
How many of us have neglected to keep in regular contact with a customer, and then finding out that a customer has gone ahead and purchased a new network printer, bought in a Cloud solution, or signed off on a new telephone system. When we speak to them we say “We could have done that for you!” and they offer the sadly all too familiar statement “I didn’t realise you did that”.
Ensuring you retain existing business *and* winning new business? That seems a no-brainer to me.
Many IT companies focus on finding new customers, but it’s absolutely clear that the best MSP’s (and indeed, the best businesses full stop) have built an internal culture of encouraging, listening to and valuing and feedback from their existing customers.
Does your business spend enough time talking to its existing customers?
If your answer is anything other than a categorical “yes”, do yourself a favour and commit to telephoning your top three customers this week and ask them “How are we doing?”.
Listen to the Panel Session now
You can listen to the audio recording of the “Growing Your Business and Retaining Your Customers” panel session on the GFI Max Customer Conference web-site.