Create QBRs That Benefit Both MSPs and Clients

March 30, 2021 Create QBRs That Benefit Both MSPs and Clients

By Captain's Chair

Most Managed Service Providers (MSPs) miss a prime opportunity to stand out in their client’s eyes, which is during Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). In fact, these meetings are famously dreaded by MSPs.

Why? Because traditional MSPs regard these meetings as an onerous task to be avoided, where a spotlight is cast on recent IT problems. The meetings also tend to be precipitated by a mad dash to assemble a momentary performance snapshot that doesn’t convey to the client the true value a good MSP is providing.

Nobody Wants to Be in That Meeting

Who wants to be in a meeting to go over a list of recent computer or technical problems? The aversion is well-earned. The MSP has to troll through arcane documentation (a spreadsheet here, a Google doc there) to assemble, say, a list of current laptops in use or Microsoft Office 365 licenses. Then, on to a discussion of the last time the network went down ….

Both sides are disappointed by QBRs like that — it’s downright drudgery.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The key for next-gen MSPs is to envision QBRs as holistic, strategic conversations with clients. The Captain’s Chair dashboard helps accomplish this by serving up the needed technical stats 24/7 in a digestible format, allowing the MSP to shift away from reporting them and engage in a more strategic conversation with the client.

People Are More Expensive Than Software

Migrating the reporting of technical data from a person to a smart software interface adds value, because it frees up an IT employee’s valuable (and expensive) time with an inexpensive solution. Suddenly, the answers to important yet mundane technical questions (e.g., the number of copies of software a firm has) come from a piece of software instead of an employee. This frees him/her to deliver much more impactful insights, during a QBR or in other ongoing conversations between MSP and client.

This shift in relationship between MSP and client provides a huge win. Instead of clients focused during QBRs on the last time the network went down and how frustrated the employees were, the conversation shifts to the MSP using the interface to document all the times they automatically (and invisibly, in the client’s eyes!) backed up systems to prevent data loss.

Emphasize Wins Over Errors

In an age of cost constraints and commodification of MSPs, high-performing MSPs are giving their clients value of which the customer is not even aware. Because of this, QBRs can degenerate into defensive, frustrating gripe sessions — rather than strategic dialogues about how the MSP contributes to the client’s business plan (punctuated with a few end zone spikes and victory dances).

The key is documenting an MSP’s good work and communicating it regularly to the client. It also involves using technical savvy, but in a new way — not so much fixing a laptop that’s crashed (old-school IT firm) but envisioning how technology will help the client reach its goals (next-gen MSP).

The payoff is enhanced client loyalty and better new business opportunities for the MSP.

A Bad QBR Agenda?

Think back to some of the worst QBRs you’ve attended. Chances are they were:

  • Reactive — focused on the past
  • A yawn-fest of technical data assembled from various spreadsheets and emails for a one-time snapshot
  • Fixated on recent IT problems, with the MSP explaining why

Or a Next-Gen QBR Agenda?

Alternately, the most dynamic QBRs will be:

  • Proactive — forward-looking
  • A platform to discuss mitigation of future problems, which implies a partnership based on trust and respect for the MSP’s strategic and creative ideas
  • A victory lap — the MSP must show the client the value it has provided, especially strategic work to reduce problems and achieve goals; if you don’t tell that story, they won’t be aware
  • A focus on otherwise “invisible” proactive maintenance — e.g., keeping servers updated with antivirus software to prevent workflow disruption

Don’t Be the Maytag Repair Guy

To prosper and grow as an MSP, don’t emulate the famous Maytag repairman, whose eminence rested on his not needing to do much while the product performs.

Successful next-gen MSPs understand the way to stand out in a commodified field is for the client to measure your performance based on strategic value delivered — via an ongoing, dynamic, constructive communication flow.