What would you say are some of the most overlooked and under planned Managed Service Provider activities?
If you answered those surrounding the onboarding of new customers, you’re on target!
I’ve seen Managed Service Providers commonly neglect the following areas – any of these can seriously affect the quality of their relationships with the Customer (and ultimately, the Company’s bottom line).
- The Onboarding of new Customers
- The Offboarding of an existing Customer
- Handing off the Network to Support after a project has been completed
While each of these share the same characteristic of changing relationships, they remain as three distinct processes. The only other commonality they have is the stress they cause when done in a procedural void.
How Network Assessments and Gap Analyses Can Help
Let’s start with a Network Assessment and Gap Analysis. The Assessment gives the Managed Service Provider (MSP) their first look at what they will be maintaining.
The Gap Analysis looks at the difference between the Customer’s network and the MSP’s standard builds. The Gap is the basis for upgrading the network over the next 30, 90 days – or even 3 years.
The Assessment is best done before the Managed Service Agreement is signed and should be part of the Sales proposal writing process.
To put it simply, the proposal should include;
- Which Services are provided
- What the Customer should expect within specific time frames
- How much of the network will need to be upgraded
Once the agreement is signed, the next critical step is Client Documentation. If the Network Assessment was completed during the Sales process, then most of the information is readily available.
Smart Tip: Moving the assessment into the Client Documentation software should be scheduled ASAP. Other information like the “keys to the kingdom” should be provided at the time the agreements are signed.
Why You Should Hold a WWS Meeting
Holding an internal What Was Sold (WWS) meeting at the transition point between Sales and Service Delivery/Support is critical. In prepping for this meeting, the host should gather up all known information and verify with the Sales Person what was sold.
Based on which services are included in the agreement, confirm that pre-positioning scheduling is in place and available for this on-boarding. The attendees in the meeting should be:
- The Sales Person
- Technical or Non-Technical person responsible for the onboarding
- All Technical personnel responsible for onboarding the new Customer
- Others based on past experiences (also known as Lessons Learned).
Pre-positioning the Technical personnel needed to onboard a new Customer is a great idea and goes a long way in providing a great Customer Onboarding Experience. Each service offered (I know we only offer an all-in service with no variations – but humor me for a moment) should have an onboarding playbook.
Looking across all services, common technical scheduling needs will surface. Creating a New Customer Onboarding reserve scheduling ticket and scheduling key technical resources months in advance provides the agility a Managed Service Provider needs in onboarding new Customers.
Based on experience, we’ve found that Firewall configurations and installation is the key pivot point of the technical onboarding scheduling. The rest of the skills needed can be scheduled around the Firewall installation timeframe. Which activity is scheduled is based on the need for connectivity.
Always Under Promise & Over Deliver
With this information in hand, the technical or non-technical person responsible for the onboarding must reach out to the Customer. Besides listening to what the Customer thinks they have purchased, the person should inform them of the MSP’s onboarding process, what the weekly rhythm of communications looks like, and Under Promise/Over Deliver.
Under promise and over deliver is a widely used cliché, but in this case, I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is. Most likely, Sales has painted a picture of what the relationship will look like 3 years down the road after the Customer’s network reflects the MSPs standard build. However, the reality is, we are not there yet.
The first 30 days will be very bumpy as the IT Support Team gets used to the Customer and comes up to speed on what is written in Client Documentation as well as the reality of the network.
For the next 90 days, the network will be shored up and remediated as much as the Customer can afford. After the first 90 days, the IT Support experience starts resembling what the Sales Person promised way back when.
The rest of the process looks like this:
- Hitting the technical onboarding timetable
- Support coming up to speed
- Providing a great Customer experience
- Moreover, of course…the billing starts
Do this: Keep good records of what went right…and what didn’t. Maintain what went right, improve on what went wrong, and document Lessons Learned in the Services Onboarding Playbooks.
Why bother? So that the next time around, life will be a whole lot better for the MSP, Sales, Technical, Onboarding Manager, and most importantly – for the next Customer.
These are just the main tips I have found to be most effective in my years of experience. Tell me – are these methods accurate for your IT Managed Service Provider? Let me know in the comments below!
If you could use some advice on how to better facilitate the Onboarding process at your MSP, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org