Commercial Integrator 2023 - 12

THE SERVICE DESK
Navigating Diffi cult Client Relationships, Part 3
A leading ASCII Group member off ers advice on how to handle bumps in the road, including
payment issues, insuffi cient cybersecurity posture and service-level disputes. By Felicia King
EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the past two
months, Commercial Integrator has
presented comments from multiple leading
ASCII Group members, all of them addressing
the same topic: what to do when client
relationships get diffi cult. Such problems,
of course, can manifest themselves in
several ways. Forexample, they can materialize
as nonpayment or late payment
of invoices due, as continual cybersecurity
lapses that expose IT providers to unnecessary
risk, or as disagreements about
service levels or support hours. Over the
past two months, a range of ASCII Group
members have lent their insights on how to
handle these vexing issues.
This month, we shine the spotlight on a
single member: QPC Security's Felicia King.
What follows is her detailed advice on how
to defuse potentially diffi cult situations while,
at the same time, both protecting client
relationships and ensuring your business'
fi nancial welfare. This is the third and fi nal
part in this series.
Billing and Payment Issues
Having been in the consulting industry
for 29 years, I've found that there are two
primary methods of avoiding problems.
First, have a clear master service agreement
(MSA) with a supplementary FAQ that
clearly spells out how fi nancial transactions
will be conducted and what the billing
terms are. Manage expectations eff ectively.
We convey to clients that we do not wish to
spend time doing collections or additional
unnecessary accounting transactions,
which would take away from our capacity to
deliver services to clients who pay on time.
Therefore, our terms are our terms.
Second, work on retainer or get
payment upfront. Amazon is not going to
ship products to the client unless the client
pays for them. They should not expect
you to provide discounted pricing while
simultaneously subsidizing their cashfl ow;
something like that would never occur
12
Commercial Integrator JUNE 2023
When dealing with issues such as late payments, cybersecurity carelessness and
service disputes, MSPs must protect client relationships while also ensuring their own
fi nancial welfare through well-communicated policies and managed expectations.
with an e-commerce vendor. There is a
tremendous amount of control and clarity
that exists when a client pays upfront. If
they are invoiced and they pay the invoice
for the product, that means they wanted it.
The client can control the level of services
you provide if you work only on retainer or
prepayment. If they don't pay, you don't
do the work. Therefore, the client is in
control. Here are some key takeaways to
keep in mind:
› Work on retainer or bill a month in advance.
› Bill annually for things that should be annual
subscriptions or services. Reducing the
frequency of billing and accounting transactions
reduces the costs for all parties.
› Reduce your accounting-transaction costs
and those of your clients.
› If a client has a question about a bill,
respond to the question immediately.
› Use a secure payment gateway that is
both low cost and high trust. We do not
use ACH because we have no wish to
know the client's bank-account information,
nor are we interested in directly debiting
a client's checking account. Instead,
we have found that Bill.com is extremely
economical and highly secure; moreover,
the client is in full control of payments.
Credit-card transaction fees are also
avoided in this way. Bill.com is widely
used by businesses in every industry, and
CPAs and CFOs regard it highly.
› Don't mix products and services on
the same invoice. This helps your client
track diff erentiation in their own chart of
accounts. It is important that they track
M365 licensing separate from your MSP
services. They must track their annual
or recurring expenses separately from
project expenses. If this is not proactively
managed, the client can easily end up with
an unsegmented chart of accounts. As a result,
they could develop a perception that
the MSP is overly expensive because the
only cost-analysis mechanism they have is
" sales by vendor. " Do not assume that the
accounting-expense segmentation is being
done well, even in large organizations.
Cybersecurity Posture Lacking
Information-security risk management is
ultimately a business-risk decision. That
requires client executives to make informed
risk decisions. In 98% of cases, business
owners and executives do not make time for
meetings to become informed business-risk
deciders as it relates to information-security
risk. Inadequate cybersecurity posture
is just information-security risk that is not
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Commercial Integrator 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator 2023

Commercial Integrator 2023 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator 2023 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator 2023 - 1
Commercial Integrator 2023 - 2
Commercial Integrator 2023 - 3
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