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We wanted to really understand our customers – here’s what we did

by Jay Kreshel February 5, 2019

In our company all-hands meeting one Friday afternoon, our CEO Anant Kale spoke about the importance of customer centricity. He stressed that even for those of us who aren’t in customer-facing roles, our customers are the reason why our company and products exist and that we should always keep their needs in mind to better support them.

As someone with a background in organizational development and industrial-organizational psychology, I believed that implementing a change management program would be key to this process. Although we already valued our customers, we wanted to take the extra step to ensure that every single employee had customer centricity ingrained into their every decision, every action, and every conversation — and the “TouchPoints” program was born.

How the Program Works

For an entire week, a group of 8-10 employees (one from each department) take a break from their regular job responsibilities (ignoring their emails and silencing their cell phones) to shadow five customer-facing groups within the company: Sales, implementation, customer success, customer support, and data analysts. A representative from each of the customer-facing groups will create a daily schedule to cover their customer interactions (aka “touchpoints”). Each of these “touchpoints” will be documented and shared with the company to ensure that they accurately represent the interactions that the teams have with customers throughout their normal (and in some cases) extraordinary day.

Generating Insights

By participating in small cross-functional groups, each team member has the opportunity to listen to customers about their struggles and successes in an open environment. Throughout the day’s hearty dialogue, the team discusses their insights and documents their findings to share with the rest of the company.

Sharing Key Findings

While the insights for the individual team members are absolutely beneficial, it’s sharing these findings with the entire company that makes the TouchPoints program invaluable. The presentations focus on 3 significant areas: (1) key customer insights that should be shared; (2) what changes in work behavior the individual team members will be making based upon what they learned from our customers; and (3) what changes they recommend their departments make to become more customer-centric.

Challenges

There were, of course, a few challenges I considered when designing this program: Would there be enough customer-facing activity for in each organizational group every day of the week? Yes, our teams are very engaged with customers every day, and can coordinate robust schedules every week. How do we ensure that the individuals stay focused and on task throughout each day? The groups that have participated so far have found intrinsic value in the program, well worth their time and energy. Would the customers be open to having the TouchPoints group members listening in on customer calls? Absolutely. Our customers were keen on the extra attention and focus on their business needs.

Going Forward  

As we move into the spring, our calendar of TouchPoints participants is full of eager employees wanting to be part of the program. They want the opportunity to listen to our customers, learn for their insights, bond with their fellow Zennians, and deepen their industry knowledge. As the program progresses, we’ll be sharing the insights we’ve learned along the way and how we’ve applied them.

Jay Kreshel
Head of Training

Jay is an international training and development manager with over 15 years of experience designing and delivering product, sales, and management training. He received his Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Long Beach State University.

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