Silence is Deadly

Really Getting to Know Your Customers

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “Silence is Golden” once or twice? Well, when it comes to your business, it’s definitely not. In fact, it could be a sign of trouble. Communicating effectively with customers is a big part of a long-term growth strategy, and if they’re suffering in silence, you’re probably going to lose them without ever knowing you could have helped.

The last thing you want is to find yourself saying “I had no idea” or “the last time we talked, everything was fine” to a customer who’s on the way out the door. And if you’re a TSP who’s relying heavily on monthly recurring revenue, losing out on even 2 or 3 decently sized customers could have a serious impact on your revenue, margins, and company health.

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Staying aligned with your customers’ needs means cementing your relationship with each customer and making sure they really understand your value. The more your customers know you, and the better that individual users can use and understand your products, the better off you’ll be.

So, how do you manage effective customer communication at all times to prevent those unpleasant surprises? Don’t worry, there are some simple ways to keep your eyes and ears on your customers’ needs.

1. Find Ways to Help

Since your ultimate goal is to be indispensable to your customers, you should be concentrating on doing whatever it takes to support their success. Provide more touch points—like surveys, face-to-face check-ins, and business audits—that give you an opportunity to do more for your customers.

2. Expand Your Services

There are always other ways that you can support your customers’ success. Expand your list of services to include other options—like security, backup and disaster recovery, or cloud—that speak directly to the issues your customers are dealing with. You’ll find those in the surveys, check-ins, and audits you offered in Step 1.

3. Be An Advisor

Provide your customers with references, leads, and referrals that help them grow. That doesn’t mean you need to be running active campaigns on their behalf, but keep your ear to the ground and offer up referrals when they surface. Something that seems small to you could make a huge difference for your clients. Remember that most TSPs don’t have a huge sales force (or any sales team at all) so every lead you offer up can help.

4. Offer Expertise

Consider a specialization. When you verticalize, you’ll have the perspective and specific understanding that your customers need when it comes to their industry, and you can use it to offer up free guidance as a part of your services. Share what you see going on in their industry, relay the issues your other vertical-specific customers are struggling with, and share how they solved the problems. Over time, you’ll be an expert on the vertical-specific regulations and compliance needs.

The more embedded you are, the harder you’ll be to replace. Now you need some listening posts to keep you informed about what your customers need most. These listening posts should be varied, constant, and methodical. The cheapest option is to just ask – get on the phone and make a purposeful effort to check out your clients’ needs.

If you’re looking for something more in-depth, you can monitor and chart their communication patterns. What kind of inbound communication do you see? Is it the same people all the time? The same issues? You’ll be looking for spikes in complaints and inquiries, or complete communication drop-offs, which are real red flags. Drop-offs mean your customers could start to take you for granted, assuming everything is “fine” and forgetting the value you’re bringing to the table…which means the first cheaper deal to show up at their door could mean you lose a customer.

Got some money to spend on the listening efforts? Implement dedicated account managers with very defined metrics and goals around retention and growth. Consider a certain number of calls per day, on-site visits to observe behaviors, and other ways to collect customer information without having to do it all yourself. It’s a more expensive approach, for sure, but it also allows you to get a little more creative and make your customers feel the personalized love.

If you’re willing to put in a little more personal time, and you’re dealing with larger accounts, it might be time to enact some C-level interactions. Make calls from one leader to another, launch C-level specific initiatives, or even offer a C-level exclusive breakfast or lunch to show your appreciation—and come prepared with a 20-30 minute thought leadership presentation about what you see coming down the pipeline for your market. Follow it up with a networking event that adds more value.

Get your ears to the ground of your accounts in an ongoing, methodical, constant way. That prevents that silence or lack of awareness which means they don’t know what you’re doing for them. With the right listening posts employed, that deadly silence can be replaced with healthy, ongoing communication that establishes and strengthens ongoing relationships.

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