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COMPETITIVE DIFFERENTIATION: 3 CAN’T-MISS STRATEGIES FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS

By Sparky Farwell, CSS Group at CCI Systems

The Service Provider space is crowded.

Oversaturation in the industry makes it challenging to separate your service offerings from the many companies and overbuilders out there that are hungry for your business. However, there is a business adage that applies to MSPs, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 100 companies alike: “You have to spend money to make money.”

At CCI Systems, we know that maximizing the value of existing capital investments and the know-how of experienced staff are fundamental pieces of a successful growth plan. An even more powerful strategy we learned early on is identifying where our sweet spot is. For example, CCI has built a fruitful business by focusing on selling to managed service (MSOs) and internet service providers (ISPs).

During my tenure at CCI, I’ve noted a handful of strategies that have helped us stand out against our competitors and gain industry recognition for success in our vertical. Let’s dive into it.

Strategy #1 – Use The Right Tools

Choosing the right toolset can make a huge difference in your venture’s success, especially as the technology landscape keeps throwing curve balls at us. Because of this uncertainty, I recommend that service providers focus on selecting only Software as a Service (SaaS) tools. They’re more robust, secure, and automated than on-premises-based solutions. Not to mention they don’t require regular maintenance and upgrades. All these benefits translate to significant time and cost savings and an increase in your bottom line.

CCI Systems follows this advice by:

  • Leveraging LogicMonitor’s SaaS-based performance monitoring platform as the foundation of our online applications.
  • Expanding our contact center solution capabilities by partnering with Five9. Its cloud-based contact center platform has improved our agent availability percentage by 10-15 percent.
  • Turning to ZenDesk for its SaaS-based ticketing system.
  • Simplifying the process of authentication and management of Wi-Fi performance for our hotel and MDU clients using ElevenOS.

For ideas on what to keep in mind when selecting the right SaaS product for your company, read “How to choose a SaaS vendor: Key questions you should ask yourself” in TechTalks magazine. The article cites a study statistic that 73 percent of organizations say that nearly all their apps will be SaaS by 2020, and it’s for good reason. The article is full of useful information, but an area I encourage you to focus on is this: “There are many hybrid solutions that are advertised as complete SaaS products. Be aware of that and choose them with open eyes with regard to their limitations if you like to,” Kevin Delsh writes. “Real SaaS solutions usually just need a browser to run, everything else is in the cloud and you shouldn’t worry about.

Strategy #2 – Train Your Team To Be Experts On Your Sales Vertical

I cannot put enough emphasis on service providers training their employees to be experts on the vertical or verticals they serve.

As previously mentioned, CCI sells Wi-Fi services to large cable providers that serve hospitality. Being able to speak the language and understand their drivers and pain point has helped us close deals and increased customer stickiness. A hotel’s ability to quickly resolve a guest’s problem with the WiFi network often factors into that guest’s experience and the overall image of that brand.

Understanding that challenge, we developed the Network Engineering Assessment Tool (NEAT)

to give service providers and property owners real-time insight into the performance of their WiFi networks via an online monitoring-as-a-service (MaaS) application. By utilizing NEAT, a property manager, for example, can track network WiFi performance and identify issues that need to be corrected before they escalate into problems that affect guests.

Time is valuable but learning about your service provider clients is time extremely well-spent. This translates into gaining the customer’s trust and building long-term client relationships because you went out of your way to create a custom solution for them.

Strategy #3 – Create A Single Pane Of Glass For Clients

The ability to provide visibility into complex client infrastructures has proven so valuable that we developed a customer service offering around it. We tailored to MSPs that provide network-based services to hotels and multiple dwelling units (MDUs).

The biggest benefit? Incremental revenue for our clients and competitive differentiation for CCI. The single pane of glass we created for service providers that rely on us for network monitoring can generate new revenue streams by offering high-speed internet, video, voice and/or security services. This generates savings in operating expenses (OPEX) because these clients incur no additional costs of purchasing and installing new hardware or software, or training staff. This pane of glass approach has become a competitive differentiator for us, and for our partners.

At the end of the day, creating competitive differentiation in a crowded market can be tough and time-consuming. But it’s worth the growing pain, and the three strategies above have helped propel our NOC and Call Center business groups to new levels.