MSPs - Raise Your Service Game!

There's a lot that goes through my mind when I am conducting an MSP Service Audit, and in this Insight I'm going to share my thoughts with you.


5/27/20245 min read

image shows text saying service desk, raise your game
image shows text saying service desk, raise your game

In the competitive world of Managed Service Providers (MSPs), the difference between thriving and merely surviving often boils down to one crucial factor: exceptional service.  Excellent Service should be the backbone of any successful MSP as it directly impacts customer satisfaction, loyalty or stickiness, and retention.

When you consider it costs 5-25 times more to obtain new customers than retain existing ones, according to Frederick Reichheld, the chap who invented the NPS (Net Promoter Score), and when you think about the reasons customers leave, typically boils down to two: Cost and Service; it absolutely makes sense to get some focus on your service.

The results of improving your service teams include: reduced operational costs and increased profit. because you're not wasting resources as you make your operations efficient, and you can get more done with less.

Optimising your Service teams is not just about reducing costs or increasing profitability though; it's about delivering exceptional value to your customers, who choose to stay for the long haul.

Now we've covered why you would want to apply focus on your service, we can shift into gear and talk about some of the points I consider when I'm conducting Service Audits and Deep Dives.


The process for conducting the Service Audit sounds simple and straightforward.  Typically, you know where you want your service to be, assess the current state, identify remediation actions, develop a plan to implement the remediation actions, implement, monitor, measure, rinse-and-repeat.  Sometimes, though, there are some "gotchas", so in this Insight I'm going to share some of my thoughts about what you may want to mindful of.


MSPs talk about People, Process and Technology being required to be successful, but for me there are a couple of things missing: Customer Satisfaction and Leadership, so when you are conducting a review into your service include these areas too.

When assessing:

When you go through the review process, you will need to capture all the information about what and how you currently do those activities and challenge yourself on why you do it and whether there is any way to improve.

Customer feedback:

If there is any customer feedback about the specific point, make sure to review it here.

If you're not already capturing customer feedback, go out to your customers and ask them what you do well, and what you could do better. If you are not already capturing customer feedback after every ticket, project or after every customer meeting, then add this to your remediation actions log.

You could even invite some of your key customers to a join a panel that will give continual feedback across the improvement piece – this would need to be managed well, as not everything would be up for discussion with your customers.

Staff feedback:

Spend time with your service teams to observe what is going on and ask questions as part of the review to gain even more insight as your staff are dealing with any challenges every day.

Include your staff in the deep dive and ask your staff to join in with brainstorming. One of the advantages about having others to brainstorm with is when a potential action is mentioned, someone else then thinks of another idea and the action evolves, so when bouncing actions around, write down every idea you come up with – you can eliminate them later.

Communicate why you are optimising your service early on and when conducting the deep dive, make sure you emphasise this is a no-blame activity and it’s primary purpose is to improve service.

Setting Objectives:

With the assessment and knowing where you want to be, you can develop your plan to get there.

When it comes to setting objectives, they need to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and realistic, and time-bound. You will need over-arching objectives for the MSP, and then cascade down to each department and every member of staff, so that everyone is going in the same direction.

Make sure you consider objectives that cover all of the Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, People, Process and Technology areas.

Defining Measures:

When identifying KPIs for service performance and OKRs to drive improvements, start with those that will help drive the MSP business objectives forward and meet your contractual commitments, then with the priority areas you identified during the assessment phase. You can always build on this over time for the “nice-to-haves”, or MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Will Not) items.

Simply measuring these metrics won't be sufficient; establish clear targets for each measure. Targets give a benchmark and allow you to track your progress.

Once you have determined the KPIs and OKRs, cascade them to the relevant teams and people. This will help ensure that the strategic objectives are effectively translated into specific actions and goals across the MSP.

Develop Action Plan:

When you're brainstorming or going through the assessment, make sure you write down all the potential actions you come up with.  Then, when you review the list of actions, consider whether it is an action you are going to take forward, or whether you are going to leave it (now or forever).  If you don't write it down when it comes up, it's possible you'll forget about it.

When it comes to prioritising the actions, consider each one in line with your objectives and any areas that are causing you significant challenges.

You can implement the actions in a phased approach - it’s all about continual improvement.

When allocating the actions to your teams, cascade these down and set them as part of your staffs’ objectives for the year and you can review progress on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

Addressing Blockers:

Spend some time considering all the risks and potential challenges you may have. Ask yourself what would happen if…. And list out everything you can think of.

Review your risk register and mitigation activities at this time – either to update the risk register or mitigations or consider whether there are any risks you can eliminate as part of the improvement process.

Putting the Plan into Action:

When it comes to holding people to account:

Have time set aside to review progress and your agenda for this should cover:

  • the wins since the previous update,

  • an update on the actions that are due and/or set in the previous meeting,

  • any challenges or blockers that have arisen and potential solutions,

  • confirm the next set of actions and those due before the next update.

If you are in the position of keeping someone held to account for the project, then ask if they need your assistance to remove the blockers.

So, those are just some of the thoughts that go through my mind when I'm completing a Service Audit, and that's before we even get into the challenges I think of for all of the areas we talk about in the Deep Dive!  

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