MSP Toolkit: What Solution Providers Need To Do To Keep Customers For Life

Service cataloging and delivering on promises can help solution providers identify new revenue opportunities and retain their customers for a lifetime, according to Len DiCostanzo, the leader of his consulting firm, MSP Toolkit.

At The Channel Company's Nexgen 2018 conference and expo on Monday, DiCostanzo broke down the best practices processes that solution providers looking to build a world-class business should be following.

First on the list was service cataloging, a process of identifying the offerings that a partner can provide, along with associated services that can be wrapped around each offering. The catalog makes it easier for customers to buy from solution providers.

[Related: From Sole Proprietorship To Global Solution Provider: What MSPs Need To Do To Evolve]

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"The service catalog needs to be complete, and it's the linchpin for success," DiCostanzo told partners. "The service catalog launches your service delivery process."

It's one thing for clients to know what's being offered, but perhaps even more importantly, the catalog helps your own organization understand everything you're bringing to the table and where your revenue is coming from, DiCostanzo said.

Solution providers should built their catalog around their core competencies that can be bundled into a solution that is easily repeatable, and then bolt on recurring revenue to each offering, DiCostanzo said.

"It's about understanding your customer's business needs, and then what your capabilities are. If you can't do it, go and partner with someone who can, and then start to define and price those resulting services," he said.

Defining services also helps partners avoid the "all-you- can-eat-model," DiCostanzo said, explaining that in addition to bundled solutions, partners can offer "a la carte" offerings.

"The all-you-can-eat approach is dangerous,” agreed Ethan Millrood, owner and chief marketing officer for GO2, a solution provider based in Springfield, Pa. "[Customers] will bleed you dry."

GO2 is currently working on transitioning its voice, data, and video products to a managed services model. The provider is in the process of consolidating its systems to build out a solid services catalog, Millrood said.

To make sure it’s keeping its customers happy, GO2 is hiring the right personnel that can care for the customer base by doing regular account reviews. This approach is also helping the provider grow with its existing customer base, Millrood said.

"We definitely have a fox-in-the-hen house approach, and it's helping to give us a foot in the door because we do a lot of things, and that helps to remind us not to stop,” he said.

Retaining customers is about successful service delivery that meet the metrics that solution providers communicate to customers, DiCostanzo said. Every service promised has a process that needs to be followed.

"Promise what you're going to deliver, and then deliver on it," he said. "If you don't hit those metrics in terms of how long it takes to get something up and running or shipped, you may have to give something back."

The solution provider business has always been consultative, and that part isn't changing anytime soon. Partners that listen to clients' concerns and requirements will stand apart from the rest, and those customers will trust the solution provider enough to keep going back.

"This gives you a seat at the table, while your customer gets to focus on their business," he said.