ChannelLife Australia - Five tips to get client onboarding right

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Five tips to get client onboarding right

Article by Craig Allen, Technical Director, APAC, Kaseya

With one handshake and a couple of signatures, the contract is sealed and you can start to educate your team on the new managed services client and vice-versa. Well, not quite.

If you think that client onboarding just means going through a checklist of technical procedures and processes, you can’t be further away from the truth. 

To successfully engage and retain a new customer is all about building trust and nurturing the relationship – kick starting the customer experience journey. Think about it: your new client just decided to trust another provider (i.e. you) over the one they have been working with. In fact, a client lifecycle starts the first time you interact with your customer-to-be. First impression matters and it sets the tone of your new relationship. 

While investing in initiation strategies, consulting best practices and expert recommendations are important, the secret to success lies in getting the relationship off on a solid footing as early as possible. 

We offer five tips to how you can establish trust with your new client and add value in the areas that matter.

Tip 1: There are no prospects, only customers

Although onboarding is, by definition, about the management of the early stages of a relationship between a business and a customer, sometimes a positive first encounter and experience can mean half the battle is won even before the contract is signed. It’s far better to start easing your prospect into the great scheme of things before he or she becomes an official client.

Seize every opportunity to discuss the client’s current infrastructure and understand their business needs. This way, you can better match your services to what is required, suggest any additional services, and propose a competitive price for what you are offering. This fact-finding phase was traditionally impossible for MSPs due to the significant amount of time and effort needed, but today’s IT systems management solutions has transformed this process into a quick, easy and cost-efficient one. 

Tip 2: Focus on efficiencies

One common misstep is to place too much emphasis on incorporating new client devices. However, efficiency does not necessarily mean or lead to effectiveness. Efficiency refers to how well something is done; effectiveness refers to how useful something is. 

As you go about in your fact-finding process, don’t rush over steps. You might find that even the most mundane can be key opportunities to educate the client. Share with your client what you’ve found, what you were looking for, and explain why those things matter. For example, why does knowing every device’s patch status and warranty information matter to the client? Let him know this explicitly; never assume he knows. As you expand your client communications and education efforts, find efficiencies elsewhere, for example, through technology solutions that can automate and streamline the process.

Tip 3: Agree on a timeline and action plan

Mapping out goals and metrics and developing a plan and expected timeframe to accomplish each task and activity indicate to the client that you know how and when things will and should work.

You need to have documented processes and supporting technologies that enable you to provide key updates to the client after the specified time span, including regular reporting, review meetings, strategy sessions, and so on. Your reports should contain key metrics on how you are saving time and money, improving IT performance, and increasing employee satisfaction. 

Tip 4: Seek buy-in from key users 

Although there may be one or several key decision-makers during the sales process, just keeping them happy does not guarantee long-term success. End users are usually the ones who can make or break the client relationship. If the end users are unhappy with the initial transition or the service delivery in general, your relationship is at risk no matter how well you’ve met expectations of the decision-makers early on.

Document the steps you are taking to educate and communicate to end users on upcoming changes. Be clear and direct, and give ample time for them to understand and get used to new processes and protocols. Make them your biggest fan. 

Tip 5: Never stop knowing your client

Today’s organisations are pressed more than ever to deliver not just technology to their internal and external customers—and managed services are considered by most IT leaders as an option for keeping up with the escalating demands of the business. Because the breadth and depth of use of services will continue to evolve and expand over their lifetime as a client, the process of setting expectations, timelines, goals, budget and more for both the client never really stops—it’s only the beginning of any successful client lifecycle. 

Clients may not be able to streamline their hardware, software and procedures right away. Developing ongoing ‘sprints’ will help you establish a timeline best suited for each client. This means creating successive projects as you adjust, prioritise and transition these new business requirements and components. 

Conclusion

Some MSPs consider a client “onboarded” once they have achieved some initial success with their services. Some success is commendable, but to rest on your laurels too early in the relationship is likely to lead to its demise. Client onboarding should never be viewed as a discrete, tactical technique, but as a methodology for driving ongoing strategic advantage.

Article by Craig Allen, Technical Director, APAC, Kaseya

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