Feeling blue that a customer has given you notice as their IT provider, or starting to feel conflict during your Quarterly Business Reviews or interactions with your clients? Losing customers can be a huge hit to morale, and leave you with gaps in your income stream that make it tough to keep technicians onboard or grow your business further.
In this article, we’ll look at the top reasons why clients leave their MSP or IT service provider, and talk about some top tips for changing the tide.
Why do customers leave their IT provider?
First, you want to get into the headspace of your clients. Why aren’t they happy with your service? In some cases, it will be a big incident – like a security breach where they were left unprepared and lost valuable data or experienced downtime. In this case, they might feel like they can’t trust you as a vendor. In fact, businesses can lose half of their customers after a data breach.
In other cases, there is a slow erosion of the relationship, where customers don’t feel like they’re getting what they need from you. Perhaps you started out with a great response and resolution time of under 12 hours, and now it’s taking you a day or more to respond to tickets. The business might feel like they’ve outgrown what you can provide, if for example they are moving to the cloud and you don’t have a cloud technician or architect on the team.
Top tips for winning customers back
Whatever the reason for the customer’s unhappiness, it’s not up to them as your client to try to fix the relationship, that ball remains firmly in your court. Retaining clients is a much easier prospect than finding new ones, so if you want to pull a customer back when they are one foot out of the door, here are some ideas for making that happen.
It might sound obvious, but ask your customer how they are feeling! If up until now you felt that things were going well, something might be happening behind the scenes. Have they been approached by another MSP or IT service provider who is undercutting your prices or has promised them something specific? Are they unhappy about a specific incident that might have occurred with a technician without you being aware? You can’t fix what you don’t know about – so encourage your customers to be honest and upfront with you. If they see that you are upset or angry, it’s much less likely that they will open up, so make sure to remain calm and professional at all times.
Even if you can’t convince a customer to stay, make sure you have an offboarding process in place where you can ask questions and get the business to rate your service on vital metrics from response time to friendliness of support. This can help you to improve processes and communication internally so that other customers don’t experience the same problems.
Extend your service offering
As an MSP, it’s so important to keep your finger on the pulse of the IT industry. If your clients are looking elsewhere because you aren’t offering the right feature set, you need to think about whether you should be. For example, do they want an MSP who has more robust security tools? This is a reasonable expectation from an IT services provider, and the chances are if you don’t add some security technologies to your toolbelt, you will soon find yourself being left behind. The same is true with other growing trends such as the ability to support remote working norms, or the growth in cloud services.
If however, your client is looking for an MSP who can support IoT device management, for example, as they expand into a new area of business, they may well need a different provider. It would likely be disproportionately expensive for you to support IoT if you only have one client with that need.
If something happened in the past, and you’ve used the opportunity to improve and grow – let your ex-clients know! If security was always a problem, and you’ve minimized risks, send a personal email and make sure they know you are stronger and more secure than ever.
The same is true with any other problem you’ve solved. Does your business now offer new features that didn’t exist back when they were a client? Spread the word! Do you now have local technicians in their area? Give them a heads up. For all you know, your old clients are unhappy with their new IT support, and would be glad to move back to you now that you’ve taken feedback and experience on board and made a change.
Move to a managed service approach
In some cases, it’s not that a customer has left because of any particular incident or bad feeling. Instead, they traditionally called on your services when something went wrong, and then somewhere along the line, employees left the company, or other contractors were called upon to perform the tasks that would once upon a time have been yours. This is one of the greatest challenges of relying on a break/fix approach, where an MSP business has to wait for a customer to pick up the phone and let them know that something has gone wrong.
One of the best ways to retain customers is to create a contract with them for managed services. With this approach you can ensure that you’re always retained for a certain amount of work each month, and that you have a continuous relationship with the business and key stakeholders. If your original contact leaves, there will be a handover process so that the value of your services can be communicated to the new hire. You’ll also get a lot more control over what you can provide, ensuring security best practices and optimization of the IT environment so that your customers are happier from day one. And happy customers don’t walk out the door.