Jason Howells, EMEA Director of MSP Business at Barracuda MSP offers tips on boosting your customer service performance by improving these internal processes
In today’s world where competitors are never more than a click away, it’s always a good idea to be looking for new products and services to offer, as well as new ways to serve your customers. Sometimes, however, taking a critical look at your existing offerings and internal processes in order to deliver the best possible customer experience can yield significant long-term gains in customer loyalty and revenues.
Not sure where to start? Here are three tips to help move the needle on your market position and keep customers coming back for more:
Create attractive product and service bundles
Often, your customers most likely are not just looking for a singular software tool or hardware appliance. They want a complete offering that includes software, solutions, implementation services, and ongoing support from your experienced staff. That’s why they’re engaging with a VAR instead of visiting a computer store.
Create IT and business solution bundles, and make sure you convey the value that your company adds through those offerings. You’ll want to identify areas where your company excels, such as support or deployment, and play to your strengths when packaging these solutions.
Evaluate your current client base and see which combination of products they are currently using – are they missing essential products that you carry? Is someone else supplying them? Can you package those items in a way that can be combined with a long-term service contract? All too often, customers believe they are completely protected – even if they aren’t.
Take some time to review each customers’ contract to ensure they are getting all the services they need. For example, do they have a backup plan in place, or a firewall? Are they in need of security awareness training? By finding out where there are gaps, and where you can help customers proactively protect their business to avoid an incident down the road.
Simplify your portfolio
While you’re reviewing the full scope of your product and service offerings, look at how many different products or vendors you are supporting in the same category.
If you work with too many vendors, it can be difficult to fully benefit from the support and value-adds they offer. Most suppliers have training programs, marketing support, and other useful tools. If you’re busy trying to keep track of the details of too many different products, you might miss out on some of the other benefits available to you from each vendor.
When thinking about customer loyalty, making recommendations on a tighter set of offerings can be a better long-term strategy than simply trying to sell everything to everybody. You may lose some interest from fringe brand loyalists, but that will be off-set by building your reputation as a trusted technology advisor and the long-term customer relationships that will result.
Streamlining your product offering can also help you train your technicians on installation and support more easily. If their expertise runs a mile wide, but only an inch deep, they may struggle to support customers effectively.
Your customers will soon know if you are in over your head when it comes to juggling the requirements of too many products. Choose a set of solutions that offer the best support and value-added services, and gradually transition your clients to those products.
With a consolidated, more manageable set of solutions (and vendor relationships to manage), it will be easier to establish consistent processes and procedures that can be duplicated across your customer base.
Improve your communication
Pay close attention to the questions your customers are asking you, and the concerns they are raising in conversations with your sales and support team. Odds are, many customers may have similar questions, while for others, the same issues may be lying in wait just around the corner.
Consolidate this insightful information and be proactive about sharing it in many different ways. For example, you can establish a FAQ page on your website, add live chat to your support pages, or publish the information in your monthly newsletter. There are a variety of communication channels to convey this information, and VARs should leverage technology to keep customers informed while continuing to build their brand in the process.
Live webinars are an excellent outlet to help teach customers about new functionality in the products they are using or to help them understand new updates and features. They can also be helpful in getting multiple customers up to speed or on-boarded simultaneously.
If you have the time and resources, a podcast can also be a valuable customer communication tool. Many executives already listen to podcasts during their business travel and commute. A podcast could be used to provide more information on security threats, new technology concepts, or new products.
By streamlining your product portfolio and creating attractive product/service bundles, you can help simplify your support requirements, provide better service to your customers, and build your reputation as a trusted advisor. A multi-pronged and proactive approach to customer communication can also reduce support calls and keep customers educated about their own technology needs.
Improving the customer experience means your company is more likely top-of-mind when it’s time to buy plus it’s one of the only ways to influence those invaluable word-of-mouth referrals that are always the best quality new business leads of all.
Pictured: Jason Howells, EMEA Director of MSP Business at Barracuda MSP