One of my first blog articles in 2015 was on FairWarning’s intent to dramatically raise our level of customer service with the goal of far exceeding “contractual service level agreements,” as well as our intention to drive state-of-the-art software which enabled data visualization and statistical analysis into the hands of our customers. The article was titled “The Importance of Service and Product Investments”. By the time the blog was written and published, FairWarning’s journey to these ends was well underway and I felt we would see some great results in late 2015 and early 2016.
My driving belief is that continual product innovation is crucial to customer value creation and managing to a contractual service level is aiming at the minimum which does not lead to unparalleled customer service. Further, the speed and ease of business are improving all around us in our consumer lives, and I am committed to FairWarning leading the way in the “consumerization of enterprise security and privacy solutions.” This means a focus on the business usage of our software in use case driven scenarios that resonate intuitively with our customers. It also means a level of service that leaves the old “break/fix” model in the industry’s rearview mirror.
More specifically, all of our expectations have changed in the last five (5) years, including FairWarning’s customers. We expect proactive service that corrects, or at least warns, us of a service problem before it occurs, we expect software upgrades to happen essentially instantaneously and behind-the-scenes, and we all wish our suppliers and vendors communicated clearly in business terms we can understand.
Our execution really could not have gone much better. We delivered in the underlying products and support technology. Our service teams adopted to the cultural change with very little turnover, and our leadership team really got on board with a “burn the boats” approach. We were leaving the break/fix, manual software deployments model behind and never going back.
One area I underestimated was the extent to which our customers would have to buy-in and engage in our new proactive service model. At first, when we communicated that we anticipated there was a service problem forming, our customers wanted to wait until it was broken to fix it. They were also slow in providing us point-of-contacts that could fix a small problem before it became a big one. Over time, FairWarning gained greater and greater executive exposure and support to gather the right customer contacts and gain buy-in to fix small problems. It worked, but we had to persevere to get customer buy-in.
The results have been very satisfying and we have put an emphasis on gathering customer feedback rapidly so we can make adjustments very quickly. In 2016 our initial target was to reach 4.5 out of 5.0 across all customer survey categories. We have done it year-to-date. We have also received 5.0 out of 5.0 reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange for FairWarning for Salesforce. If you visit the KLAS web site section on FairWarning you will find similar comments.
The foundation of these successes are below:
Disciplined Change Control – FairWarning’s customers now treat our solutions as business critical. This was not always the case. But over time, our customers came to count on us 24×7 for Meaningful Use Attestation, detecting and investigating malicious break-ins, compliance reporting and more. We have stepped up to the plate with our customers and welcomed working within our customers’ change control requirements.
Patient Privacy Intelligence – FairWarning 4.1 or FairWarning Patient Privacy Intelligence is the best software release in our company’s history. More reliable than ever before, easy to use, massively scale-able and loaded with data visualization features, statistical analysis for breach detection and the ability to correlate identity information across audit sources. Further, we have included cloud security auditing for applications such as Salesforce and Office 365.
Instantaneous Software Distribution – Through Rapid Application Distribution technology, FairWarning can now deliver our software instantaneously to our Software as a Service as well as our on premise customers. This was a multi-year project with significant investment, but FairWarning and our customers are now far better off. What good is software if you can’t use it because it will take months to get your upgrade scheduled? Those days are over. Schedule, train on it, get it now.
Proactive Always On Service Monitoring – For several years my internal mantra was “break/fix is dead,” we are going to be a proactive service company that fixes very small problems before they become big ones. After 30 months of investment in monitoring technology, security, processes and proactive personnel, we got there in late 2015. The results are speaking for themselves in 2016 but we cannot let our guard down for a minute.
Communications in Case Resolution – Bridging the gap between highly technical staff working on massive business critical systems and their customers can be a challenge. Inherently technical people want to share what is going on with the system at a detailed level which is how they think, and they have a tendency to work on the problems and under communicate. The problem is that under-communicating and geek-speak can cause a lot of stress for customers. We have again taken this problem head on through key hires, training and consistent processes that we are developing a strong discipline around.
Great service, innovative products and high customer satisfaction are the absolute foundation of growth, and FairWarning is ready in the product and service areas.
My next internal mission is to transform FairWarning sales into a service-minded organization. No one in the world wants to be “sold” to. We all have more choices than ever before. We are informed like never before. And, we all want to work with authentic people who listen closely to our needs, answer our questions forthrightly, make our life easier by working for us, and following up on their promises. Sales is dead, long live service.
It is a beautiful Memorial Day here in St Petersburg, Florida. We are going to head out on the boat. Admittedly, my cell phone will be turned ‘on’, just in case a customer issues comes up.
See you soon.
Kurt J. Long
Founder and CEO of FairWarning