Welcome to the MSP Marketing Podcast with me, Paul Green. This is THE show if you want to grow your MSP. This week’s show includes:
00:00 ‘4000 Weeks’ and the importance of ‘you time’ to your life and business
07:51 This tool makes hiring techs easier
16:48 How creating an excellent customer experience can help grow your business
Thank you to Marc Gordon, The Customer Experience Expert, for joining me to talk about creating customer loyalty with better and more effective customer experiences.
Marc is an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of customer experience. With over 25 years of marketing and business communications in a number of diverse industries, he has built a reputation for providing impactful methods that increase sales and inspire customer loyalty.
Marc is also an advocate for youth business initiatives, and speaks at schools about entrepreneurship and the art of public speaking.
Connect with Marc on LinkedIn:
Extra show notes:
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Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Hello and welcome back to the show. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.
Hi, I’m Marc Gordon, the customer experience expert. Look for my interview coming up where I’m going to be sharing with you ways that you can create better, more efficient, more effective customer experiences to keep your customers coming back.
And that really is going to be a fantastic interview with Mark later on towards the end of the show. We’re also going to be talking about recruitment this week. I’ve got a very cool tool that you could use to cut through all the noise and get straight to the very best candidates.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Now, let’s start this week with a difficult subject, but it’s an important one. It’s something that we need to talk about and it’s not strictly about MSP marketing, but it is about your business and especially about you and your life and just how finite your life is. I believe this podcast should be 80% marketing stuff and 20% related stuff, and I personally find productivity things very interesting and increasingly, as I get older, I’m finding it more and more interesting to talk about the finiteness of life.
Now, let’s just set some context here. At time of recording, I’m 48, but I’m around about 15, 16 months away from turning 50, which is a proper munch scream, when you’re putting your hands on your face and going, “Ugh!” It’s a proper scream moment for me because I was cool going into my thirties, I was all right going into my forties, but approaching my fifties, I don’t know. That feels like it’s old, proper old.
My dad was only 23 when I was born. So at the age I am now, I’m 48 now, he had a 25-year-old son. I was 25 at the point my dad was this age. Can you see how that changes the way you think about things? And my dad now, he’s only 70 and he’s still quite a young 70, but it’s terrifying. Over the last few years or so, I’ve just been delving into something. It’s called a 4,000-week movement, and it’s based around the principle that the average person, if we are lucky, we’ve got 4,000 weeks on this planet, which is just around about 80 years.
Now, I’ve just been listening to a book. I’ve just pulled it up on Audible on my phone. It’s called 4,000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It’s got a few fruity words in there, bit of fruity language, but it’s a really, really good book. And it’s all about, we’ve got to, as we go through life and as we are trying to grow our business and look after our customers and do a great job and be good husbands or wives and be good parents as well, we’ve also got to not forget to actually enjoy our lives along the way.
And do you ever get to this time of the year and you look up and you think, “How is it this time already? I’m sure it was Christmas four seconds ago,” because I know that happens to me. And in fact, the older I get, the more that seems to speed up. The core message within this book is about enjoying yourself now and not being so worried about the future. And I think we as business owners are very, very guilty of this, whereby we tend to put in a lot of hard work today and we self justify it as we are building something for the future so there will be greater profits in the future, more stability in the future. The business will be better and will operate without me in the future.
I hear lots and lots of these things, but the risk is that you keep your nose down for 20 years and then you look up and suddenly you are old and you’re at retirement. And that’s a scary thing. And what this book is, this 4,000-week book, one of the core messages is not to forget to enjoy yourself along the way, that actually you can’t assume you’re going to get those full 4,000 weeks. You’ve got to enjoy doing the things that you enjoy doing.
My enjoyment is very simple in life. I love time with my daughter. For now, she’s still 12. We’ll see what happens when she turns into that teenager at 13 and the years ahead. I know teenage girls are the most difficult. Don’t need to tell me that one. Plenty of people have told me that, but I enjoy spending time with her, quality time anyway. We go to see musicals at the theater together. We do escape rooms. Escape rooms are awesome. We have lots of shared hobbies and I appreciate those will tail off as the years come by.
But it means, for me, never working weekends. Never ever, ever working weekends is literally number one priority. Weekends is family time. Evenings, I’ll work some evenings. We have lots of members of our MSP marketing edge who are in the US, which means doing stuff in the evenings. I’m comfortable with that because I’m always there to pick her up from school or do the school runs. Never missed a sports day, never missed a theater club, all of the stuff that’s important. But weekends are absolutely incredibly important to me as I’m sure they should be for you as well, particularly if you do have family. That’s family time. That’s when the family has you.
But what about time for yourself? I really like walking. I like running. I like photography. As I say, my hobbies are actually very simple. I like traveling and going to places and exploring and looking at things. And for many years, I had the habit of taking Fridays off, not working Fridays. It was a habit I lost during lockdown. I’ve toyed with it, but I did find Fridays to actually be quite productive days for me. Maybe I should take Mondays off. I hate Mondays. Who likes Mondays?
There’s a version of this for you. No matter how busy you are in your business, unless you are literally the business; you need to have some kind of help to do this, but there comes a point where if you can take Fridays off or take Mondays off or find a regular day a week when you can have time for yourself because you give time to your family, you give time to your business, but when is the time for yourself?
We’ve only got 4,000 weeks. What we do with that time is so critical. I’m going to finish on a thing I’m going to suggest to you; a tool that you can buy or you could make your own. Now, you can’t quite see it. If you’re watching this on YouTube, you’ll notice that just over my left shoulder here, there’s a little set of drawers. I’m in my temporary office that I’ve been in for a number of months and, in the next couple of weeks, I’m moving down into my new office as the builders finish that office. I’m really looking forward to it. So you won’t be seeing these draws in the future because it’s a much bigger office that I’m moving into.
But you can’t see on the YouTube video, but on the side I have a poster up. It’s quite a large poster and it says, “My life in weeks.” And I bought that from … I think the website address is 4kweeks.com, as in 4,000weeks.com. And what you do is you put in your date of birth and they print a poster where they have prefilled in the number of weeks that you’ve already lived, because the idea with this poster is it lists out the 4,000 weeks as 4,000 boxes. And at the end of every week, you get your pencil and you just fill in another little box; the idea being that you can literally physically watch the number of weeks that you’ve got left on this planet going down and down and down.
Now at 48, it doesn’t look so bad. I’m just a little bit over the middle, but obviously as I get onto 50, that’s going to be a whole new section. Every 10 years is a section. So I’m entering a whole new section in about 14, 15 months time and that is terrifying. Now, these posters are really expensive. They’re something like $40, $50 for them to print off a sheet of A4 or a sheet of A3, A2, whatever it is. These are European sizes, but it’s a big sheet.
Well done to them for coming up with something with a massive profit margin. The point is I’ve got to track now. I can literally look at any point and in my new office it’s going to be there in front of me to remind me not only that I’ve got to stay focused on what I want to achieve, but also I mustn’t forget to enjoy my life along the way. Maybe you could do something exactly the same.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
I think we all agree that recruitment is a headache right now. It’s a headache with two sides of the sword, a double-edged sword. On one side, it’s difficult to find good technicians who aren’t just shopping around to try and increase their salary wherever they’re working right now. But the other side of the sword is when you apply or when you advertise for non-technical jobs, so admin jobs or marketing jobs or any other kind of level of job that almost anyone can apply for, you are swamped. I mean, literally swamped with a very, very broad range of people who essentially have just sat there on whatever app they’re using to apply for jobs and they’re just stabbing the button. They’ve got their phone and they’re just stabbing, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab.
And the stabbing is the applying for the job. They’re not putting any thought into it. They don’t know really what they’re applying for. They’re just applying for jobs. They’re treating recruitment, they’re treating job hunting as a numbers game, and they’re just applying for as many jobs as they want. Now, the problem for you as the recruiter, as the person trying to take someone on, is that a lot of noise. I know this because we’ve just recruited two or three different roles, and one of them in particular, we had I think it was around about something ridiculous. It was either 1500 or 2000 applications. I forget what it was.
And we were looking for a new video editor. Who knew there were like 2000 people out there who wanted to be a video editor working from home? It’s clearly a desirable job, but that was an incredible amount of noise to get through. And in fact, the person that got that job is literally one in 2000, which is awesome. So you’ve got two problems there, two completely different problems. One is the inability to find good people and the second is the inability to sort the wheat from the chaff.
There is a tool that a few MSPs I know are using, and I believe it can help you with both of these problems. And in fact, this tool has been specifically designed for a number of issues and you can use it for recruitment. It is one of its published use cases. The tool is called VideoAsk, and you can find it at videoask.com. And what it allows you to do is to use video as a two-way communication between you and your job hunter. Now, let’s look at how you’d use that for hard to find technicians. Then let’s use it for the swamped version and then let’s talk about how you use VideoAsk in your general marketing.
VideoAsk, when you’re looking for technicians. Let’s say you’re looking for a second line or third line technician. There aren’t many of them around. Those that are, if they’re happy where they are, they may job hunt just to get another offer so they can get their salary increase where they currently are, or they just may have totally unrealistic expectations of their worth to you, their salary. Now, the idea with VideoAsk is that, as part of the recruitment process, you record a simple video. And of course, you do this once for a job. And in that video you introduce yourself.
You say, “Hi, my name’s Paul. Here I am. This is our MSP. This is what we do. We’re looking for a second line tech. What’s in it for you is this, this, this, this, and this.” So essentially you recap the advert. You sell them on the concept of you and your business in a video message. But here’s the critical thing. They then have to, as part of the recruitment process, they have to record a video message back to you. You may ask them to perhaps complete a qualifying question. It might be like a high level tech question.
I can’t think of any high level tech questions. How would you reset someone’s password in Teams? I know that’s not high tech, I’m joking, but you get the idea. So you might set them a technical challenge and they have to present to you on video literally just using their phone. They don’t need any special equipment. This is just a phone app, but they have to record something saying, “Hi, this is me, this is what I do, this is my experience. The answer to the question is you’d go in with a pair of pliers, you’d turn it to the left, get an electric shock and hit it with a hammer.”
And of course, when they’re saying that to you, even if they’ve Googled the answer, you’ll be able to see in their eyes if they truly understand what it is that they’re saying, because there is a massive difference between Googling something and saying what’s on Google, and actually understanding something and being able to communicate it properly. Now, here’s why Getting someone to do this on video is such a big deal.
First of all, it’s a hoop to jump through. It’s something that someone has got to do and where there’s a bit of work to be done where someone’s got to do some work, that immediately is going to get rid of the time wasters. So those people who aren’t really bothered about moving, they don’t really want to leave their current job, they’re just shopping around to try and get a salary increase, they may even be fearful that if they do this on a video platform, that it could somehow get back to their boss. I believe there’ll be a lower number of those time wasters literally wasting your time by doing this. So that will immediately eliminate some people. And you shouldn’t be scared of that. You want to eliminate bad candidates from this process.
Now, the flip side of that is those technicians who are genuinely looking for a new role, this is a very engaging process, and engagement, as we know with any kind of marketing recruitment really is just a form of marketing. Engagement is such an important thing. If you can get someone engaged with your business, engaged with the way you do things, and video is an awesome tool to do that, then that’s half the battle. So I believe it’s going to really help you in that difficult technical role.
Now, what about where you are swamped? Well, I wish we’d done it with our video editor and with our other vacancies that we’ve done recently. And we may look at doing this in the future, because again, there’s a level of work that they have to do. So those people that are just sitting pressing the apply button, instantly they’re gone because, well, they haven’t read what they’ve got to do because you make this part of the advert. “Please don’t just send your CV. Please apply via VideoAsk or the link.”
I haven’t actually used it, so I don’t know exactly how it works. I haven’t used it yet, I should say. But the load of people won’t apply properly because they haven’t actually read what they have to do. Others won’t have read the instructions or their video will just be rubbish, or you’ll just get a general feeling this is not the right person for me. So you literally cut through a whole series of people. But again, for those that actually could be good candidates, awesome. There’s some level of engagement that’s just happened there as well.
So you can see how VideoAsk would be an incredible recruitment tool for you. I believe actually, having gone onto their website in research for this and looked at all of their use cases, I think it’s actually a pretty awesome marketing tool as well. For example, you could use it to collect testimonials, you could use it to build a sales funnel, you could use it for lead generation. There’s a whole series of different things.
So with that caveat that I haven’t yet actually downloaded it, used it on my phone, this is going to be a little project for me perhaps this weekend. Now, hang on. Can’t work this weekend because of what I was saying earlier. Don’t work weekends. We’ll do it on Monday, I think. Go and have a look, videoask.com com. See if this is a tool that could help you with your recruitment or indeed maybe some of your marketing problems.
Paul’s blatant plug.
One of my missions in life, one of the things that gets me up in the morning is helping MSPs, regardless of whether they are paying me to help them or not. That’s why we do so much free stuff. This podcast costs real money because there’s not just my time in researching it. We do spend money on tools and on equipment and on awesome editors, and there’s licenses to be paid and we have to upload it to the hosting service and distribute it and all that kind of stuff.
But it’s worth it because a lot of MSPs, an enormous number of MSPs, listen to this podcast and I enjoy doing it. I know most people enjoy listening to it. It’s one of the ways we can give free help to MSPs, the same as our learning hub on paulgreensmspmarketing.com. I mean, literally hundreds of free articles for you to help you with your marketing.
We also have a free magazine. Now, it’s just a one edition magazine. It’s not something we are going to do regularly, but it’s called the MSP Marketing Magazine. It’s completely free. It’s just eight pages showing you what other MSPs are doing with their marketing and how you can swipe and adapt that. There’s a great case study in there as well of a very successful MSP. So if you want to get a free copy of this, we will even ship it to you completely free. You don’t even have to pay the postage.
And that’s not one of those things where we want you to put in your credit card to pay a pound or a dollar for the postage and then try and upsell you something. We’re not doing anything like that. This is completely free and we ship it to you for free. It’s my investment in helping you get started with your marketing. And of course, it’s a bit of a relationship starter for us as well. Maybe you’ll go on to buy something from me and my team down the line, maybe won’t. It doesn’t really matter. But you can get your Free MSP marketing magazine right now at paulgreensmspmarketing.com.
The big interview.
Hi, I’m Marc Gordon, the customer experience expert.
And thank you so much for joining us on the show, Mark. I have a ton of things to ask you about customer experience, and specifically how you can design a great experience even when you are a very busy business owner. But let’s first of all do the credibility thing. Tell us a little bit about your background. How do you come to label yourself as the customer experience expert?
Well, I started in business at around 16 years old, purely out of looking for opportunities to not necessarily make money, but I was involved in a number of hobbies and sports and things like that. And I was looking for opportunities to be able to get access to products or services. So that led me to that entrepreneurial journey. And over the years, I’ve been involved in the clothing industry and mostly in the automotive industry.
And over that time, every business model had something unique in common, and that was that I never actually made any of the products that I sold. They were always made by another company, and I would put them in my box and rebrand them and market them under my name. And one thing I realized early on, that what really made me different from everyone else, since the products in many ways were the same, was how I treated my customers.
But at the time, terms like customer service, customer experience, it didn’t really exist. I mean, these were terms that were not thrown around back in the early mid-nineties, even the late nineties. And over that time, I refined this process and this philosophy of whatever I do, it’s got to be easy, convenient, and stress-free for the customer. They shouldn’t have to worry about anything in doing a transaction with me.
I sold my automotive company in 2003 and decided to move into a marketing slash consulting role with a new company and a new organization I created. And over that time, I built on this philosophy I had in terms of delivering products and services in a way that make clients loyal, make them want to share their positive experiences with others. And over that time, I just earned the moniker as being a customer experience expert, which is interesting. When I started, that term again didn’t exist. So it is a relatively new term, I think. And a lot of people still today, they’ll throw around customer service and customer experience interchangeably, but for me, it’s really about the all-encompassing experience.
Yes, yes, I bet it is. And of course, customer experience is something that we as customers are very quick to criticize. You go into any social media platform and it’s full of people tweeting brands and messaging brands, telling them what a poor experience they’ve had. And yet as business owners, is it your experience, as is my experience, that most business owners don’t think enough about the customer experience in their own business?
Well, I think it’s twofold. You touched on two great points. First off, from a customer perspective, we live in a world now where customers perhaps, maybe through no fault of their own, may have unrealistic expectations. I attribute a lot of this to marketing. Businesses are very quick to market themselves in a way that perhaps creates expectations that they can’t manage. We live in a world now where everybody wants to be the best; best quality, best service, best price. You can’t have everything. So customers sometimes come in with these unrealistic expectations.
Now, on the flip side, the businesses, a lot of them just kind of fly by the seat of their pants and don’t really have a strategy or a process in place, understanding the different touchpoints over the course of the transaction process, what problems they may encounter, what challenges the customers may face, how they’ll deal with those challenges. If things don’t go, how will they respond? A lot of times it’s just very willy-nilly. They’re just going to do whatever seems to work. Not every customer will be treated the same, and it can lead to a lot of stress from both sides.
And certainly when I’ve had a bad customer experience in the past, nine times out of 10, it’s because of the quality of the people that I’ve been interacting with. Is that something that many of the businesses you work with find in common, that it’s more about the people than it is the systems or is it a mixture of both?
It is a mixture of both. In many cases, businesses will put people in positions that they shouldn’t be in, and anyone who’s ever called an MSP or any other type of business, they’ll sometimes encounter someone who will answer the phone and you’re thinking to yourself, “This person should never be allowed to talk to another human being. They belong in a small office in a dark room where they can just fill out forms and do paperwork.” But businesses, for whatever reason, will put people in jobs or in positions that they may not be suited to. So there’s that, and then as well too, there is internal processes about how things are actually done.
Let’s get down to some specific examples that can help MSPs. You know how MSPs work, of course. Well, it’s supposedly not supposed to be much of a reactive role these days, but there is still a huge amount of reactivity because essentially a client’s buying an MSP to manage their technology for them. But there is also still that, “Hey, something is broken. Please can you fix it,” element to it. And as we all know, when something isn’t working as it’s supposed to, that can become a distress point for the client. So where you’ve got here B2B businesses typically looking after lots and lots of different things, lots of moving parts for lots of different people, what are some of the things or the areas that you would advise any MSP to look at to improve that overall customer experience?
Well, the first thing I would say is they need to not necessarily wait until they get that call that there’s a problem. And one of the things that I say is that if you wait till the problem’s happening, then it’s a problem that’s going to be harder to deal with. A great way to not only let customers know that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and their success and to potentially increase sales is to be proactive, not reactive.
After the job is done, after the MSP is left, reach out to the customer maybe a few days later, maybe a week later. Check in and say, “I just want to make sure that everything is working as it should. Are there any problems you have? Are there any challenges you’re facing? Is something not doing what you thought it should?” Come out and ask these questions.
Not only will it make you look like a service leader, but in many cases, you will get an increase in sales because a lot of times, and I’ve seen this in so many industries, you call up the customer to make sure everything’s okay and the customer comes back and says, “Yeah, everything’s working great. Thanks for calling. I really appreciate it. But you know what? We ordered two of these units from you and now we’re realizing it’s not enough. We need to order a third. So I’m really glad you called.”
Or they’re saying, “This system we purchased from you, I know you wanted us to purchase the top of the line. We didn’t, we purchased the midline, but now we’re realizing you were right. Is there a way that we can upgrade our system? Is there something you can do to help us out?” These are sales that are self-generating and make you look like a hero at the same time.
Yeah, and we’ve had guests on this podcast before, particularly people with customer experience platforms, which of course is a piece of software designed to help MSPs create a better experience. We’ve had lots of people on this podcast talk about the beauty of doing quarterly business reviews, strategic reviews, and actually sitting, talking with clients and talking about their business and their needs and their wants and their fears. And not only do you get better retention and a better experience out of that, but you get more sales as well. Let’s just finish off, Marc, with two or three, if you like, easy wins; things that almost any B2B company could do that would instantly give them a better customer experience. What would those be?
At the very core of what I do, if there’s one takeaway, it’s to create an experience that is easy, convenient, and stress-free. And those key points, if you don’t do anything else and you can just create an experience that falls under these or checks off these three traits, you’re going to be ahead of most of your competitors. And it’s very simple. So easy being that the customer doesn’t have to work at completing the transaction or having a transaction with you.
And when I say work, for example, they shouldn’t have to work going through your website looking for information they need. They shouldn’t have to work in trying to reach the right person who can help them or the right department. They shouldn’t have to work with regards to understanding your order processing or how to make a purchase, or whether you require PO or whatever paperwork has to be filled out. That’s work. They shouldn’t have to work at it. It should be easy for them. And if that involves handholding, so be it.
Convenient means that the customer can work in a way that is convenient for them. They can do things on their terms. They can reach out to you in a way that they want, whether it be through text, through sell, through email, through WhatsApp, whatever platform they want. They can purchase something through you using a credit card, using e-transfer, using whatever form of payment they want. You want to make it as convenient for them as possible to empower them to work in a way that’s comfortable for them.
And of course, stress-free is absolutely essential. So many businesses mess up on this because they’re focused on themselves, on their own measure of success, rather than really understanding what the customer wants. And we as human beings, we don’t like stress in any way, shape, or form, but a lot of businesses create stressful environments because they make the customer have to question things.
For example, if this system doesn’t work right, will you be there for me? Will you take care of me if things don’t work as they should? Can I trust you? If there’s a problem with payment, if there’s a problem with delivery, are these things I need to know about or can I count on you to be able to come through and do what you say you will? These are things customers should not have to think about. So easy, convenient, and stress-free, I would say to any MSP, regardless of anything else you do, if you can create transactions that check off these three traits, you will be miles ahead of your competition.
I love it. Thank you so much, Mark. Tell us, what do you do for businesses and how can we get in touch with you?
Well, for the most part, I do a lot of corporate speaking. I travel around the world and I share these kinds of ideas and concepts from the stage with organizations and associations, helping them learn how to create experiences that get customers coming back. On a one-to-one level, I do offer a fair amount of consulting, so businesses can reach out to me directly through my website at marcgordon.ca, and they can work with me in creating that strategy or creating that process internally so that they can manage their resources.
And what’s really interesting, a lot of businesses have this belief that they need to wow their customers, they need to exceed expectations. And I say, “You know what? You don’t have to. It’s not about under promising and over-delivering. It’s about promising and delivering, doing what you say you’re going to do.” And when you balance that, not only do you better allocate your resources and you’re more efficient as a business, you also lower your costs while creating more satisfied customers.
I love it. And just give us your website address again.
It’s Marc Gordon, and that’s Marc with a C. Marcgordon.ca.
Paul Green’s MSP marketing podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hey there, I’m Zach Kitchen. I’m an MSP owner just like you. I actually recommend a book called The Wedge by Randy Schwantz. The reason I recommend this book is because it teaches you how to push out those incumbent MSP providers out there and how it sets yourself apart from those competitors out there.
Coming up next week.
Hey, my name is Trenton Shuttler. I use generative AI with my team every day. It lets us truly unlock the power to transform my MSP. And on this upcoming podcast, I talked to Paul about it and how you can use it to really unleash the power within.
Wherever you are listening to or watching this right now, do subscribe and click the notification bell if you’re watching on YouTube so you never miss a new episode, because on top of that interview next week, we are going to be talking about paying your suppliers. There are some of your suppliers I believe you should pay faster and not slower, despite the fact that cash is the difficult thing for some MSPs right now. I’ll explain why next week.
I will also look at the six stages of the client journey. They go through six distinct stages before they are locked into you for life. We have a ton more marketing content for you on YouTube. Just go to youtube.com/mspmarketing and join me next Tuesday. Have a very profitable week in your MSP.
Made in the UK. For MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.