There’s a lot of talk within marketing circles about product centricity vs. customer centricity, and this got me thinking: where is it that Sherpa Software fits? We’ve been putting out great software products (if I may say so myself) for nearly 15 years – but we’re also very solution-oriented and have long strived to provide sterling customer support.
Product-centric companies emphasize new product development and strive to make great, lasting and innovative products. Product-centric companies look inward to leverage their own internal skills and technologies. This provides for clear product owner accountability as it is obvious to management which products are popular with consumers, and therefore the most profitable. Product-centric firms maximize profits through high volume sales, cost reductions and market shares as their key performance indicators (KPI).
So, what is customer centricity? It certainly places an emphasis on the overall customer experience in order to build a loyal customer base. According to the Wharton School’s Peter Fader, customer centricity requires the company to be willing and able to change its organizational design, performance metrics and employee/distributor incentive structures to focus on this long-run value creation/delivery process.
At Sherpa, we always strive to provide quality customer support. It’s about relationship expertise – knowing our customers, understanding both their needs and understanding how our solutions provide genuine practical value. In fact, many of the features within Sherpa’s products are created at the request of customers and other information professionals. We recognize that different customers have different needs, and when there’s a need unmet, we strive to fill it. Sherpa has increasingly taken on more of a professional services role in offering consulting services to our clients, often based around our products but also in helping customers craft broader information governance policies. That said, our products are very important and we continue to enrich their feature sets and extend their functionality. I suspect that we’re much more customer-centric than we used to be, but we will continue to focus more and more on the customer experience while continuing to be a best of bread software company.
So, where along the spectrum do we fit? I’d say, somewhere in the middle. We are transitioning from a product focus to a solution focus, but both are essential and for Sherpa, the customer always comes first. So, you could say we have a unique niche, and that’s just fine.