In the same way retailers solicit customer feedback through a variety of channels, your managed services practice should look for new approaches to gathering feedback from your customers.
Like many MSPs, retailers are challenged with having to distinguish themselves from competitors primarily by fostering a positive customer experience. In fact, as recent Gartner research confirms, the customer experience is the new battlefield.
So, how do retailers improve the customer experience? The answer to this question is where MSPs need to pay close attention: It all starts with soliciting customer feedback. Think about the last time you made a purchase online or at a brick-and-mortar store. How did the merchant ask for your feedback on your shopping experience? Perhaps the cashier asked for your feedback and directed you to a URL on your receipt. Maybe you received an email from the merchant asking you to take a survey, or you may have gotten a phone call soliciting feedback on your recent purchase.
Similarly, an MSP’s ability to create a positive customer experience is directly linked to its success. And, the only way you can truly know that your customers are having a good experience is to follow the retail industry’s lead and solicit feedback.
3 Methods for Soliciting Customer Feedback
As an MSP, you obviously have a different kind of relationship with your customers than retailers have with theirs. And, while you’re not going to use receipts as a touch point for soliciting feedback, here are three other avenues you should consider:
- Face-to-Face Meetings. This is one of the most effective ways to know exactly where you stand with your customers. However, getting customers to commit an hour or more of their time to meet with you can be challenging. One way you can increase your success rate is by offering something of value in return. For example, you can invite a few key stakeholders to an informal luncheon. Since they need to eat lunch anyway--and you’ll be picking up the tab--it can feel like less of a time commitment than meeting at other times of the day.
- Digital Feedback. Some customers may be reluctant to share feedback with you directly, so it’s good to offer some digital options, too. Here are a few to try:
- Suggestions mailbox. Create a dedicated email account for feedback, and encourage customers to submit written feedback by mentioning the address in your emails.
- Feedback links. Including a special link on your website and with your email newsletters is another good way to capture customer feedback.
- Social media posts. Asking open-ended questions on your social media accounts is another way to trigger customer feedback. Even if you receive a negative response, following up in a timely fashion and offering to help the customer reflects well on your brand and could even help bring in new business.
- Surveys. Surveys allow you to ask specific questions about your products and services, and they can be especially effective at getting to the root cause of a customer who wants to cancel a service contract.
- Scheduled Calls. Regularly scheduled calls with your customers are a good complement to in-person quarterly business reviews, and they are a great way to keep the lines of communication open and to build trust.
Allowing your customers to communicate with you on their terms is key to receiving regular feedback, as is active listening, being open to suggestions and looking for creative solutions to solve the challenges your customers face.
A good way to begin incorporating the feedback you receive from your customers is to categorize and prioritize it. Don’t be easily swayed by every piece of feedback or suggestion you receive, though. Instead, acknowledge the feedback and look for trends. For example, positive feedback serves as an affirmation of the practices you should continue implementing, and it can even be a good source for testimonials that you can use in your marketing initiatives. But, don’t forget that negative feedback can be helpful to your business, as well, serving as a warning sign that a process isn’t working and needs to be addressed immediately.
At the end of the day, you will have customers who won’t speak up or share their feedback, while others might be willing to share how they think your business is doing on a regular basis. As an MSP or IT solution provider, your goal is to build relationships and provide your customers different opportunities to voice their opinions about your business. It is only then that you can ensure you are offering the best customer experience.
Jasmine Lombardi is Vice President of Partner Success for Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, a provider of backup and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where she currently leads the Partner Success team and manages all partner-facing functions for the organization.