In the first part of this series we discussed one of the ways ERP Services Providers can emulate the Four Seasons Hotel pledge of “Outstanding Customer Experience”. Every functional consultant must understand and cater to every customer’s unique needs. Enabling strong partnerships is the next step. Such partnerships not only deepen your knowledge of your customer, they engender trust, understanding, and cooperation.
How many times have we come across a software limitation and have seen a consultant say “Sorry, it just doesn’t do that,” without any insight into how the company could make the most of the situation? ERP Professionals are definitely tied in some cases, but it is what comes after the apology for technology that really matters to a customer. How can you (ERP Professional) help me (Customer) get where I need to be? The answer is not always within the software, but if we truly understand our customers, we will be able to work with them on other types of solutions. Strong partnership and close collaboration can inspire unexpected new ways to address old issues and complex challenges.
Technology can never replace human interaction. When you meet the unique strengths of your customer with your ERP expertise, you’ll help advance shared goals synergistically. Thus the customer will feel as though they have a partner they can trust and rely on not just for software decisions, but for business decisions as well. That’s a big difference.
Another example of a strong partnership can be found in the way you work together through big deadlines and deliverables. I have come across several consultants in my professional career who limit their work to 9 to 5. That’s it! No Saturday or Sunday work. And don’t even think that they’ll be available during a Holiday. While I respect a healthy work-life balance, there is a difference between taking well-deserved time off (with the set expectation that you won’t be available) and having a strict rule that does not allow for any overtime whatsoever. Such a restriction might indicate that the ERP Services industry is not for those who feel that way.
Your customers want to know they’ve found a partner who can be available to work as part of their team. At the end of the day, these projects are a team effort and a team that doesn’t stand up for its members doesn’t typically go too far. As Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
Good teamwork in partnership takes effort and practice. In the most successful partnerships members are:
- Self-aware – they recognize their own strengths and development areas
- Excellent communicators – able to give and take feedback constructively
- Good listeners – listening to understand rather than simply respond, deep listening can become a catalyst for discovery and growth
- Flexible and adaptive – able to quickly adapt to changing circumstance by redefining and reshaping their approach, such flexibility breeds success
- Curious – curiosity can uncover opportunity
Hone these skills, and you will reap their rewards: mutual respect, shared pride, and customer loyalty.
About the Author
Bernardo Enciso is Managing Director at SquareWorks Consulting. He is a passionate ERP expert with more than 10 years of experience. He has managed and/or implemented Business Applications such as NetSuite, Epicor, Concur, Workday, Deltek Vision and many others. He is based out of Boston, MA.