Saturday, 20th July 2019

Standing out in a Cloud

The key challenges that Managed Service Providers are facing in a heavily commoditised market and the ways in which they can go above and beyond to differentiate themselves and excel in customer experience. By Edmund Cartwright, Sales & Marketing Director at Highlight.

It’s no secret. Cloud computing and low-cost competition continue to force the managed services industry into commoditisation. MSPs must innovate and enhance business practices if they wish to retain value and keep pace with competitors. With new providers emerging into the marketplace every day, this creates a “me too” scenario and standing out from the crowd becomes a difficult task unless portfolios and customer service are remarkably unique.

An evolved role

Customers expect their service provider to understand their requirements, goals and challenges, and rightly so. The challenge is no longer just about taking care of a customer’s IT needs but rather being involved in their business strategy, planning and execution and taking on an advisory role. Customers want to be informed and supported on their journey, receiving guidance on business activities like capacity planning, business continuity, disaster recovery, budgeting and right-sizing infrastructure to meet customer needs. This approach will not only improve contract renewal rates but also increase margins on accounts. A small price to pay in terms of time, in exchange for a large ROI in revenue.

Turning a blind eye

This is not a new concept, but many providers are not actively making the effort to go above and beyond to improve customer relationships, nor do they have the will and means to do so. The main issue is the continued focus on acquiring new customers to drive revenue, while ignoring the underlying issues that exist for current customers.

Reworking sales strategies and continuing with the same old processes while hoping for the best when it’s time for contract renewal doesn’t benefit either provider or customer. Unfortunately, both end up finding out the hard way that downward price movement and advertisement as the “best service and value” MSP creates a lose/lose scenario.

The last thing any enterprise wants after signing a contract is to find out that they are in fact a captive added to the pile, and not a customer. Retaining and developing existing accounts is the most cost-effective way to do business, and it’s short-sighted to make services look enticing on the surface, and ignore the resulting churn.

The problem with the SLA and NPS

Reliance on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) is another step on the road to developing poor customer relationships. The SLA is a by-product of providers failing to deliver an adequate service, and is built upon penalties and fines if the contracted services underperform. Customers are not interested in monitoring and chasing their service provider, they just want a good service that enables their business to run efficiently.

Also, services are dynamic, so guaranteeing 99.999% availability is a meaningless promise when specific objectives haven’t been set and the end-user’s actual experience isn’t considered.

Similarly, Net Promoter Score (NPS) is not always a true reflection of service levels experienced. While a low score is cause for concern, a high score isn’t necessarily good news either, because customer satisfaction doesn’t always equal customer retention. Customers can be satisfied with a service without having positive feelings about it, and those who fill in NPS survey forms are often not the ones who have experienced the service for themselves.

Transparency leads the way

Transparency is fundamental, and generally what’s missing is a shared accurate picture of service reality. Both service provider and customer require clear evidence of the customer’s situation, providing insight so that the right action can be taken. The solution is to offer a unique value proposition; changing the way the state of a customer’s network is reported and communicated, so that it is both meaningful and presented in a format which they can understand.

This can’t be done without the right tools. Providers will often say they have all the tools they need when it comes to monitoring and managing customers’ networks and applications. However, these tools are usually managed by Engineers and Operations personnel, so they are highly technical, and the information is meaningless to Sales and Service Management teams. Nor do they facilitate interaction with the end-customer or allow a proactive level of customer service.

Customers are left in the dark because providers either hide information or show them something which is too complex to be understood. When conversations are based on disputed performance data and a distrust of what a person says, rather than one true source of factual data, dialogue breaks down and identifying the real issues becomes problematic.

Delighting corporate customers is much easier when the tool used to communicate service performance is designed for users of all technical abilities and is shared between provider and customer. The customer can see for themselves that the information is high quality, dynamic and delivered in real-time.

The bottom line

The ultimate aim is to achieve a good understanding of every customer and their issues, resulting in improved relationships and the delivery of services that advance the productivity of that customer’s business. But without the correct foundation and tools, equally transparent to both provider and customer, success is elusive.

Transparency and openness are the way to create sustainable competitive advantage, and this stands out in today’s marketplace because the majority of service providers aren’t doing it.


About Highlight

Since the year 2000, Highlight has enabled Service Providers and Enterprise Corporates to see clearly both network and applications performance in real-time.As well as delivering visibility and analytics, Highlight enables service providers and enterprise customers to both have visibility of the same accurate, easy to use graphical information. This critical data supports the right conversations concerning issue resolution, planning and capacity management. Highlight supports and enhances ICT expansion, new technology deployment and cloud transition initiatives, where both providers and corporates are confident in the partnership.

Highlight is software as a service, delivering powerful value to the business performance of service providers and enterprise corporates around the world. Highlight is fast and easy to deploy. Highlight’s simple pricing structures and zero CAPEX makes it a business enabler which is budget sensitive.Highlight guarantees providers and corporates better business results in network and applications service management, operations and customer experience.

The Highlight service is used in 90+ countries, on 7,500+ enterprise networks including 33% of the FTSE-100. Highlight, providing the best provider and corporate customer value and experience at a competitive price.

Watch our video to learn more about Highlight.

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