Most businesses have a choice of voice providers – including one or more local telcos and innumerable over-the-top offerings. So why do your customers choose to do business with you?
For many CLECs and independent telcos, the answer is customer service. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the customer service provided by Comcast, and other other Tier 1 providers – and many smaller companies are rightly proud to build genuine relationships with their customers and offer high-quality support.
I’ve written previously about the importance of local customer service for independent telecoms, and also the long-term benefits for over-the-top UCaaS providers of specializing in a particular market vertical.
Whether you’re an independent telco or a CLEC offering hosted PBX, the quality of your relationships and customer service will be a key differentiator for you compared to “the big guys”.
If you’re unsure how you’re doing in this area, a very simple tactic is to send an email survey to learn your Net Promoter Score and then compare it to some industry benchmarks. A score above 0 is a good start, but really you want a score of 25+.
For now, let’s assume that you really do offer excellent support and service to your customers, and have great relationships with them. In that case, I have one question for you:
Are you maximizing the ways you can provide value to your happy customers?
If they already trust you and love your service – what other services could you provide those same customers to take advantage of the “relationship capital” you’ve created?
One idea – and the focus of this article – is managed IT services. If you’re not familiar, the idea is that a small business will outsource responsibility for the IT function of their organization – perhaps covering their IP network, server management, security and technical troubleshooting of end-user computer issues.
Why are managed IT services a good fit?
If you’re already providing hosted business voice services to your client, there are a some important benefits to selling managed IT services to those same clients.
- A typical business that purchases a hosted PBX solution today is pretty small – between 5 and 20 lines – and these are exactly the kind of businesses that are likely to outsource their IT. They’re not big enough to justify hiring a dedicated IT expert, but they’re probably very reliant on their IT systems working well. So it’s likely that a high proportion of your existing clients have a desire for this offering.
- By creating a broader and deeper relationship with your customers you increase your revenue, increase your opportunities to demonstrate the quality of your service and make it less likely that your customers will leave you for a competitor.
- If you manage your customer’s IP network that makes it easier for you to provide a higher quality VoIP service and makes it easier to identify and fix problems when they do arise. If you’ve ever tried to resolve a quality problem that was caused by an IP network you didn’t control you’ll appreciate how much time and customer frustration could be saved if you actually controlled the network. And better yet, you get paid for it!
What’s the catch?
There’s not a catch exactly, but there is a cost. In order to benefit from adding this new service, you need to be able to provide the same delightful, high-quality service to your customers when you’re responsible for their IT infrastructure as you do for their voice.
What’s involved in that?
- This will require new staff members who are IT experts – IT experts with great people skills.
- Your sales team will need to learn about the various services offered by Managed Services Providers (MSPs) and how to sell them.
- You’ll need new infrastructure and processes to allow you to offer these services in a scalable way.
This isn’t a move to be taken lightly – it requires time, capital investment and increased headcount. So you need to make a plan AND commit to a period of investment.
But… this could be a great strategic move for your company. By doubling-down on your strength (customer service) and the great relationships you have with your existing customers you can both increase your revenue-per-customer AND increase your rate of customer growth by reducing churn.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts and experiences either way. If you like the idea of this strategy but don’t know where to start let me know. This isn’t an area where we provide any consulting services, but I’d love to have a conversation with you and maybe help make some connections to others in the industry.