A core tenet of managed services is the ability of an MSP to support multiple clients, in various locations, all without ever leaving your desk. While this approach is more efficient and profitable than dispatching engineers out to client sites to deal with every support ticket that comes in, there’s a catch.
The challenge is when you become good at doing managed services in this way, you don’t have much of an excuse to visit your client sites at all.
As a former MSP owner, my experience is that a lack of on-site presence can then lead to clients asking, “What are we paying you for?” Clients enjoy the convenience of having their issues fixed via remote support tools, but they miss the face-to-face contact that site visits bring.
To avoid this dilemma, you can schedule engineer walkabouts.
What’s an engineer walkabout?
An engineer walkabout is when you send one of your staff members to a client site to show their face and to offer assistance—even if nobody’s asked for help. Your engineer should arrive at your client site with an important (but not urgent) maintenance task to perform.
At my former MSP, we regularly sent engineers to client sites to make sure UPS cables were properly connected, tidy up wires in meeting rooms, or even label cables. (I’ve written before about how labelling can save your MSP a fortune!)
Of course, the real reason for the visit is so your engineer can complete his work and then do a walkabout. During the walkabout, your engineer can say hello to the client’s employees and ask them, “Is there anything I can help you with while I’m here?”
These walkabouts not only allow you to show face at client sites, but they can yield some positive results for your business too.
1. Walkabouts uncover issues
As a former engineer, I can remember doing walkabouts myself. So let’s use an example.
When I’d ask staff employees, “How’s it going?” or “Can I help with anything while I’m here?” most would say “No, thanks.” But often, somebody would say something innocuous like, “Well, the printer in the corner isn’t working.”
To which I’d say, “Let me look at that for you!”
One time in this exact scenario, after I’d fixed the printer issue, I asked the member of staff, “How long has the printer been a problem?”
“Oh, about a year,” they said.
Why hadn’t they reported it to the help desk? “I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.”
While I know reluctance to report niggling tickets is a real issue, any problem that lasts for almost a year is likely to build some frustration.
If left unchecked, this frustration can quickly turn to anger. Can you imagine the member of staff losing their temper and telling you that you haven’t fixed their printer in a year even though you didn’t know about it?
It’s a scenario that many MSPs have faced. Walkabouts by your engineers can mitigate the risk of this happening.
2. Walkabouts generate sales
Another benefit of sending your engineers on walkabouts is that it can increase your MSP’s sales.
“But my engineers don’t do sales,” I can hear you say. But yes, they do. In fact, your engineers are some of the best salespeople you employ.
Let me explain: Your clients trust your engineers. They know that if your engineers recommend a new purchase or an upgrade, it’s because they’re trying to help, not sell.
When I sent my MSP’s engineers on walkabouts, they regularly uncovered issues that resulted in sales. I’ve had engineers come back from walkabouts with orders for new PCs, new printers, and even whole new projects.
After all, the goal of a walkabout is for your engineer to listen to your client and understand their problems. So, don’t be surprised if your engineers come back from their walkabouts with new business opportunities.
One final tip: It’s not just your engineers who should be going on walkabouts. I’ve written before about why you need to lead by example as an MSP owner. If you’re the business’s owner, then make sure you take a walkabout on client sites too. It’s a fantastic way to maintain a relationship with your clients and lead by example.