Customer Success team for a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

Tandiss Member Posts: 6 Navigator
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Hi all,

I am starting a CS division in my company. We are not a SAAS company but rather an MSP. Does anybody work in this field? What metrics do you use to measure success? What has been the biggest difference between CS at an MSP and CS at a SAAS firm?




  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Navigator
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    What type of services do you provide to customers and how do you measure the results of those services?
  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 183 Expert
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    edited June 2023

    Hi @Tandiss --I spent 2 years as VP Client Success at an MSSP (InteliSecure, acquired by ProofPoint), and I've worked with several MSPs in my consulting practice, so perhaps I can be of assistance.

    Some MSP aspects are very similar to SaaS while others are very different. The desired business results are the same (lower churn and increase NRR), but the services vs. technology focus is notably different. Tech providers are much more product-centric, they can usually see online behaviors and can use them to predict customer renewals, and can do much more at scale than service providers. In contrast, MSPs tend to be more customer-centric, are more tech-agnostic, services delivered are more tailored, CSMs act more as ongoing service managers (@Jay Nathan's SLA comments are spot on) and they generally have fewer but deeper client relationships.

    Other things are very similar. Like with SaaS, you must facilitate the customer's journey, ensuring value promises made to each member of the customer's decision making unit are kept, especially during the early stages. Value planning and realization is extremely important in order to build a shared belief about your brand, and those shared beliefs are predictive of future behaviors. After customers are in their "happy place," CSMs must sustain the shared belief, responding to any fundamental changes and critical moments (such as major escalations) along the way. In my view, CSMs should also be trained to identify emerging needs, handing off leads to AMs and doing an assumptive close for regular renewals. And like in SaaS, the Customer Success function must partner with the CEO to cross-functionally improve upstream services and processes that drive downstream churn/retention.

    I hope that helps.

    Ed Powers

  • Guy Galon
    Guy Galon Member Posts: 30 Expert
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    Hi @Tandiss . MSSP's customer journey differs from the "classic" product/technology customer journeys. @Ed Powers explained it very well. I have been working for years with MSSPs, and there are few points to take into consideration:

    1. The operational/service delivery teams should have clear KPIs which contribute to retention, customer satisfaction and NRR. These KPIs can then easily be communicated to customers in regular reports and dashboards.
    2. The "customer success" aspect is tricky as dedicated (professional ) teams deliver the ongoing service while AM/Sales handle the commercials. Customer Success can be influential if there is "enough room" to drive value and demonstrate the outcomes customers expects from the service. Hence, the concept of a service journey should be in place with visible milestones/objectives correlated with the customer's goals.
    3. The cross-team collaboration is a critical element in the MSSP environment. I found that mapping roles and responsibilities between the Service team/CS/sales create more focus and avoid confusion about "who does what."

    Guy Galon
    Executive Advisor
    My Website:

  • Tandiss
    Tandiss Member Posts: 6 Navigator
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    Thank you @Jay Nathan, @Ed Powers and @Guy Galon, this is very insightful information that I will take to further design the role.

    @Jay Nathan, currently our firm is a little disjointed and there isn't clear communication or accountability of who owns the customer. To make things a little more complicated, we are channel-only; so the CSM will manage the product, customer and partner "pack". For example; our partner engages with their customer to provide managed services, they use our field services to do the initial roll-out of new devices and the ongoing onsite maintenance and stock management. This is usually a 3-5 year contract with the partner and customer. The CSM will manage this package of partner/customer contracts over its lifetime and will support the AM with renewal. As @Ed Powers said, the CSM will also be identifying emerging needs to hand over to the AM.

    A CSM will have multiple Customer/partner "packs" to manage, however, the AM will manage the partner as a whole.

    @Ed Powers, I am so glad you said that in this role the CSM is more customer centric and will have fewer customers to mange but will develop deeper understanding of their needs and deeper relationships. That is exactly what I am experiencing. Escalations is an other aspect I am identifying responsibilities with our Head of services. As you said, we are designing field escalations to be managed by services and CSM to be informed, but with major escalation for the CSM to have an active part in resolution.

    @Guy Galon, your first point the KPIs is where service delivery has been misaligned, and that is mainly due to a lack of proper handover from Land to Service. I believe a CSM can manage this stage to confirm with customer/partner KPIs and make sure they are alined. You are spot on we are currently mapping the role and being very clear where a CSM roles and responsibilities sit, and how that differce to service and AM.

    I have not heard of Service Journey before, but we where trying to do something like that without realizing it. Thank you for this, it gives me something to research and now have a better understanding of how I need to design it.

    Again, thank you for your insightful feedback, this is very helpful.


  • ARdravid
    ARdravid Member Posts: 1 Navigator
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    Hi all, I just happened upon this conversation and found it very helpful. Was hoping to ask a couple of follow up questions. I’m an executive at a PE-portfolio company (MSP) and we’ve been struggling with defining scope of the CS team and to differentiate it with the newly formed Service Management team. Although I’m knowledgeable about difference in responsibilities, in your experience, where does the CS team/manager sit in the organizational structure (Sales v. Operations) and is a CS manager typically incentivized though a comp plan or other success metrics? Would appreciate any insight in these questions. 
  • tejash_24
    tejash_24 Member Posts: 23 Navigator
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    Congratulations on starting a CS division in your MSP! Here are some metrics you can use to measure success:

    • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): This is a survey that asks customers how satisfied they are with your services. A high CSAT score indicates that customers are happy with your service and are likely to renew their contracts.
    • Net promoter score (NPS): This is a survey that asks customers how likely they are to recommend your services to others. A high NPS score indicates that customers are promoters of your brand and are likely to stay with you for the long term.
    • First contact resolution rate (FCRR): This is the percentage of tickets that are resolved on the first contact. A high FCRR indicates that your team is resolving issues quickly and efficiently.
    • Average resolution time: This is the average time it takes to resolve a ticket. A low average resolution time indicates that your team is resolving issues quickly.
    • Customer churn rate: This is the percentage of customers who cancel their contracts with you each year. A low churn rate indicates that your customers are happy with your services and are likely to stay with you.

    The biggest difference between CS at an MSP and CS at a SaaS firm is that MSPs typically have a more hands-on approach to customer service. MSPs are responsible for managing the entire IT infrastructure of their customers, which means that they need to be able to resolve a wide range of issues. SaaS firms, on the other hand, typically only provide a single product or service, so their CS team can focus on that specific area.

    Here are some other key differences between CS at an MSP and CS at a SaaS firm:

    • Relationship-building: MSPs typically build stronger relationships with their customers than SaaS firms. This is because MSPs are more involved in the day-to-day operations of their customers' businesses.
    • Proactiveness: MSPs are more proactive in identifying and resolving potential problems than SaaS firms. This is because MSPs want to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
    • Cost: MSPs typically charge more for their services than SaaS firms. This is because MSPs provide a wider range of services and have a more hands-on approach to customer service.

    I hope this helps!

  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
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    @ARdravid @Ed Powers @Guy Galon @Tandiss - Who knew we had so many ties to MSPs in this group! I've been on the vendor side since 2011 (with ConnectWise and now Liongard) helping MSPs!

  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 183 Expert
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    @ARdravid, the organizational structure depends on a lot of factors. My favorite question to ask my consulting clients is "How does your organizational structure facilitate the accomplishment of work?" All too often leaders start with the org chart, then change the process, rather than the other way around. As @Guy Galon mentioned, nailing the customer journey is tremendously helpful as a first step.

    That said, in my MSSP experience our CSMs were primarily service managers reporting to Operations. They were responsible for value planning, realization and retention, and they helped generate and received a modest incentive for each Sales-accepted CSQL. They partnered very closely with a Strategic Account Manager on the larger, high-potential accounts and hunter AMs that managed the rest. SAM and AE were responsible for expansion, and they all reported to Sales. The SAM had a typical high base salary plus commission sales structure, whereas the CSMs were salaried, had no quotas, and the CSQLs were simply additional income. That arrangement worked remarkably well in that case, both internally and with clients.

    Your mileage, of course, may vary. Happy to talk more any time.