8 Tips for Building Trust Between MSPs and Clients

From documentation to transparency, check out these useful tips for MSPs to being a trusted advisor to clients.
8 Tips for Building Trust Between MSPs and Clients

MSPs rely on excellent cybersecurity practices and positive client relationships to ensure future growth. A critical factor in that growth involves building long-term trust with clients. In fact, CompTIA’s State of Cybersecurity 2024 report found that “risk management is the driving force behind cybersecurity.” Since cybersecurity remains among the top priorities for organizations and they are consistently looking to providers to help them manage their risk levels, it’s essential that MSPs be prepared to build a trust relationship with clients.

As MSPs navigate the multifaceted terrain that is client relationships, it’s important to understand how to best develop the trust that is critical for success. Here are 8 tips for building a trusted relationship with clients.  

Make Risk Part of the Conversation From Day One

Don’t avoid talking about risk. It’s a common misconception that discussions surrounding risk will only cause panic. Talking about risk helps to heighten awareness and ease concerns rather than avoid them. Fear, uncertainty and doubt often arise when there is a lack of understanding, so increasing an organization’s familiarity with risk management will lead to greater trust.

Here are some ways you can discuss risk with clients:

  • Supply a new perspective: Your client will be looking for expertise that they don’t already have with their internal resources. Have the client report risks they have identified and define any gaps that exist with their initial assessment.
  • Discuss the prevalence of risk: No organization is immune to risk. Framing the conversation around the inevitability of risk and how common it is in business can help to alleviate some of the fear.
  • Talk about proper response to risk: The best way to manage risk is to be prepared for it. Discuss response planning and identify ways you can help to implement a risk strategy that is personalized and scalable.

Show Clients How You Build Sustainable Resilience in Your Organization

The goal of risk mitigation is to build sustainable resilience. You will not (I repeat, will not) be able to avoid every threat. According to Security Magazine, more than 2,200 attacks occur each day which is equivalent to one attack every 39 seconds. The breadth and complexity of the modern threat landscape means that avoidance is simply not possible. But experts suggest that creating a strategy for resilience that you can maintain for the long term is the best way to manage risk.

Here are some ways to create sustainable resilience:

  • Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
  • Develop an asset inventory
  • Determine your risk appetite
  • Implement a strategy for managing risk
  • Test your plan and update documentation

Show that Risk is Mutual

Risk can be scary. Humans often find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their struggles. MSPs partake in the challenges that face businesses by shouldering some of that weight. Showcasing your own risk and highlighting the mutual relationship you share with your client helps to eliminate anxiety and build trust.

Here are some ways you can demonstrate your mutual risk:

  • Discuss any recent incidents you’ve encountered and how they were managed
  • Identify any gains that resulted from an incident
  • Highlight how your response plan helped to reduce the impact of an incident
  • Describe positive ways your staff handled and improved your own risk mitigation plan

Create a Roadmap for Risk Mitigation

Developing a roadmap for risk mitigation can help to establish a trusted relationship with your client. This gives your client an actionable plan for dealing with any problem. It also helps to solidify your position as an expert resource.

Here are some steps for creating a roadmap for risk mitigation:

  1. Ask questions about what stakeholders consider to be their primary risks
  2. Clarify pain points with cybersecurity management and response within their organization
  3. Take stock of your customer’s environment
  4. Document your findings and recommendations
  5. Develop a timeline and objectives
  6. Communicate the plan
  7. Educate staff

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

Regular check-ins are essential for establishing trust. Keeping the line of communication open and consistent keeps all stakeholders current on any threats or issues, but it also gives clients the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate feedback. Regular check-ins create a relationship between MSPs and clients and allows for quick responses. These frequent touchpoints also help to develop a connection between your teams.

Share Documentation and Processes

MSPs can create a trusted relationship with comprehensive documentation. Documentation illustrates your own attention to cybersecurity and incident response. Your own ability to effectively mitigate and manage risks instills confidence that you can provide expert advice should an issue arise in their organization.

Strive for Transparency and Excellent Customer Service

Above all else, your clients want to know that they have been heard and that they matter to you. Set the standard that all customer concerns will be dealt with promptly and professionally. Even if you don’t have a quick resolution, transparency and excellent customer service will help to establish that trusted relationship.

Create a Positive Risk Culture

The best way to develop a trusted relationship is to create a culture where incident reporting isn’t demonized. Encourage acceptance of risk and add positive reinforcement measures for staff who identify and report incidents. When you shift the perspective from blame to a positive culture of risk management, you develop trust and create a thriving environment.

Blueprint for Success.

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