Our firm does a lot of work in the IT space because we have years of experience in that market and we love to work in it. IT is a big broad area but today I want to focus on firms that do IT services; like network infrastructure, maintenance, cloud migrations and other services that help businesses implement and maintain their IT infrastructure.
This market has experienced a huge wave of consolidation. There have been some businesses failing and others seeking to merge in order to stay afloat. Some of the larger ones have been gobbled up by larger Australian and overseas operators.
In the wake of all this change we know that is only going to get tougher. And when a market gets tougher the innovative will prevail despite their size. There is a pervasive misunderstanding that innovation has to be on a large scale like a market disruption, that is cool if you can pull it off. What we help our clients do is innovate on a scale that leverages their strengths to increase competitiveness. You can innovate in your internal systems and processes to become more efficient and shave costs but we like to grow revenue first if the business is not in a dire financial position.
Innovating to grow revenue may be different for each company. There are considerations like target markets and ideal clients. Put those aside and lets look at some ‘generic’ ideas that might get you thinking about innovation in the tough IT services market.
- Customer service: sure this one is obvious. Mediocrity is dead and unfortunately that is the norm. The company that I used for a few years to support one of my businesses is the perfect example. They have fancy service level agreements, a sophisticated telephone system, job logging system and on and on. When it came to human to human interaction they suck big time. The culture comes from the top and these guys have a ‘collective ego’ you can’t jump over. You can employ and train great people who care about other people and this alone will set you apart.
- The customer experience is another area most people forget about. What is something of value that you can offer in addition to your normal services? I am old enough to remember when petrol stations had employees who filled your car, washed your windows and checked your oil. What more can your people do when they are servicing a client that sets the bar above what all the rest do. Add the extras without charging for the extra time and this will amaze your clients and forge your relationship to a higher level.
- Education is the king of content marketing. Your clients are not interested in hearing how great you are but they could really appreciate some online or face to face training to help their people be more confident and productive with technology. Technology is becoming more and more ‘consumer’ level and you can demonstrate your commitment to your clients by helping them help themselves………’teach a man to fish etc.’
- Invite your clients to an annual or bi-annual event. I know a recruiter who does this very well and it works wonders to build solid relationships among clients. This does not have to be a big deal. It will position you as a ‘connector’ and demonstrates commitment to your clients’ business beyond your deliver of technical services. Of course you should also be on the lookout for any business opportunities for your clients and pass them along.
- Remember birthdays and other personal events. I am not kidding. This costs little if anything and is one of the most powerful demonstrations of your being in ‘tune’ with your clients. A few of my clients [in another type of business] have begun recognising client birthdays with a simple card and the feedback is amazing. You can take it further by including a small gift. So easy yet so rarely done.
There you go. Five steps you can take right now to position your business to gain more sales and more clients. Of the list, the customer service point is the most difficult and possibly complex unless you are blessed with a great team already.
Get in touch if you want to get started. I will add to this list in some future posts and add some more specific steps you can take. Remember to stay focused on your business and get help when you need it.