Why we are building a software company by making our customers happy
This article is about the importance of prioritising customer satisfaction to make your fledgling software company a future success.
For those familiar with how IBM transitioned from a hardware company to a service company, this may be old news, but I think it's important for us to emphasise that improving customer service is something we strive for every day, and that every day the service we offer becomes an increasingly important aspect of our business.
This extends from the commercial strategy workshops facilitated by Jen's Team at project kick-off, through to the day-to-day customer support provided by the development team, on to our customer quarterly roadmap meetings where we meet customers to discuss their objectives and strategy, and everything in between.
Clearly, we don't simply provide software to our clients. Yes, we provide software as a tool that helps them to solve a problem, or to create new exciting things, or to realise ideas that have been ticking over for a while but had not yet found platform needed to make them a reality. But the software alone is not able to do all those things; our services are the key aspect in helping our customers in solving problems and realising opportunities. It is our service that leads to customer happiness.
To date, we have focused on providing service that has an immediate impact on client satisfaction (and therefore increases our Net Promoter Score). We have strong evidence from last year that if we follow the following 'rules', our customers are immediately happier:
- Over-communicate on feature changes, ideally before they get rolled out
- If you have the chance solve a customer's problem, even (or especially) if it is not directly caused by Zapnito, customers are always appreciative
- Hold quarterly roadmap meetings that focus on your customers' goals, on where we are going together
- Regularly publish updates on recent changes so that customers get full benefit from the platform's functionality
- Strive to smash your customer support response time targets
- Don't over-promise
- Meet with your key customer stakeholders for breakfast as often as you both can!
During 2016, much as service was a high priority for us, our service was focused on ensuring optimal usage of our software products. However, during 2017 we will extend this into offering new services that are complimentary to our vision of helping brands gather thought leaders together to share knowledge in niche expert networks. This could be anything from enhanced tech support to market research, from product development support to outsourced community management. The more ways we can help our customers, the better it is for both of us.
But why is this important to Zapnito as a business? The reason extends beyond the simple truth that happier customers = successful customers. And that means retained customers. As the hardware industry became commoditised during the 2000s, it's arguable that the software industry is already commoditised, and this is when services become so important. It is no longer good enough to just have great software product. They are dime a dozen. At Zapnito, we believe that your entire team must be focused on producing and delivering tangible evidence-based service solutions for our clients.
We are looking forward to seeing where our increased focus on service takes us and our customers in the year ahead...