I spend a lot of time with startups and thus hear many companies talk about their approach to sales and their interactions with customers. From these meetings you can really tell the leaders that are genuine about customer care and those the look down on them. Given that customers and sales are the lifeblood of any organisation you’d imagine everybody would respect their customers. You’d be very wrong.
I was thinking about it this week through some snippets of recent experiences.
A Positive Customer Care Experience
Starting with a positive. I had dinner this week with a top new customer at one of our enterprise software investments. I wish I did more enterprise software investing because when I attend meetings like this I realise that this is my core DNA — rolling out business software solutions to customers. The entire dinner was a discussion of what it would take for our software to help this customer be successful, what he liked about it and where we needed to improve. It was a personal discussion and you could tell that our senior leaders and he shared friendship as well as respect and admiration.
This was customer interaction at its finest and as a result they invited him to meet with our entire sales staff and offer advice on the sales process from a customer’s perspective. Gold dust.
A Contrasting Customer Care Experience
Contrast that with a VC conversation I had. We were talking about raising money from LPs. He was lamenting how much he hated LP meetings and how little he wanted to interact with LPs going forward. In case you don’t know — as VCs we have two sets of customers: LPs (limited partners) who invest money in our funds and entrepreneurs (who we in turn give money to and help support them in building businesses we hope will be valuable). As an insider, I can tell you that a large portion of VCs don’t like interacting with LPs — they view it as a “necessary evil” of the business. I even once met with one very, very well-known VC who told me, “I don’t attend LP meetings. If they want to invest that’s great. If not, somebody else will. I have my staff deal with them.”