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Client review meetings a must for MSPs

Managed service providers rely on automation to deliver services profitably, but they can’t maintain client relationships entirely on a remote basis.

Indeed, Mark Shaw, president of StoredTech, an IT service and support company based in the Glens Falls, N.Y. area, advises service providers to schedule regular client review meetings with customers. While MSPs may argue clients pay them so they don’t have to see them, Shaw contends that face-to-face account meetings are a must.

“They really do need to see you,” he told a service provider audience at the recent Autotask Community Live conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Client review meetings benefit MSPs in a few ways. First, they let the service provider demonstrate the value it provides. That value may not be evident to the customer if the MSP is doing a good job and the customer’s systems are available and performing well. While clients are painfully aware when IT problems occur, they may not necessarily recognize the service provider’s role in making things run smoothly.

But service providers can show clients what’s going on behind the scenes. Shaw said MSPs should arrive at the review meeting with data on how the client uses its services. He said Autotask provides Excel-linked workbooks that provide insight into who at the customer site opens the most tickets and which particular devices are generating the most support activity.

“When you are armed with data, your clients are going to be more likely to hear you out,” Shaw said. “They don’t realize how much they are really utilizing your services.”

Another reason to set up client review meetings: To find out what customers really think about you. Customer satisfaction surveys may give you a passing grade, yet an account could be in jeopardy without the service provider even knowing it, Shaw said. A face-to-face meeting can shed light on any issues and give an MSP a chance to retain the customer.

A review meeting can not only keep your clients onboard, it can also lead to business. Shaw said his company uncovers net-new opportunities in 90%-plus of the review meetings it conducts.

Finally, the account review session provides an opportunity to ask the client for referrals. Shaw said service providers should always ask customers if they know of anyone else who could use their services. This tactic can help a service provider make additional inroads within a particular vertical market.
So, while the behind-the-scenes approach has its place in managed services, an MSP’s account health and business growth can benefit from some on-site visits.