One of the founding principles of how we work at IFS is to begin by understanding our customers’ needs and then pragmatically addressing them with a combination of innovative products and committed people. Easy to say, harder to do in reality.
Often the key to success lies in the “understanding”part.
Our people like to invest time with customers individually to learn more about their needs. Over the years, to complement that one-to-one approach, we have run country-specific customer satisfaction surveys.
This year, we decided to align the process and ask the same questions in the very same ways across markets. After all, most of our customers are operating in global markets too.
In this study we included seven countries and focused exclusively on technology decision-makers in our focus industry vertical markets – a group notoriously difficult to reach with surveys. Even so, we had hundreds of C-levels and senior directors tell us what they thought of IFS as well as the opportunities and challenges they are facing.
So what did our customers tell us?
First of all, the view of IFS is consistent across the world, from the US to Australia.
Our customers tell us that they are very happy with our solutions, and that our employees and their way of working is what really set IFS apart from the competition. Our employees’ commitment, professionalism and the general quality of consultancy services were ranked as the top three best things about IFS. This echoes what many of our customers have told us face-to-face in the past: the product is important, but equally so are the people you work with.
However the point of the global survey was not to boost our ego, but rather to find areas where we can improve.
And the message from our customers is clear: they want us to continue to challenge them and critically advise them on how they can improve their own processes – without fear of negative repercussions.
It is not enough to just answer questions and provide speedy problem resolution – customers are asking for general, proactive advice so that they can create value and sustain their competitive advantage in a disruptive market.
In the enterprise software industry, we are very close to the core of our customers’ business. We are there in the board rooms to support major projects and to make sure that our solutions support the customer in the best possible way. We are in dialogue with the most senior decision makers who rely on IFS Applications for their business to function properly.
When you are working that close to a customer and earn their trust, they expect you to challenge them and question their strategy. Are they really using their IT to its full extent? Can they truly capitalize on changes in the market?
At IFS we are proud of our industry expertise. You’ve heard it before – we focus our resources on a handful of core processes and industries to become the best at what we do. An inevitable side effect is that our employees become not just experts on our solutions, but also experts on the industries we’re working towards.
They’ve seen first-hand how a global mining operation is run from the inside. They know a thought-through supply chain process when they see one. They have watched customers grow from one factory to a global consortium.
Our challenge at IFS is to dare to question the already assumed and to leverage our business expertise even more.
So the next time an IFS employee challenges the current status quo, or asks probing questions about your business processes, remember that our goal is to help you maximize the value you can realize from our relationship and to be more than systems experts.
Because you told us to.