ConnectWise lays out key business issues for MSPs, with roadmap of portal and platform changes to address them

At IT Nation Connect, ConnectWise Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton discussed metrics MSPs need to better understand and use, as well as changes that ConnectWise will be making in its platform to help them do that.

Craig Fulton, ConnectWise’s Chief Product Officer

ORLANDO – MSPs need to do a better job at understanding how to build customer loyalty, and ConnectWise is devoting resources to help them do that. This was one of the central messages of the main keynote on Thursday at the IT Nation Connect event here. Craig Fulton, ConnectWise’s Chief Product Officer, discussed areas where most MSPs need to step up their game, as well as some enhancements to their platform and portal that ConnectWise is making to assist them.

“As-a-service is all about the customer experience,” Fulton said in his keynote. “Your customer is paying for productivity and uptime, so it’s all about supporting the customer. We know that when you bring on board a new customer, the first 6-9 months is the most important time. That first impression builds loyalty. Conversely, this is the period where churn happens the most – if you aren’t using systems efficiently to build loyalty. This is something that ConnectWise can help you with, from sending emails to the customer at the right time to helping with workflows.”

Fulton said while MSPs know what customer churn is, few of them appreciate its importance.

“They don’t think churn is a metric that applies to them,” he said. “Most MSPs think that they just need to look at subscriptions annually. They need to look at the movements up and down on a regular basis, and most of them don’t. It’s not just customer churn that they need to check. It’s also looking at churn on specific services. For example, how many people turn a premium security on and off? Churn there may be an indicator that something is wrong with how the service is being delivered.”

Fulton said that Customer Acquisition Costs and the Lifetime Total Value of the Customer are not things that many MSPs are even aware of.

“I don’t know too many MSPs who are actually looking at their Customer Acquisition Costs,” he said. “We’ve got to get as many customers as we can in the subscription world, and customer lifetime value is important to predict revenue. A ratio of Customer Acquisition Costs to Lifetime Total Value of 1:5 is good. A ratio of 1:3 is still good. Below 1:3 is not good. We will teach MSPs best practices to set up their platform to get this data and get better. There’s a subscription mentality of the customer you have to adapt to.”

One technique that Fulton said is important in getting MSPs to pay attention to Customer Acquisition Costs is to rank them against their peers on that metric.

“If we put it on a dashboard, and we rank them against their peers – then they look at it,” he said. “We have a lot of ConnectWise user data, and we can see what they are doing. For industry data, we go to analysts, but our users we know very well. We have built very deep cohort analysis in our user base, and  provide them with formulas to rank them against themselves, so that they can find out how they compete against their peers.”

ConnectWise will also be starting a new Webinar series that starts January 10 to address these issues, and which will include things like teaching them how to record the time of their sales reps, so they can see how much time is spent on acquiring customers.

ConnectWise announced some new tools for MSPs at IT Nation Connect – a cybersecurity risk assessment tool and a vulnerability scanner free of charge for three months to members, both provided in partnership with the Sienna Group. In addition, ConnectWise is making major enhancements to their core infrastructure, beginning with improvements to their portal to better assist MSPs with customer retention.

“If you see usage drop off, you know you better do customer retention activities,” Fulton told his audience. “We want the portal to be the way you can justify your existence to customers. The new portal is in pilot now with a few select partners.”

The new portal is heavily brandable and customizable, much more so than the existing one.

“Today, the partner can put their logo on it, but that’s it,” he said. “Many want to do a lot more than that, like add their own colours and other levels of customization. The new portal will have the API flexibility to put anything on that. It’s a new way to justify their existence to their customer, and show them the things that they do.” The new portal will be available in January.

The new portal will also have single sign-on capability.

“This is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” Fulton said. “All the products in the platform had the past had all their own authentication methods. With the new single sign-on, it not only means that they just log in once, but as they integrate other things into the platform the single sign-on becomes very powerful. Authentication allows for data revolution. You can’t have a platform revolution without a single sign-on strategy.”

Another platform improvement on the way will be a more user-centric way of using the platform, which is scheduled for the January-February time frame.

“Currently, the applications are organized by the functional area of the business,” Fulton said. “We know that’s not how people actually work, and right now they have to navigate their way through. The reorganization will be based on a persona or role-based view that the user can modify themselves.”

The ConnectWise Marketplace is also being improved.

“We are going to put it inside the platform so the experience can be click-click-click-done,” Fulton indicated. “Today, you can browse for solutions and buy, but it’s disconnected from the platform. There’s no automation. The MSP has to then set up the bill manually for the customer as well. The new Marketplace automates all of that. It automates the entire journey as a service.”

ConnectWise also just launched, on November 1, a new feature of their remote control ConnectWise View that lets techs use augmented reality to solve problems.

“They text the customer a link, and when the customer clicks it, the tech can see in two seconds what the customer sees,” Fulton said. “They don’t to install anything. There’s a cool feature element to it, but what it’s really good for is allowing very junior people to be sent out to the field, while a person sees what’s going on through the camera. One partner said this could let them send out interns with phones to the customer site.”

Going forward, look for an advanced security dashboard which orchestrates all layers of security into one place.

“That’s something else we are building,” Fulton said.

Enhancements are also coming to ConnectWise Unite, introduced earlier this year to facilitate automated billing and management issues.

“We are doing some great things with Cisco around ConnectWise Unite, and will be enhancing capabilities there so MSPs can manage, monitor and build Cisco cloud security products,” Fulton said.