What blend are you (MSP)

In the professional services arena, there is typically three types of service industries: innovation, experience and processes. There are some industries, such as your oral hygienist, which you’re primarily looking for someone who knows the process well and can repeat it forwards and backwards. Yet you want them up to date on all the latest trends and skill sets, but you’re not really looking for anything special in this individual that you aren’t already expecting from the next professional.

The other group, experience, is called by some the gray haired group – these are people who have a lot of experience under their belts. It is why we are often drawn to older people for our accounting, taxes and medical needs. We want them to be highly educated and smart, and have some form of a routine and process – but most importantly we want them to have seen our situation or condition before, and have the experience to deal with it. Anyone who has tried to fix a leak under their sink has learned that there is a bit more to plumbing than knowing what to do from an intellectual standpoint, but rather there is some experience involved. Especially when you discover that your sink, isn’t quite like the one they showed you in the store. You’ve had to take 3 or 4 trips back to the hardware store to get the right parts, while the plumber has everything in his truck and has seen it before. Same goes even more so for your tax accountant, who has seen your special circumstance before, and not only knows the law about it, but how the IRS actually treats it in the real world.

Finally, the third group are those who are on-top of innovation, that you’re going to for something new and innovative. These would be your problem solvers with a new way to resolve it. We all often think we’re the innovators, and probably love that element – however in a great deal of cases, we spend the majority of our time, and make the greatest revenue from the other two areas.

The balance to most successful managed service companies is discovering your exact blend that makes you successful to the clients you serve. Realize this blend and make sure that your staff reflects this blend. There should be a match between the two. If you have a bunch of clients looking for experience, and you have a bunch of young, hip innovators – your clients or staff need to change. You’re working less than optimal and efficient if you’re not.

Why wait?

I just completed browsing an interesting entry over at On Startups: Wimps Wait which is suggesting that releasing a product is more important than waiting. I believe, as in many things, there is a balance in the middle. Here is the takeaway I suggest from the blog.

  1. Your product will never be to the point of you being comfortable at releasing it. You need to realize the point of diminishing returns on further tweaking it;
  2. Revolutionaries release, wimps wait — be the first to market!
  3. It is better to have customers with a half-way product that they accept, then a perfect product that hasn’t been released (i.e. zero customers);
  4. You will be more reluctant about the times you didn’t release;
  5. At the end of the day, “just ship it” — do your best and then let it go;
  6. Take a look back and realize just how many times you thought you did work out all the bugs, all the time spent, and at the end of the day, customers will were unhappy or found bugs — will waiting on your release for two more months really make a difference;
  7. To succeed, you must release — product in development doesn’t bring in revenue;

At the end of the day, be it product or service, you need to understand when you have done your best, and that more time will not significantly improve your product/service, and you just need to let it go into the marketplace and see how well it does. Be ready to adapt and change as necessary. Fix bugs, rework contracts, etc. But a few grumpy clients are better than none when you’re starting out.

Customer Service

In business, it is absolutely critical to ensure that from a legal perspective, that liability is always minimized. When possible, that the liability is left squarely (to whatever extent possible) on the customer. However, while this can be accomplished very easily through corporate policy, contracts and semantics; it is imperative to not let that disrup the customer service experience. This can be more complicated that it sounds. While for our executive team which appears to have an innate sense of customer service, however illustrating and explaining this fine balannce between transferring ownership while providing excellent service. Why this appears to be difficult is that once they have a mental idea that they are not liable, they somehow leave serivce at that point as well.

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