Business Strategy

2021 in Retrospect with Net Friends President

Post by
Neelesh Patel

Neelesh Patel on Growth & Customer Success in 2021:

As I reflect on 2021, I am filled with so much gratitude for our growth at Net Friends. The brightest highlight for me was reaching our stretch goal, which we set only two years ago. This achievement was accelerated in large credit to our teams, who overcame numerous obstacles to help us reach it.

In 2019, Net Friends was mostly dependent on a “break/fix” hourly support model, which roughly made up 75% of our revenue. This model did not align with our vision for managed services. Two of our primary concerns were (1) our limited ability to accurately forecast growth and (2) an upcoming revenue gap—pending the offboarding of a client who comprised nearly 20% of our top line revenue.

Our stretch goal was to capsize our numbers and secure a new position where at least 75% of our revenue derived from predictable, multi-year engagements. We also wanted to prioritize achieving this without compromising any of our values.

The greatest contributor to reaching our stretch goal early was indisputably our Net Friends team. Our customers consistently rate their Net Friends experiences as "world class," simply because of the people-first approach taken by our Support Center, Field Services, NOC, SOC, Finance, and Customer Success teams. Furthermore, we also hastened our pathway to success by hiring Bob Casey late last year into our first dedicated Business Development role.

Bob brought in over 16 years of MSP business knowledge and decades of fostering goodwill in our local community. In January, he pioneered a new path at Net Friends that ushered in diverse leads and new accounts that were previously not in our line of sight. Bob ended this year breaking every single one of his career metrics! Success isn’t solely defined by numbers at Net Friends though.

We gained a discerning IT advisor in Bob, whose scope of experience informs his ability to translate technology complexities into business solutions for our customers.

As John, my business partner, mentioned in his end-of-year letter, the global pandemic continues to impact technology budgets across organizations of all sizes this year. We truly aimed to adapt and respond with empathy to the tough decisions that both our seasoned and new customers faced. Tactical decisions that aligned with our values included: extending contracts to longer terms, adding more services to contract offerings without raising rates, and adjusting overall contract pricing.

We are a people-first company and that means we choose not to compromise our values in serving people, even in our most pressing business decisions.
Our Customer Success Team at the 24th Anniversary Celebration
This year, I was also privileged to witness our Customer Success Team really put their arms around our customers. This is best captured by the hundreds of hours they dedicated to IT discussions and strategy overviews.

With a deep awareness of how technology dependent our customers are, our Customer Success Managers were convinced that the best path forward for our hourly customers was converting to a NetVisor or NetCore Elements contract. This would allow us to go from a reactive to proactive support position. The shift to proactive IT services truly fortified our customers with enough business flexibility to withstand many of the unforeseen complications directly influenced by the pandemic. Based on the overall stability we are already witnessing with these converted accounts, our hunch was correct!

Customer experience is at an all-time high and has allowed our Net Promoter Score (NPS) to climb to a whopping 88.1 for the year, contrasted with the 2021 benchmark of 39 for the Technology & Services sector.

We may have hit our stretch goal to secure at least 75% of our revenue from recurring sources, but the biggest win is that we did it without compromising our values. We put our team first and navigated the pandemic with a commitment to fulfill their implicit needs. We worked diligently to ensure each member had a safe place to work and could focus on positively contributing at Net Friends without worrying about their job security. With so much wind in our sails, I look forward to seeing what this team is going to accomplish in 2022!

Neelesh PatelNet Friends President
December 15, 2021

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