From The Editor | August 17, 2018

Don't Expose Your Software Customers To Your Org Chart

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor

Customer Experience Field Service

We’ve all been there: angrily on hold with some service provider wondering why it’s so complicated to get answers to our seemingly simple questions. For me, this most recently happened after calling Marriott Rewards to troubleshoot a glitch that was preventing me from booking a hotel room with my points. Anyone who has tried to call their cable company or insurance company can likely relate. While I was wasting time on the phone I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of customer service metrics they use to track that kind of interaction. Surely the excessive amount of time I was spending on that call wouldn’t meet the standard. What’s worse, I was transferred twice and had to repeat my issue each time a new person came on the line. I think I talked to someone in tech support, someone in guest services, and someone who deals specifically with rewards members. When my room was finally booked I was so frustrated that I wasn’t even all that happy about my free stay.

In short, I didn’t appreciate being “exposed to the org chart.” Mike Mansbach, President of MINDBODY, shared this phrase with me when I interviewed him for the cover story of Software Executive magazine’s June issue. It’s one every software company – actually every company for that matter – should hear.

“It's not about a sales organization selling something or a services organization taking support calls,” Mansbach explains. “It's about our ability to deliver the value that customer needs. What many companies do is expose their org charts to their customers. Customers will hear, ‘You have to call sales for that.’ Or, ‘Oh you have to call client services for that.’ And, ‘Oh you have to call customer support for that.’ When, in fact, the customer doesn’t want your org chart. The customer wants value for the software they've purchased and value for their money.”

MINDBODY, a business management platform for the fitness, beauty and wellness industries, measures the time it takes a customer to get value out of its software. This is one of only a handful of measures and growth strategies the company is primarily focused on. It’s part of Mansbach’s belief that too many strategies produce too many KPIs, which makes alignment next to impossible. Part of Mansbach’s mission is to foster alignment and a sense of purpose by helping the entire company understand the importance of these measures and how they relate their work. It’s not just a matter of saying the software company is customer-centric. Rather, it’s a matter of recognizing what this looks like in action for each individual person within the 1,600+ employee company. In a sense, MINDBODY is committed to an org chart that efficiently and effectively addresses the needs of customers.

Solving issues for customers and being a customer-centric company doesn’t only benefit customers. Just ask Kevin Kogler, Founder and President of cloud-based POS and inventory management software company MicroBiz. He says, “One of the most successful things that we have done culturally was to focus our employees on responding to customers’ requests as quickly as we can.” (You can read more about how and why his company did this in his guest article on SoftwareBusinessGrowth.com, “How MicroBiz Improved Its Culture By Expediting Customer Request Response Time”).

In the B2B software world, every company can rattle off data around response time, resolution time, ticket volume, backlog, etc. (at least you should be able to readily access and act upon this data). And I’ve yet to come across a software company that doesn’t claim to be customer-centric. But if you’re passing customers from one person to the next every time they dial your number or submit a ticket or open a live chat window, then it doesn’t matter how fast their issue is resolved. I’ll challenge all software companies to structure their organization to allow teams to resolve issues in a way that is most effective and efficient for customers – not what is easiest for each individual member on your team.