Pre-pandemic, remote support was a helpful option to save an in-person visit. But since the lockdowns during the time of COVID, it has been elevated to a whole new position.
Contactless solutions are now being advertised for everything from grocery shopping to pizza delivery, and remote IT support is the ultimate no-contact solution for getting much-needed computer help.
65% of surveyed U.S. consumers like contactless services and say they align with their current health and safety priorities.
Are you taking full advantage of the features of your remote support service in your marketing?
Many IT providers haven’t changed how they advertise remote support since the pandemic began. It’s still just a tab on their website menu, easily overlooked by someone looking for computer repairs or help with work-from-home employee devices.
If you’re not pushing remote support in new and exciting ways, you can easily miss out on sales opportunities and a chance for recurring remote support business from companies.
Here are several ideas for clever ways to market your report support.
Remote Support for Remote Teams
It’s expected that in 2021, the number of permanent remote employees will double. The work-from-home (WFH) approach is just getting off the ground, and as companies navigate how to make it work at full efficiency, the cost savings will drive this transition.
60% of surveyed executives plan to increase spending on remote team virtual solutions.
Position your firm as a full-service IT partner that can support a WFH team through your remote support services. People more easily remember something if it has a name, so give this particular solution for virtual workers a snappy name (i.e.“Virtual Team Tech Package”).
Create a special page on your website for the service and emphasize things like:
- Use of encryption for security
- Use of multi-factor authentication
- Audit trail for all work done
- X minutes response time
- Boost in productivity when employees don’t have to struggle
- Improvement in the firm’s remote team cybersecurity
Fast, Safe Home & Family Support
The last thing a busy family wants to do is try to schedule a time to drive to a computer shop to have a system looked at. The pandemic has meant more PC activities are happening at home and virtually (work, school, HOA meetings, etc.).
This means more computer problems are also happening at home when something goes wrong.
Position your remote support for home and family needs and highlight areas such as:
- Fast help for student computer issues
- Set up of computer & parental safety
- The convenience of having a “computer guru” come to them virtually
- Note all the things that can be done remotely
- Return to normal faster by having their system fixed quickly
- Cost savings from no service call
Remote Support for Freelancers
Freelancers now make up about 35% of the global workforce, and that number is expected to continue to rise.
This is a largely untapped market when it comes to computer support services because freelancers live in that hybrid residential/business world for most IT providers. Not really a company, but most do rely on their computer for their family income.
Position remote support as an affordable insurance policy for keeping their business running effectively. For freelancers, often every minute counts. If they charge a project based upon it taking 3 hours, and a computer problem causes it to take 6, then they’ve just halved their income on that project.
Market Freelancer Remote Support with some of the following emphasis points in mind:
- Affordable options
- Convenience, no visits to the computer shop
- Protection of their livelihood
- Offers security protections for their data.
- A remote tune-up can boost their efficiency, allowing them to complete work faster, thus earn more in a week.
- With their income riding on their computer, it makes sense to protect it
- Fast help when it’s needed to get past a software or system stuck point
One additional option you may think about adding is the ability for remote managed IT customers to get a “loaner” laptop for a week if they have a major issue that puts their computer of commission for a while.
Create Remote Support 1-Service Options
Some people may not take advantage of remote support because they don’t know how much it’s going to cost for what they need. They might also be confused about what can be done through remote support.
You can cut through that confusion by coming up with 4-5 common remote support services and pricing those separately, like an á la carte version of your remote support with a flat rate.
Ideas for your remote support menu could be:
- Remote virus removal
- Remote PC tune-up
- Remote Microsoft 365 setup
- Remote setup for social media account security
- Remote device cybersecurity review
- 45-minute software/email support or training session
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Stay in a service based industry long enough and you will eventually run into a situation where your customer can’t, or won’t, pay you. It’s an unfortunate reality and causes a lot of stress for you, your business and your client.
As we head deeper in to uncertain times, it is becoming increasingly likely that you will run into a scenario where invoices are over due.
With managed services or IT consulting engagements, you should already have a contract with your customer. For the break/fix side of the house, you should have one along with a set of written policies prominently posted that clearly state what happens if your customer won’t or can’t pay. Regardless of your business model, it’s simply a reality that you’ll run into these situations.
What do you do?
First of all, understand that there are two different scenarios: First, where your customer refuses to pay, and second, where they can’t.
Before we begin, there is one very important thing that needs to be stressed that no matter what, you need a contract. This seems obvious but you would be surprised at how many people neglect to put some sort of contract in place.
An easy way to get customers to sign off on your contract, especially for break/fix, is to add one into Instant Housecall. When you configure your Terms of Service, they’ll be shown to your customer before any remote support session starts.
Be clear about the scope of work
Ensure that you are clear about the scope of work you will be providing as well as the following key components:
- Compensation and payment terms:
Be clear about what your client will owe you for the work provided, how you will invoice them and when that invoice needs to be paid. For break/fix clients, this will typically be done at the time of sale. If you configure your online shopping cart in Instant Housecall, you’ll be able to accept payment immediately.
- Refund Policy:
Sometimes, clients will be unhappy with the work that you have done. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but you should always be prepared in case it does. Be clear on what your refund procedure is, and how much of your service fee is refundable, if any.
- Failure to comply:
Clearly outline what happens if your customer doesn’t pay. This helps avoid the ‘well, I didn’t know’ argument and also gives you some support when and if you need to put these steps into motion.
When a customer misses a payment, it is first and foremost important to figure out where your client is coming from so that you can handle the situation appropriately. Are they unable to pay, unhappy with the service or simply won’t pay? The answer to that question determines how to handle the situation.
Clients who are unable to pay
Let’s face it, this scenario is hard for everyone involved. In times like these, businesses have found themselves unexpectedly closed and without income, which for small businesses, can mean making the choice between making rent, or eating dinner. While this doesn’t make your situation any better, because hey, you rely on income as well – it does change how you handle the situation. It is important to not burn any bridges here.
First off, empathize. This can make the difference between a customer committing to paying you later and ghosting you completely. Especially now, we need to get a little creative in how we do business. If this is the first time that this customer has been unable to pay, sympathize and try to find a solution where they can pay you in the future. Ask if they can pay in installments. Come up with a system that works for both of you – consider pausing their service and working out a payment plan a few months from now.
Handling this situation with grace will ensure that this client has only great things to say about you and may lead to more clients in the future.
Next up, the client who is ‘unhappy’ with your services
In this situation you need to do a little investigating. Are they actually unhappy, or are they simply trying to get out of paying you? Either way, it sucks, but something that you will have to deal with.
First, find out what they are unhappy with. Begin with open and kind communication so that your client isn’t immediately on the defensive. Oftentimes, it is something minor that can easily be fixed or explained and you can both get on with your businesses. However, if your client is saying they are unhappy as a means to avoid paying you that is a different story. In these scenarios, it is best to discuss the refund policy that is clearly outlined in that contract you both signed (remember?).
If the problem persists or your client is constantly saying they are unhappy with your work, finish your contract and ‘fire’ them. Or, if they are really bad, provide the refund, cut your losses and move on. A client that is that much of a headache is not worth your time or effort trying to keep happy.
Lastly, what happens if a customer flat out refuses to pay?
Begin by reminding them about the terms of your contract: the agreed up scope of work, the terms of payment and your refund policy (if applicable). It may also help to attach the contract to the email for reference. Oftentimes this is enough to nudge them into paying. However sometimes clients can double down on the refusal or even get outright hostile. These people suck.
While the situation is stressful, you will get through it. Start by deciding in advance on how many follow up emails you will send – I suggest no more than two after your initial reminder of the contract. Also, from this point on, only communicate via email, to ensure that there is a paper trail.
In each follow up email, outline the dates you previously spoke, and what was discussed e.g as per my email on March 11, 2020– as well as clearly outlining what the next steps are, we expect your full payment by June 1, 2020 or we will be terminating your services.
Hopefully this is enough to get the payments rolling again but if all else fails, you can employ the help of a collections agency. While this may seem like a bit of overkill, at some point you may need to cut your losses and hand things off to the professionals. A word of caution on collection agencies: they may not succeed at collecting the debt, but they will most certainly succeed at upsetting your customer. Keep this in mind, especially if you travel in similar circles to your customers, or if they are apt to leave online reviews.
Decide what your time is worth and do not spend a second more than you have to chasing down people who refuse to pay you for your time. Unfortunately, it is sometimes more cost effective to cut your losses than to continue dealing with these clients.
Yes, of course you can sue your (former) client. But the small claims process is a long and painful process. Even getting a judgement doesn’t mean that you’ll ever see a penny from your customer. Unless it’s a very substantial sum of money, it’s probably not worth your time.
Handling customers that won’t pay is an unfortunate part being in a service based business. Having clear guidelines set in place on how you will handle the situation as well as how you will escalate if necessary will set your future-self up for success so you can spend your valuable time on important things.
If you’re looking for remote support software that has features perfect for small businesses like Terms and Conditions your customers will sign off on before a session starts and the ability to accept online payment, give instant Housecall a try.