In past entries, I’ve written about relatively conceptual topics related to strategic partnerships. This post covers one tactic we've found very effective for helping strengthen our relationships with both our strategic allies and with our customers.
At Voicebrook, we have adopted Rhythm Systems as a methodology to manage our business from long-term and short-term planning through daily execution. In addition to the specific tools and methodology provided, the concept of rhythm is particularly relevant to success with strategic alliances.
The rhythm I’m addressing today involves regular, on-going coordination of mutual customers between Voicebrook and our partners.
The process we follow is relatively simple: We hold a brief monthly “mutual customer review” meeting of staff who are regularly involved with the customer, so that both parties are aware of anything that might involve them, in advance.
Generally, our Director of Client Operations leads the session, with participation from our service delivery and support teams and an executive stakeholder. The session consists of a rapid status check across our mutual customer list, essentially a “customer stand up” in agile terms.
- Changes in the customer’s environment (not initiated by either of us) that we have heard about
- Upgrades or new implementations being planned by either party
- Changes to planned implementation dates or scope
- Review of any significant customer service issues
- Any other issues that need to be addressed by team members not participating in the call (product certification, feature/enhancement ideas, upcoming product releases/new products, etc.)
Following the call, we distribute meeting notes / action items and continue to follow up on issues. In addition to individual direct communications on specific action items, we update and re-distribute the meeting notes prior to the next call, to keep the review as quick and productive as possible.
Our primary motivations for this process were:
- Deliver the highest, overall level of service to customers by presenting a unified front
- Ensure system performance by coordinating changes -- because our solutions are so tightly integrated, even small unanticipated changes could have a negative impact
Internally, this tactic has helped us anticipate and avoid problems in many areas, including resource allocation, preparing for upgrades proactively, and helping customers address something in their environment that would have caused a problem for us later. Also, having this coordination in a regular rhythm helps keep higher level issues from escalating over time.
For our partners, I don’t have quantifiable data, but based on direct feedback related to meeting structure and utility, I’m confident that this has been equally valuable.
Best of all, we have heard from our customers that they appreciate how well we “play with others” – especially if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved. I have heard that exact phrase on more than a handful of occasions.
Funny that it comes down to something we learned in kindergarten!
Contact us today to get into the rhythm of partnership for the benefit of our clients.