HOW TO USE CUSTOMER INPUT TO INNOVATE AND DIFFERENTIATE IN 2021
What do you do when one of your customers—formally or informally—gives you feedback? Do you file it away for later and forget about it, or do you take steps to evaluate its potential?
For Liongard’s Colin Hendricks, VP of Engineering, and Matt Miller, Director of Product Management, the answer is easy: you take that nugget of information and examine it closely to see if you’ve just been handed gold. Real-world feedback from your customers has the potential to differentiate your company and elevate processes, service and customer satisfaction, if you take the right steps to obtain, filter and act on it.
“Customers are smarter about their needs, being closer to their day-to-day wants, problems and pain points,” Miller says. “The effect of not listening to customers is potentially missing key insights about how the product or service could be better, or ways you’re adding value that you hadn’t considered before.”
If you’re not using customer feedback to its full potential, make it a New Year’s resolution to do so this year.
Gathering Golden Nuggets of Wisdom
As an MSP operating in the background, your work often goes unnoticed—except when something goes awry and triggers a call from a customer. If you don’t have effective ways of gathering and investigating customer ideas, problems and pain points so you can address them proactively, you could run the risk of drowning in negative feedback.
To start obtaining a broader spectrum of input, Hendricks recommends doing two things:
- Regular account management with customer interaction on a personal level; and
- Having a quantifiable way for your customers to provide comments and vote on ideas.
In both cases, you’ll be able to find out what needs your MSP isn’t meeting for the customer.
“MSPs usually have defined service offerings, and some things fall outside of the regular service,” Miller says. “Finding out what needs or pain points aren’t being serviced is important from the perspective of customer happiness. But it’s also important from the perspective of identifying potentially unserved or under-served needs that you could offer as new products or services.” In essence, feedback is an opportunity to increase that ever important monthly recurring revenue (MRR).
Evaluating and Filtering Feedback
“For an MSP delivering services, deciding if and how the new service offering could be made profitable is a key next step,” Miller says.
Though all customer feedback should be considered, it’s unfeasible to act on all of it.
Hendricks elaborates, “It’s a balancing act. You want your customers to feel valued, and you don’t want to miss out on attracting new customers because you’re not implementing things that matter to them. But you also don’t want to find yourself creating ‘gold-plated features’ that are helpful but don’t bring in any new revenue.”
To determine what feedback to prioritize, Hendricks recommends using a roadmap approach like software companies do.
Some common comments MSPs hear from customers should definitely be prioritized, including:
- “Why am I paying you so much?”
Solution: Find a way to quantify the value you provide. When everything is working as it should, it’s easy for your customers to forget that it takes real work and technology to keep things running well.
- “It takes too long to get an answer when I call you.”
Solution: Quantify response times to show that you’re actually pretty fast compared to industry standards; or, use the quantification to drive faster response times. You may discover that the root cause of the complaint comes down to how you prioritize issues.
- “We’ve had too many issues and downtime instances with your MSP lately.”
Solution: Get to core of why this is happening, then put those problems in the roadmap to fix. Eliminate single points of failure.
The common thread to addressing each of these issues is automation.
Working Toward Solutions that Stick
Sometimes, addressing customer feedback entails looking beyond your current resources and doing things a different way, Miller notes. Using Liongard’s advanced automation platform has helped many MSPs address the root causes of negative customer feedback. With automation, you have:
- Complete and accurate documentation, meaning fewer errors and confusion;
- Unified visibility into your customer environments, for faster issue resolution;
- Historical timelines of all system data, to make troubleshooting easier;
- The ability to set alerts for possible issues, so you can take a more proactive approach to system monitoring and maintenance;
- Easy-to-access metrics and reports, to quantify the volume of work you manage for a customer and provide evidence of the value you add; and
- More efficiency every step of the way, so you have the time to work on your roadmap and continue improving for your customers.
Proven Ways to Strike Feedback Gold
In the end, Liongard’s Core Values guide our every action, including how we address feedback.
“Listen and learn is one of our core values,” Miller says. “You can’t become a more effective service provider or product company without genuinely listening to your customers and learning from them.”
“Another core value of ours is Focus on visible progress,” Hendricks explains. “As a customer myself, I’m often much happier when I’m given a status update to a problem. For example, suppose a flight is delayed. If the airline can tell me why it’s late and when it will finally leave, I’m much more content—even though the reality of when we’re leaving has not changed.” The same mindset applies to addressing customer feedback: focusing on updating your customer and showing them that you’re working toward a resolution goes a long way.
Because Liongard was built specifically to make MSPs’ lives easier, we take the feedback we receive to heart. Our Ideas Portal gives our partners the opportunity to propose, upvote and add to new ideas, which we review frequently as we update our roadmap. To date, we’ve shipped 84 partner ideas, with another 17 planned and scores more under consideration.
Other ways we solicit customer feedback that may also work for your MSP include:
- Support desk requests
- Direct research and UX feedback sessions
- Our Partner Council and Advisory Board
- Interaction at conferences (virtual and in-person)
Partner insights have stretched Liongard to keep innovating and finding solutions that address MSPs’ biggest pain points. “The first Partner Council helped us determine that Power BI integration would be a good feature to add,” Hendricks says. “Plus, day-to-day interaction with customers via our support desk and the resulting bug fixes help make our product better all the time.”
“From our original ‘automated documentation’ messaging to our new reporting feature set to launch next month, user feedback has always been central to who we are,” concludes Miller.
If you’re ready to see how advanced automation can help free up your MSP to address and act on your customers’ valuable feedback, schedule a Liongard demo today.