Your MSP business isn’t going to escape conflict. You may be lucky enough to have little-to-no conflict, but you’re likely going to have it at some time. It may be a conflict with vendors, contractors, employees, government officials, landlords or cloud services with whom you broker. Whoever it is, you need to have an established approach that puts some “aces” up your cognitive “sleeves” beforehand. Of those listed previously, conflict with clients may be the type of conflict you’re dealing with from time to time. As such, seven strategies will be explored to help you resolve client conflicts. These are:
- Devil-may-care competition
- Successful Client Re-Focus
- A Properly Empathetic Approach
Your MSP business is going to encounter clients who ask for the moon on a silver platter with platinum garnish and a golden spoon. You may be able to supply some of those “items”, but you won’t be able to supply all of them. If they stay with you anyway, then you may be dealing with a client who just pushes for everything they can. As such, they’re likely going to conflict with you over the service level you provide and the price at which you provide it. If the client’s bickering is more expensive than their level of profit, you might end the conflict by being competitively immobile in your policies. If they’re just trying to get something from you, they’ll bow and buy anyway, or they’ll move on. Either way, you win. On one hand, the unprofitable conflict that lowers your profitability is gone. On the other, the conflict ends and you retain that client’s situation profitably.
Some clients are big enough and similarly enough aligned that you may avoid conflict simply by collaborating with them. Sometimes, collaboration is necessary to secure their patronage later on. There are many ways this could go. Ideally, you’re both trying to satisfy one another. You’ll do A for them if they do concession B. They’ll do concession B if you also do provision C, and the two of you hash it out until you reach a conclusion.
Compromise is a form of collaboration where you kind of lose a little bit, but it may be worth it with the right client–especially if the conflict concerns some area of service where your MSP may have incidentally dropped the ball or otherwise mishandled it.
With some clients, the only way to keep out of conflict is to avoid them. This isn’t the best strategy, but it is a strategy. There are scenarios where it could be very appropriate to do so. With avoidance, you can prolong the relationship as long as possible. Eventually, the problem will either resolve itself, or you’ll lose the client. Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether this tactic makes sense or not.
This is similar to compromise, but on a continuous scale and proactively pursued. You know you’re going to compromise because you know you want the particular client you’re after. The customer being always correct is a sentiment in play here. Obviously, this can be an expensive way of resolving conflict; so, that’s a downside. Again, do a cost-benefit analysis.
Successful Client Refocus
Sometimes, clients become angry and enter into conflict because they’ve failed to fully grasp the situation. Maybe they’re just in need of a “refocus.” That is to say, you point out why your MSP is doing B, even though they want you to do Q. This requires patience and you’ve got to let them wind down, then you’ve got to demonstrate. This can retain a client and even make them even appreciative of you because you were fine enough to be patient with them.
A Properly Empathetic Approach
While being empathetic is often good, sometimes, it’s not–gauge the situation. Generally, people don’t enter into conflict because they want to, but because they feel they need to. When you understand why your clients feel they need to argue with you, you can determine if their grievance is legitimate or not and act accordingly. Empathy helps.
Better Client Relationships
Your MSP business can make relationships bloom with clients even through conflict if you approach such scenarios with reasoned conflict-resolution strategies.