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Elevator Speech: Part 4 of 9: That Delight Customers…

November 29, 2011

In my very first post I started out by sharing what I call my “elevator speech”.  It is the gestalt of what makes me and the organizations that I have gone on to lead tick:

Deliver high quality solutions on time that are innovative, delight customers, win reviews, and disrupt competitors; all while having fun, being ethical and transforming the business.

My first post in this series dissected “deliver high quality solutions…  It covered deliver, high quality, and solutionsMy second went on about a topic that many development managers and teams hate to talk about and that is delivering “on time”…  The third in the series talked about solutions “…that are innovative”…  Today I’d like to cover one of my favorite components of the above statement and that is to “…delight customers…

Are you delighting your customers?  I choose my words carefully as I truly mean it when I ask “Are you  DELIGHTING your customers?”  Not simply meeting their needs; not by satisfying them; not from curing their ailments.  Are you providing them with solutions that truly delight them?  Do they feel better about their jobs after using your solution?  Are your customers stark raving fans?  Do they rave on and on to their peers and their managers about what a great solution you have and how they cannot imagine life without it?  Do their faces beam and glow when they talk about you and your solutions?

I know, at about this point you think I’m crazy.  Truth be told I’m dead serious.  As a technologist it isn’t enough to deliver high quality solutions on time; those are table stakes.  Like innovation, where it is the customer who accepts the solution as being innovative vs. you thinking it is, you need to have advocates for your solution.  You have no credibility as that advocate.  In commercial shrink-wrap your marketing team and sales force has even less credibility in the market.  In IT you don’t even have the luxury of a marketing team who can put the appropriate spin and positioning on what you do for your customers.

The only true advocate for you and your solutions is a customer base who will tell the world how great the solutions are that you create.  It is these customers who have all the credibility and only through them comes your empowerment: Empowerment to be trusted to build and deliver more solutions; empowerment to work with them in partnership when things don’t go according to plan vs. being thrown under the bus.

I’m always asked by folks in the PDX software startup community:  “How do you raise money with Angels and Venture Capitalists?”  Having been with two local companies who have raised in excess of $90M and then having gone on to successful exits they think I have a golden rolodex of folks who simply print money when asked.  My answer is simple and always the same:  “Have customers who are willing to pay for your solution; who are delighted with what you provide; who are glowing references—only then will the real money start flowing.”

The same is true in IT.  In a world where the business has infinite demand on limited capacity you often feel like you can’t even tread water let alone swim.  Each year it seems like the demand grows yet the resources and capacity decreases as budgets are trimmed and cut to match changes in the market.  The problem is that unless you can point to customers you have delighted inside and outside the business you too cannot raise funding come the next budget cycle.  It is through the support of your customers as they speak on your behalf as your advocate that it is possible to raise that funding.  By delighting your customers you create the printing press that prints money.

You cannot boil the ocean, but I challenge you to this as a takeaway:  With this current product / solution effort ask yourself “Who will I delight and how will I delight them?”  Is there one thing you can do to delight them?  It is through those delighted customers, and the good word that they spread on your behalf as a result, that you’ll see your next dollar…

My next post will cover the topic of “…win reviews…

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