Establishing trust is one of the most critical goals for a business. Decision makers develop long-term working relationships with people who make them feel comfortable and organizations that stand behind the products and services they offer. In a time when so many things can be procured, paid for, and delivered without human interactions, many companies overlook the value of personal connections and brand confidence.
The IT ecosystem has become a dynamic collection of devices, applications, delivery models and support options that require most businesses, especially SMBs, to leverage outside experts to manage. Trust is a critical factor in those relationships. Clients and prospects expect MSPs to align their product and services portfolios to address their specific needs and to customize solutions and support to fit their long-term goals best. Unfortunately, that approach can be costly for managed services firms, so the best option is to standardize and proactively upgrade clients whenever possible.
That may involve a long-term investment plan to improve their IT environments, making it easier for MSPs to manage and secure. A good way to make that happen is by adopting the same technologies in managed services businesses before rolling them out to their customers. That policy establishes the provider’s “gold standard” solution and encourages clients to upsell themselves.
An “eating your own dog food” approach has many benefits. First off, “beta testing” every device or application before offering it to the first client eliminates many headaches for MSPs. Delivering solutions to customers with all the potential issues addressed beforehand with documented support procedures instills confidence all around.
When clients see managed services providers are using the systems they recommend, implement and support, it simplifies the sale. They’ll feel confident knowing all the bugs have been worked out and everything will operate appropriately. Part of the trusted advisor experience is having confidence in the solutions MSPs deliver. Eating your own dog food elevates team members’ subject matter expertise and solidifies trust between clients and providers.
Innovating with Confidence
Business and delivery models are rapidly transitioning as providers respond to the continually changing needs of their customers. MSPs need to rethink their sales and support strategies to increase engagement with a growing number of decision-makers and end-users, as well as business owners and internal IT teams.
Cybersecurity, mobility, IoT and advanced communications applications like UCaaS are disruptors. With the trend towards work-from-home and hybrid environments, companies need innovative IT providers to support their expanding ecosystems.
Those dynamics make it harder for MSPs to build trust with their clients and prospects. With the tech procurement and support model turned upside down (or backward, sometimes), every channel company needs to rethink its value proposition and services portfolios. Despite all the changes, businesses need someone to support and secure the infrastructure and fulfill all their operational needs and compliance requirements.
Channel firms are stepping up to the challenges involved in these industry shifts. It isn’t easy to build trusting relationships with many dynamics in play today. Still, companies that can balance their specific customers’ needs with their own strengths have a better chance of succeeding. Demonstrating technologies that MSPs use to improve their own operations helps connect those dots.
For example, some providers build and optimize an IT ecosystem to manage their business, which also serves as the core of their sales portfolio. After “beta testing” and refining those devices and applications, MSPs can simplify and document the support processes their team members will use to roll out technologies to their clients and resolve any issues for end-users. Thoroughly vetted and tested, the “eat your own dog food” philosophy boosts customer and employee satisfaction.
What technologies fit under that umbrella? Here are a few of the critical core solutions MSPs use to boost their business success and implement for clients:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions
- Microsoft 365 or Google Business Suite
- Teams or Zoom
- Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
- Security Operations Center (SOC)
- Cybersecurity awareness training
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
- Wireless (and wired) networks
A Vertical Spin
Few MSPs use every technology they sell. Providers with specializations typically beta-test new solutions with one or more of their most loyal and best-supported customers, closely monitoring the results and collecting feedback from as many end-users as possible. A backup plan is essential if those potential new offerings fail to deliver, especially when MSPs cannot validate performance or viability in their own businesses.
When introducing untested solutions, especially the more complex or unique applications, the emphasis should always be on full disclosure. Clients are more likely to trust MSPs that constantly provide updates on the status of implementations and employee adoption.
If those tests go as planned, providers can confidently add the new solutions to their “trusted” portfolio.
Eating your own dog food is a good best practice for businesses in any industry. In the IT space, that approach helps elevate competence and confidence, reducing the time it takes to implement and support these solutions for clients. When everyone works with the same systems, life gets easier for everyone.