2 Core Benefits of Great Customer Communications

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Have you ever considered how to Build a Great Customer Experience With an Easy Strategy, or How Your MSP Can Deploy an A+ Customer Communication Strategy, or How easy you are to do business with?  Beyond these great thought processes, there are many benefits of good customer communication within your MSP – such as

  • Keeping your Customer up to date  
  • Reduced Churn (HDI CSR course) 
  • Improved Tech habits  
  • Less Noise 
  • Consistent rhythm leading to operational efficiencies 
  • Encouraged Real-Time Time Entry 
  • Same Customer Experience – no matter who is on the phone 
  • Increased levels of Customer trust 

This list of results and so much more can be chiseled down to two core benefits of a great Customer-Facing Communications Protocol:

  1. It provides a great Customer Experience 
  2. Technicians meet a higher standard of Service to the Customer  

So, what are the criteria for a Great Customer-Facing Communications Protocol 

Here’s what we recommend being 

  1. Easy to do Business with – meaning the Customer instantly and clearly knows why they are receiving the notification.
  2. Consistent – which builds trust and allows a Customer to partner with the MSP 
  3. Strategic – don’t send a notification because it is a knee-jerk reaction or prod the Customer to do something. Communicate because…
  • There is something of relevance to say. 
  • The Customer Journey from New to Complete is at a significant milestone. 
  • The message keeps the Customer in the loop when they need to know. 

MSPs, Here’s How to Be Easy to do Business With: 

Just sending a default notification because it is easy and checks a box is not great Service to the CustomerProviding a very clear easy-to-read title at the top (Banner) and in the subject line makes it straightforward for the Customer so they quickly know why they are receiving the notification. 

The next step is to think through what the Customer wants and needs to knowMail merge of all the ticket fields is not great communication, as most of the fields are for our internal purposes 

The Customer would like (and needsto know Who, What, When, and Where: 

  • Who is going to engage – Primary Resource 
  • What are they engaging on – Ticket Title 
  • When are they going to engage – Tech Engagement SLA 
  • Where – Remote or Onsite 

Be sure the notification is branded, so it stands out from all the other marketing noise that fills their inbox and provides a professionally written communication with the facts – and nothing but the facts (see above) 

One last thing to make it easy for the Customer to respond with additional Information or comments – having the ticket number in the subject line. Hence, the automations (yes, there are 4 of them) can process the response for you. 

communication

Maintaining Communication Consistency 

By automating the communication protocol, in essence, you lock down the communication rhythm to provide a consistent communication process no matter who is touching the ticket or engaging as expectedThe automation we are talking about here is Workflow Rules (1 of 4 different automations in the PSA software) 

The triggers are 

  1. Ticket Created – Acknowledgment 
  2. Status Changed – Request for Information, Reviewed and Assigned 
  3. Time Entered – Waiting, On-Hold, Escalation, Customer Verification Requested, Complete (Note: this also encourages a Time Entry at the point of disengagement, not Saturday night or Monday morning) 
  4. Idle Time – 3 step closing process

By setting this expectation with the Techs, monitoring performance, and communicating WIIFM, consistent communication with the Customer will ensue. By providing a consistent rhythm, the Customer will know what to expect and trust that you are the right provider for the job. 

The Strategy 

Take some time to journey map the Customer experience from New to Complete.  

For example: 

  • New – The ticket is created by one of many sourcesIt is highly recommended that all non-alert tickets flow to a Single Point of Coordination (SPoC). 
  • Request for Information – there is a chance the Customer has provided a oneline or even one-word request for ServiceThe Service Coordinator needs a tool in their tool belt to easily respond to Customer’s request for more information. And yes, if you have 3 Techs or more we highly recommend a Service Coordinator as they will pay for themselves by making the Billable Resources 10% more efficient. Besides, someone other than yourself should be managing all the open tickets. 
  • Assigned – at this stop in the journey the Who, What, When and Where is known and should be communicated to the Customer as such: 

– Ready to Engage – This means the Tech will engage at will within SLAThe Customer needs to know the Who, What, and When by, but their participation is not needed for the engagement process. 

– Dispatched Remote – This provides the same information, but has the additional caveat that the Customer needs to be available for the phone call and it is hard scheduled with an exact date and Time as opposed to a When by. 

– Dispatched Onsite – This provides the same information, but has the additional caveat that the Customer can expect a doorbell rather than a phone call. 

  • Waiting  

– Waiting Customer – it is always good to let the Customer know you are waiting on them for somethingIt also makes sense to monitor the last activity date. This is because (from experience) we know that 80% of the time if you call a Customer two days later, they will deny knowing that you are waiting on them. 

– Waiting Vendor  while it is easy to put the ticket in waiting vendor, this does not remove your responsibility to keep the ticket moving along the journey from New to CompleteIf the vendor does not respond in two days, push for Who, What, and When. Remember in this case, you are the Customer and would expect no less service than you provideOnce the Who, What, and When is determined, schedule a service call and return to Dispatched Remote. Oh, by the way, LET YOUR CUSTOMER KNOW (yes, we are yelling at you). 

– Waiting Parts – as soon as the ETA is known, schedule a service call and change the status to Dispatched. 

– On-Hold – is used to stop the SLA clocks when the Customer requests. This is a KEY, it needs to be by Customer request, not because you want to look good by pausing the SLA clocksNote: at the end of the day it does not matter because the only thing the Customer cares about is “When are you going to fix my stuff?” Which means they do not give a rip about SLA. MTTR is the only metric they care aboutSet the due date for when the Customer wants the work to be done, and when that date arrives, schedule the work with the Customer. 

– Escalation – we strongly recommend a warm non-Hand-Off escalation procedureOne where the Primary Resource notifies the Customer that they are reaching out for internal technical assistance, but they retain ownership, including all communication with the CustomerIt is also useful if the internal technical assistance can happen at the Primary Resources desk so it becomes a mentoring opportunity and reduces the Escalation Rate. Now, you are tracking this, right? And keeping it less than 10% for the tickets (and not just by one Tech always escalating)? 

  • Completion – 

– Customer Verification Requested – If the Customer has the final word about the work being completed or not, then you should give them an opportunity to say soAdding the 3-faces survey to this notification goes a long way to make it easy for the Customer to respond, and easy for the automation to process the response – Sad, Neutral, or Happy – it’s that simple. 

– Pending Close – Just a friendly reminder that you are allowing the Customer to verify completion, but without their participation, the ticket is going to close tomorrow anyway. 

– Completed – if the Tech knows the engagement has been completed (either by verifying on the phone or by all green lights on the server) then just complete the ticket and let the Customer know. 

What to do next… 

So now that the request has been completed, what could possibly be left to do?   

Well, some are: 

  1. Reminders – if Dispatched … is out more than 5 days, from our experience, the Customer tends to forget you are coming or callingThe PSA automation is capable of sending a reminder a few days in advance to avoid an embarrassing the Customer situation. 
  2. Internal Communications – it is a good idea to have a notification template with a very different look and feelOne that can be used for non-Customer-Facing communications and one that everyone knows, please do not forward this to the Customer. 
  3. Note Added – it would be nice if the strategy laid out above covers every situation – but unfortunately, that is not our realityWhat is our reality is that one-offs are the norm. To make it easy to communicate with the Customer, having a manual note notification added with the same look and feel as the other notifications goes a long way to providing a consistent, inconsistent communication. 

I hope you’ve found this article insightfulNext week we will dive in a little deeper and talk more about what it really takes to be Easy to Do Business With, the mechanics of consistency, and maybe even a deeper dive on strategy. Stay tuned. 

Enjoy the read, 

Steve Buyze | Better Times

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