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Above and Beyond – How to Be a Surprisingly Good MSP

Above and Beyond – How to Be a Surprisingly Good MSP

There are a lot of MSPs out here. No one knows the exact number, but recent estimates have put the figure at 150,000 globally and 40,000 in the U.S.

The M&A surge of recent years has led to rampant consolidation, so these numbers might have gone down, but don’t think for one second this means that competition has cooled off.

On the contrary, Datto’s Global State of the MSP Report found that, for the third year running, MSPs across all regions stated that their main challenge was competition – 35%, an increase from 29% in 2022. Finding a competitive edge is more crucial than ever. Find an edge, or get edged out.

If you’re a small to mid-sized MSP, it might feel as though you’ve got an uphill battle on your hands. With the emergence of ‘super MSPs’ – large platform MSPs formed by mergers and acquisitions – a new player has emerged, with capabilities and capacities that our industry hasn’t seen before.

But don’t worry – there’s still room for smaller MSPs to make an impact!

The same report from Datto found that revenue is up for MSPs across the board; most respondents saw a rise in revenue over the last year, with North America taking the lead in revenue expansion. Moreover, a significant portion of MSPs globally reported a revenue increase greater than 10%.

MSPs are growing, but with competition on the rise, standing out and winning new business takes (and will continue to take) innovation, adaptability, and above all else, a commitment to service excellence: to not just being a good MSP, but a surprisingly good MSP – an outstanding MSP.

That’s how we see things at least, and in this blog post, we’re sharing strategies and tips your MSP can use to stand out in a crowded field. These tips are all about being so good it will come as a pleasant surprise to any client who’s lucky enough to partner with your MSP business.

CX is King!

We’ve said this before. In fact, it’s the title of another blog post all about the importance of customer experience (CX) to your MSP’s success. And CX is important, make no mistake: Datto’s report found that “improve customer experience” was tied with “grow revenue” for the top strategic priority among MSP respondents in North America.

You’d better believe the MSP down the street is working hard to improve their customers’ experience, so let’s talk about the true key to CX mastery: your technicians.

When MSPs think about excellent CX, their minds often go to ‘the little things’ – those small, personal gestures that show your clients how much you care. While these are great – never underestimate the power of a handwritten note – a lot of MSPs go ‘above and beyond’ without first making sure things are ship-shape ‘below deck.’

Do you know what your customers want even more than a cool gift basket? Great service – fast, polite, helpful, proactive, professional, etc. And great service starts with your technicians. If you want happy clients, you need happy techs. Your processes and your personal gestures can never be so good that they’ll undo the damage done by rude or careless techs.

Building a team of techs who are ‘all-in’ on your MSP’s mission to provide out-of-this-world service delivery is an ongoing project. If you want techs who treat your clients like people – and not just sources of revenue – then it’s your job to treat your techs the exact same way. Model the behavior you want to see: check in on your techs, spend time with them on the front lines, talk to them about their lives, say THANK YOU and I APPRECIATE YOU – and mean it.

And if you have to fake it, you’ve already lost. If you don’t actually care about your techs as people, you’ve already lost. If you view your employees solely as means to your ends, you’ve already lost.

Pro Tip: Think about your vendor partners to bring clarity to your own CX efforts. Which vendors do you like working with? What do they do to secure your satisfaction and loyalty? Leverage these insights to shape your own CX approach.

Bonus Pro Tip: Think deeply about the KPIs your MSP uses to track technicians’ performance, as the right KPIs coupled with effective feedback loops can do absolute wonders for motivation. Think deeply about how your support desk is structured, too. Beyond the typical ‘three-tiered structure,’ there is an ocean of possibilities. Here at The 20, we recently revamped our entire support structure, and while we won’t spill details here, we will say it has helped us…

  • Forge stronger relationships with end clients and with each other
  • Achieve a more intimate and in-depth understanding of end clients’ IT environments
  • Resolve clients’ issues faster and with less stress!

Surprise, Surprise

Brace yourself for an earth-shattering revelation: If you want to be surprisingly good, be…surprising!

In all seriousness, a tried-and-true strategy for standing out as an MSP is doing things that your customers weren’t expecting, but WILL love. This can be something simple like the aforementioned gift box or handwritten note, but an even more powerful surprise is something that brings real value to their business. Because let’s be honest, your clients didn’t hire your MSP to make them feel warm and fuzzy; they hired you to help them succeed as an organization.

Here are two ways you can wow your clients:

Tailored Training Sessions

Training sessions in general are a great way to demonstrate that you’re truly invested in your clients’ success. But even better are training sessions tailored specifically to their unique needs. Create a customized training session for a client based on your knowledge of their goals, IT environment, workflows, etc. This will work wonders.

Rockin’ Roadmaps

MSPs, in theory, are supposed to fuel their clients’ long-term success with forward-looking IT strategies (in practice, results may vary!). Creating a ‘technology roadmap’ for clients is a common practice, but in our experience, very few MSPs have mastered the art of roadmapping. A common mistake we see: not responding enough to clients’ perceived pain points (i.e., making the roadmap primarily or even exclusively about the projects and problems you think are important). Yes, you’re the technology expert, but your role as an MSP is to help clients achieve their goals.

Pro Tip: Use roadmaps to showcase your MSP’s intimate understanding of your client’s industry. A client likely won’t be wowed by the mere fact that you created a roadmap for them, but they will be wowed if that roadmap shows evidence that you’ve taken a deep dive into their industry, and thought deeply and strategically about their future success.

I Just Called to Say…

Your MSP should conduct QBRs and other scheduled check-ins with clients. However, every so often, surprise them with a spontaneous phone call to check in or follow up about an issue that your MSP resolved. If feasible, the occasional in-person visit can do wonders for maintaining strong personal connections. And don’t hesitate to sweeten the deal by bringing some coffee and donuts.

Good MSPs always check in and communicate with their clients when they have to (when it’s urgent, scheduled, etc.). Great MSPs check in when they have to, and every so often, ‘just because.’

That said, all of this advice should be filtered through nuanced judgment based on your personal relationships with clients. If your gut is telling you a client won’t appreciate something, take that intuition seriously. Your client relationships are exactly that – relationships – and while standardization is integral to success as a managed service provider, there will never be a one-size-fits-all template for keeping clients happy.

The 20 Helps MSPs Be Surprisingly Good

The 20 MSP Group consists of 150+ small and medium-sized independently owned MSPs who share knowledge and resources – including a 24/7 Help Desk/SOC and a battle-tested business model – to grow and scale faster and more easily than they ever could working alone. Running an MSP is a lot easier – and more fun – with The 20 at your side. Just ask Tom, Rocky, Scott, Seann, Bryan, or any of the other MSP owners who’ve joined our group.

Your MSP has the tech expertise. We understand the business side of things. Together, we can go far.

Schedule a call to find out if becoming a member of The 20 MSP Group makes sense for your MSP.

Head over to our homepage to learn more about The 20 MSP Group and how we help MSPs win.