Customer Experience & Retention for Managed Services

Be Different. Deliver Excellence.

Jul 14, 2020

Video Above: Hannah O'Donnell gets insight from Colin Knox at SolarWinds for MSP tips on customer retention and experience. Collabrance provides SolarWinds as our RMM Tool to MSPs.

MSP Interview with Colin Knox, Head of Community Engagement at SolarWinds

Customers will pay more for a great experience, and that allows for revenue growth within existing accounts. In what ways does SolarWinds provide a great experience? How can MSPs implement similar best practices to also provide a great experience?

We try to focus on empowering and leveling up our partners so they can become better at what they do, resulting in mutual success. One of the ways we do this is by offering business training for leadership/management, and sales/marketing. We also give partners access to our subject matter experts on a number of topics like automation or operational efficiency, security, data protection, etc.

Some important things MSPs can do to provide great experiences:

  • Standardizing is important to help drive consistency and deliver an optimal experience with it. This includes standardizing the onboarding experience with guided implementation from the very start. While you may have been able to build a relationship with decision makers during the sale, the onboarding experience will be your first impression to the remainder of their company.
  • Adding personalized touches. This will help you understand more about the customer’s business, roles, applications, and make the transition easier for them.
  • Offering regular education to help the customer do their job better because of your proactive technical support.

Customers are also willing to pay for simplicity. How does SolarWinds simplify processes to your customers?

It’s all about making things easier! Easy to try, easy to buy, and easy to use. We provide Customer Success Managers to help coach our partners on how they can better navigate their business, learn how we can help support their needs, and make adjustments as needed.

Customer Retention – it’s six to seven times more expensive to acquire a net new logo. However, it is much easier to sell, educate, and improve your existing customer’s environments. How does SolarWinds do this for their MSPs? How can MSPs create higher customer retention?

We try to meet with partners at least on a quarterly basis to understand their business and how we can help support them. It’s less about a pitch, and more about showing value and reminding them of how we are helping them drive business forward and be more successful using our products and services. We want to come to them with refreshed and new opportunities.

To create higher customer retention, I would encourage MSPs to constantly educate your customers. Have regular conversations to help them understand their needs so when you have a new offering, they already are on board. 64% of consumers are very likely to adopt a new product/service immediately after it’s introduced by a company that offers a good customer experience. Providing education can also build your reputation as a trusted technology advisor and can establish you as a leader to the company rather than just a supplier or vendor. Let them know you want to grow together.

What is one thing about sales you believe that most MSPs would think is crazy?

ASK FOR THE SALE! When I used to work for an MSP, we had about an 40% close rate on our proposals, but when we just asked for the sale, our close rate increased to 80%. This also included getting the contracted signed immediately after closing the sale which also helped speed up the duration from 6 to 4 weeks. Nearly half of all buyers have made an impulse purchase after receiving a more personalized experience and being asked for things.

What is one thing you see other MSPs doing that you think is crazy?

The craziest thing I think MSPs are doing in their sales is making it price based instead of value based. When I was working at an MSP, we were confident in our pricing, and if a customer didn’t have the budget for us, they weren’t going to be a good fit for us. You don’t want to spend countless hours trying to convince them to increase their budget. Save time, frustration and effort by leading with value.

Another crazy thing is if the MSP doesn’t answer or pick up the phone when prospects or customers are calling them. You need to be following up with leads and customers. Responsiveness and availability is so important. If you don’t respond, your competitor will.

For other MSPs listening to this, what is one action they can take the next two weeks to help them improve their customer experience?

Start communicating transparently about your business with both your employees and clients. Opening dialogue can build deeper relationships rooted with trust. Servicing trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. Without trust, you have no relationship. Trust is something you have to work on, and something you have to earn. Trust is a two-way street. Be transparent in your conversations - that will ultimately increase engagement.

Use Quarterly Business Reviews to Provide Better Customer Experiences

Build your relationship, continue adding value, and identify opportunities to upsell customers by performing recurring Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). For more information on how to follow the best practices discussed today including resources and a framework for success check out our recommended QBR Process.

QBR Process for MSPs



About Colin

Colin Knox, Head of Community Engagement at SolarWinds, works to shape a superior partner experience across the MSP organization. As a former MSP technician, MSP owner, and CEO of Passportal, Colin is passionate about MSP success. In his role at SolarWinds, Colin serves as a hands-on advocate for partners, helping them to fully leverage MSP resources, while providing guidance based on his own industry expertise.



Category: Business Practices

About The Author

Hannah O'Donnell

Hannah O'Donnell, Director of Sales, is responsible for building the strategic vision for sales and marketing while providing business planning, education, training, and sales assistance to partners. She is also responsible for originating new partnerships for Collabrance. She was recognized as one of Women of the Channel by CRN, a brand of The Channel Company in 2019 and 2020. Hannah started at Collabrance in 2013 as a Strategic Business Advisor. In 2014, Hannah was nominated by her peers and won Rookie of the Year, and in 2015 became a member of the 100% Sales Achievement Club at GreatAmerica. Hannah earned her business degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Iowa.