Blog post by Ron Scheese, CEO of Andesa
We made a mistake. As a technology company that prides itself on quality, it shouldn’t happen; but it did. We moved code into production which should not have been available to certain clients due to the nature of the business they process on the Andesa system; but it was visible and changed their experience with the system.
I am quoting some excerpts from an e-mail we received from a Vice President of one of our clients who was quick to respond and share her feelings:
When Andesa announced they were moving into the traditional life insurance policy maintenance system “space,” I voiced concern that it would lose focus on the Institutional Business.
This nearly single-minded focus on the Institutional Business is one of the primary reasons I pushed so hard to select Andesa as our COLI platform vs. building the policy maintenance internally so many years ago when we engaged your firm. I know your firm has to grow, in order to be able to be a healthy, viable company and that this new strategy is a part of that growth. I especially understand this as I also know the Institutional space hasn’t seen much growth in the recent past. I sincerely appreciate the excellent partnership your firm has always shown and it is out of respect of that partnership that I am bringing my initial reaction to you as feedback rather than just muttering about it.
I noted that there was a “new” section and that it was titled Individual Reports and below that was COLI Reports – I quickly realized these Individual Reports weren’t for my implementation, as there was nothing to expand. I am wondering why I need to see that set of reports? It is my thought it would be opaque to us as we are only a COLI carrier, and so only the COLI reports apply. Additionally, my next thought was “why” is this set of reports on top of the COLI Reports? I wondered this as I believe that at this point the significant source of Andesa’s revenues are from the Institutional Markets of COLI / BOLI, so I thought that it would remain first and foremost in the “lists” that your firm produces. Additionally even alphabetically COLI precedes Individual…
Now this is a small thing…and one I can quickly learn to work around; I am just hoping it isn’t a sign though of a bigger issue…that Andesa is moving away from their focus on the institutional Business.
Thank you for listening.
How many of us wish we had clients with such a deep understanding that our success and their success is interconnected?
How grateful we are that our clients take time to respect the partnership and work to ensure the long-term relationship succeeds. One of Andesa’s key operating principles is that we believe in a true partnership relationship with our clients and will strive to achieve this end. I am grateful when I can point to specific examples of living into that belief statement.
Let’s face it, from time to time we all screw up. But this issue wasn’t simply a technical problem. COLI reports were available in a different location and the end-user “could learn to work around it”. And while our client should not have seen the code deployment based on their product mix, the fix to the code implementation issue was a tactical solution – the feature turned off.
But the deeper, larger issue is understood from the passion in our client’s message? Her relationship with Andesa is based on trust, mutual respect and benefit, a deep reliance that our team and our systems understand her market, her challenges and her priorities. Her decision was based on that expectation, and our error caused her to doubt that commitment. Like many of our clients, she’s not simply engaged; she’s invested in Andesa’s success.
So why? How? Is there a secret sauce to creating engaged customers?
First, partnership means relationship. It means looking out for one another, through good times and bad. I can recall advice early in my career about keeping things professional and separating personal from business. I often share that it was uncomfortable for me when I first came to Andesa to receive hugs from our clients. What I’ve come to appreciate is that business is personal. While our engaged VP represents her company and our staff represent Andesa, what makes the relationship work is that it is between people who genuinely care about each other. Many of our staff and clients are connected via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We celebrate personal and professional milestones and life events.
Second, align your value proposition with your client’s success. Andesa’s pricing model covers a base fee, which supports the costs of shared infrastructure and client servicing, but then has a significant variable component that increases with solutions chosen and client volumes. In this manner, fees are correlated to the more services the client utilizes and the more volume serviced by our system. For a client growing and experiencing an upturn in business cycle, we are aligned with our client’s success. For a client on the downturn of a business cycle, costs can be reduced by reducing scope and as volumes decline.
Third, listen. Your clients provide the best market intelligence and ideas. A relationship built on trust, honesty and transparency can create an environment for tremendous collaboration. Create an eco-system where your solutions relieve your client’s issues or provide competitive advantage. Our clients participate in multiple touch points throughout the year and annual service reviews as part of our client relationship account management process. Integrate your listening and learning into your planning.
You can have engaged, invested clients. It requires being open, investing in relationships, listening and working closely together through success and challenges. I do promise it is one of the most rewarding aspects of a business experience.