CRM Best Practices for MSP Businesses to Maintain Lasting Client Relationships
The current state of the managed services marketplace is highly competitive. And the key to sustainable growth and profitability lies in building strong, lasting customer relationships.
But this isn't easy when juggling the demands of multiple clients and service delivery. This is where a customer relationship management (CRM) system comes in. By centralizing customer data and interactions, a CRM provides MSPs with enhanced visibility and management across the client lifecycle.
However, simply having a CRM is not enough. If you want to maximize value, your MSP must use the CRM best practices for implementing, configuring, and using the system.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the CRM best practices for MSPs and tips on how they can get the most out of CRM technology and processes.
Let’s dive right in!
12 Best CRM Best Practices for MSPs
From selection and implementation to analytics and customer experience — here are some MSP CRM best practices to help you make long-lasting relationships with your clients.
1. Choosing the most suitable MSP CRM software
The CRM software is crowded with options, but not all solutions are tailored to the unique workflow needs of managed service providers.
You should take the time upfront to evaluate and select the right MSP-specialized CRM carefully, as it pays off enormously in the long run.
Look for platforms explicitly built for IT service providers that include key features like automated ticket and work order generation from your RMM, detailed client profiling, the ability to associate clients with products/services purchased, and reporting customized for technical metrics like uptime and incident response times.
Also, pay close attention to CRM integration for MSP capabilities with your existing stack. It should seamlessly sync with your professional services automation, remote monitoring and management, and accounting software.
Check reviews from peers at other MSPs to get candid feedback on how CRMs perform for real-world managed services use cases.
Then, you should also consider the scalability side of the MSP CRM to ensure the platform can grow with your evolving business.
While picking the best CRM for MSP, emphasize the ease of use. It should feel like an extension of your daily workflows, not just another system to learn.
Taking this methodical approach to CRM selection sets your MSP up for sustained success and allows your MSP to maintain long-term client relationships.
2. Defining clear MSP CRM goals
One of the most effective CRM best practices starts with clearly defined business goals. Before even demoing platforms, take time to determine what you want your CRM to accomplish. What are the high-level outcomes you expect it to drive?
Common CRM goals for MSPs include increasing sales through shorter sales cycles, improving forecasting accuracy, and boosting customer retention rates.
Discuss current service delivery pain points with your teams to identify where CRM could enhance efficiency - whether it's faster ticket resolution, better documentation of client environments, or increased first-call resolution.
Techs should have input on how CRM could help their workflows. The leadership team can share big-picture revenue growth and profitability goals.
With cross-department participation, you'll end up with a comprehensive list of CRM goals tied back to tangible business needs.
These goals then guide your software selection process and configuration strategy. Revisit and refine them quarterly to ensure your CRM continues to move the needle on top business objectives. When you set up business goals upfront and re-evaluate them over time, it helps maximize MSP CRM ROI.
3. Establishing a robust MSP CRM implementation strategy
While it may be tempting to rush into rolling out your best CRM for MSP, a more gradual and phased approach is advisable for MSPs.
Rather than forcing a quick wholesale transition, slowly onboard teams onto the platform while providing ample training resources from the start. If vendor-provided onboarding assistance is available, you must take full advantage of it.
It’s also an MSP CRM best practice to migrate current customer data into the new system in stages - start by bringing over key customer and contract data while also cleaning out duplicates.
Also, consider building CRM integration for MSP with vital business systems like your PSA one at a time to avoid disruption.
Pilot the CRM first within a core user group to work out the shortcomings before expanding usage more broadly.
Throughout your rollout, proactively seek feedback from users about what’s working and what’s not. And whatever concern you find, try addressing them quickly.
Having an internal CRM expert well-versed in the system is hugely beneficial for supporting users during this transition.
4. Educating your team
A CRM only drives ROI if employees actually use it, so thorough training across your staff is also one of the MSP CRM best practices.
During onboarding, make sure all teams understand why CRM adoption benefits them directly in their day-to-day roles.
Sales staff gain access to detailed client histories before calls, and service teams view ticket and equipment details in one place, and so on.
Validate that users know how to accurately enter data, log all activities, configure workflows they need, and run reports tailored to their requirements.
Identify “power users” within different groups who deeply understand the platform’s capabilities and can provide peer-to-peer coaching.
Though initial training is key, don’t stop there – continue providing educational refreshers and new user orientation as you scale.
5. Maximizing data mining
MSPs capture a truckload of incredibly valuable data across their client base. A CRM provides a centralized hub to collect and mine this data for customer insights that can profoundly enhance service delivery, sales practices, and strategic decision-making.
Capture extensive client profile data - key contacts, installed technology environments, pain points with current IT setups, and so on. You should log all communications, service interactions, sales calls, and client meetings. Then, standardize the formatting and notation of this data so it can be effectively mined.
Integrate analytics capabilities to spot trends around customer behaviors, service usage correlated with business growth cycles, buying triggers, and churn risk predictors. Establish dashboards to monitor MSP KPIs like customer satisfaction and quarterly changes in MSP contract values.
The more clean and consistent data you feed into your CRM, the bigger the opportunities to mine that data for tactical and strategic gains.
By making data mining a priority, MSPs continually deepen their customer knowledge and strengthen client relationships over the long haul.
6. Establishing data quality standards
MSP CRM software is only as good as the data within it. Therefore, establishing and adhering to strict standards for data quality is non-negotiable.
Here are some things you can do to establish data quality standards:
- Define mandatory structures and formats for entering all data types, from customer records to tickets and invoices.
- Create templates, dropdowns, and required fields to promote consistency and completeness in data entered by service teams, sales staff, and others.
- Conduct regular data audits to quickly catch issues like duplication, incorrect categorization, and missing information fields before they undermine reporting and analytics.
- Implement data verification checks - such as requiring a separate confirmation of email addresses - to validate accuracy.
- Make someone accountable for oversight of data quality standards.
With clean and consistent data as a foundation, you can place full confidence in the reports and insights your CRM provides.
7. Maintaining clean MSP CRM data
Setting up data quality standards gets things started on the right foot, but maintaining clean data on an ongoing basis takes vigilance for MSPs.
Over time, data decay naturally occurs as personnel and workflows evolve. You should set a regular schedule for auditing and refreshing data integrity through activities like deduplication, formatting corrections, and profile enrichment.
Here are some things you can do to keep your MSP CRM data clean:
- Try scanning for duplicate records, such as contacts, and merge these.
- Review consistency in data formatting for critical fields like phone and email.
- Fill in missing but important details like title and location for contacts.
- Delete or archive old, obsolete records that clutter views.
- Assign data stewardship responsibility to someone skilled in database management and data governance.
Proper maintenance ensures your CRM data continues reflecting the current state of your clients and services, not just historical snapshots. And when your CRM contains trusted data, every team member can be confident leveraging it for day-to-day customer interactions and impactful business decisions.
8. Implementing essential automation
Scalable MSP growth depends very highly on how you’re driving efficiency through CRM automation of repetitive, predictable tasks.
How does automation in CRM help MSPs? It allows MSPs to:
- Configure workflows to automatically generate common ticket types when RMM alerts fire.
- Build forms that compile and distribute scheduled reports to clients.
- Standardize client onboarding processes with checklists that move new customers through predefined welcome sequences.
- Enable sales cadences that automatically follow up with prospects at set intervals.
- Eliminate manual data entry through an automated population of standard fields.
- Even small steps like automatically syncing appointments between calendars across teams boost productivity.
When considering automation, strike the right balance between streamlined workflows, while still maintaining the human touch in high-value interactions.
Intelligent automation of mundane activities allows staff to focus time on more complex challenges and build genuine customer rapport. Keep automation focused on smoothing workflows, not replacing judgment.
9. Using analytical insights
Analytics and reporting functionality is one of the most valuable dimensions of an MSP-focused CRM because MSPs can’t survive for long just based on intuition — they need to make data-based decisions to back their intuitions.
You should establish specific KPIs to track and then display them via centralized dashboards - such as client retention rate trends, quarterly sales growth, ticket backlog volume, and number of first-call resolutions.
Using an MSP CRM like Zomentum, you can create customized reports filtered on data points that matter most to your business, such as quarterly sales by client segment or tally of newly won clients from marketing campaigns.
Schedule distribution to automate the delivery of reports to any stakeholder that needs to stay in the loop.
But don’t stop at just pulling reports - discuss insights as a team and connect them back to your company goals to drive strategy. For example, analytics showing a spike in a particular type of support ticket could inform your decision to roll out additional employee training on that technology.
10. Elevating customer experiences
While CRM benefits MSPs internally, it also presents enormous opportunities to strengthen client satisfaction.
With MSP CRM software, you can create self-service portals where clients access knowledge bases, view account status, and open support tickets on their own time. This makes life easy for your internal teams so that they can focus on more important tasks.
To elevate customer experience, you can automate post-interaction surveys to capture direct customer feedback. Consider providing visibility into performance data like resolution time trends to showcase ongoing service improvements and integrate live chat to enable instant access to support without needing to pick up the phone.
With data-driven insights about each client's unique environment and challenges, your teams can proactively recommend new solutions, demonstrating your investment in their success.
Look at every client touchpoint - calls, emails, ticketing, quarterly reviews - as a chance to wow customers with your technical expertise as well as stellar service.
For MSPs, the CRM is so much more than a tool for internal use - it's a vehicle for delivering remarkable customer experiences at scale.
11. Making the most out of collaboration opportunities
Siloed data and disconnected systems pose tremendous obstacles for MSPs trying to deliver seamless customer experiences.
It’s a CRM best practice to break down these internal barriers by unifying sales staff, service techs, account managers, and marketing professionals around shared data streams and visibility into client relationships.
To make the most out of collaboration opportunities:
- Ensure each team consistently logs interactions in the CRM so collective knowledge is preserved.
- Grant department heads access to data specific to their purview while still maintaining transparency.
- Share client preferences widely so outbound communications align with stated contact preferences.
- Enable universal visibility into open support tickets and project timelines so any employee can proactively update a customer.
- Sync scheduling across service and sales to eliminate double-booking client meetings.
- Promote collaboration through usage policies that discourage internal data silos.
By linking CRM adoption to inter-departmental cooperation, you gain insights only possible through organization-wide transparency into customer relationships.
12. Auditing and updating MSP CRM regularly
Any tech-savvy MSP should not take a “set it and forget it” approach after implementing a CRM. You should regularly audit its performance through reviews of usage rates, data accuracy, automation efficacy, and user feedback surveys.
Now, what should you audit and update? This list will give you an idea:
- Verify that support contracts are up-to-date to ensure maximum uptime and optimal performance.
- Monitor upgrades and migrations of interconnected systems like your PSA that may impact CRM workflows.
- Always test new CRM features and version upgrades in staging environments before deployment to production.
- Schedule periodic training refreshers as personnel turnover occurs and new hires come on board.
- Appoint internal CRM champions to continually assess the effectiveness and surface opportunities for improvement through tuning.
Make a habit of applauding CRM wins to sustain enthusiasm. Proactive audits, updates, and maintenance are essential for ensuring your CRM remains a value-driving asset as your needs evolve in pace with business growth.
At the end of the day, CRM usage comes down to one key question for MSPs — how can we best understand and serve our clients?
A properly implemented, widely adopted CRM platform makes this achievable at scale by centralizing all data around customer relationships into a single source of truth accessible across your organization.
Having client profiles, support tickets, sales interactions, and marketing data unified within your CRM provides invaluable visibility that simply can’t be achieved through siloed, disconnected spreadsheets and notes. It allows you to spot trends, predict needs, and gain insights that would otherwise remain hidden when data sits in isolated systems.
This is where a solution like Zomentum — one of the best CRM for MSP comes in. It brings all the capabilities covered in this guide - robust PSA and RMM integrations, sales and marketing automation, and advanced reporting - into one intuitive platform designed around the workflows of IT service providers.
If you’re ready to position your MSP for scalable growth powered by streamlined operations and remarkable customer experiences, it’s time to consider adopting a modern CRM.
Want to see how Zomentum’s CRM can transform your business? Book a custom demo today.