Transparency Creates Strong Client Relationships

April 08, 2021 Transparency Creates Strong Client Relationships

By Captain's Chair

Traditional Managed Service Providers (MSPs) may feel their work is best understood only obliquely by their clients — like an IT magician doing fancy things behind a curtain. Further, they rely on a creaky communication model from days gone by that assumes clients don’t want to discuss IT needs with them — “they just want the machines to work.”

The latter is true: Smoothly operating systems certainly remain part of an MSP’s job and are significant in terms of how their work is rated by clients. But transparent, robust, and frequent conversations between the two are a dynamic yet underutilized source of value. In fact, an open dialogue style can create a path to success for next-generation MSPs, with the promise of a much better relationship with customers. It’s an area ripe with opportunity for an ambitious, forward-looking MSP.

When Communication Is Lacking

First, let’s look at the opposite of transparency in an MSP’s business relationship (or any relationship, for that matter… feel free to try these ideas on your spouse!). What happens when communications are cloudy, guarded, or infrequent?

First, when a new problem or issue appears that hasn’t been discussed or forecast previously, it becomes your problem as an MSP. It’s a surprise for the client — even if the MSP had a sense that it could happen — and clients aren’t fans of IT surprises.

A similar situation happens when an MSP tells the client everything’s fine in terms of their IT, but a new problem appears. At worst, the MSP must shoulder the blame; at best, it’s an uncomfortable conversation with suspicion or frustration directed at the MSP. The problem becomes the focus — not the 100 things the MSP may have done, quietly, to prevent 100 other problems, nor the ways in which the client may have contributed to the problem.

Avoid the Blame Game with Honest Dialogue

When a problem appears, its roots may partly lie with the client — e.g., a lack of capital expenditures, delays in decision-making, deferred maintenance, poor planning, and more. But that’s not how the client sees it — they’ll likely view it as the MSP’s failure.

Instead, a good MSP uses transparency and open dialogue to build trust by being honest about what is needed from an IT perspective to achieve the client’s goals. This directness benefits both parties in multiple ways:

  • Providing the client with more strategic insight into how technology supports their business goals
  • Displaying the holistic insight and strategic prowess of a good MSP by creating a communication forum for them to share expertise and predict where future problems may occur

Transparency Creates Trust

A well-run, next-gen MSP is transparent — it doesn’t hide from facts. In addition, effective MSPs are not modest about making sure the client knows the good work they’re doing that may be invisible to clients who are naturally focused on their daily business more than IT (which is almost everyone).

That type of open relationship is aided by a product like the Captain’s Chair dashboard because it tells the complete story of an MSP’s work. The dashboard reveals a firm’s whole IT landscape, documenting areas of technical strengths and challenges that can tie into larger, more strategic issues.

A key corollary to this approach is an open communication style employing frequent dialogues — not just waiting for nerve-wracking Quarterly Business Reviews — to discuss challenges and solutions.

A Common Meeting Ground

Part of the Captain’s Chair product value lies in its integration of the IT service portal with the dashboard. That seamless union creates a coalesced IT experience for the client, eliminating disparate resources to make IT requests and document the work.

Because of the transparency involved — information isn’t hidden or manipulated; it’s just presented — trust is created. And trust creates amazing synergies. It leads to greater satisfaction on both sides, better client retention, and a greater share of new business wins compared to old-school MSPs intent on a reactionary and fading business model.