Customer satisfaction: Never underestimate the value of "we"
By Sarah Morgan, Customer Success Lead, Arbela Technologies
I'm one of those that leans a little closer to customer satisfaction than others in the technology sales business. I always find myself saying "there has to be a way" to delivery leaders because it's me that gets the first phone call when something doesn't go right. I'm the person who told the customer that we listened, and that we can do this. But that's what we all say. Right?
So how can we make this true every time? Let's start with understanding who "we" is.
At the "How To Pick Your Partner" session at AX Focus (packed wall to wall), user panel leader Barr Snyderwine, Director of Information Systems and Technology at Hargrove, Inc., pointed out, "When you hire a consultant, you're hiring that person, not the firm." Hearing that made me sit straight up in my chair because I know customers really believe this. That's what they see. I know some consultants really believe this. That's how they perform. Sometimes because they're thrown to the wolves. Sometimes because they're more independently oriented. So I asked Mr. Snyderwine if he had ever met a firm whose consultants worked like a team -- like a crew. He thought about it for a second and then said, "rarely ever -- not like a crew."
"Rarely ever." I know several partner CEOs who lose sleep over this. Because we are, after all, in the consulting team business. But something happens after the CEO steps out of the closed deal and the sales rep, the pre-sales rep and the technology director move on to the next sale - the one that will keep the firm thriving in order to keep customers thriving. This leaves the consultant, who may or may not be onsite coordinating with a project manager (PM) who may be part-time on the project. That one problem solver is the face of the company. Dealing with the users every day. Unless he's a lone wolf, those users don't see the emails back to the technology director for strategic direction. Or back to the pre-sales guy for demos of customizations. Or the CEO calling him to see if they need any support. Or the PM fiercely holding him to the methodology. Or the IT director lining up resources behind him as a knowledge base. What that user sees is that one person asking questions taking notes creating reports doing analysis and likely saying "I" a lot because he's literally the guy there doing the heavy lifting.
After hearing so many users in the panel audience agree that they hired the person, not the firm, I wondered if consultants should "we" more. We for the value of expertise helicoptering them to the customer. We for the pilot and the navigator. We are all striving to be the one partner that gets everything right for the customer that can't find the right partner with the right person. I invite users to "we" more as well. You see the one guy pulling you out of the waters, but may not see the machinery in the clouds perfectly navigating him to your precise position at the time you're drowning. Isn't it true, that if one person could do it by themselves, then no one would need partners?
As I merged my Dynamics AX Services firm, Integral into Arbela Technologies this year, our team became part of top-down leadership piloted by Nima Bakhtiary, CEO, where he actually says the words out loud internally, "We have to operate like a machine, we cannot miss a step." So, you may see one person pull you from the water, but there is a precision team behind that person and they're working hand in hand at Arbela.
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