How to build durable customer relationships

Robust processes and transparency bring consistency and predictability, says Beth Johnson.

‘Culture comes from the management’ – that’s what distinguishes Iris Software from others in its industry, according to Beth Johnson, a Client Partner at the company. Having spent a decade with the company, she has seen the company grow and expand across sectors and regions.

Beth highlights the empathy that is present in the organization. “It’s only when you’re confronted with these situations that you become aware of how lucky and blessed you are.” She recalled the support and care she received from everybody at Iris during a difficult phase last year, when her husband battled a serious illness – thankfully, he has recovered and is well now. “When you are in that situation, and I had so much compassion and understanding, and any flexibility that was needed was always graciously given.”

Below are excerpts of an interview with Beth:

Transparency makes business sense

Iris has managed to win business from other vendors thanks to a culture of transparency it has internalized, especially in its dealing with clients. There will be challenges and/or issues at times in managing a complex portfolio. Knowing this I manage expectations transparently from the beginning. At Iris, we believe that expectation management is key to building a trusted relationship with our clients.

In several cases, we’ve been able to win business away from other vendors because they weren’t transparent with their clients about the challenges they encountered and tried to cover them up. Our clients have appreciated our commitment to transparency, and that is evident from the deep relationships we have forged with each of them.

When clients are confronted with unexpected issues, of course they don’t like it. But in such scenarios, you have to be transparent with them about those issues, explain the nature of the issues, and reassure them as to how you will resolve the issues. We secured one of our earliest clients to work with us  offshore in our Noida offices (near New Delhi) chiefly because they faced an issue with the release of an application. Instead of addressing it, the earlier vendor had pushed it under the rug.

Commitment to processes is key

The key to defining a culture is consistency and predictability. That’s possible only with a commitment to processes and procedures. The commitment to processes is helpful also in talent acquisition. If there were a sport for hiring talent, I would bet on Iris. Our team has a very strong and tight-knit process which we abide by consistently.

Your team is covering for you

Our business is not just a numbers game. For sure, we salespeople have targets. They are coupled with ensuring that we build high-quality relationships with our clients, be transparent and listen to them.

You’re just not left out there to fend for yourself, which most of us can do because salespeople are like that. We’ll always get the backing of our management and the teams they have built if we need their help. When your teammates and leadership have your back, you’re free to take risks and make things happen. Ours is a high-performance sales environment for those reasons and more.

Autonomy helped me grow

Iris has always been client-centric and transparent. One area where our organization has changed over the years is in the functional autonomy it provides us for taking decisions. For instance, I run a large account and my manager is always pushing all of us to not only grow the account, but also to come up with our own solutions to problems. That is a big area where I’ve grown.”

At the same time, the organization provides us several layers of support. You just know that you will get a report every night at the same time with all the information you need. If we need to dig deeper, we could make a call to the right person and get the answers we need.

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