Adopting a MSP Customer Services model can provide new revenue opportunities for resellers
As businesses increasingly turn to managed service providers to fulfil their IT needs, there are opportunities for the channel to undergo a major transformation, adding a range of professional and IT hosting services to their offerings. Indeed, many solution providers have seen the opportunity and are moving to a services-led, recurring revenue business model. Neil Penny, Product Director at Sunrise Software explains.
Meeting the challenges of a customer service approach
As the channel moves to this new model in order to win and retain business, there is the need for effective customer support and service contracts. Channel businesses must re-evaluate how they currently deliver customer service – and what this service looks like. They may have to invest in additional infrastructure and personnel to provide these new services.
In this new channel business model every element of the supply chain, from call handling to stock management, field service, logistics, repair and closure must become part of the reseller’s modus operandi, a far cry from bulk buying hardware and software and selling them as a packaged solution.
Resellers can learn much from adopting the same approach as managed services providers (MSPs). As part of their customer service, MSPs have to include many elements ranging from initial contactcentre style support and providing technology hardware, to placing a skilled engineer at the right place, at the right time with the right part. Such services are often backed up by technical repair and configurations centres – all delivered within a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Managing a complex service oriented operation
Organisations in the MSP sector know only too well that managing diverse service contracts with attendant customer hierarchies and billing structures is complex. It may involve multiple Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and back-to-back third party agreements. All the products and services must be correctly logged and catalogued, keeping track of customer entitlements, renewals, credits, penalties and terminations.
In the same way a solutions provider has their own unique blend of products and services and a broad spectrum of customers to support. The one thing that they do have in common though, is their absolute need to have all the right technical and often multi-tier service contract information to hand in order to provide effective customer service – whether by phone, email, online or at a customer site.
No one size fits all
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to effective support. However, all service providers require a way of recording, tracking and managing incidents, customer contact details and agreements. As well as access to technical details, product/parts information, service catalogues and third party supplier contracts. What is unique to each organisation is how this information is managed.
For many these business critical requirements can be met with a Service Desk product. Given that IT departments within large organisations are effectively acting as an MSP to the business, it makes sense that the solutions they use to manage customer service would be a good basis for a company that needs to manage external customers. It is important that the base product is comprehensive enough to deliver all the standard functions, but with flexibility to also provide the unique functionality that different organisations require.
A focus on the customer experience
There is no doubt that the forward thinking reseller will be the one that adopts the same service oriented approach to customer service and support as successful MSPs. An effective service desk can support all operations for a reseller – from logging customer and work orders, accessing warehouse logistics and product supplies to notifying helpdesk staff or passing them on to relevant departments, such as IT services.
In a world where poor customer service loses business, each interaction should convey consistent, personalised data, contextual knowledge and information relevant to the customer. Resellers that work on breaking down communication silos within their customer service, standardise the resolution process and focus on the customer service experience will be the successful ones.