How to Become a Trusted Technology Advisor in 60 Days
Last week we outlined 6 tips to establish yourself as a trusted technology advisor. This week we explore 6 steps to solidify this role during the 60 day onboarding process. Following these steps will help you achieve trusted technology advisor status and ensure the onboarding process goes smoothly, quickly and ends with satisfied parties on both sides.
Step 1 – Kickoff Meeting
Normally associated with projects, kickoff meetings are also a great first step in the new client onboarding process. The kickoff meeting should start with a review of your onboarding playbook. The playbook outlines every process and procedure your team takes when bringing on a new client, including services, patch scheduling and deployment, backup procedures and schedules, and specific points of communication when trouble arises. The kickoff meeting provides the opportunity to review the playbook with your new client to set expectations and answer any questions before the onboarding process kicks into full gear.
Step 2 – FUD Report: The State of Affairs
Normally the FUD (or fear, uncertainty and doubt) report is used as a sales tool to close the deal, but it should be revisited during the onboarding process. Here you’re able to define the problems you’ll be solving during the 60 day onboarding cycle. Paint a clear picture of where the client’s IT network stands at that moment. This is also the time for the client to add anything that may have changed since your initial assessment of their environment.
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Step 3 – Monitor and Set Baselines
When a new client is brought on, it’s important to establish a baseline. You don’t want to slam your helpdesk, so give your engineers time to determine the true status of the system, adjust thresholds and resolve the noise in advance of service go-live.
Consider a mail server on older hardware. The client sends e-newsletters every Friday afternoon to all of their clients. Normally you’d want to know when the mail queue exceeds a standard size, but in this case it’s not out of the ordinary to see a spike in the queue as the mail server processes all these requests. If you don’t monitor and baseline the system during onboarding, you might end up with a technician chasing down a perceived problem, when what you’re really seeing is a normal workload for a Friday afternoon.
Step 4 – Communication
Communication is paramount to successful onboarding. Without communication there’s no way for you to understand your client’s perspective on the process. Schedule weekly status calls and don’t be afraid to stop by and visit for a few minutes. Visits don’t always have to be with the owner or manager either; take time to get to know your new client’s employees as well. Establishing relationships with the day-to-day users will provide a clearer, more immediate understanding of potential issues.
Step 5 – Post-FUD Report
The post-FUD report should be reviewed with your client towards the end of the 60 day onboarding cycle. The report shows the progress made in bringing the client’s infrastructure up to your standards and serves as justification for why they chose to do business with you and your team in the first place. This is also the time to address the current state of affairs in areas such as risk assessment, antivirus, patching, backups, etc.
Step 6 – The Gift
The final touch to welcoming your new client is presenting them with a gift. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant; it can be as simple as a handwritten thank you card or a potted plant for their reception area. The point is to make it clear that you appreciate being chosen as their IT service provider.
The 60 day onboarding cycle provides a system that ensures consistency, sets a minimum standard of performance and encourages ongoing improvements. The above 6 steps will make the onboarding process as easy as possible for you and your new clients, while establishing you as a trusted technology advisor and laying the foundation for a meaningful and long lasting business relationship.