Rampant Referrals For MSPs : Part 4

Rampant Referrals - Part 8

Rampant Referrals for MSPs : Self-Sabotage (Part B)

Okay, so as a quick recap from last time, we started looking at ways that MSPs can reduce their referral-flow as a result of reduced client-service satisfaction, as a result of service-sabotage. This started off with a quick appreciation that we all have lots of biases and blindspots about our abilities, so it’s important to have benchmarking in place. That benchmarking ideally needs to be against ‘good’ competitors and we need to make sure we don’t misinterpret the metrics that we measure. Now, we’re going to continue this and then finish the service-sabotage theme.

Overconfidence in Unique Selling Propositions (USPs): I mentioned this one earlier … it starts on one end of the spectrum with believing that being competent at what you do or liked by the clients is a USP – it isn’t.  Then it extends to having a proper USP such as a (like a patented process or exclusive partnership) automatically make their overall service superior without continuous improvement.

Well, I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I’ve thought to myself  ”Aha – now I’ve got a really useful little process here and it’ll make me rich” – and then someone comes along and copies it and annoyingly they’re often better at it than I am – which is particularly frustrating! So, the point I’m trying to make is that  it doesn’t matter what you’ve got, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels – especially now that everything is quicker and easier to research and copy than ever before in history.

Even if you’re in a tight niche – such as being a managed service provider just for dentists or architects and you’ve got expertise with their particular software and systems, you can guarantee that someone else will copy you, sooner or later. Consequently, you must keep learning, innovating, improving and delivering the best service you can and definitely have a timetable an roadmap for your self-improvement schedule.

Overvaluing Product Over Service: This is similar to the last issue. Companies that originated as product-focused may overvalue their product quality and undervalue the importance of service, leading to a skewed perception of overall service quality. This is very similar to believing that you have a USP that will keep you ahead forever.

The holy grail of this is the sustainable competitive advantage, as any business textbook will tell you. It’s also why I named my newsletter the sustainable competitive advantage – because I hope it gives MSPs a competitive advantage and I also like to research news and stories about tech that it helping the planet – so it’s a bit of a play on words. But getting back to the point, a sustainable competitive advantage is actually quite hard to get, in my opinion. So again, no matter what product you’ve got your hands on – it will likely get copied. It happened in the security space and it’ll happen again and again with AI in pretty much all spaces, is my guess.
Again – innovation and delevopment and giving better service is the only way forward – not complacency.

Assuming One-size-fits-all: Believing that a single service model or solution can meet all customer needs can lead to overestimating service effectiveness and customer satisfaction.

In an ideal world, everyone would you me a monthly stipend and you could go an play golf. In the real world, different people have different needs and wants. It’s no exception for MKLINK and our membership services – nobody is the same. One size does NOT fit all. Unless you have massive scale and can afford to basically not care what your customers think – like Microsoft Google, then I doubt that you can adopt a one-size fits all approach without some impact to your service standards.

Assuming Low Price Equals High Value: Companies might equate their lower prices with higher customer value, mistakenly believing that this alone makes their service superior. It doesn’t. Your clients won’t value you any more for being cheap. In fact they’ll probably end up becoming resentful and so will you – cheap prices just mean there’s less money in the till for good service – you probably know this already so I won’t well on it. Again, unless you have scale, being cheap usually doesn’t work well in the long run and service will suffer.

Overreliance on Technology: Companies might believe that their use of advanced technology automatically translates to better service, ignoring the human elements that customers may value more. Think “Ticketing Systems”. Think Phone systems where you’re forced to enter various combinations of buttons. Think of so-called chat-bots which are Usually just time-wasting bots as people want real people and real answers. Tech people often like shiny, techy things, so this can be an issue – especially when it cuts out the humanity of your business.

What I’m basically saying is that it’s easy for MSPs to confuse efficiency with effectiveness: The legendary Peter Drucker said “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” This confusion between the two can lead to a belief that fast service is always synonymous with good service and that’s not necessarily the case. Remember, you are in the people business.

Misjudging the Impact of Third-party Partners: If a service involves third-party partners or vendors, companies might not fully account for their impact on the overall service experience.

Just like you should have controls and feedback processes to monitor the quality of your work – this should definitely be extended to third party companies as well. Again, as apart of some research I conducted for an MSP in terms of their customer-satisfaction, the outsourced provider they were using had definitely dropped the ball and it was dramatically affecting the hard-won goodwill of the business.

Service Is Okay.

Okay, so this one is a bit of a surprise and most people don’t think about it. Surely, if your service is okay, you don’t have anything to worry about?

The fact is that unless you’re either in the industry or have a particular interest, in IT  IT support and managed services aren’t very sexy, for the vast majority of business-people. An architect is typically interested in design and buildings and a lawyer is generally interested in law. Making sure their IT works is largely functional and utilitarian.

So if it works – that’s all very well and good but it doesn’t in and of itself make people want to rave on about it. It doesn’t really matter how amazing your encrypted backup is, for the most-part, people don’t think about it and it’s not something they think about – unless it goes wrong of course. So, having a lack of ‘Wow’ moments is possibly not something that should be considered a kind of sabotage but I’m going to include it here anyway.

Creating WOW moments for people to have a reason to talk about you with their colleagues will be an entire session within this series. But for now, just remember that you can offer okay service and with nothing particularly wrong with it – and STILL not get the referrals you could be getting because – basically – the service might be fine but it is simply mundane and boring.

For Next Time, we’ll be looking at Ways MSPs can sabotage referrals in terms of their motivation.


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Mike Knight