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The Importance of Talking Risk: A Must For a Managed Service Provider

Discussing risk with clients is of utmost importance for managed service providers, but it can often feel overwhelming to initiate this conversation, particularly when we are aware that the client is exposed to significant risks. Maybe you have attempted to inform them about specific risks in the past, only to find that they didn't heed your advice. If we haven't broached this subject successfully before, it is natural to worry that they might point fingers at us as the MSP or use the classic line, "But I thought you were already taking care of this?"

Consider this initially as prioritising your own protection.

It is crucial to understand that avoiding the discussion about risk poses a greater risk than actually having it. If we fail to clearly communicate to our clients their risk position, they will naturally assume that we have everything under control. Many clients often overlook the significance of news articles highlighting data breaches or security incidents, as they mistakenly believe that their monthly payment to their Managed Service Provider absolves them of all risks.

Failing to communicate the client's risk position and allowing them to assume you have everything under control can have dire consequences. When things inevitably go wrong, they will point fingers at you and hold you accountable, putting you in a difficult situation. However, by clearly communicating the risks and ensuring the client understands, you position yourself to provide assistance when problems arise, rather than being blamed. It's vital to take charge of the conversation and prioritise safeguarding both your clients and yourself. 

Making business risk a focal point of your quarterly meetings is essential. Once you have successfully conveyed the importance of risk to your clients, it becomes a valuable tool in guiding them towards improvement. By consistently reviewing and discussing risk, you not only ensure that your clients fully comprehend the potential dangers, but you also empower yourself to make well-informed decisions regarding improvements and recommendations. These proactive measures will ultimately lead to risk reduction, resulting in clients who are both happier and more secure.

So, how can you initiate the conversation about risk with your client?

To ensure effective communication with your clients, it's important to be transparent about your intentions and avoid catching them off guard. Bombarding them with a long list of complex terms and high-risk scenarios without warning can trigger a defensive reaction. Instead, start by informing your client that you plan to conduct a simple Benchmark analysis to assess their adherence to basic best practices. It's worth mentioning that you'll be approaching this assessment from a business risk perspective, which means there may be some high-risk areas that haven't been addressed before. By setting the stage in this way, you establish a foundation of trust and openness, making it easier for your clients to absorb and understand the information you'll be sharing with them.

It's important not to overwhelm your clients initially. Instead, start by covering the basics and emphasise that your initial Benchmark is just the beginning of a journey. Avoid confusing or complicating things with too much information, jargon, or acronyms. We recommend using a simple and repeatable framework with levels, allowing you to unlock areas as the client improves. This lets you build a strong foundation before helping them improve step by step.

A color-coded system is helpful to simplify the Benchmark assessment for your clients. By assigning clear traffic light colours, you make the process more approachable and informative. With this visual representation, clients can easily grasp the level of risk without delving too deeply into technical details. Avoid leaving them to interpret the report on their own by scheduling a meeting before sending the report. This allows them to digest the information and come prepared with any questions, but ensures you will be there to provide clarification and support in the meeting.

Your first Benchmark meeting needs to end with a clear plan for moving forward.

The purpose of conducting the Benchmark assessment is to initiate a meaningful discussion about the client's risk and guide them on a path towards improvement. It is crucial to address this in the first meeting, as the Benchmark has revealed where their risks lie and they should be keen to reduce their exposure. In the meeting it is essential to tell to the client that you are there to support and assist them in moving forward.

Keep it simple and avoid complicating the roadmap. We will delve deeper into crafting roadmaps in the future, but for now, it's important to let the client know that you understand their concerns about risk. You are committed to working within their budget, risk appetite, and specific needs to help them improve. By taking these initial steps, they have already started their journey, and each subsequent step will be better informed and lead to reduced risk.

Take proactive steps towards the next phase of the process. Seek out quick victories that will immediately reduce the client's risk, such as implementing Multi-Factor Authentication or providing User Awareness Training. Additionally, gather comprehensive information about the client's broader business operations. Ask how things are currently going, gauge their level of concern about potential risks, and determine what sort of budget that have to address these concerns. By gaining a deeper understanding of the client's business and what motivates them, you will be able to effectively close the loop and offer recommendations that are relevant and appropriate.

As your clients gain a clear understanding of their risks and you familiarise yourself with their business, you pave the way for a successful and mutually beneficial relationship. Each client's journey will be unique, progressing at its own pace, but as long as they continue to move forward with awareness of their risks, you are fulfilling your role as their trusted partner. 

With the Clearbenchmark platform, you can unlock the tools and training needed to enhance your quarterly reviews and provide an unparalleled trusted partner experience. Don't hesitate to reach out to us today and embark on your journey.