Closing the Gap between Service Providers and Their Customers

by Jennifer Clark on February 21, 2017 · 0 comments

in ScanSource Communications

As Service Providers, it is your job to provide. It’s also important to listen and understand your customers’ needs and visions for the future. By staying ahead of those needs, you’ll have an answer before a question or problem arises. However, a recent survey known as the Global IT Service Providers Harmony Report from Logic Now — an IT service management platform provider — showed that quite often there is a misalignment between Service Providers’ services and IT departments’ needs and expectations.

The survey asked 1,300 IT departments and close to 700 Service Providers to rank in order of importance the most important deciding factors in choosing potential IT Service Providers (IT departments) and the attributes they (Service Providers) emphasize most strongly in their promotional and sales pitches.

The survey results were a striking contrast, as IT departments ranked cost savings/advantages as their top deciding factor when choosing a Service Provider. Conversely, Service Providers ranked their breadth of services and capabilities first, which unfortunately, is ranked fifth by IT departments.

After cost savings, IT departments ranked in order of importance:

  • experience with similarly structured companies
  • experience with companies of their size
  • clarity of pricing structure.

Service Providers, whereas, ranked those same attributes as third, sixth, and fifth. Top of the list for Service Providers after breadth of services was:

  • cost savings
  • experience with companies of their size
  • the ability to provide CIO-level consultancy

As Service Providers work hard to offer strategic consulting services, it is often too early in the game for an IT department, who might have a more immediate need to be solved rather than looking ahead with strategy and consulting.

Dr. Alistair Forbes, general manager at LogicNow, said, “Pushing strategic consultancy too early in the relationship gives an impression of under-valuing the immediate concern weighing heaviest on the customer’s mind.”

Other gaps in the survey pointed to areas for managed services to improve. IT departments want better email security, web protection, and anti-virus services. Yet IT providers intend to prioritize proactive system updates, patching, and security consulting. These latter improvements were hardly that for IT departments, who ranked them toward the bottom of their list.

So, what should you do? Don’t start your relationship off on the wrong foot and leave potential profit on the table by losing deals because you weren’t listening to what your customers’ value most.

Look to them for help in understanding exactly what they want and then realign your services to match their biggest needs and priorities.

Or, if you’re just getting started, use the recommendations above or in the full survey to begin securing customers. Try to reach a parallel regarding when you’ll launch your strategic consulting or how you’ll determine your cost savings. The end result will be customers who match what you’re selling and look to you for their managed services. Not only will you be ahead of the game, you’ll have a larger customer base who knows you understand them and their needs, rather than pushing your own agenda on them.

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