The two A’s are the connective tissue that makes the link between software and service. They must be tenuous always and have a cartilage like texture at other times. While always connected, they are never rigid and hard and must have a level of flexibility to make the connection between software and service work right.
So how do you know the two A’s are working well? The answers are simple but often overlooked by management, executives and staff.
Here are some things to look for that will tell you if the two A’s are working well.
Your clients call complaining
When your clients escalate support related issues or deflate you with low NPS scores (which is your clients basically telling the market they won’t recommend you) something is clearly wrong. It is likely a break down in one of the A’s, the software isn’t connected correctly to the service. Perhaps you have a legacy software product that used to be installed but now you are trying to wrap a service around it. This can be done but it is hard. The best way to wrap a service around software is to have built the service knowing it was going to be connected to support from the beginning.
Your management team is siloed
If your senior guys and gals aren’t speaking regularly or are engaged in turf wars this almost guarantees they will not march in unison. These are the leaders of the people who tie the Software to the Service with the two A’s. If they are not working well together you have no chance. Whether you put hard dollars in makes no difference, if your management team isn’t in sync you will have little chance at maximizing the investment you are making in your company.
You are lending your good name, expertise, time and experiences to your company. Choose wisely where you hang your hat because the places you work define you, as well as how you’re perceived by the markets and your customers. In short, there needs to be a posse in the C Suite.
Your company doesn’t have a clear strategy that everyone understands
Strategy is so important and so often misunderstood. Strategy is simply how your company will use its skills and competencies to create a competitive advantage. If you are in a true SaaS environment the two A’s become the key to your strategy. Your senior leaders should have no trouble identifying the skills and competencies your company’s employees have in their treasure chests. What they need next is to weave them together into a path forward where you create value and dominate your competition. A few simple bullets that everyone understands often does the trick. This is where your Software and Service become a business.
Your pricing isn’t competitive
Strong A’s are a competitive differentiator and allow you to charge more for your service based on the value you create for your customers. Value creation, selling Value as a Service or VaaS, and the business case you need to deliver to support it is hard work but well worth it. This is the key to the two A’s, Value. Your software can be world class and your service too but the magic comes in tying them together. Combining that with adapting to changes in the market and listening to your customers will allow you to stay ahead of your competition, charge for the value you create and drive profitable revenue streams.
Your project guys have their heads down and are just typing. Or the service guys have their headsets on all day.
The people building the software as well as those supporting it need to be as tight as the posse in the C suite. They need to sit with your clients and each other to understand what each does. This is the only way they can develop strong A’s and give you the competitive edge you desire. Their combined objectives and initiatives should map to the corporate strategy which they should be able to recite religiously. Walk up to either of them and ask “How does your job support the corporate strategy?” If they can’t answer in unison or for each other, replace them.
Happy clients are made from products and services delivered by a company with a management team that works well together through a simple strategy everyone understands and talks about. Clients will be happy to pay you to deliver your Service and Software to help them meet their businesses goals and objectives. Remember the two A’s and you will be well on your way.
By Christian J. Farber As Chief Marketing Officer, Christian Farber is responsible for overseeing our entire client experience from first contact through sale and ongoing client support. Mr. Farber unifies market insights and product strategy, with the goal of delivering financial technology solutions that anticipate and meet evolving market needs.