The following blog post is an open letter to every employee at Endsight, sent sometime within the past several months. We are providing this for public consumption to benefit the business community and anyone who has a current or future relationship with Endsight.
From: Mike Chaput
Subject: What am I paying For?
We compete in an industry full of small IT firms, very small IT firms, or individual IT engineer. When customers aren’t using these very small competitors they tend to insource (which isn’t much different than an individual IT engineer or a very small IT practice working full time).
The businesses we serve do not typically have a core competency in IT and thus have a difficult time understanding and evaluating what we do. In general, they short circuit learning and instead tend to choose a partner based on the things they understand – namely price and customer service. This has resulted in a field of IT service providers who have optimized their business to offer the lowest possible price for an acceptable level of customer service.
Unfortunately, this has created an industry of providers who have under-invested in core IT service delivery areas, which are difficult for customers to measure and value, namely strategy and proactive maintenance. Many firms don’t have the economy of scale to have a NOC team with the size and technical skill of ours. Only a handful of competitors have a dedicated client strategy team and most don’t even have a dedicated strategic person.
Even Occidental Technology Group, one of the rare IT firms that didn’t give in to price pressure from clients and who delivered high quality IT, struggled with execution in the area of proactive strategy. Many of the top MSPs in the country are outsourcing their NOC functions to India. They know the result is worse. But given the constant pressure on price from clients, they have chosen to outsource this critical function. Think about this… if our best competitors struggled with proactive and strategic work, imagine the operational disaster of our typical competitor?
The first insight here is that customer service really does matter! Since the client can’t easily measure anything else, if we drop the ball on the one thing they can easily measure outside of price, they will assume we are incompetent at everything else regardless of whether it is fair or truth. We should understand that our aspiration to provide an excellent customer experience at every opportunity is born out of a sense of what is the right way to behave regardless of the business outcome. However, we should not overlook that in our industry it’s also high stakes. If we get it wrong, we will lose.
The second insight is that Endsight has had to find a select group of customers (our tribe) that value the “non-event”. The client must be willing to pay more money for less actual interactions with customer service. This dramatically changes the typical customer paradigm. Most IT service clients are accustomed to equated value to those moments when they’ve interacted with an engineer for support.
Through our sales process, clients grow to understand all that we do and how we create value. However, sometimes clients forget this over time. Other times the point of contact changes. In these scenarios, occasionally the new point of contact will feel the need to ask a member of our team, “What am I paying for?”
There are several implications to this question and many ways to interpret it. For example, are they asking, “What’s included in their contract?” or “What is the value of the money they spend?”
Here’s how I might answer this question:
“Maintaining a reliable and healthy computer network is complex and requires a lot of work behind the scenes, which is sometimes not that easy to see. Our customers do business with Endsight because unlike many lower cost providers, we do a lot of proactive and strategic work to make sure your network is healthy. In addition, our customers expect fast, friendly, and expert support when they do need us.
We have three brand promises that customer rely upon.
- We respond to tickets in less than 5 minutes.
- We provide 5-star customer service with 95% of our tickets scoring at that level. (UPDATE: With our latest smile feedback system rating, we have 98% satisfaction rating on tickets.)
- Through implementation of strategy, projects, and proactive maintenance, our customers have less than half the number of issues with their computers than the industry average, measured by the number of User Initiated Support Requests. The average is 1.2 issues/user/month; however, at Endsight a typical customers average around .3/user/month when taking advantage of our strategic recommendations and maintenance services.”
Obviously, nobody wants to hear someone read a script so don’t. But it is important that everyone at Endsight is a brand ambassador, everyone understands how we create value, and all staff members are in tune with why customers buy from us. If you feel unprepared to do that, I recommend grabbing one of the sales guys or a TAM and practice answering questions like these, so you can be prepared and comfortable answering in your own voice.
If you would like to get Endsight pricing request it here.