The IT industry moves fast; one of the only constants is change. The most successful managed services providers (MSPs) will be the ones who can adapt to these changes. Whether that involves offering new services to stand out or enhancing the deployment of those services, you may need to tweak some of the ways you do business to meet these new challenges.
Today, I want to talk about three strategies that can help you meet some of the key challenges your potential customers face. These can help you not only attract new customers, but keep them much longer.
Offer more thorough cybersecurity services
Cybercrime is rampant, and unfortunately, everyone’s a target—including your prospective (and existing) customers. Cybercriminals—both experienced hackers with deep programming knowledge and script kiddies using free tools from the dark web—have increasingly targeted small- to midsized businesses (SMBs). Sadly, SMBs have a smaller financial cushion available to survive a data breach.
Like it or not, security is part of your job now. If you want to attract more customers, and keep the ones you have, you’ll have to offer robust security services to your clients. Beyond that, the minimum viable security stack you need to offer has grown. You still need essentials, like automated patch management to close vulnerabilities, email security to prevent email-borne attacks, and backup to prevent data loss after an attack (especially ransomware).
But if you’re offering traditional antivirus, you’ll want to go a step further with advanced endpoint protection. Traditional AV focuses on signature-based defenses, but endpoint protection goes further. For example, SolarWinds® Endpoint Detection and Response, powered by SentinelOne®, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to look for malicious behaviors at the endpoint level that antivirus traditionally won’t catch. Beyond that, SolarWinds EDR can take steps on your behalf to contain threats and roll back the endpoint to a known healthy state.
Monitor the end-user experience
Customers may buy services based on a need, but they keep paying based on the strength of the user experience; providing a seamless one for your customers helps keep them loyal and paying.
As businesses increasingly move to cloud services, you have less control over the end-user experience. Yet, from a customer’s point of view, if their cloud-based spreadsheet program or customer resource management (CRM) system either runs slowly or won’t run at all, it’s the MSP’s fault.
To deal with this, MSPs need to start monitoring what’s on the network in addition to the performance of apps and services in the cloud. SolarWinds MSP offers this via NetPath™, a feature available in both SolarWinds RMM and SolarWinds N-central®. NetPath displays where slowdowns might occur, both under your managed network and in cloud services. If a critical cloud service suffers an outage, you can notify the user ahead of time and call the provider for updates. It’s always better to keep customers in the loop rather than appearing ignorant.
NetPath also works as a diagnostic tool; for example, let’s say a customer has one or more employees working from home. They can’t access a cloud service needed to do their job. You can use the network monitoring capabilities of NetPath to diagnose where the slowdown occurs—whether it’s the cloud service, an issue with the employee’s home network, or problems with their work laptop. The last thing you want is to fall short of your promised uptime levels due to an undiagnosed yet fixable issue.
As more of the infrastructure moves into the cloud, the user experience becomes a critical factor both in winning deals and keeping customers for the long haul. That requires solid network monitoring as part of your service offerings—and NetPath can help.
Automation can offer a major competitive edge to MSPs; helping deliver services to customers in a cost-effective manner, win deals more easily, and expand your service portfolio without overburdening your existing staff.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. As mentioned before, the customer experience is paramount for keeping customers and building a reputation that earns word-of-mouth referrals. Automation helps here, too. As the industry continues maturing, MSPs will have to focus on more proactive work for their clients. Automation not only lets you tackle your routine tasks much faster (often before customers even notice), it helps improve consistency and overall quality. Beyond that, many remote monitoring and management platforms, like SolarWinds N-central, offer the ability to set up self-healing to automatically fix issues when they arise. This proactive response helps you keep your customers’ systems running and their employees productive.
Remember, automation isn’t just about efficiency—it can be a differentiator that helps you win the war against your competition.
As the IT industry continues changing, MSPs will need to adapt just as fast. Whether that’s updating your security offerings, monitoring the user experience both inside and outside the corporate network, or implementing automation to allow for faster, better service delivery, MSPs that rise to the challenge will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.