Should maintenance checks be performed remotely?

Real estate agents. Their tactics are sometimes questionable and they often become incredibly annoying. Why do people continue to sell their houses with them? I believe they still exist for one main reason. When you are selling your home with an agent, you have almost constant contact with the agent. I remember the last house I sold with an agent. After the initial discussions about the listing price and the advertising regime I received three regular phone calls each week of the seven weeks it took to sell the house. Sometimes the phone call was simply to tell me that, despite their best efforts, there had been zero enquiries since the last phone call he made to me. My impression – be it wrong or right – was that my agent was slaving away for me trying to sell my house and his phone calls confirmed this. For all I knew, he may have been drinking beers at the pub all day and didn’t follow-up a single enquiry related to my house – but I felt like he was working hard on selling my house. There was one simple reason for this. He told me!

Some might argue that an agent that doesn’t call the owner until he has a likely buyer can devote more energy to chasing someone to buy the house. The problem is that I might not hear from the agent for weeks. Despite all the hard work that is being performed, I am never aware of the work output. I would probably end up feeling as if the agent was lazy and not working hard trying to sell my house and I might give up on him in the meantime.

This is exactly the situation in relation to maintenance checks for an MSP. With all the modern remote automation tools available on the market, the reality is that an MSP need rarely visit a client to perform maintenance checks. The automation tool could effectively perform all the tasks an on-site technician can perform and a report can be generated that would impress the socks off the most hardened Luddite.

The problem with this approach is that sometimes a client feels like they are not being serviced correctly. Despite the fact that an automation tool is more reliable and more thorough than a human being, there is simply not enough evidence that the work is being performed. Suddenly the client starts to question the amount of money they are spending each month on their SLA and they can’t see the value. It seems crazy I know – but humans are a bit crazy sometimes.

My advice is simple. On a regular basis (I would recommend at least monthly) have a technician perform a ‘maintenance check’ on-site for all of your clients. All the boring and tedious – but essential – components of the maintenance check can still be performed by your automation tool. In addition to that, a technician arrives on-site at a pre-determined time and not only delivers the report in hard format but then walks around the site to have a physical inspection. They talk to a few staff members (this is assuming you have those rare breed of techs that can actually talk to mere mortals) and ask if their IT is performing to their expectations. They help out one or two people with a minor problem on their PC and they look like a hero.

The impression that is burnt onto the client’s memory is that this organisation goes over the top in looking after the IT needs of the organisation. It creates an incredible amount of goodwill and ultimately means that your clients are being serviced better and they are happier.

If you ever wanted proof that clients love this, we have several clients that bake a cake on maintenance check day so the young technicians that visit on that day have some fresh cake and a coffee while they are there. You can imagine how much internal argument there is over who gets to visit one of these clients! Imagine that – techs who WANT to visit a client.

Tell me your favourite cake at md@smallbusinessrules.com.

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