You may not have considered this, but you can change the way your customers interact with you. No IT provider wants to be pestered by every little thing that their clients can think up. You don’t want clients or your techs calling you when they need a basic update, or to ask you what the little icon means after you’ve installed a patch—it’s best if they only call when there’s a genuine issue or legitimate question, because there might not be so-called ‘stupid questions’, but there are those that can waste your time.
You’ve likely got clients of varying technical capabilities, and some will always need more help than others, but that’s not to say you can’t teach them things so they don’t need to lean on you when it comes to the small stuff. As you know, the more you can do remotely and the more you can accomplish without long conversations means more money in your pocket. That said, the following methods are great ways to train your clients so they can become more empowered computer users and so you can spend less time walking them through the easy stuff.
Webinars are a pretty simple way to teach clients about anything you feel they could benefit from learning, whether it’s basic things like MS Office tips and tricks, cyber-security and online safety tips, or even how to take their own backups. The more clients understand about how to keep themselves safe and productive, the better you look, the safer they are, and the more trouble you save everyone. Go To Meeting is a great way to host a webinar that allows you to walk attendees through a presentation or share your screen to show examples. If they have questions, they can type them into the system and get a live answer from you. Additionally, you can record these webinars and post them on your site so that new and existing clients can benefit from your presentation at any time.
There’s a variety of ways you can make a video, and many of them won’t cost you anything but a bit of time. You can record videos outlining certain computer tasks as you do them by recording a video screenshot using Microsoft’s Problem Steps Recorder (built into Windows 7. If you’ve never used it, just type psr.exe into the search bar of the start menu) or Camtasia. Consider putting together a variety of “tech tips” that your customers (or anyone in need of help) can access online. This is not only great for helping people, but also adds valuable content to your website, which can result in better SEO rankings, more web traffic, and even new clients.
Depending on the topic, PowerPoints or other presentations can be a pretty easy way to convey a message simply and effectively, plus you can easily share them with anyone through email. On top of that, you can place your presentation on sites like Slideshare, and embed it on your website or blog for anybody to see and benefit from. Other notable presentation tools are Prezi and for iOS, there’s Keynote. For more options, check out thisgreat article over on Mashable.
Plenty of MSPs have a blog where they publish any of the content I listed above, as well as informative blog articles that help clients solve a variety of tech-related issues. Blogging really doesn’t take up as much time as you think, and it’s pretty easy to slam together a helpful and informative article in a short amount of time. Additionally, your blog is a great place to show off your brand personality by sharing things that interest you and your clients.
You can bring your knowledge to your client’s office for trainings on anything you think might benefit them. This takes a little more time and effort, but certainly has that personal touch that your clients will really appreciate (bring donuts, they’ll love you). As with the other sections, educational sessions might vary, but it’s certainly helpful to empower your clients. Additionally, these types of trainings (especially those related to security, backup, and disaster recovery) can be an opportunity to sell more of your services (have you thought about cloud replicated backups?). Keep that in mind as you put together your sessions because you never know which clients might want to upgrade their services.
Direct mail seems to be the way of the past, but guess what? People do still read mail. Recently, I attended an event where a woman in charge of marketing for an MSP business explained that she mailed out a monthly newsletter to clients and potential clients. This was no one-page pamphlet, either. This thing was eight pages long and had news, tech tips—even a crossword puzzle! She reported that many people loved the newsletter. It certainly adds an extra flourish and personality to any business, even if this newsletter was a little long.
Sure, not everybody has the time to put something like that together, but you can certainly use newsletters to your advantage when it comes to sharing all types of information and they certainly don’t have to be direct mail, so consider sending out a monthly email newsletter that has some news, any interesting articles or videos you’ve added to your site, as well as a brief mention of any specials or services you’re trying to promote. Make it about the information, not so much about making a sale, because people are more interested in solving their problems than buying your stuff, so be sure to focus mainly on how your knowledge can help them sort out their IT problems.