Customer service is vital for all businesses, and managed service providers (MSPs) are no exception.

So how can MSPs deliver world-class customer service? Brainhunter CEO John Mehrmann offered tips to help service providers keep their customers happy during a presentation yesterday at CompTIA's ChannelCon 2014 in Phoenix. 

Mehrmann provided tips relating to various customer service topics, including:

  • Appearance
  • Active listening
  • Building credibility with customers
  • Maintaining consistent communication with customers
  • Taking ownership of problems

He noted good customer service can help MSPs become more than just service providers.

"[With good customer service], you're not just a service provider anymore," Mehrmann said. "You're a partner and you have strategic value."

What are the best ways to partner with customers? Here are five of Mehrmann's customer service recommendations for MSPs:

  1. Dress for success -- Mehrmann pointed out any employee may need to interact with a customer at any time, and how he or she is dressed can influence a customer's opinion. "Whatever role you have, at some point, you're going to be engaged with the customer face-to-face, and appearance is very important," Mehrmann said. "If you look like you just rolled out of bed, they're not going to have a professional opinion of you."
  2. Use positive language -- Mehrmann recommended starting the day with a refreshing activity because it can help an employee prepare for customer interactions later in the day. This activity also can help a worker prep to use positive language: "Do something that's going to nourish your mind -- prepare yourself for the customers you're going to engage with."
  3. Be an active listener -- Eye contact and nodding are great active listening skills every employee needs to practice. By becoming an active listener, Mehrmann said, an employee can better understand what a customer has to say and ensure that his or her needs are met.
  4. Promise only what you can -- Mehrmann suggested making small promises and following through with them to build trust with customers. For example, promising to call a customer at a specific time and doing so is a great way to start building a long-lasting partnership.
  5. Own a problem -- Not every MSP has all the answers, and Mehrmann said employees should try to respond to customer queries as best they can. If a worker doesn't have the answer, he or she can find out the answer (or find someone who knows the answer). In addition, this employee should stay in touch with a customer to ensure he or she is fully supported.

Leaving a positive impression also is important, Mehrmann said. A handwritten note, for instance, can help an MSP further differentiate itself from rivals.

"Give customers something positive to think about," Mehrmann said. "That's what's going to keep their loyalty."

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