“Cultivating the art of good listening and asking the right questions will be essential in developing a road map for the future of the company”
Taking on a Managing Director’s role comes not only with a fantastic opportunity to make a meaningful mark on a business, but also presents challenges balancing personal, client, team, shareholder and board expectations. Add into the mix the culture of an entrepreneurial business where the founders are still actively involved and success could look different for each group of stakeholders. Now three months into my new role at IndiCater, I have been reflecting on my experience so far.
From a corporate background in sales and client management, I joined IndiCater with a successful track record of working hand-in-hand with clients to understand their needs and meet their expectations. On joining IndiCater, I held the view that a successful strategy driving the business forward would need to focus first on the expectations of our existing clients. Cultivating the art of good listening and asking the right questions will be essential in developing a road map for the future of the company – I wanted to know what clients loved about us, what they would like to see improved and what they really didn’t like. In order to meet my objectives, I developed a two-tier approach to gathering knowledge: first, designing open and measurable communication channels with clients and, second, establishing internal initiatives for members of the customer support team to share their client experiences and pool ideas.
To address the client tier, a phased review programme is currently being rolled out across the company. In the first phase the client support team will speak directly to the senior users of our software (Gatekeepers) with the objective of securing their view of application development. The second phase will involve a formal client communications programme, talking directly with clients about their own business objectives and how IndiCater might best meet these now and in the future. We will be introducing Net Promoter Score as a formal measurement tool to benchmark our services.
My philosophy has always been that if you want to fully understand a business, then talk to the staff who work within it – the TV series Undercover Boss is a perfect example of this principle in action. As a result, developing a strong team has been an extremely important initiative for me in these early months. Among the ‘live’ and ‘coming soon’ customer support team initiatives is a structured weekly Heads of Department meeting where the development schedule is interrogated, including new product and functionality requests and any new business secured. While this might seem like standard practice, the planning process is approached from our clients’ perspective, thus driving tailored development – as a team we need to understand collectively what is important in development terms and at an in-depth level.
An internal ‘think tank’ has already been launched and is generating some fascinating outputs. The team have the opportunity to present ideas, acknowledge the work of colleagues, make observations on current business practices, share ideas, client/ industry news and competitor feedback. This initiative is already driving change to support our clients’ applications. In a small team it is easy to overlook personal development pathways and with this in mind I am establishing a formal performance management system for the team, ensuring both recognition for a job well done and personal role fulfilment. A happy team will be reflected in our client relationships.
The focus in these first months has been on looking after existing clients to meet their expectations. The next steps will be to work hand-in-hand with my team to ensure that we continue to provide innovative software, held as the industry standard. My personal expectation is that future prospects will come to us first when they are looking for an outstanding software provider.