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Gauging Success as a Managed Service Provider

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Success as a Manager Service ProviderLater today, I will be heading to Atlanta for the Entrepreneur Growth conference. This is an opportunity for me to meet other business owners who are either starting up or trying to grow their business. I love these interactions as it forces me to explain our mission clearly and attempt to make a compelling case for using managed services.

In addition to other business owners, you often run into industry analysts, consultants, journalists, and investors. This group is often more interested in the success of your business than actually what you are doing. They are curious about your historical growth, future plans and how you plan to make a difference with your company.

Gauging Success

The bottom line is often used to gauge the success of a business, especially a small business where stable cash flow is critical. Presumably, healthy profits mean you are running a good business.

I don’t subscribe to this approach. While I check our balance sheet regularly and do use it as a yardstick for our financial success, I don’t think it defines success as a managed service provider.

Our Gauge

Recently, we introduced a follow-up survey for our support services. While we are still collecting data, we have enough information to see a trend – a trend that I think provides a true measure of success as a company. We asked a couple of simple questions:

  • Would you use our services again?
  • Would you recommend us to someone else?

These provide a good yardstick to measure your success.

If clients are willing to use your services again and tell others, then you must be delivering something of value.

Success Measured

Nearly 100% of the respondents have said that they would definitely or probably use our services again. This is a great measure of success. If you are willing to come back, we must have done something right. You would not return to a restaurant after a bad meal and I don’t think clients would return to us if they had a bad experience.

About 90% of respondents said they would recommend our services. The remaining 10% either do not recommend services or were “not sure”. While some may see this as a success, I want to focus on getting that last 10%. It is in that 10% where you may find that hidden nugget to take your services from just better than the rest to the best.

Always be Improving

Sure, we have our pitfalls. Just recently, we had a very negative situation with a client. They did not feel that we did our job optimizing their site. We felt the issues were not directly related to any errors or omissions on our part. Though some efforts, we resolved the issue. As a result of this, we are working on a new process for performance optimization that will define clearly the goals of the project.

I’m happy with our initial survey results. I do suspect the numbers to drop a bit as we collect a bit more data, but overall we are moving in the right direction.

Your Turn

If you run an IT centric business, how do you use to gauge your success: surveys, customer interviews, or recurring business? Please share your thoughts.