How To Successfully Transition Your MSP Prospects To Serviceable Customers
When a customer approves your quote, you are now officially on the hook for living up to the expectations that you have been setting throughout your sales funnel. You might be able to taste the thrill of victory at this point, but don’t celebrate just yet. This is the part of the process where MSPs are most likely to “rest on their laurels” and the lack of attention allows things to fall through the cracks. The bottom line is, you need to successfully on-board the customer and transition them to a serviceable customer before your sale is complete. A task that is easier said than done.
When evaluating our own MSP, we found this to be one of our weakest points of operation and one that required a significant amount of attention before we could grow. It seamed as though the serviceability and profitability of a new contract had a direct correlation to how successful our on-boarding was for that customer. The customers that were rushed on-board were more difficult to support and thus racked up labor costs as our Help Desk was constantly discovering new information. At the same time, this also frustrated the customer because what seemed like a routine issue to them, would take significantly longer to resolve than it should have.
We always had a grand idea of automating the entire on-boarding process and utilizing network discovery tools to aid in the process. However, in a moment of clarity we realized that the real problem was not a lack of tools in our tool box, but simply the lack of attention. We over-valued the sales process and as soon as a deal was one, we were on to the next, leaving our newest customer in a purgatory-like state.
We knew we had to get this right before our company could grow. Here are few things that we learned throughout this process that will help tighten up your transition process from prospect to customer:
Explain the on-boarding process during your quote review.
The best time to familiarize your prospect with the on-boarding process is during your quote review. This way they have a clear understanding of what will happen immediately after they approve the quote and you can begin to clear away any doubts or fears they may have regarding the transition. By walking them through the process step-by-step they will feel comfort in the fact that you have a clear plan of action and have done this seamlessly many times before. Create a one page document attached to your quote that briefly explains the process, this way they can reference it whenever needed and better prepare their company for a successful transition.
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Dedicate & introduce an On-boarding Specialist.
No matter the size of your company, always look to dedicate someone to captain the on-boarding process. This individual would be responsible for collecting necessary data, scheduling initial projects, and managing the overall cut-over. When the sales team passes a client to your service team, there can be a void in responsibility that is ultimately what causes most on-boarding issues. By having someone that is responsible for overlapping both departments, you have a clear point of accountability to ensure the hand-off is made seamlessly and the customer doesn’t second-guess their decision to hire you.
Formalize the data collection & discovery process.
While no two customer environments are the same, there should be a static list of information that you will always need to service a customer. This includes items such as logins for network devices, IP information, or port configurations. Discovering this “on the fly” makes it difficult on your service desk and increases the amount of time it takes for them to complete tickets. This will eventually affect all of your customers as your team becomes less accessible and tickets start to pile up. Using network discovery tools and proactively gathering every piece of documentation you will eventually need will allow you to better service all of your clients and increase the availability of your help desk.
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Maintain an internal checklist.
To ensure that nothing gets missed throughout the on-boarding process, always keep a checklist of necessary requirements and check them off as you go. While different individuals might be completing various tasks, your on-boarding specialist should always be responsible for constantly assessing what has been completed and what is still left to do. If you use a documentation platform, this is the perfect place to keep this document and ensure that everyone has real-time access to the most up-to-date version.
Have a clear goal of completion.
If an on-boarding checklist is incomplete, it signifies that the customer has not been fully on-boarded and there are still tasks left to complete. Approach on-boarding as if it were a binary concept; either the customer is on-boarded or they aren’t. If you just on-board the customer “enough” to service them and then brush the rest aside, it will inevitably cause issues down the road. This is also why setting a date for completion is important for accountability. If your goal completion date comes and goes, set a new date and attempt to hold yourself to it.