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Client Services Automation (CSA)

How a CSA Platform Accelerates MSP Growth and IT Efficiency

As an MSP, you’re the ultimate remote worker. You work independently, problem-solving behind the scenes to make sure things are running smoothly for your clients.

Even though you’re hard at work managing things like security, software, and endpoints, it’s never obvious to your clients what exactly you’re implementing, maintaining, or even recommending. This lack of visibility leads to confusion and retention issues and makes client engagement impossible to scale. And, when you can’t scale client engagement, you drag down growth and make life more difficult for yourself, your team, and your clients.

Do clients ask, “What do you actually do?”

The more time you spend trying to mitigate this question, the less time you have to understand your client, see opportunities with them, and grow the relationship. Worse, this leads to time-wasting exercises such as QBRs that are often nothing more than status updates and sales calls—which clients rarely anticipate or appreciate.

Do clients even know what you can do?

From your client’s perspective, do they see you as a:

  • Necessity? - An expense like health insurance that keeps them secure and operational.
  • Investment? - An accelerator that provides a real ROI to help them get the most out of their people and systems. 
  • Strategic Partner? - Someone who’s helping them grow their business.

And is the answer true of all your clients, or just the larger ones?

If you are like most MSPs, you struggle to provide great client engagement for all clients. It’s not for a lack of trying—you simply don’t have the right tools to make you client-efficient as you have to make you tech-efficient.

Think of it this way: for tech efficiency, you have PSAs, RMMs, and a variety of other tools that automate work and streamline information. Historically, there hasn’t been something that brings those benefits to the client side.

Client Services Automation (CSA) was born from this frustration. It can transform the engagement side of your MSP—by finding a better way to work with the clients you have, you can position yourself as a strategic partner and access more of their budget.

Do I really need a CSA? Isn’t my PSA enough?

Let’s answer this by first looking at how MSPs came to rely on PSAs.

Starting in the 1980s, value-added resellers started bundling different software, networks, and systems for businesses. These VARs offered additional services beyond initial set-up. With everything being on-premise, activities like installation and repair provided regular opportunities to have conversations, build trust, and maintain client relationships. And crucially, because monthly recurring revenue (MRR) didn’t exist, VARs had to focus on client engagement in order to make sales and stay in business.

In 1995, ConnectWise solved its own business problem—streamlining ticketing and operations—by developing its own PSA (now ConnectWise Manage).

Similar tools, like Autotask, came to the market shortly after, and soon PSAs became the industry standard in managing the operational side of an MSP.

In the 90s, remote IT helpdesks became more prevalent, and remote monitoring and management (RMM) continued to evolve in the early 2000s, so the VAR and IT repair space evolved to become managed services.

Client engagement shifted from selling to onsite installation and repair. Maybe less sales-focused, but still engaged. But, as things shifted to the cloud, those regular face-to-face interactions dwindled—if any were to be had at all. And MSPs no longer had client engagement.

Now MSPs are in a position of trying to create opportunities for client engagement—not an ideal fit for people who don’t have enough time in the day to be support and sales. And in a digital-first environment, a couple of people can manage IT services—but they can’t manage all the client services that go with it.

Many MSPs spend their time getting new clients instead of working more with the ones they do have. While MSPs can survive without good client engagement, they have trouble retaining and growing existing accounts.

So, what do you need to scale an MSP? You need a fresh approach to client engagement that makes things interesting and scalable for clients, and productive for MSPs.

That’s where a CSA comes in.

Just as you rely on your PSA to help you manage your operations, you need a CSA platform to automate your client engagement. Automation is the only way to evolve and scale your MSP.

What is a Client Services Automation platform?

A CSA is an all-in-one client services platform that goes way beyond just ticketing. It’s a home base for your client’s experience, giving you the ability to work closely with them and their end users, and gives you new ways to deliver reporting and provide training and insights. It eliminates what has become known as the QBR with an always-available resource for clients.

A CSA ensures MSPs can actively reach clients through automation and then use the time they do have with clients in much more productive ways.

CloudRadial’s CSA is the only platform that can evolve your relationship as an MSP into a vCIO role—where the significant revenue lives—by giving you the infrastructure you need to acquire and retain customers.

What are the features and benefits of a CSA?

A CSA is an equal and complementary part of your PSA. Think of your MSP as a restaurant with your PSA as the kitchen and a CSA as the waitstaff. If the food is amazing, but the service is inefficient, your restaurant is going to suffer. As the primary client interface, the CSA needs to consolidate all of your client touchpoints into a single pane of glass. It should bring together the primary client touchpoints, such as:

  • Ticketing
  • Service Catalog
  • Training
  • Knowledge Base
  • Reporting
  • Account Status
  • Planning

It should leverage your existing tools and stack so that you don’t have to copy and paste to move data around. It should be the only log in your clients need to remember to work with you.

Ideally, it should also be something that benefits them by helping them coordinate their own efforts and training to minimize the number of tools they need.

What can I expect with a CSA?

Implementing a CSA platform is a crucial component in improving engagement maturity, which complements your operational maturity to deliver the client experience that best showcases the effort you put into your tech stack. With an EML strategy that includes a CSA, you’ll notice the following strategic, operational, and financial improvements.

Strategic Impacts

  • Improve competitive position.
  • Improve ability to support growth.
  • Easier to introduce new products.
  • Improve customer satisfaction.
    Greater confidence to serve new markets and customers.
  • Enhance profitability.

Operational Impacts

  • Improve service/account management availability.
  • Improve capacity to scale.
  • Improve employee productivity.
  • Improve employee performance consistency.
  • Less time to onboard new clients.
  • Shorter account management preparation times.

Financial Impacts

  • Improve revenue.
  • Improve gross profit.
  • Reduce operating costs.

What does the future look like with a CSA?

As MSPs continue to be less visible to their clients, MSPs will be defined by the comprehensiveness of their infrastructure and how exceptional their customer experience is.

A CSA always answers the question, “What do you actually do?” and goes beyond the outdated QBR concept to consistently exceed customer expectations.

Implementing a CSA is how you get your clients to really see your value and expand their budget to include more collaboration with you.
It’s a win-win platform that helps get your services into the hands of your clients and end-users, ends the chaos of client management, and provides scalability through automation.

If you have a PSA, you need a CSA. Book a demo now to see how CloudRadial can help you scale and grow.