msp startup business owner talking to people help clients help themselves

Help Clients Help Themselves

I’m going to share some scenarios and methods that you can use to help clients help themselves. There are client types out there that will critically look at your hours to understand what they’re paying for. Some are cost or time conscious and get concerned about frequent IT support calls.

Frequent and Similar Calls

We had an accounting firm that was using up a lot of time on frequent calls to the help desk from staff members. Most of the calls were pretty short, and we started to see some pretty consistent questions being asked. Sometimes by the same staff members. We clearly had an education opportunity before us.

This opportunity could yield some more productive tech time and make us look pretty good to the client! The first thing we did is gather up some of the data we’d collected and made a quick handout describing the problem – staff members who called, how often they called, and what they called about.

We didn’t have to put hours or times on there, these professionals know the cost of interruption. They had problems with some staff members. Some just needed some extra education. Others sought interruption from their work to blame on others. Then there were those who couldn’t be bothered to figure things out.

After explaining the problem, we gave the supervisor a handout. It was a basic troubleshooting guide, branded to the company, and to us of course. There were details specific to their business like the software, printers, or processes they use. Simple flow charts that gave them a few things to try before calling us (and providing our number of course).

After some more discussion with the business owner, we decided upon a tech liaison. This person at the client’s office would be consulted before the employee called us. They would ensure the troubleshooting steps were followed and make sure it was worth the call.

Adding Value to Non-Profits

There are a few non-profits in our client portfolio. We are huge supporters of these organizations which help the homeless, ill, and otherwise less fortunate. They help clients help themselves as well! Early in our relationship it was clear they had staff members who just didn’t know much about technology. We were getting some pretty simple calls and the hours were adding up quickly.

In recognition of this, we approached the executive director with a troubleshooting guide not unlike the one we provided our accounting client. This one was even more simplified, as many of the staff members were volunteers and knew even less about technology.

An added benefit of this engagement was that a volunteer who worked at another non-profit took a copy of our handout (with our branding, of course) and it turned out we were able to get in front of another fantastic non-profit.

Leave No Question

Our legal client’s partner was frustrated by our labor billings due to what they perceived as problems which weren’t getting resolved. We had some very difficult conversations about how much they were spending and why the problems kept happening. Despite some explanation, he still didn’t quite understand.

We offered to provide him the exact steps to resolve the problem when it occurred. We demonstrated that the problem was fully resolved at the conclusion of the process and that would work. He was very happy to be able to save some money! He agreed to have staff members use those steps to resolve future problems without incurring more labor.

The partner’s employees started solving the problem themselves, but it started to recur just as it had when we fixed it. By having the steps themselves, they learned that the way they used the technology make the problem return. From this we learned that staff members weren’t telling us the whole story when the problems occurred. Once we got the complete picture, we helped them make changes which enabled the staff to be much more efficient and look pretty good in the eyes of the partner as well.

Handouts to Happiness

It might take you some time to build some troubleshooting guides. We review ours from time to time and make sure we’re keeping up with technology changes. You can see where we help clients to help themselves, it is a fantastic opportunity for us. We can add value when we aren’t even there, build more cooperative relationships, and possibly add new clients!

What clever ways have you found to add value to clients when you aren’t there with them? Do you use some stickers on computers, mouse pads or other swag? How well have these things worked for you? Please share them with us!

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