Breaking up is hard to do: Offboarding Customers at the IT MSP

They say breaking up is hard to do. We agree – even when the break up is between an IT Managed Service Provider and their Customer. Yes, it’s true: offboarding Customers is never easy.  

This is a Key Time at Your IT MSP 

When Offboarding Customers, it’s critical to maintain a professional mindset and have your IT Managed Service Provider Employees anticipate the Customer’s return. You may be surprised, but this really goes a long way to motivating Employees to step up and make the offboarding transition a warm and rewarding Customer experience.  

Even for Managed Service Providers with 30+ years of experience, offboarding still occurs at an Industry average churn rate. Although it isn’t uncommon for a Customer to return at some point, there are always going to be Customers that are simply not a good fit.  

Some Customers will even need the MSP’s help finding another Service Provider. Overall, most are good Customers, and it is always unfortunate they decided to move on. However, we can continue to look forward to their return as well as developing successful relationships with current and future Customers.   

Who Are the Customers That Decide to Leave an MSP? 

There are as many examples of the types of Customers who may decide to leave your Managed Service Provider as there are reasons for their departing.  

Here are some of the most common Customers that will leave your IT MSP: 

  1. Good Customers that you would love to have back 
  2. Customers who went out of business 
  3. Customers that merged, or were bought by another Company with their own preferred Service Provider 
  4. Customers who outgrew your capabilities to support them 
  5. Customers who were just not good partners (profits increase when they leave) 

So, how can you maintain good relations while going through the offboarding process? One of the best strategies I recommend is to create an Offboarding Playbook.  

Smart Tips to Follow When Creating Your Playbook 

Having an Offboarding playbook goes a long way in providing a great Customer experience as efficiently as possible. Keep in mind that the offboarding playbook is not just a rollback from the onboarding process.  

Consider these key points when creating your playbook: 

  • Have a process to scrub the passwords quickly and pass them to the Customer or their new service provider, since this request may come shortly after being notified that the Customer is moving on. 
  • Identify who is responsible for support during the transition period. From my experience, once the keys to the kingdom are passed, the new service provider is responsible due to the lack of trust between competitors. 
  • Before any services are terminated – especially the onsite Network Administration visits – be sure there is an understanding of who owns what hardware, and when the MSP’s hardware will be available for retrieval. Don’t just go and rip out their Firewall because you own it. 
  • Get clear on how subscriptions will be transitioned or terminated.  
  • Most importantly: Make sure backups keep running. Coordinate with the new Service Provider the transition of backups, in addition to other transition items. Verify when the new Service Provider has had a successful backup before terminating the existing Service Provider’s backups. Alternatively, obtain a release from the Customer stating that it is OK to stop the backups. Also, be prepared to negotiate the handing over of historical backups. 

Maintaining Backups Aren’t Just Important, They’re Essential 

You probably noticed “backups” was marked in red. If you’re guessing there must be a story to go along with that tip, you’re absolutely right… 

One day, I was called to the Director of Engineering’s office for a conversation on testifying in court for the “liability of backups.” One of the local law firms was changing Service Providers.  

The existing Service Provider stopped all their backups the date the Managed Service Agreements were terminated. The new Service Provider, for some reason (misunderstanding, technical challenges, not thinking clearly, bad choice on the part of the Customer in choosing a new Service Provider in the first place, or some other reason) did not start getting backups for a month or two.  

The Law Firm Customer lost some data they needed in another court proceeding, and neither Service Provider could retrieve the missing data. As you can imagine, everyone went to their corners and came out suing.  

It seemed like every law firm in the state had a piece of the action, including a few of our Customers. For this reason, (if I remember right) we did advise the Customer who approached us about testifying, but we ultimately did not testify due to conflicts of interest.  We had multiple Customers in the fight, with some having conflicting positions. From our standpoint, no matter what we said or did (aside from bowing out), it was going to be bad for business. 

Long story short: Never, ever underestimate just how critical backups are.  

So, those are a few of my perspectives on saying Goodbye. Let’s hear your thoughts – what insights do you have on the offboarding process at your Managed Service Provider? Reply below!  

Alternatively, reach me at sbuyze@sbuyze.com anytime. 

P.S. Besides an offboarding playbook, are there any other IT Service Delivery improvements you can make?  Take the Free PSA Optimization Self-Evaluation and find out. 

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