With the sales process successfully complete (see Part 1 of this series, Making the Sale, your new customer is probably excited to see your expertise in action. Successful and accurate onboarding is critical, so now is the time to double down on delivering a positive experience.
Manage Expectations from Day 1
Author: Kendrics Hawkins, director of product onboarding, Liongard
Onboarding can have its challenges, so painting a rosy picture of the process is unrealistic and can deflate the customers’ enthusiasm. MSP experts agree that communicating realistic expectations from the very beginning is the best way to go.
“For the first 30 days, I try to set the expectation very low, because we are realistically inheriting legacy issues,” says Lawrence Guyot of ETTE, Inc. “But, if you say, ‘Oh, from Day 1, we’ve got you. Life will be better tomorrow,’ you’re bound to fail, because it’s impossible to do.”
Allan Jocson of Intelitec reiterates, “We try to set the appropriate expectations that, ‘Hey, not everything is going to be hunky-dory on Day 1. Sometimes things may be a bit of a challenge for the first few weeks.’ So, the more that you set proper expectations upfront, the happier the client will inevitably be.”
Along with this “under promise, over deliver” mindset, MSPs should set the tone by presenting new customers with a professional onboarding document.
“Whenever we onboard a new customer,” Aaron Huff of Ergos Technology Partners explains, “part of the packet of information that we give shows the Ergos team.” It provides a photo, cell phone number and email for everybody from the president, the CTO and the vice president of operations, to the operations manager for their field staff and the manager for the help desk. A document like this goes a long way to show your client that there really is a team of experts ready to support their company.
It’s also essential to ingratiate your company and its plans with your client’s existing IT team, if they have one.
“We augment IT departments now,” says Robert Bracey of Quartet Services. “We used to compete with them, now we augment them. And since we’ve changed that perspective, it’s been way less stressful for everybody.”
Invest Upfront in Satisfaction
It may take a little investment at the front end to provide a smooth onboarding process that everyone—your client and your team—will be satisfied with. But, it will be time and money well spent for a positive long-term relationship.
Jocson says that the best way to achieve a smooth handoff from one MSP to another is for the client to pay for a one-month overlap of service during the transition.
George Bardissi, of bvoip, points out that while satisfying the customer, it’s important not to lose sight of your own team’s satisfaction.
“You need the right people to understand how to get the job done—and, of course, you need to do all of this in short order. There are a lot of frustrated people out there [working at MSPs] who feel like they’re working too much. Well, here’s the deal. If your employees are upset, then your customers calling in are going to feel it.”
One way to combat employee dissatisfaction is to continue offering your team challenging work. Liongard Roar automates so much of the manual tasks that often bog down skilled IT workers, freeing up their time to come up with creative solutions to complex problems and push customer satisfaction forward.
With expectations set and special attention given to satisfaction on both sides of the relationship, the onboarding process can begin.
The critical step of onboarding should be a thorough yet efficient affair, as it sets the foundation for all other service and support you’ll provide.
“Preparation is key for everything,” Jocson summarizes. “That’s what onboarding is—preparing to be able to support this company as if you were their internal IT department. So, that certainly is not a quick process, or shouldn’t be.”
How well or how poorly you complete the onboarding process can affect both the customer journey and your company’s bottom line.
“If you don’t do the onboarding right, your time burn over the course of that account will surpass the ROI that you expected to get,” Bardissi points out. “If you wing it, and you Band-Aid it, then you’ll always be running after your tail. You’ll never know what’s happening, and you’ll spend four times the amount of effort every time something needs to get done. It’ll become a disaster. You’ll be negative in profitability.”
“We signed up a client of the summer in 2017,” recalls Will Young of CCS Technology Group, LLC. “We had a tech out there for over a week and still didn’t get everything we needed. To put it into perspective, once we signed up for Liongard, it took me two weeks to get all of our clients fully onboarded with updated information. My boss says I saved us thousands of hours, and he’s probably right.”
Incorporating Liongard Roar into the onboarding process couldn’t be easier. “To give a very high level of how we approach things,” explains Guyot, “we want to get credentials first, we want to do basic hygiene cleanup, and then we want to start collecting our own documentation via Liongard.”
“We fell in love with Liongard at first sight,” he continues. “When we did the first agent install, and we collected the data, it was just like, ‘Oh my God. This is wonderful.’ It’s fundamentally changed our documentation. Instead of saying, ‘This is how we can get the data…’ now, we actually have the data. It’s been really, really nice.”
Once you have the initial data, you’re ready for possibly the most important aspect of the customer journey: service and support. Look for Part 3 of our series in coming days for insights from experts on how to ace that phase of the journey.
We’ve interviewed several key players at Managed Service Providers across the nation to discover how MSPs can provide an exceptional customer journey—from sales and onboarding, through service, support and account management. Discover their insights and experiences, as well as how Liongard Roar can help improve processes every step of the customer journey, in this four-part series. Then, download our e-book for more ways to provide an exceptional customer experience.
Author Kendrics Hawkins is Director of Product Onboarding at Liongard. Read more Liongard guest blogs here.