Like every supplier in the IT marketplace, print businesses are under pressure. They face a nexus of forces that are impacting the market dramatically:
- Reducing print volumes
- Increased competition and market consolidation
- The end of technology / service advantage
- Lower charges
If you have less volume, more competitors and standardised technology, then is it inevitable that price takes precedent? Certainly, if a company gets its renewal strategy wrong, then it is often a race to the bottom. But does it always have to be like this?
Gartner™ tells us that 53% of your success in retaining and growing a B2B contract is not about price, product or service, but instead CX (Customer Experience). Our experience tells us that in MPS the importance of CX must not be underestimated. Naturally, you still must have a good price, a good brand and service, but get CX right and the opportunity to retain contracts at good margin isn’t just a pipedream, but a reality.
So what is CX in the context of MPS?
No doubt you know that Apple are famous for their CX. Apple are passionate that every touch point (CX) with a customer is world class. This is one of the main reasons that Apple, still to this day, can command a price premium. So can MPS suppliers do the same?
In MPS contracts there are a handful of CX moments that really matter – and how you perform in these moments makes the difference between retaining at good margin (and in some cases the difference between winning and losing).
Clientshare work with MPS suppliers, both in the Top 4 globally, and SMEs. One company we work with is Nustream, a leading supplier of IT and Print Services. When it came to managing key accounts, Nustream have a relentless focus on CX and enviable results. Here’s 3 key CX moments where they excel:
1. Reviews and MI
Nearly every MPS contract we have seen has some form of review process in place. This may be monthly, annual or some cases weekly. It could be with IT or Facilities and it could be in person or virtually. Suppliers also have to share a plethora of MPS supplier data (MI) from uptime to volume and usage trends. This has increased with the growth of the MPS market as you can now pretty much report on anything. These reviews are critical as they act as your shop window, your one opportunity to demonstrate added value and excellence. But so often the reviews are cancelled, truncated and frequently the attendees are too junior on each side of the buyer / supplier relationship. The knock-on effect of this on retention is simple – if you can’t prove added value / innovation and successes to a wide community then you are at risk.
Nustream tackle this problem using Clientshare’s Business Review feature. It enables them to track and log every review the customer along with actions and follow up data. The make their business reviews digital and interactive and integrate live MI from other systems. The Business Reviews Feature gives their leadership team alerts when the meetings don’t have the right attendees or when the content is getting to a wide enough audience. For the first time they can measure whether their reviews are effective and this makes a measurable difference to contract renewal. It also makes business easier, as both buyer and supplier have a simple, interactive view of the relationship available to key stakeholders, anytime, anywhere.
2. Measuring Added Value
Far too often in MPS, the supplier carries out a huge volume of work which can be classified as ‘added value’ or ‘innovation’, yet then come the RFP, none of these services are either recognised or included. It’s infuriating for the incumbent as they know that their competitors will bid against them using the RFP scope, whereas the supplier at the helm will be left with a need to either re-explain to the buyer the services they ‘actually’ deliver, or bid knowing full well if they win they’ll create a commercial shortfall for themselves. Nustream make sure that they track, log and demonstrate to their customers every time they go above and beyond or do more than their contract scope for the customer.
They use Clientshare’s Added Value feature do this, regularly making sure that their Community is updated. It means when it comes to contract reviews and RFPs their client has a track of all the added value they bring to the relationship. It may only be that you have x4 key ‘added value’ events a year, but those events are critical in the eyes of a buyer when it comes to paying a price premium and if the buyer doesn’t acknowledge and remember these events then you start to return to competing on price.
3. Effective Relationship Building
Despite best intentions, most companies don’t have a broad enough network. It sounds so simple that you need to broaden your network of contacts. But so many companies fail to do this. In fact, too often MPS suppliers pay lip service to this, don’t make it a reality and panic when the renewal comes about and dare I say often pretending they are better connected than they actually are. Nustream make it a KPI to add x1 new contact per month on each major account.
They use Clientshare to easily do this. It doesn’t mean that these individuals replace the relationship with a Procurement Director or an IT Director, but simply ensures that they have as broad and deep a contact base as possible. This comes into its own when understanding the political alignment of an organization. They also use update this network on successes, innovation, company news and cost saving. Having a relationship isn’t a one-off event…in MPS contracts if you can easily and consistently drip feed what makes you a good supplier the over time you put yourself in a prime position to win a renewal. Don’t just do it at the time of a new business win or 6 months out from a renewal.
In summary, Nustream recognise that in MPS contracts CX isn’t a nice to have – it’s critical to success. For them, good relationships, running effective reviews and evidencing success are the critical factors in retaining contracts at good margin. Using these principles and using Clientshare software they have seen their retention increase by 18% and added numerous new service and revenue streams to existing clients.
If you’re looking to buy an MPS offering we’d be happy to introduce you to Nustream or you want to learn more about Clientshare, then we’d love to talk.
Thanks for your time.
Headquartered in London, the Clientshare purpose is to help companies retain and grow contracts. Clientshare works with companies like Interserve, Xerox, Guidant Global and CH&Co helping improve buyer-supplier relationships, making business easier and improving retention rates, typically by 18%.
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