The True Story of Customer Satisfaction in Africa

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After 4 days of meetings with customers in Kenya, I have realized that over-delivery is the way to go here for long long-lasting business relationships. We need to think ‘customer first’ where the goal for both is lifetime value. This market combines family heritage and entrepreneurial beginnings.

My customers this week started on SYSPRO’s Impact in the 1990s. They are on SYSPRO 7 now and it is time for  SYSPRO 8 – as they need the new functions this offers. Once again, it’s time to deliver.

How many companies stick with software for 30 years? These SYSPRO customers have.

What makes the difference? – well maybe we do. A responsibility few IT companies get the chance to experience. And hopefully they see the opportunity that sometimes we missed or didn’t focus enough on.

And now for the story … learned from customers …

LEARNING 1 … we’re in the trench together …

Some of us still hear “ERP module” instead of the business story our customer is telling – of pains not yet understood – of value still to deliver. And this tests customers’ patience. We sometimes focus on what we believe will sell to help them improve. That’s fair but it’s not always their top priority need.

We touch our customers with every interaction no matter what we do. To deliver value we must listen, or we just deliver more pain. Really listening brings empathy and, with understanding and experience of their industry, confidence and trust to work together. And then shared discovery and enablement of their future journey. This is the true win/win. Think price and discount follows, think value and deals are made.

Customer 1 – Since 1989

  • A batch chemical manufacturer making use of SYSPRO but it is supplemented by too many spreadsheets
  • Kaizen and Kanbans and minimize inventory already in place, but import costing and planning need attention
  • Train together on LCT and MRP modules – 3 days – next 2 days implementation
  • Some coaching and go-live consulting for the team on site – not easy areas – but fastest ever
  • Value delivered cost effectively

What did we learn?

With appropriate help, customer and new partners can deliver fast. Knowledge is transferred and used immediately. Our East African customers are street-wise and good with IT. They talk, they trade, they do. That means rapid time to value

LEARNING 2 …there’s only one ‘fair’ delivery on a promise … the one the customer hears

Our IT industry sometimes promises more than is needed, unintentionally perhaps. But this can change implementation/delivery to a catch-up process, and a difficult customer environment. Go-lives are less exciting, even when the solution works, but because we under-delivered on the original expectation that was set – the “promise” and perceived value is lessened. Trust can be affected, and relationships suffer so future business opportunities are harder to believe.

We must rethink this and acknowledge the importance of a customer who has spent 30 years trusting SYSPRO (or any software vendor) where the vendor perception of value is more than the customers. Then it’s time to stand up, listen more carefully and show you care.

What about trying an ecosystem shift in the market? Include partners, customers and SYSPRO working together on simultaneous projects. Not just for one long-standing customer but a group at the same time as one initiative – create a buzz.

Multiple Customers – Group of 5 all seeking value

  • Invest to deliver small quick wins – build trust, relationship and momentum
  • 5 lighthouse customers who don’t compete, have different needs, but are ready to move forward
  • Meet each, identify 3 critical change and value priorities AND include moving to SYSPRO 8
  • 4 local consultants – a team including new partners and the right range of skills
  • 2 months of effort – moving enough to deliver value and confidence and start future journeys
  • Concurrent limited scope projects, hungry manufacturers, and a learning team

What did we learn?

Customers do not stick with software because it works for them. They stick with it because it is just too tough to throw out, until hungry competitors promise the ‘new’ – the stuff we can do anyway with SYSPRO ERP. We learn about our customers’ business, we shared their pain, we learnt how to work together for mutual benefit, not just theirs. We positively grow our ecosystem in a shared experience that works.

Create a buzz, listen and be clear about expectation. Stand up for customer first. Then deliver on that promise as the minimum. It’s simple – do the right things and the right things happen – that’s Africa and the world we live in.

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