Why It Pays for Software Providers to Be Customer-Obsessed

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The customer may “always be right,” but do yours have a seat at the table?

Not every organization needs to take it as far as Amazon and include an empty chair in every meeting as a symbolic reminder of their customers. Still, Jeff Bezos was correct when he noted “obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage.”

A customer-first model is not about giving customers what they want. It’s about letting them inform your needs and play a core role in every decision—large or small—you make as a business.

This is especially true for software companies, where customer experience can directly affect your bottom line, and one dissatisfied customer is one too many. After all, your customers depend on your products and view your successes as their successes—and your failures as a potential liability. Your customers are stakeholders who should directly influence your innovation, and the insights gained from constant engagement with them are an invaluable competitive advantage.

It’s impossible to be successful without considering the customer at every stage of working, developing, and providing software solutions. This is more important today than ever because our customers’ digital environments are increasingly complex, so understanding customer pain points is critical. For example, research has shown 54% of tech pros report they have visibility into only half (or less) of their organization’s apps and infrastructures. It’s the software providers’ job to understand the problem and make their customers’ lives easier.

Integrating a customer-centric approach across all aspects of your organization will enable you to remain focused on developing, implementing, managing, and renewing the best practices you—and your customers—rely on for success.

Here’s how you can transform your organization into one that lives, breathes, and revolves around its customers:

Understand the customer:

Develop a full, 360-degree understanding of your customers: the unique challenges they face, how those challenges affect their business daily and in the long term, the services they value most today, and how you can proactively add value to exceed their expectations of tomorrow.

As a software provider, it’s also important to remember you and your customers have many challenges in common. For this reason, you’re likely also uniquely aware of the obstacles our enterprise clients face when tackling tech challenges. Most of your customers are going through (or preparing for) digital transformation efforts. To assist, look beyond how your solutions can help immediately—and toward how they can scale to continue to help in the future.

Let technology do the heavy lifting:

When an IT environment becomes too complex—or too expensive—for a human to manage, AIOps are another emerging solution to aid in the heavy lifting. Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to automate mundane tasks, from identifying issues at the root cause to executing SLAs, while freeing up IT leaders to focus on what they do best.

It’s not just that AI and human intelligence can work together but the fact that, when combined, it’s a partnership that unlocks limitless potential at every level of the organization.

Engage the customer:

Communication with your customers should be a transparent, two-way conversation. In this day and age, no department—from accounting to engineering to IT —is insulated from the customer’s experience. Just like every company is now a technology company, all departments within your organization, even those that aren’t customer-facing, should revolve around the customer. For this reason, your user experience team is on the front lines of representing both the best of your organization and leading the charge on making it even better.

Leveraging IT service management solutions makes it easier for your customers to flag issues and engage with the right support teams to fix problems. AI-enabled service desk solutions can provide even quicker service and remediation of issues based on the customers’ specific needs.

Follow the customer’s lead:

Understanding and improving the customer experience should be your main priority. The best way to do that is by getting continuous, vital feedback at every touchpoint—and making a point to receive and act on that feedback. This kind of constant and engaging dialogue is the best way to set a high bar—in your organization, and across the entire industry—for maintaining the continual innovation necessary to stay ahead of the needs of the professionals you serve.

By continuing to listen to customers as solutions and features are developed, launched, and improved, your company will be better equipped to both address current challenges and stay ahead of the emerging needs and threats of tomorrow. For instance, at SolarWinds we have always considered our main strength to be listening to customer pain points and reflecting on our journey to innovate our product offerings and better help customers manage their environments, regardless of scale or complexity. Our bi-annual customer feedback survey is just one of many strategies we use to optimize customer experiences continually.

The better you understand and prioritize meeting your customers’ needs, the better placed your team will be not just to meet those needs—but to go above and beyond. Adopting a partnership mentality between your organization and its customers benefits all stakeholders. When making any decision, don’t forget to consult the most important—and most overlooked—a member of the “C”-Suite: the customer.

Keeping the customer in focus and constantly learning these experiences in mind is the best way for your company to continually improve its processes, tools, training, and behaviors. Ultimately, this is the pathway to creating strong customer relationships to stand the test of time.

Jeff Stewart
Jeff Stewart brings more than 20 years of monitoring and observability expertise, with over 13 years of product strategy and solutions engineering at SolarWinds. He is responsible for driving business results, defining product strategy, and leading our global solutions engineering organization with a customer-focused mindset to connect our customers with the best software solutions.

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