Ask Intronis: How can I collect and incorporate customer feedback?

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss on Mar 28, 2016 8:00:00 AM

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Ask_Intronis_Logo_2016.pngQ: My MSP business is looking to expand, and we’re planning to open offices in other cities and service customers in new verticals. It’s exciting, but I know that as businesses scale there are usually growing pains. Before we start expanding, I want to make sure we find out from our existing customers what’s going well and what we could improve. How can I get my customers to share their feedback, and how can I incorporate that feedback into my MSP’s operations?

Congratulations! It sounds like things are going especially well at your MSP, but it’s always a good idea to check in with your customers and find out how things are going from their perspective. As a service provider, you want your customers to be happy, and a big part of that is making sure they feel heard. Often, though, customers are reluctant to share their opinions or only want to share every compliant they’ve ever had with your services. So, we understand it can be challenging to collect helpful feedback that’s also actionable.

To help you gather useful feedback from your customers, we spoke with Intronis’ Jasmine Lombardi, VP of Partner Success, and Abbey Greene Barr, one of our Partner Success Managers. Jasmine and Abbey work closely with our Partners and regularly encourage them to let us know how we’re doing. They also know how to take that feedback and make changes to improve our business and partnerships—it’s something they do every day! Here are Jasmine’s and Abbey’s recommendations for collecting feedback from your customers and putting it to good use.

Three methods for collecting customer feedback

1. Meet face-to-face 

Jasmine and Abbey find in-person meetings to be one of most effective ways to gather input on  customers’ successes and challenges. To create opportunities for your customers to meet you in person and share their feedback, Jasmine recommends:feedback.jpg

-Hosting informal lunches - Invite your customers to lunch outside the office. These casual meetings can help enhance relationships and provide a good way to obtain candid feedback.

-Scheduling on-site meetings - Visit your customers’ offices to check in and see how things are going.

-Holding training seminars - Invite your customers to a Lunch and Learn event or host a training session at their office. This will help you educate their employees on new technologies and gain critical feedback from them at the same time.

2. Ask for feedback digitally 

Some customers might be reluctant to share feedback with you directly. If you find a customer is more reserved, give them the opportunity to share their suggestions with you online or through email instead. Here are a few of Jasmine’s and Abbey’s recommendations:

-Suggestions mailbox - Create a dedicated email account for feedback, and encourage customers to submit their written feedback by mentioning the address in your email communications.

-Newsletters with feedback links - Many MSPs send monthly newsletters highlighting relevant news and information for their customers. This offers a nice opportunity to include a section asking for feedback.

-Social media posts - Ask open ended questions on your social media accounts. These posts can trigger both positive and negative feedback, but if you respond in a timely fashion and offer help to the customer, it reflects well on your brand either way and could even help bring in new business.

-Surveys - You can send out a number of surveys throughout the year, potentially with different questions for the end users at the business and for the executives. In addition, you should always send end-of-support surveys (or ask the questions on a phone call) to capture customer satisfaction as well as a customer’s reasons for cancelling.

3.  Schedule regular check-in calls

Having a conversation on the phone is another effective way to gather input from your customers. At Intronis, we call these check-in calls “health checks” because just like going to the doctor, you need to have a checkup every once and while, no matter how healthy you might be. Schedule a reasonable number of check-in calls per year, starting off with a QBR (Quarterly Business Review) with each customer to evaluate how things are going. The customer will remember that you reached out, and they will appreciate the gesture, even if the conversation is short and doesn’t uncover any significant feedback in the beginning. Over time, having these open lines of communication will build trust between you and your customers and encourage them to vocalize their constructive feedback.  

Feedback

Tips for incorporating customer feedback

Once you get customers to share their feedback on your services, you’ll need to find ways to address their concerns and suggestions. Here are a few tips from Jasmine and Abbey to help you start that process:

Be willing to listen and learn

It’s important to listen to your customer’s feedback, even if it’s not what you want to hear. This means being open to their suggestions. A rule of thumb Abbey follows is to always assume you can learn from your customers. Ask them questions about things you might not be well versed in, such as certain compliance regulations they’re concerned about in their industry. It’s OK to let them know that you’ll get back to them, and then take the time to research and understand the topic. You’ll be surprised by what you learn and how it can help your business. For example, after studying that particular set of regulations maybe you’ll be able to sell more effectively to other SMBs in the same vertical.

Prioritize collective feedback

As you’re listening to your customers’ feedback, be sure you aren’t easily swayed by every individual customer. It’s important to hear their feedback and then look at what to prioritize instead of trying to address every suggestion as it comes in.  Every customer wants to feel heard, though, so you should always acknowledge customer feedback even if you decide not to address it immediately.

Look for creative solutions

Focus on what customers’ underlying needs are and see if you can find a creative way to address it. You can do this by asking follow-up questions, such as why they want a certain service or change made to their current technology. A solution might already exist, but you just need to take the time to understand the pain point so you can connect them to that solution. For example, they might want to switch to using a consumer-grade backup product that they heard about on the radio. Take this opportunity to explain why the business-grade solution you’re reselling offers more secure and reliable backups. They might not have realized these benefits, and it’s up to you to let them know that you’re the expert and are there to help them find the right solution for their business.

In the end, some of your customers aren’t going to speak up and voice their feedback, while others might be willing to regularly share how things are going. As their IT service provider, your goal is to build relationships and provide your customers different opportunities to voice their feedback. We hope using Jasmine’s and Abbey’s tips will uncover useful and actionable feedback that will help your MSP business  grow and be successful.

For more tips, download our e-book: 5 Big Tips  for Running a More Productive IT Service Business 

Ask Intronis is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between. Submit your questions by emailing AskIntronis@intronis.com.

Photo Credit: Alan Levine viaFlickr.Used under Creative Commons 2.0 license. 

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