By Rashaad Bajwa, Domain Computer Services, Inc.
I remember one of my biggest frustrations as a small MSP was how large, national copier companies turned MSPs would outspend us 100 to 1 in marketing and build market share. In the old days, the marketing edge would be in how big your Yellow Pages ad was; now it comes down to how many callers you have or your AdWords budget.
We would never lose clients to them, but it didn’t matter. We would add clients slowly as they came referred, and they would add clients hand over fist as fast as their marketing budget could drive. When it came to getting the message out to the marketplace, their game was far superior to ours and trying to compete with them in marketing was a fool’s errand.
The difference was apparent in staff composition as well. They had twice as many sales people as techs, and we had twice as many techs as sales people. Our model focused on getting clients and winning them for life, their model was getting a client to sign a five-year contract. As long as your churn remained net positive you were a success. We were easily better than they were at Managed Services, however it didn’t matter. They got clients because they were better at marketing and even though we were better at Managed Services it wasn’t as obvious.
I didn’t think this was fair. Those that are the most successful should be the ones that are actually the best at what they do — not just the best at Marketing. That is the way the world should be. If you do good work and your clients love you that should be the reason for your success, not the size of your Yellow Pages ad or AdWords spend.
However, the world is changing. It started with industries like hotels and restaurants, where online reviews started leveling the playing field between exceptional service providers and exceptional marketers. Sites like TripAdvisor have billions of reviews and sufficient credibility so if you now get duped into staying in a crappy hotel due to a fancy ad it’s on you because the data is out there.
For MSPs there isn’t really a site that provides online reviews the way TripAdvisor does for the hotel industry. Assuming your happy clients will take the trouble to write a review after a service ticket is also a pipe dream, because IT service, unfortunately, isn’t quite as tempting a social share as a nice meal or fancy hotel room. Consumers of IT service rarely have such a strong reaction they feel the need to share their experience online. Then there is a logistical hurdle: Which review site to put it on — Yelp, Google, Facebook — and finally actually formulate a review and post it.
Unfortunately, the only clients so motivated are the unhappy ones. The only other folks with a vested interest to leave online reviews are insiders, such as friends or family that have been coaxed into leaving a positive review. The vast majority of legitimate client reviews for MSPs online are a handful of negative ones, along with a periodic campaign of positive reviews staged by insiders. I’m sorry I'm not painting a very pretty picture but that is what happens more often than not.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. If your clients think you are amazing don’t keep it a secret, broadcast it to the world to see. Legitimate reviews from your happy clients are out there but just don’t assume they will write them for you unsolicited — you need to pull it from them.
We use customer satisfaction surveys to get regular client feedback on every service ticket, and we realized hidden in there is a treasure trove of client testimonials and reviews ready for the picking. It dawned on us customer satisfaction survey responses and online reviews could be two sides of the same coin. The same comments could be used for two different purposes — one for internal quality assurance and the other for external reputation marketing. This process became so successful we wrote a tool to automate the process back in 2016 — BizRatings.com —which allows these CSAT survey responses to automatically post as public reviews on Google, Facebook, etc.
So why is this important, and how has this leveled the playing field against the super-marketers? To answer that question you need to do a Google search for “Computer Support” and a variety of other keywords in our local market. We are number one.
This isn’t because of our Ad spend, but a combination of website SEO and the number of legit client reviews we have posted. I can’t tell you exactly how Google factors number of reviews into their algorithm but I can tell you we weren’t number one when we had a handful of reviews and we’re now number one when we have way more than anyone else. The same results for hundreds of other MSPs using the same process would indicate number of reviews is apparently a significant factor in search results. Also, to clarify, these aren’t anonymous, fake five-star reviews but hundreds of actual clients sharing their real experiences as part of our CSAT survey process.
I don’t need to tell you how important Google ranking is to inbound leads. Suffice it to say, now that we have advertised our reputation for the world to see we are getting leads at the same pace as the big spenders, but with little to no cost. The playing field has been leveled.
In today’s world, your reputation should be your wealth. If your clients love you, let them share that message with the world. Online reviews will drive more business to you if you take the trouble to cultivate them.
To get more info on our CSAT Survey online review tool click here.
About The Author
Rashaad Bajwa is president of Domain Computer Services, Inc., a Cybersecurity and technology solutions provider serving the NJ and greater New York metro area since 1997.