Originally published on Continuity Central.com Businesses often overlook the usefulness of service management tools that they already have at their fingertips as a way tostreamline and effectively manage internal risk processes. Dean Coleman, our Head of Service Delivery looks at some practical step...
Customer support & contract management – value for Service Providers
6 Dec 2021
For an IT Service Provider, as if winning a customer in the first place isn’t hard enough in what is a devilishly competitive marketspace, then holding onto them can prove even harder, as other MSPs try to tempt them away.
Regarding the latter – customer retention – other than reinforcing the old adage that applies to any “too good to be true” offer which is: “read the small print”, a more scientific approach is to use a dedicated platform such as Sunrise to consolidate and manage every aspect of customer support and contract management. Now, an MSP typically has widely varying customer types, so any service management platform supporting them must be highly configurable and customisable. The Sunrise platform allows you to capture, record and track all of the key information about your customers, 24×7, so you’re set up from day one. And there’s zero programming required – it’s less complicated than filling in a form for the DVLA (thankfully).
The system then tracks the ongoing status of the customer, including the ability to put that contract on hold, or even deactivate it, should circumstances – for example, in the event of not paying an invoice – demand it. Key to ease of use is that all the necessary information is to hand; such as the full history of a customer appearing at the bottom of the screen, so you can simply scroll through and find any necessary information without even moving to a different screen.
Similarly, any contracts with that customer can be viewed in a similar manner, scrolling down to see any currently in place, with start-end dates, agreed SLAs… all the pertinent information, in other words. To extract more information on a given contract, you simply drill down on that detail. Sunrise’s platform is lifecycle based, so you can see the logical flow of activity from signing the contract to the current day and beyond. Similarly, SLAs can be managed and linked at any level, such as to a customer of a specific contract, rather than it being a broad-brush approach. SLAs can also be linked to a specific element of a contract – for example, particular hardware or software. Flexibility extends to the “SLA clock” – different customers, and even different levels of their business, not only have different priorities, such as target resolution times, but while some businesses are 24x7x365, others will not offer the same level of support for their own customer base during, for example, bank holidays, so the Sunrise platform allows for this level of flexibility in its SLA management.
In addition to logging, tracking and managing the customer contracts, the Sunrise platform will automatically report on incidents and forward requests received from the customer, in addition to problems and requested changes. Ease and speed of access to the customer information is often critical for an MSP, especially in a downtime situation, so Sunrise lets you pre-filter on any relevant detail, to get to the correct contract immediately, and will then auto-populate the screen with information on the correct SLA to track, in that instance. The same applies to any other items – hardware, software, services – related to that customer.
Once an incident is logged, a unique reference number is allocated; Sunrise has a prioritisation method to auto calculate the target response and resolution times and give a clear graphical escalation level for any incident, so the MSP can understand how it is performing against the set targets. Sunrise also provides a self-service portal, enabling customers to log their own incidents and requests, track the current status for all existing incidents and requests – and all in real time, as well as allowing them to publish relevant information and knowledge articles that may allow a faster resolution. Sunrise platform can pro-actively alert via email or internal messaging systems regarding any potential or actual breaching of an SLA for any given incident.
Basically, for any service provider it’s all about customer retention and that means managing customer expectations and overall performance in real-time, staying ahead of the game. That’s what the Sunrise support & management platform is designed to do.
Watch the demo video of customer support for MSPs
Probably since the Ancient Greeks, “can I get a report on this?” has been a commonly heard request from management, customers, sales, marketing and all, regardless of the business in hand – after all, there have always been dissatisfied customers…