“How badly am I going to be attacked by customers at the upcoming User Conference?”
This was a reasonable question. The CEO had been focusing on an internal aspect of the business while the company started springing leaks in areas that directly affected customers. He’d gotten plenty of warning that customers weren’t happy, and he’d begun plugging the dam, but had that been enough?
Customers could see the CEO had begun focusing on their issues. They were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, in their opinion, his vision of the company was too small. The company had started as a consulting firm but seemed to resist making the leap to software vendor status. Most of the customers were Fortune 50 companies, and they wanted this vendor’s sophistication to grow to fit in their league.
What a wake-up call! I was able to translate sharply critical customer sentiments into terms the CEO would act on. As a consequence, the CEO/founder began hiring new leadership team members from the outside for the first time in the company’s nine-year history. They overhauled their customer service performance and began down a growth-by-acquisition path impossible under their old leadership structure. There’s no question they advanced to their customers’ league.
This company successfully weathered stormy downturns in their industry and attracted venture funding. Three customer insights projects over six years helped this owner make decisions that increased annual revenues from seven to 50 million. The company was then sold to a strategic buyer.