Captain’s Chair gives more transparency for MSP customers

by Andrew Wallace
6 min read

Phillip Myers is the Director of Business Development at Captain’s Chair, an always-on dashboard that gives MSPs a competitive advantage to close new business and increase managed recurring revenue with existing clients. Ryan Grant Little, SmileBack’s Managing Director, interviewed Phil about why transparency matters to MSP customers.

An internal tool brought to market

Can you tell us a bit about the story of founding Captain’s Chair?

I made the transition to fully support Captain’s Chair in August of 2019. That’s really when we launched it as a true SaaS solution. The software started as an internal tool for our MSPs, Concertium, in late 2017. So it’s been around for a couple of years.

Concertium’s CEO, Pratik Roychoudhury, had the idea to really transform the customer experience because we’re in a highly commoditized market with several hundred other MSPs offering very similar services. We needed a way to differentiate our services and thought the best way to do that was to be more transparent with our clients.

And so it really has transformed our experience dealing with clients, especially on the sales side, when you’re going to a new prospective client offering visibility and transparency and at least a perception of control of their environment still, even if they’ve outsourced the services, it really does help. As well as more of these co-managed environments that a lot of MSPs scale up the market to more co-managed organizations and, you know, larger, more lucrative contracts as well. So it’s been pretty exciting for us.

Importance of business reviews for MSPs

And so a lot of this is about giving control to the end-users and letting them kind of see what’s going on outside of the QBR cycle, having that immediacy. Is immediacy becoming more of a requirement for end-users today?

Yeah, I think so. It’s pretty much following the trend of consumer electronics as well. I mean, think of your cell phone. You have all this data at your fingertips, pretty much on demand whenever you want. Why isn’t it that way in business?

And so with the MSP industry, from what we’ve seen, the business reviews are really the only customer engagement point that the MSPs had. And there’s a lot out there that just aren’t even able to get to them because they’re focused on the technical side of the business. So we’re really trying to transform that experience so it’s more on-demand for the client and they can pull their own reports or whatnot. And then it really becomes about the MSP engaging with a client through this platform. It doesn’t have to be monthly, it doesn’t have to be quarterly. It could be daily or weekly, or whenever suits that particular client. So it’s definitely helpful in kind of transforming that experience and allowing the client to navigate their own way through the MSP experience.

A single pane of glass solution

So what does it look like? What is Captain’s Chair? How do people engage with it and use it?

It’s a single pane of glass that MSPs are able to provide their clients. It connects the PSA, the RMM tools, backups, customer satisfaction tools like SmileBack, networking elements, security elements, which is a new module we just launched, Office 365 and we’re going to continue to expand that out.

Essentially, what we’re trying to do is bring that single pane of glass into the client experience and just provide a better UI than really what’s out there. Because most of these tools are offering some type of client portal, but they’re very disparate right now. The PSA has its own ticketing portal and then you may be able to provide a client experience on their backups. But outside of that, there’s nothing that brings them all into one pane of glass. And that’s really what we’re trying to do.

Captain's Chair - SaaS solution for MSPs, SmileBack Integration, Client Dashboard
Captain’s Chair app – Client dashboard

What’s the reaction been from the market so far? What are the MSPs saying? And in turn, I guess, what are they saying on behalf of their endpoints?

I think there’s definitely a lot of traction with the MSPs because I think they start to see what’s going on. There’s a ton of tools out there that are focused on the QBR experience. And I think a lot of those are focused more so on the strategy on how to attack the QBRs. Whereas we’re providing data and really transforming that entire experience in a different way.

And so, the MSPs are jumping on board with what we’re trying to do. And most of them are going to be more so the mature MSPs that have already invested in automation and see what we’re doing as really the next evolution of the industry. But we’re also seeing that the little-bit-less-mature MSPs are going to need to put pressure on themselves to really document better and be better.

That’s really what some of the challenges that Captain’s Chair brings if you’re going to invest in it: it’s going to help you keep up with a more mature MSP so you can continue to evolve and become that kind of next-gen MSP that everybody’s been talking about. That really starts with transforming that customer experience and investing in automation.

Offering visibility and transparency to clients

That must be nerve-wracking for some MSPs to keep that level of transparency and insight. I mean basically, looking behind the curtain. How is that transformation happening? Is it working out?

Yeah, definitely. I think for those MSPs that are a little bit worried about the documentation and the transparency piece of it—what you can do with Captain’s Chair, is light it up and use it internally to kind of be a point of friction. So you push yourself to be better before you actually give clients access to it.

And it’s totally permissioned from the MSP side. They can choose when to light the client’s up, what they want to show the clients. Maybe they only want to show the ticketing module at first and then expand from there. They can choose to do that from Captain’s Chair.

You mentioned a term that caught my ear there for a second. Next-gen MSPs, this is something I hear a lot and in particular, MSPs trying to move to become more cloud-based and ready for an accounts management world and less about switching out the backup tape or that type of thing. I wonder what that means to you and how Captain’s Chair has driven you towards that vision.

I think next-gen is pretty subjective since it’s a fairly new term within the industry. But I think it comes down to those MSPs that have invested in automation that are focused on being more efficient with their internal operations. The problem with automation is that there are fewer calls into the service desk. There’s less visibility from the client side on what’s happening. And so displaying your value becomes tougher. And that’s one of the pieces that Captain’s Chair really brings to light so that’s what I was saying. Those more mature MSPs have really invested in automation and kind of trying to transform themselves into that next-gen MSP.

I think that next step is evolving to transform the customer experience because it gets tougher and tougher to show value as you’ve invested in this automation. So that’s another thing that we can display is auto-generated tickets and basically what you’re doing proactively in the backend, displaying that to the client on-demand to kind of show your value. Because over time, the fewer calls they make, they say why am I still paying these MSPs? So as you can display that value on demand, I think it’s definitely going to help in this kind of next iteration of the industry.

SmileBack integration with Captain’s Chair

The reason we’re talking today is because it’s right around this time that the SmileBack integration is launching in Captain’s Chair, which we’re very excited about. Can you tell us a couple of things about that?

Yeah, definitely. You guys have done a great job with the industry. I would say that there’s a high percentage of the MSPs we talk to within the ConnectWise ecosystem that are utilizing it.

So now clients can kind of see how their employees are rating your team at the MSP on-demand and SmileBack does a great job of that. And so really the way Captain’s Chair displays it is a full list depending on the dates of what they want to search for, the reviews that their employees are providing. And it also gives a monthly trending dashboard that shows the value that your MSPs are providing and the feedback that a customer’s employees are providing to that MSP as well.

Captain's Chair - SaaS solution for MSPs, SmileBack Integration, Executives/Owners Dashboard
Captain’s Chair app – Executives/Owners dashboard

That sounds great. If I may say so. For anyone working at an MSP who’s watching this, what’s the best way to get in touch with you to find out more?

You can go to our website and request a demo from there. We’re excited to jump into this and we have some expansions happening as well. In the next few months, we’re going to be expanding the PSAs that we support as well as other peripheral tools. Obviously like SmileBack, in then the next week or two. Backups, CSAT, backup security, and some other tools as well. So we’re excited about it.

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