September 18, 2013
Last week, Seth Godin (who publishes a blog I regularly follow at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/), wrote a piece on “the trust brand”. It was thought-provoking for me. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that my team and I spend most of our days thinking about how Vendavo differentiates from its competitors, and we have a stellar set of reasons. The reasons were on my mind as we recently facilitated a meeting with our Vendavo Customer Advisory Council. We are fortunate in that our customer council members volunteer to host these regular meetings at one of their headquarter locations. We were on-site at a long-term customer of ours, in their city, their headquarters, their community, with their team talking about issues, collaborating on future product ideas, sharing the latest product news, and connecting with one another.
It was a beautiful thing.
On my flight home, I concluded that, at the end of the day, the single reason that Vendavo is better than the rest is because “when you have a choice in what to buy, you will first and foremost (and second and third in fact) base your choice on a simple question – who do I trust to keep the promise that the marketers are making?” What Seth states is fact, and when we’re celebrating ten-years of working with our longest-held customers or sharing product features in a council meeting or showing a customer the bottom-line results that Vendavo has helped them deliver, there is, quite frankly, nothing better. We’ve delivered on the trust. I could not help but jot down this list of reasons about why and how Vendavo keeps their promises.
1. Delivers the results – helps customers achieve 1%-3% ROS annually, time and again, and for our longest-held customers, that return often reaches 4%-6% ROS.
2. Is committed – we cannot deliver the results we do in #1 without being committed to our customers’ success and to the products, teams, and processes that enable it.
3. Worries – yeah, we lose sleep over our customers to ensure they gain value from the solution. That is a very good thing. We’re worried about what do we do next and that drives thinking and innovation.
4. It’s about a long-term relationship – we’re in it for the long haul. Period. And, we have an executive and strategic relationship management structure that is core to how we do business.
5. Attuned – we listen. We can always improve, and the simple point that we know it makes us better listeners.
6. We’re grateful – beyond measure – for our customers and how they push us and teach us.
7. Consistently thinking about value and how we deliver that through new products, expert teams, and our value realization process, which is part of every project we implement.
8. We are just a little paranoid that unless we work harder, push ourselves more, deliver better products, with more value, we could lose that trusted partner position to the myriad of players waiting in the wings to earn our customer’s business.
It has taken time, strategy, tactics, building things, people, and money to make this happen because we appreciate that trust is a fragile thing. Once it is broken, you move from a partner to a vendor, and that relationship can be very tough to repair. We value these partnerships and know our customers “will probably never (ever!) forget if we violated their trust.”