Half the world away….

Let 2016 be the year you make the time for face-to-face time with customers.

‘Tis the season to watch Christmas ads and the most talked about to date has got to be the John Lewis ‘man on the moon’. From the Guardian’s “John Lewis ad trains a telescope on the scourge of loneliness”[1] to the Independent’s description of “the commodification of loneliness”[2] – there has been comment in most papers – even the FT, which informed us that the retailer had spent £7m on this year’s Christmas advert campaign!

And social media reaction outstripped this by a mile. The ad was apparently mentioned on social media just under 40,000 times within the first few hours of its appearance online[3]; by 5pm the same day it had been viewed almost two million times; and more than 70,000 people tweeted using the hashtag #manonthemoon.[4]

Indeed the ad has had such an impact that thousands of people have volunteered to help the elderly over the festive season.

But what does this have to do with MSPs?

Well in a topical (if rather convoluted!) way – it’s a reminder of the perils of keeping your customers at a distance; a suggestion that in 2016 you make the time for face-to-face time – and that you try to include more customer contacts in these discussions: HR, marketing and data managers, for example, as they are increasingly involved in IT decision-making.

But to do this, you and your most valuable, client-facing people need to have time available.

This means freeing up your team to develop customer relationships: to find out what the real customer concerns are; to identify new opportunities and plan for future requirements. This is essential if you are to move up to servicing larger customers with more complex needs.

There is no doubt that customers perceive ‘face-time’ as particularly valuable (provided it is about ‘listening not selling’). This was highlighted by respondents in a recent CompTIA survey of managed services[5].

“Our service providers are into our headquarters regularly. We want you, the service provider, to meet with quite a few people when you engage our office. The face-time is invaluable.”
Chief Product Office, Financial Services

“Every month we want to see the MSPs we work with. That’s not negotiable.”
CIO, Technology Company

There are significant opportunities out there: annual growth in the SMB managed services market is predicted to exceed 20% over the next five years[6]. In 2016, managed security services look like growing at 22% [7]; IT ops management at 40%. And Office suites in the cloud are already growing at 50% year on year.[8]

You need to find out which of these are relevant to your customers. That means talking to them; and often.

So make 2016 the year you ‘get close’ to your customers and let them know how you can help them – with security, cloud and data, for example.

Make 2016 the year you offload the day-to-day NOC and Service Desk grind to Inbay to free up resources to do this.

Alternatively, you could always buy them a telescope!

 

[1] Guardian Opinion piece, 6 Nov 15
[2] Independent, 10 Nov 15
[3] www.campaignlive.co.uk
[4] Guardian Opinion piece, 6 Nov 15
[5] Source: CompTIA, 4th Annual Trends in Managed Services Study, May 2015
[6] Source: Market and Markets, Managed Services Market – Market Forecast and Analysis
[7] Source: Market and Markets, Managed Services Market – Market Forecast and Analysis
[8] Source: Forbes: Gartner Predicts Infrastructure Services Will Accelerate Cloud Computing Growth

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