Just at the point in a managed-services relationship where you think you can relax, you really should not. When you begin working with a managed-services client, you spend a lot of time at the client site cleaning up after years of neglect. Spyware files have to be removed, local data must be moved to central (and backed-up) servers, and patching tools and remote monitoring agents have to be set up.
Then you leave, with your eyes gleaming at the thought of the recurring revenue stream awaiting you. All you have to do is monitor the network, remotely access it once in awhile, and send an engineer to the site once a month. It's easy to leverage this business model to a larger, more profitable scale. Ka-ching!
So, what could go wrong? Everything, if your clients don't think you are earning your fees because they never see you. When their system was unreliable, they knew what value they were getting. They saw a tech all the time, knew how long it took to fix the server, and saw the infected files that were removed. They saw their monthly repair bill, and knew what they were paying for.
With managed services, the financial benefit they are receiving from their monthly investment is not as obvious. You have to demonstrate that your proactive services are far better than the reactive cycle of the past. Educate everyone from your help-desk staff to your senior engineers to document everything that was done for the client. Summarize your monthly work in a quick, personal message to the client's key executives--don't just send technical-reporting logs and expect your client to relate them to the reduction or elimination of expensive downtime.
Remind them that your services are preventing the pain of the past. They need to know that not seeing a technician is much less costly than seeing one.
Pay attention to news reports about viruses, and send an e-mail alert out to all your clients and prospects. Warn the prospects of the threat. Remind your managed-services clients that they are well-protected. Clients will remember what it felt like to be unprotected, and prospects will want to know more about managed services.
Communication is the follow-through of managed services. A few words to the right people will keep you in business year after year.
Ron Cook is president and CEO of Las Vegas-base Connecting Point.