The Secret Ingredient in Customer Success (Hint: It’s not ketchup!)

February 13, 2019

If you have something to sell, your success is directly tied to your understanding about what your customer actually wants. So how do you know what your customer wants when people don’t always know what they want?

Interestingly, this is even true in online dating. In his book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, author Aziz Ansari conducted research to identify what people looked for in a partner. His research showed that, “The kind of partner people said they were looking for (in online dating profiles) didn’t match up with the kind of partner they were actually interested in.”

So if people don’t always know what they want, how can Pondera, or any company know what the client really wants to be delivered? I like to call the secret ingredients to our success with our customers and deliverables “The Three Ls”.

The first L stands for Listen. As Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, so aptly stated, ‘Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.’ Recently, one of our customers shared some concerns with us.  We listened, understood their needs, and worked to resolution.  We not only responded to their concerns but expanded upon the learnings and developed a new feature in our system. Our newest module, Case Generator, was born from these efforts and has the potential to dramatically change the culture of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse detection and investigation.

The second L is for Liaise. Liaise, not lurk. I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek. To liaise refers to the process of interaction—if you’re simply lurking, you are observing but not engaging in any meaningful way. By engaging directly with your customer, you begin to build a relationship with them. A relationship is necessary to establish trust, and once trust is established, information flows. By cultivating a close relationship with our client, we identified some key pain points that led to the development of a new tool for our system.

The third L is Learn. We must actively and continuously solicit and implement feedback.  We fuel a continuous feedback loop, where the client provides information, we deliver modifications or improvements, and the client provides additional feedback, etc. Communication is cyclical in nature and flows through both formal and informal channels. We are intentional about our communication, and we encourage ongoing dialogue about the current and future state of the project to clarify what is needed to progress.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around,” stated Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple. Jobs understood the importance of the customer experience. By getting in the trench with our customers, rolling up our sleeves, and walking in their shoes, we can start to learn what they really want and need—often before they themselves realize it.

This is the power of the three Ls:  listen, liaise, and learn.