The Art of Effectively Offboarding Clients

April 22, 2020

Losing a client is never ideal. Whether they’ve been sold off, closed or moved to another provider, it’s easy and somewhat natural to feel blindsided and cheated – but this is never a good indicator of anything productive.

Depending on the reasoning of the client’s departure, where they are headed and how soon, To ensure that feelings and frustrations don’t get in the way we’ve developed a process for off-boarding clients to ensure integrity and transparency remain at the forefront of your business practices. 

This is an ongoing process that will reshape your company’s approach to service. 

 

Things to remember: 

  • Once offboarding is complete, if a client chooses to return they should still be charged a normal onboarding fee. This is regardless of the systems or processes they have in place. In the event that a client returns, be as assured and positive about their pain points as possible – leaving a provider and coming back is a strenuous process for businesses. 

 

  • Backup and archive data should be retained for 6 months, and then deleted. If a client wants access to their cloud-based backups, this will incur a cost (whatever the vendor charges to ship the hard drive without markup)

 

  • Be flexible and reliable. It may take the new vendor 3-6 months to figure out how to transition certain things, and you should be putting service and delighting the client first even if they are in the process of transitioning away from your business. 

 

  • With that being said, it doesn’t mean you should be helping the new providers for free. Most MSPs build in 3-5 hours of offboarding time to offset the onboarding cost. Once those hours are depleted, you should be pushing your hourly rate to be pre-paid incrementally.

 

There are some risks to be aware of during such a transition, specifically around the new provider’s possible actions. It’s common for the new provider to claim errors on your behalf, claiming that you didn’t hand over everything they needed or handed over incorrect information. This is why keeping records, screenshots and information on inactive client accounts are great habits to maintain. 

In your backups, it’s important to remember what the client owns and is entitled to as part of your service agreement. Typically, a client owns all of the following information: 

 

  • All purchased hardware
  • All purchased perpetual software
  • All onsite data
  • Administrator access to all systems
  • User Training Material
  • Business process documentation
  • Network diagrams
  • Network audit reports 

 

For security reasons, you should never respond to a new provider directly without the consent of your client. For the sake of record and proof, make sure you’ve got something in writing from the client stating that the new provider should receive access to systems, documentation and endpoints in your possession. 

You can utilize the documents that you already use during your work with contractors to get them access to specific client assets. 

Rule of thumb: don’t leave out your client in any communications, and keep them in the loop no matter how tedious and repetitive the communication is. This ensures that you and the client have enough proof to dispute any misleading claims coming from the new provider. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

 

– Vikash Dass

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