Until very recently I was your client: the VP of Marketing for a business consulting firm where I doubled as the in-house IT. It was my job to bring on MSPs who could solve the bigger problems within our infrastructure. This included two complete office moves involving all new cat-6 cabling in newly built offices, new servers, new backup, migration to MSFT Server 2008, a switch to hosted exchange, and much more. For one reason or another we went through 3 MSPs in less than 5 years. It took some time to find that perfect MSP, but once we did we became an instant source of referrals.
Here are 5 things this MSP did really well that made us loyal customers:
1. We had less downtime
When our phones, internet, file server, network, or SaaS applications are down, we couldn’t work. This is the number one thing we do not want to happen and the only way it happens is through negligence, not having a Plan B, or an accident.
Great MSPs can explain why we’re down in plain english, and don’t blame the failure on us for not knowing enough about our IT infrastructure. A great MSP understands we’re a small business and everyone is doing 10 things. I was offered a simple solution to get back up, fast. Even better, they provided me with a plan for how to avoid these things in the future. I loved hearing about redundancy scenarios, it felt like I was saving the business money before anything actually happened.
2. They kept us in the loop
Great providers discussed changes with me before making them. Sometimes seemingly minor changes have major consequences. If my MSP tells me something big is going to happen, and I can think of any reason why that might adversely affect our day-to-day operations, then I’m glad I was told before something just “happened.”
There was peace of mind knowing that there’s nothing major going on behind the scenes without my knowledge, and our MSP showed that they were considering the possible workflow impact of changes made. The side benefit for the MSP is that they’ve absolved themselves of blame -- at that point it’s something we agreed to work on together.
3. Things were fixed before they broke
A great MSP is like a great doctor; you’re monitoring our health and thinking holistically about what I’m trying to get done. Whenever our MSP was updating the server, or performing regular system maintenance, they would provide us with “things to be aware of” - completely outside of what he was there to do. That kind of check up gave me the freedom to worry less about the things the MSP said they were monitoring.
Weekly reporting helped, too. We are very analytical about things like website uptime, latency, and general speed of productivity. The reports they were able to create through monitoring and site visits were remarkable and allowed us to make data-driven decisions about the business. This kind of insight and thoughtful attitude towards our business changed the way we perceived an MSP. Consequently we sought out more solutions through them.
4. They went beyond a “fix”
Being kept up-to-date on the latest and greatest can help us move the business forward. Solutions that give us a competitive edge, save us money, or otherwise move the hassle of IT off of our plate is preferable to just “fixing the glitch.”
Small businesses are typically against large capital expenditures. The ability to scale quickly with solutions that keep us lightweight are attractive ones. Even something as simple as moving to a hosted Exchange solution will drastically change our infrastructure if we’re currently relying on a SBS 2003 (no fun at all).
5. We were given simple explanations to complex IT problems
The technical intricacies of an error are usually lost on small business people. There’s generally more pressing matters we’re obsessing about. So the more digestible an MSP can make that explanation, the better. We were always impressed by our MSP’s ability to distill something highly technical into something we could wrap our biz-dev brains around.
There’s a degree of comfort and familiarity when working with MSPs that understand our level of technical know-how. The more digestible that information is, the more likely I am to adopt whatever it is you’re suggesting.
At the end of the day, we don’t want to switch MSPs. It’s a pain to ask around, read reviews, set up appointments and listen to the sales pitches. So that means we’ll suffer through a lot of pain before saying good-bye. That said, a proactive, intelligence-driven, and quick-to-action MSP that is personable, but doesn’t outstay their welcome will retain existing clients and be referred more new ones over time.
— This guest article was contributed by Matt Harding - Business Consultant