It’s been twelve months since I was appointed CEO of Console. It’s been a hectic year of change and significant improvements. I love being involved with companies that embrace change, and are not set in their ways. And because of the commitment and attitude of our team, we’ve made some huge strides towards our goals. I believe that our customers, current and future, are starting to reap the benefits of this improvement.
The three factors that influence purchasing decisions
Product, service and value. Business owners and consumers increasingly expect—and deserve—top quality CX (customer experience). Today, user experience eclipses ‘cheap’ as a primary decision-making factor.
For Console to drive business growth then, it was mission-critical to create a great product which looks beautiful, but is also fit for purpose, and creates significant business value. Then match that with equally great customer service.
That, put simply, has been my approach as Console’s CEO. And here’s what that journey has looked like so far.
Begin with the customer’s experience of your product
We make real estate and property management software. So I began with the teams that developed our flagship software like Console Cloud, Gateway, and RPO. What I discovered was that, twelve 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 actually improving the experience for our users and business owners?
"Today, user experience eclipses ‘cheap’ as a primary decision-making factor."
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 the vision, and worked hard to streamline the development process. Quickly, we built a Console product life-cycle.
Once our team bought into a unified product vision, we immediately began to see results. We’re now delivering consistently against an ambitious road map, and have been for the past three quarters. This is important. Consistent and predictable execution builds trust in our product, and our ability to deliver. But it also proves what we promise: a product built for today, and for 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 that. And this has translated to an impressive maturity of our software in the last 12 months—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 that having the best customer service is what underpins client satisfaction and therefore 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 by 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, like email, or that customers can absorb a ten-minute wait time.
We didn’t want to go down that path. So instead, we hired more support agents and gave customers more contact options. And recently, we reorganised our team into product specialist roles. This strategy develops our people into product experts over time. But it also means support teams are informing our product designers and developers. Now, our customers can now reliably speak to someone who really knows what they were talking about.
And, as with our product teams, once we identified our goals, we’ve been consistently improving our service delivery. That momentum is still increasing—after all, customer service is a journey that takes time. After that? 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. And before my tenure, these teams faced two big problems. Firstly, there weren’t enough people to properly add ongoing value to our customers, and secondly, we had over-promised and under-delivered on our (then) new product, Console Cloud. As long as these issues persisted, our teams, no matter how talented, would not be able to grow our business.
Having now given these teams a better product, supported by improving customer support, we needed to build a team to engage directly and proactively with our customers. One big change that’s visible from the outside is this: every single Console customer now has an account manager. In most companies, only the ‘most important’ clients will 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 important to the business.
I’ve got a reputation in the business for ‘never being that happy’, and always striving for constant improvement. And while there’s been big improvements in the last twelve months, I may continue to be ‘not that happy’. I understand it’s not easy to work for someone who’s always pushing you to do more. But we need to be continuously providing more value to our customers to sharpen our competitive edge.
I also believe that this attitude is fundamentally what drives growth: growth of a business, but also personal growth. We’ve seen a lot of both types at Console in the last twelve months. And in the next twelve months? You’ll see more.
Charlie Holland is the CEO of Console. His previous appointments include being the director of Dutch & Co, and Managing Director of Ezidebit.
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