December 14, 2021

Perfecting the Customer Onboarding Experience for MSPs

Perfecting the Customer Onboarding Experience for MSPs

Onboarding is an in-depth process that sets the stage for relationships with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and their customers. Perfecting the onboarding experience will give customers the confidence that choosing an MSP to manage their IT was, and is the best choice. A poor first impression can damage credibility, so it’s vital to have a solid plan in place.

Everything, from the time the contracts are signed to the time the services go live, falls under the onboarding process. Onboarding a new customer is exciting, however, it is also quite challenging. You can’t take shortcuts. Onboarding can take a couple of hours, up to days, weeks, or even months. On average, an MSP can spend forty to eighty hours entering information manually from existing systems and databases to onboard a new customer.

Every customer is unique and has specific needs and challenges, so there is not just one precise process for onboarding. However, a systematic approach can save a lot of time and trouble, plus prevent many costly errors.

1. Make a Checklist to Standardize the Onboarding Process

Gather Details About the Customer

Since every customer is unique, begin creating an MSP onboarding checklist by eliminating the unknowns. Gather basic company details, as well as the technical infrastructure they are using. Assess the information to understand what the customer needs. This information will be very useful when drafting the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Create the Service Level Agreement

Managed services are dynamic and a standard contract can’t be used with each customer. Instead, compose a unique, comprehensive service level agreement for each customer based on their specific needs. However, it is not a good idea to draft the entire contract on your own. It is best to hire a legal professional.

Acquaint the Customer With the Team

Once the service level agreement is signed, the new customer is onboard. Now is a good time to make the customer feel welcome. Some team members will work directly with the customer, so developing a bond from the start will benefit both the team and the customer in the future.

Embedding Networks

Embed the customer’s existing network infrastructure with the MSP system. This way, a framework can be set up to make the most of managed services, as well as monitor the customer’s network.

Implement Remote Monitoring and Management

At this stage of the onboarding process, implement remote monitoring software and the systems needed for remote services. Remote monitoring enables offsite access to the customer’s network and infrastructure, which allows MSPs to service the system without a physical visit to the site.

Train Employees

Customers will likely already have an in-house team who have experience with the company’s infrastructure. However, MSPs should familiarize the customers with any new tools or procedures.

Launch the Services

Once everything is set up to the customer’s satisfaction, it is time to launch and go live. Remind the customer that the terms of the contract are now applicable.

2. Find Check-In Frequency

Ask new customers about a preferred check-in style and frequency. After the onboarding process is complete, the relationship is fresh so it’s important to avoid misunderstandings or misaligned expectations. To accomplish this, complete periodic process reviews – maybe monthly for at least the first few months of the contract. This review provides the opportunity to identify concerns and prevent problems.

3. Personalize

Each customer is unique and has unique needs, so it is important to figure out what the customer is most interested in. A personalized experience is key to creating a more successful, engaging working relationship. Understand a customer’s goals and create a system that will help them achieve these goals.

4. Automate

Once check-ins and personalization are established, IT automation can be used during many of the steps in the onboarding process to decrease costs and cut out human errors. Some of the most common and best items to automate include:

Training

If your internal processes include a training portion of your platform, training modules can often be automated. 

Diagnostics

Automating initial and regularly-scheduled diagnostics saves time and energy. 

Preventative Maintenance

Firmware updates, security updates, and similar maintenance can all be automated for best efficiency. 

Cloud

Automation greatly increases speed surrounding any cloud integrations, updates, and additions to cloud environments. 

Routines

Routines like billing, software deployment, and reporting can all be automated to go out based on the personalization, check-in frequency, and SLAs set with the customer. 

See how global MSP Sogeti used automation to reduce customer onboarding time by 90%

5. Create Role-Based Access Controls

Instead of allowing everyone on the network access to sensitive information, provide only enough access to allow the MSP team and the customer’s team to perform their jobs. This increases security and helps to streamline each employee’s role and responsibilities for maximum efficiency.

It’s also important to implement an identity and access management (IAM) framework. This is a policy and technology outline that helps to ensure only authorized people can access certain information. As an MSP, the use of an IAM framework helps prevent customers’ sensitive data from being exposed to potential vulnerabilities. In some cases, this can mean some of the MSPs access is also restricted.

Since an MSP has access to a significant amount of sensitive data, this makes it vital for the customer to be able to trust the MSP to protect data from cybersecurity risks.

6. Address Sales Concerns Immediately

Understandably, new customers have concerns about signing with a new MSP. These concerns need to be addressed immediately to prevent future complications. For example, if a customer was concerned during the sales process about authentication, make a point of addressing these concerns and provide proof that the authentication process fulfills their needs.

An MSP must think out-of-the-box and create solutions that bridge various gaps, provide a wide range of services, and develop connectivity offerings. This strategic thinking sets MSPs apart from the competition and improves their reputation in the industry.

Customers may be concerned about the cost of services. This can be a tricky point because MSPs want to offer the best price possible without shooting themselves in the foot. Find a balance between the value of the service and a price the customer can afford.

Many companies are afraid of leaving legacy infrastructure and systems. No matter how much technology can improve the way a company operates, some people are afraid to upgrade their hardware and applications, especially when budgets are tight. However, even though legacy systems are prone to vulnerabilities and security concerns, customers may still be hesitant to upgrade when they think the old system is “perfectly fine.” Address this concern by explaining the specific security vulnerabilities and potential threats they could face with the old system. Offer services and security measures in addition to regulatory compliance assurances.

7. Offer a Transparent Service Level Agreement

A service level agreement (SLA) is a binding contract between an MSP and a customer that identifies both the services required and the expected level of service. This agreement should be customized for each customer to ensure the customer’s needs are met, while still keeping the MSP protected. The contract should be clear, concise, and transparent. Set high standards for yourself, be fair, but don’t let the customer take advantage of you.

8. Help Desk Support

The help desk support team should go above and beyond the call of duty. Help desk support specialists are often the first point of contact when a customer has a problem or issue. They are the go-to people for technical assistance and support related to computer systems, hardware, and software. They must handle situations in a timely and professional manner. The help desk support team is typically responsible for the onboarding of new users.

9. Use Multiple Passwords

Create a simple guide to help customers deal with any problems they may have remembering passwords or keeping passwords safe. Password security is vital to protecting sensitive data.

10. Templatize and Monetize!

Templates can be used with virtual images to create systematic templatized software environments. With virtual images, you can templatize the configuration of software environments. Templatized software environments will not sacrifice flexibility or lead to unsustainable virtual image proliferation.

Monetization allows you to turn a non-revenue-generating item into cash. Monetization can provide opportunities to create income from a variety of sources, such as embedded ads.

Conclusion

By following a clear and actionable onboarding process, all that is left for the MSP is to maintain great services and customer relations. When executed properly, that shouldn’t be difficult at all. Establish trust and strong ties from the start and the rest should flow along easily.