How to raise revenue, service levels, and client satisfaction by being a premium service!
Many IT businesses are striving to become premium managed service providers (MSP), but not all of them succeed. Charging a higher price is an obvious way to level up your game, but it’s not that simple. There’s more to it than that. So what else can you do?
As an MSP staffing and consulting specialist, we at Support Adventure have seen time and time again what puts an MSP on a level above the rest. We have advised dozens of business owners over the years on how to transform their MSP into a premium service, and want to share with you what we know.
So let’s do a deep dive into the 16 ways of positioning yourself as a premium MSP.
1 – Premium MSPs Reject Penny-Pinching Clients
Cheapskates. Bargain hunters. Hagglers.
Whatever you want to call them, avoid these types of clients at all costs if you aim to offer a premium managed service. We have learned from experience that potential customers who try to get your service at the lowest price possible aren’t the best to work with. We have seen that they will constantly question your expertise and make your job more difficult than it needs to be.
2 – Go Premium by Upping Your MSP’s Pricing Model
So this is a bit of an obvious one. Naturally, premium MSPs charge more than most of their competitors, so you should adjust your prices as well to align with your superior offerings. Believe in your product and let go of your scarcity mindset.
If you’re not sure how much to charge, have a look at what top companies in the industry are charging and go from there. You shouldn’t necessarily copy someone else’s premium pricing strategy, but you can still get some ideas and adjust accordingly.
Modifying and increasing your prices also means that potential clients will know that you consider your MSP to be top quality.They will expect the best service, just as they would expect average service from middle-of-the-road pricing and unremarkable service from low-cost pricing. So think big if you want to attract your ideal customer.
3 – Premium MSPs Will Deliver Projects on Time and within Budget
As a premium MSP, you can charge a fair amount for projects within a certain time frame to give yourself some buffer room for both costs and time. Just make sure to follow through on the agreed parameters for both metrics.
Many MSPs let clients down by missing deadlines and then charging more than promised to compensate for more time spent on a project. That’s not the approach a top notch MSP should have.
4 – A Premium MSP’s Brand Will Radiate the Right Emotions!
Before you try to go premium, ask yourself these two important questions:
- What message or story is my brand trying to share?
- What emotions does it invoke?
A brand is like a human being that has a personality. The attributes that you associate with a person, you also associate with a brand.
Make sure that your company radiates the right emotions every time someone comes into contact with it. It should be clear to customers, staff and the public what your company identity and values are simply by one’s ability to pick up on how your business makes them feel.
Here are a few examples from our own company of how we implement core values to create positive feelings about Support Adventure internally and externally.
|Support Adventure’s Brand|
|Staff Core Values||Client Core Values|
|Internationalism: Hiring proficient English speakers all from around the world who value a remote work and travel lifestyle. They are encouraged to work from home, a cafe or travel responsibly while working online.||Internationalism: Providing talented, English proficient technicians from all around the world to provide support to MSPs in any timezone.|
|Clear communication: Staff are trained in understanding which communication channels are for urgent communication and which aren’t. Weekly meetings are also held where staff can catch-up with one another, address weekly results and share feedback.||Clear communication: Potential clients get to see videos of candidates and interview the ones they are interested in. They can maintain a correspondence with a contract manager before, during and after the onboarding process to make sure a candidate they are interested in, or have hired, is proving to be the best fit.|
|Accountability: Staff are trained to follow role sheets, checklists and documentation in order to maintain the daily operations of the company without having to feel like someone is constantly looking over their shoulder.||Accountability: Entry level technicians are also trained to industry best practices, including role sheets, checklists and documentation. Higher level technicians adapt to your company’s procedures, but we also love consulting on how to implement more documentation and checklists into your helpdesk in order to give you more breathing room while your staff follows your procedures.|
Prioritizing branding like this helps people hold your company in high regard. The absence of consistency in feelings or well-defined values can stand in the way of keeping things cohesive. This is particularly true in an environment as nuanced and complicated as the MSP space.
5 – Educate Clients About Your Service and its Boundaries
If you want to become a premium MSP provider, you must make it crystal clear how your business operates and what you will and will not do.
Some examples of details that shouldn’t be a gray area are:
- Response times for submitting a ticket through a portal vs. calling in.
- SLAs for starting work on tickets and completing a ticket.
- How and how not to report an issue.
- Who is responsible for a particular ticket and who isn’t, etc.
Premium MSPs are very direct about the ins and outs of how they operate in order to deliver the best results. If you want to join their ranks, don’t let clients dictate that for you, and don’t cower to them. You need to set the pace.
For instance, make it clear if you prefer that they send an email to report an issue instead of calling up the dispatcher. Let them know you will only discuss things at length through a scheduled Zoom meeting, not a random phone call.
Time eaten up by responding to a frantic phone call can often be reduced by simply creating and enforcing a better structure that your clients are made aware of.
Expressing what you will and won’t do or accept is called creating boundaries. Premium MSPs are very good at educating their customers in this regard. For example, you may deploy Microsoft Azure Cloud Technology for your clients, but you should still set the boundary that you are unable to control every aspect of a software that you naturally don’t own. They should understand that if some problem occurs, it can’t be your fault. However, you should still do everything you can to help your clients with workarounds and different strategies to deal with issues that arise.
But all in all, you must make it clear where the responsibilities of your MSP begin and end. You can see how important it is to inform clients about such details in order to avoid unexpected liabilities.
6 – Premium MSPs Only Take Clients Who Want Their Advice
To go back to lessons learned from MSP clients that like to haggle on price, they also don’t like to take your advice. Your cooperation with them won’t be that enjoyable, which is why gauging whether or not a client can humbly receive feedback is a good practice.
Think about it… How annoying is it when clients do the following:
- Get defensive every time you suggest ways to be more organized with their logins and credentials.
- Keep calling you about a recurring problem because they never implement the things you told them to do months ago.
- Complain to you about your service when you know they haven’t done things on their end to prevent common recurring issues?
Premium MSPs are smart to only take on clients who regard them as the expert and trust their authority. Such customers will let your company implement solutions based on the recommendations you provide.
However, before that, one must gain trust by calibrating with their needs and showing some empathetic understanding. If in the end, they don’t want to take your advice or initial onboarding project, they are probably not the right fit for your company.
As a premium provider, you don’t want bad customers anyway, right? You need to build a stable brick wall of solid trusted partners instead. Therefore, only take on clients that want your advice.
7 – Take an Interest in Your Clients’ Business Model and Trajectory
Premium MSPs intrinsically care about how their clients are operating and scaling. They are so invested that they can sometimes feel like they are practically part of a client’s company.
Clients might want to outsource the IT department of their business because they believe that your MSP will provide better results than the internal IT employees. This is similar to how MSPs hire us to ultimately provide staff as well as helpdesk consultation. After working with dozens of MSPs, we can quickly assess what cogs are missing regarding an MSPs helpdesk structure and staff.
In the end, you must look at the operations of your clients and see what technology might help to run processes more efficiently. You also need to find a strategy to target their business goals and trajectory.
For premium clients, you want to enable them to use the most innovative solutions. When an MSP learns about a customer’s business model and pain points, they will be able to build a strong impression and become a trusted authority.
8 – Make the Right Promises to your Employees in Order to be a True Premium MSP
Premium MSPs always make promises to their staff that align with those that they’ve made to their customers. It’s your employees who are responsible for the service delivery to the clients, therefore they must be fully integrated and supported by you.
Make your team feel excited to work at your company so that they can give the best possible results. Deliver on assurances that reduce any concerns they might have about the company and the way they’re being managed.
We recommend implementing best practices for your employees, such as:
- An open door policy.
- Structured work and schedule.
- Orderly workday.
- Clear and fair assigning of tasks without any overload.
- Clear communication via scheduled meetings.
You shouldn’t put a lot of pressure on your workers or give them too many tasks at once. They will only become stressed out by big amounts of work. Your MSP should have a good system in place where the ticket queue should never be so high that it conflates responsibilities between departments in order to quelch the overload.
High levels of stress are one of the main reasons why many people quit their job at an MSP. We have seen so many companies lose their entire helpdesk staff as a result of:
- An overload of unresolved tickets.
- An overwhelming ring group system that disrupts momentum and focus.
- Senior technicians working on projects and being expected to answer calls for low level issues.
- Lack of documentation and ticket notes. This eats up unnecessary time for tasks and makes more tickets pile up.
In the end, your MSP is competing against other premium providers to secure clients, so you need to treat your staff well in order to hold on to them. Be persistent in checking in on their well-being and making sure that they’re not burnt out.
You should also hold them accountable to the same standards that they were held to at the beginning. Promise team members that their future at the company will be prosperous as long as they continue to comply with your procedures.
In the end, it’s still all about branding–employer branding in fact. When people say, “I work for this MSP,” they are ultimately representing your brand. As a premium company, you want employees to be happy and believe in your brand and leadership.
9 – Talk to All the Stakeholders of the Client’s Business
A premium MSP should always talk to all main stakeholders when signing on a new client, instead of only the manager responsible for the IT outsourcing.
Your first point of contact should be at the executive level because you’ll be dealing with a key manager on a daily basis. He or she will most probably be responsible for the technology of the company, so you need to see how the operations work in that company from all perspectives.
MSPs must also calibrate with multiple stakeholders in order to better understand how to keep premium clients. By attuning to these clients’ needs on multiple levels, and speaking with the other key managers in your organization, you can have a bird’s eye perspective on what those clients ultimately need.
Another key ingredient for this is to simply be willing to listen and tailor solutions to individual clients. Many MSPs fail on this point by having a standard offer for all clients, which creates many problems in the long run.
10 – Premium MSPs Will Stay in Constant Contact with Clients
A premium managed service provider will always keep in touch with clients when working on an issue. That’s why it’s called premium! Especially if a major incident occurs, maintaining communication is key.
For instance, if a whole network goes down on a website, you should want to make sure that the client gets a call with an update every 30 minutes. They must know that you are there for them at any moment and you are working on the issue.
It’s critical to keep a customer up to date. Even if it’s an automated service, you can send emails using language that is apologetic or showing appreciation for their patience.
11 – Focus on the Basics of Your Structure and “The Why” of It
If you don’t know “the why” in regards to the purpose of your service, how can you become a premium MSP? It is imperative that you have a passion for what you’re doing.
This makes it easier to have a plan for how to build a strong basis for the company, from the inception of the brand, to signing on your first clients. Without these basics, you can’t offer a premium service that’s going to be excellent and scale. So focus on “the why” of your business, its basics, and move up from there.
12 – Premium MSPs Ensure that Management Has Time to Breathe and Look at the Big Picture
Premier service providers really respect their management team. Instead of watching over everyone like a hawk, they give everyone space to do their thing. Your managers should be able to calmly assess your system and look into all the tickets and subsequent resolutions.
By having the space to do this, they can also find and fix any kinks in the system. Usually, these issues weren’t addressed by the standard operating procedures or escalated by the dispatcher.
This is why the management team mustn’t feel stressed when inspecting and analyzing the system for the worst cases. In badly organized MSPs, this task is dealt with by the service desk manager, who also happens to be the lead tech and the dispatcher. No wonder these system fixes are never getting done!
This lack of room to focus on one role at a time createst more chaos in your MSP, leading to a loss of clients who feel the effects of an overloaded staff who aren’t on top of their game.
To avoid this, a senior engineer should be a different person than the service desk manager. You can’t assume that a senior technician has enough management experience. in fact, they often have the worst social skills.
Ultimately, a manager should look at the big picture of the operation, whereas the dispatcher has to look at every ticket, the details, their category, and status.
13 – Offer VIP Solutions to Prioritize Excellence over Profit
You should propose an ultra-premium package and really deliver a home run on service instead of hyperfocusing on profit if you want to become a premium MSP. When you only care about profit, and not the best possible service, your MSP isn’t a premium provider. Your solution must be the finest option for that particular client and nothing less.
We have seen many MSPs who tried to be premium in the market, but only focused on the profit aspect for the client. This strategy is never a win for the customer.
For example, one supposed “premium provider” we worked with was a London MSP who used an Amazon-hosted desktop for Australian clients. The staff in Australia truly hated using this solution since Australia had bad internet at that time.
In our after-hours contract, we had to get on a call with them every day to deliver feedback about problems their clients were encountering. The MSP then explained that they had an 83,000 GBP proposal relying on this pilot Amazon program, so it needed to work out.
But since the company hadn’t done any actual consulting, testing, or deploying of the technology, it didn’t matter that there was a lot of money riding on the success of the service. They were essentially just snake oil salesmen trying to make a bunch of money on empty promises.
So you can see from this example how prioritizing profit can have the adverse effect, leading to:
- Loss of money after not fulfilling a promise to the client, as they will then look for support elsewhere.
- Bad service in that the company above truly didn’t care about providing the most relevant solution.
Premium companies always give the best possible service first and let the profits follow. One of the worst practices we see is to charge the maximum price and let the service fall into place. Please don’t do that. Instead, you need to consistently calibrate with your customers on what you can realistically deliver.
Premium MSPs should detail in their proposals the results that they will fulfill. And yes, after you explain to potential clients what the premium solution is, a lot of companies won’t be the right fit. In the end, most of them want something cheaper, and that’s all right. This means they aren’t your ideal clients anyway.
14 – Premium MSPs Like to Offer Executive-Level Recalibrations
From time to time, you’ll want to contact your clients on an executive level. You can do this with a quarterly email that addresses high-level management or the owners. Make it clear with whom they are speaking. You want to communicate how well your service is performing and if there are any problems.
Executive-level people often have a perspective on situations that other management might not. This will provide you with insights on how you can improve the service, or immediately make changes if there are complaints.
15 – Have a Well Defined Workflow Structure for Employees
A well-defined workflow structure has very high importance for a premium MSP. Your company must have excellent organization in place so that everyone knows the requirements of their role.
There needs to be clear task delegation and allocation of responsibilities in regards to the way tickets come into the operating system, the escalation process, complaints, etc.
Here are some examples of areas in your business where the team must know the workflow for:
- Client complaints.
- Speaking to an account manager.
- Following and updating documentation.
- Escalations to senior techs.
- How tickets are dispatched, etc.
The structure must also be implemented for other tasks, such as ticket notes and team communication.
For instance, the company chat might not be an ideal place for urgent inquiries. The signal-to-noise ratio will be outrageously disadvantageous for people getting the information they need to do their job when constantly receiving chat notifications.
As the owner or manager, you need to consider all workflow factors, put them in writing and create a robust structure. It’s also beneficial to have a dispatcher responsible for running that system based on the standard operating procedures that you set.
Additionally, it helps to have a service desk manager looking at the system from a bird’s eye view, seeing how it’s working, making adjustments and constantly evolving the system.
16 – Premium MSPs Know Better than to Hire Solely Based on Certifications
Awesome employees are your number one weapon in positioning your MSP as a premium brand. You need top notch staff delivering high quality results. There are some factors you should pay attention to when recruiting, especially when it comes to the support team.
Firstly, an MSP should hire front line technicians with personality, strong social skills, intelligence, and a positive attitude. These techs should not be hired based on certifications, experience or other resume related factors.
This is important because the front line is the interface between you and your customers. They need to understand the clients and how to give great service within the brand’s framework that you’ve provided them. They must also know how to navigate documentation to solve as many issues as possible.
Consequently, you need frontline people who have the customer service approach and a good ecosystem of standard operating procedures. It’s also important to manage the expectations of frontline technicians and dispatchers.
Try to find people who are new to the industry and excited and motivated to learn the service structure. These types of people will be eager to deliver good service as well as be mentored by you or the management.
Keep in mind that clients can sense when the person on the other end of the phone is empathizing with their situation, which makes them feel more positive about their issue being in safe hands. Frontliners who are engaged and enjoy what they do will give a great premium level of service and this is what you need in the end.
If you want to get advice from veterans in the MSP industry or if you are looking for high quality staff for your MSP, check out our MSP staffing offerings here. We have a wide pool of talented technicians who can take your MSP to the next level without the high costs of hiring locally