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Changing a company’s ways: 12 months inside Console HQ

It has been a year since my appointment as CEO of Console, a year of change and significant improvements. I love working with companies that embrace change and are open to new ideas.

Due to the commitment and attitude of our team, we’ve made some huge strides towards our goals.

I believe our customers, current and future, are starting to reap the benefits of this improvement.

The three factors that influence purchasing decisions are:

• product
• service
• value

Business owners and consumers increasingly expect, and deserve, top quality customer experience.

Today, user experience eclipses cheap as a primary decision-making factor.

For Console to drive business growth it was mission-critical to create a great product, which looked beautiful and was fit to create significant business value. Then match that with equally excellent customer service.

Put simply, this is my approach as Console’s CEO and here’s what my journey has looked like so far.

Begin with the customer’s experience of your product

We make real estate and property management software.

I started with the teams that developed our flagship software, such as Console Cloud, Gateway and RPO.

What I discovered was that, 12 months ago, our software developers didn’t really have a unified product vision to stand behind.

It meant that while plenty of valuable features were being built, the product lacked a sense of identity and purpose.

Was their hard work really improving the experience for our users and business owners?

Merely hoping this strategy would deliver what our customers wanted could have been disastrous.

The team and talent were within our four walls, but they weren’t focused on a common product vision. So we determined a concept and worked hard to streamline the development process.

Once our team bought into a unified product vision, we immediately began to see results.

Quickly, we built a Console product life cycle. Once our team bought into a unified product vision, we immediately began to see results.

Importantly, we now deliver consistently against an ambitious road map and have been for the past three quarters.

Consistent and predictable execution builds trust in our product and our ability to deliver.

It also proves what we promise: a product created for today and the future. That proof only comes from executing week on week, month on month, quarter on quarter.

We will never be satisfied or complacent with the improvement of our products and know that we have so much value to create.

This has translated to an impressive maturity of our software in the past year, especially in Console Cloud.

Under-investing in customer service undervalues your customers

The customer service team was under-resourced to deliver the level of experience and service I expect.

I believe having the best customer service is what underpins client satisfaction and growth.

Not everyone agrees with me, of course. It’s common for CEOs to see support centres as an area for cost-cutting, and one way they do this is through not meeting the customer where they want to be met.

They’ll dictate to the customer that they will only be able to contact support through one channel, such as email, or that customers can absorb a 10-minute wait time.

That was a path we didn’t want to go down. Instead we hired more support agents and gave customers more contact options.

Recently, we reorganised our team into product specialist roles.

This strategy develops our people into product experts over time. It also means support teams are informing our product designers and developers.

Our customers can now reliably speak to someone who knows what they are talking about.

As with our product teams, once we identified our goals, we’ve been consistently improving our service delivery.

That momentum is still increasing as customer service is a journey that takes time.

My next goal is to publish our support metrics.

Growing your growth engine

Account management, sales and marketing form the engine of a company’s growth.

Before my tenure, these teams faced two big problems.

Firstly, there weren’t enough people to look after our existing customers and, secondly, we had over-promised and under-delivered on our new product, Console Cloud.

As long as these issues persisted, our teams, no matter how talented, would not be able to grow our business.

We began by giving these teams a better product supported by better customer service. Then we grew a team to engage directly and proactively with our customers.

One significant change that’s visible from the outside is every single Console customer now has an account manager.

In most companies, only the most important clients get that kind of service.

It’s been a big investment from our end, but we take the view that keeping every customer happy is vital to the business.

What’s next?

I have a reputation in the business for ‘never being that happy’ and always striving for constant improvement.

While there have been big improvements over the past year, I may continue to be ‘not that happy.’

I understand it’s not easy to work for someone who always pushes you to be better, but our customers come first and we need to provide more value continually.

This attitude is fundamentally what drives growth from a personal and business perspective.

We’ve seen a lot of both types at Console in the past year.

In the next year you’ll see more.

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