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It Takes a Village: Creating a Customer-Centric Culture that Works

I gave a keynote at a customer experience conference in New York City earlier this month. The title was "It Takes a Village: Creating a Customer-Centric Culture That Works," and it was about how people make a difference. We all know that research and studies will evolve and acronyms will change, but at the heart of all customer programs are the customer and the people who touch them. Recent opinion is moving towards understanding the customer experience through relationships and interactions. In this session, I talked about how a technical support group (our Customer Care) at Akamai moved along the path of understanding and communicating better with customers and changed the perception of what was important in those interactions!

As a team, we started with customer awareness and moved into data gathering to better grasp what our customers were doing and needed. All customers consume products but what we have been looking at is the how and why and what prevents and helps in bringing a fuller lifecycle to product development. We always place a high value on customer satisfaction, which is outward looking. We also shift our focus to look at more actionable tactics and proactive deliverables based on internal understanding of consumption analysis. Our strategy has shifted to focusing on customer perspective, looking toward the company and seeking to leverage what the customer wants along with the nature of the customer's interactions with the software. We are moving from a break-fix to solutions that meet customer's needs. Instead of just fixing what isn't working, we position and even create new ideas on what customers may want and need. We have also created a new position called Technical Relationship Engineer, who plays a significant role to support this initiative. How can we evolve our products and how can we use our proactive hours are all key elements in how we move this yardstick. As I said, it's a village, and unleashing the global power of an experienced and talented group of believers across that board will drive this paradigm shift.

In addition, I also participated at Frost & Sullivan Contact Center Conference earlier this month and wanted to share a couple of themes that came through and resonated with me. One theme was transparency and the other one was outcomes. Transparency is about building trust and loyalty - it's not about giving in, but sharing and working toward a solution that is truthful and honest and will stand the test of time. Outcomes is looking beyond the task at hand to see that the value prop we are delivering meets the strategic goals of the customer. This can be both short and long term, tactical or strategic tasks, but viewing the outcome is where we want to be, not fixing where we are. Faster forward as we say!! The two tied together; "Transparency and Outcomes" send a strong message of commitment to customer success - pretty good recipe for customers for life.

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