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21 September 2017

Better Contract Management for MSPs

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Your customer picked you as their Managed Service Provider and you’ve both signed the contract. Let’s put that contract in a file. Or wait. Is that really the best thing to do?

When you think about contracts, you probably imagine an important piece of paper, safely stored in a drawer or scanned into a digital system: passive contract management. Sound familiar? Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) I work with view contracts as static. But what you do with your contracts is actually very important. How do you put the agreements stored in your desk drawer into practice? Start working with active contract management.

Imagine this: due to a technical malfunction, none of your customer’s employees can send emails. You, the MSP, have agreed to solve email malfunctions within 4 hours. That’s the most important part of your contract. Why? Because time frames for solving problems guarantee the quality of your daily service.

Why contract management?

As an MSP, you’re the supplier. You serve any number of customers, and you have different contracts with each of them. When a customer calls, your operator has to be able to decide how urgent the issue is and whether they need to drop everything to solve the issue right away. But how do you make sure operators get the information they need?

Determine how many services you provide and at how many different levels you offer them. What if you create 3 service levels: gold, silver and bronze? A bronze subscription guarantees that disruptions are solved within 3 days. The gold package guarantees a solution within the hour.

Make sure your services and service levels are clear to your customer. This way, your customers can see at a glance what they can expect from you, which service levels you offer and what the costs are foreach package.

Is your customer looking for resolution times you don’t offer in your standard packages? Consider offering a bespoke contract. Do keep in mind that keeping track of resolution times and prices for bespoke work takes more time.

Diagnose incoming calls

So, what if a call comes in on Tuesday morning about a malfunctioning printer. The customer’s service package —bronze, silver or gold— determines when the issue has to be solved. But then what if you don’t know how to solve the problem when you first contact the caller? Diagnose the problem and create clear expectations about the expected resolution time. The customer will want to know exactly what costs are attached to your services and whether you’ll comply with the agreements in your contract.

Occasionally, you may get a call you can’t solve within the agreed upon resolution time. Inform your customer that you’re aware of the resolution times in your contract and explain that you’re unable to solve their call within that time frame. Always keep in touch with the customer, so you create realistic expectations.

Provide up-to-date information

Whether you meet with your customer every three months or once a year, make sure you’re always able to account for your performance. How many calls have you solved in time? And are you generally able to meet the requirements that come with each service level?

Make sure your customers always know exactly which services you provide and what they’re paying you. Also keep track of your agreements and report results to your customers. Do you have all this taken care of? Then you’ve laid the groundwork for excellent services. You’re on your way to happy customers!

Extreme insight into customer interactions

Managed Service Provider Ctac is learning from each customer interaction. How? Read their story to find out how they gained extreme insight into customer satisfaction.

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André Kevenaar



André Kevenaar, Service Management Consultant

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