Ready to take your MSP business to the next level in 2021? We like your vibe! Here are eight of the first steps you need, to get started strong with a new customer, putting best-practices front and center.
1. Collect vital information
Who is your new customer? Especially right now, when you may not be able to rush over and introduce yourself in person, it’s important to ask the right questions. Consider who you’re going to be dealing with on a day to day basis, as well as who the overall decision-makers are at the company. You might also want to ask for a list of third-party suppliers and vendors, especially if there are connected or cloud systems in play.
Think about where this customer works, and what devices they utilize. Are they office-only? Remote-first? Do they have a BYOD policy in place, or another office, warehouse, or facility elsewhere from HQ? According to Global Workforce Analytics experts, 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home at the end of 2021. Speak to your new customer about their plans, moving forward.
Here’s your chance to start strong and show the customer that you’re hands-on from day one, and you’re serious about supporting them with the right questions and practices in place.
2. Build a contract
Your contract is really important and will form the basis of how you work with this customer moving forward. A flexible contract is essential, offering you the ability to differentiate between different types of work, such as an out of hours service, or a third party service you’re providing.
You’ll also want to set up an SLA that works for both of you. Points to include are the amount of time for the first response, as well as resolution time for any issue that comes up. It can be really helpful to organize this by the severity of the incident, covering anything from a server issue or a crisis situation to low-impact challenges that can be scheduled into the next regularly scheduled maintenance efforts.
3. Onboard Atera!
Atera can really streamline onboarding a new customer, as so much is included in the one installation. As an all-in-one RMM and PSA, you’re deploying Remote Monitoring for support and troubleshooting, at the same time as Professional Services Automation for helpdesk and customer relationship management. This is one of the steps we always recommend our MSPs take to get firmly into the profit-making zone.
This can also be one of your first customer ‘wins’, as the innovative pricing model we use at Atera is seamlessly transferred to your own clients in turn. We only charge per technician, never by device, so your customers won’t have to pick and choose the most essential devices to protect or monitor. Instead, offer them a fixed price for staying on top of their entire network, even if new machines or devices join the party.
4. Perform a network discovery assessment
Of course, you need to know what’s under your purview, and this is where Network Discovery comes in. With a single click, a remote systems manager can get a full list of any and all devices that are connected to the network, even forgotten machines that the client themselves are unaware of. By setting this up to happen automatically and periodically, you’ll be able to stay on top of any changes to the network, including new endpoints, or changes to existing hardware.
This is also a powerful way to have a conversation about expectations when you get started with a new customer. If Network Discovery shows multiple end-of-life or legacy hardware devices, now’s the time to discuss minimum standards for your MSP services. From decommissioning existing equipment to making smart suggestions for replacements with minimal business impact – you’re already acting as a consultant with the customer’s best interests in mind.
5. …and don’t forget Security
Security should be one of the first conversations you have with a new customer. Here are just a few of the items to put on the agenda.
- Settings and configurations: From firewall configuration and user privileges to router settings, and server services, permissions and shares, loose or permissive policies could be opening the customer up to risk.
- Endpoint protection: Antivirus is just step one, but it’s an important one. Make sure your customer has virus and malware protection, as well as web filtering and monitoring for all endpoints.
- Phishing: Social engineering attacks have become much more sophisticated in recent years. Email and spam filtering should be set up on all devices, as well as intelligent user education in place to keep employees top of their game.
- Encryption and backup: Talk to your customer about the processes that you are going to put in place to keep their data secure. Don’t promise the earth! It’s best to be clear that cyber-attacks do happen, and your job is to protect, but also to prepare.
6. Install all necessary software
IT automation can be extremely powerful, and can certainly help you get set up intelligently with a new customer. Atera allows you to set up ‘software bundles’ to automate the installation of a wide variety of software for your customer endpoints, ensuring that all devices are optimized and streamlined for use. What used to take hours of manual and repetitive tasks can now be completed automatically, via either Chocolatey for Windows devices or Homebrew for Mac or Linux.
This is a great way of showing your customer that you know exactly what you’re doing, you’ve done these dozens of times before, and you’re ready to hit the ground running on their behalf.
Getting addicted to IT automation? Check out the top 25 scripts used by our own MSP community.
7. Set a plan of action
Now that you’ve done the basics, and have a full view of their IT infrastructure via your network discovery, you can create a roadmap that will explain to the customer the changes that they need to be aware of. This may not all need to happen overnight, so it’s worth splitting this into sections, for example – priority maintenance or immediate actions that are impacting the security or stability of the business, and then other less critical tasks such as retiring end-of-life software or hardware that you can put a time-frame on, such as the end of the quarter or the fiscal year.
Don’t forget to document and report on everything that you’re putting into place. Detailed documentation improves consistency and collaboration, stops you from becoming a single point of knowledge for any particular customer, and means fewer errors or duplicate conversations. Atera includes robust reporting and documentation features that make this process simple.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Many MSPs feel that they need to be completely invisible, but this is not the route to a successful MSP business, or too strong client relationships that stand the test of time. In contrast, the best relationships will come from regular, helpful communication that shows your customer the value you’re bringing, without overwhelming them with information.
While you may choose to keep the technical side of things between you and your employees, the business benefits should be shared with the customer at regular intervals, such as during a Quarterly Business Review. If you’ve shored up security defenses or added critical layers of data privacy – explain that you’ve improved the compliance posture of the organization. If you’ve improved software updates and patching, this is a conversation about business continuity and collaboration.
This final step is more of an ongoing strategy for business success, but putting the best practices in place from the start can help you to build the perfect foundation to build upon for you and your client.
Want to hear more about how Atera can help you, onboard clients, faster, and more successfully? Try it for yourself, with a free, zero-risk 30-day trial.