Building trusted relationships in this time of remote connections

woman using a laptop at her desk late at night

August 18, 2020

An interview with Nancy Mattenberger, Infor EVP & Global Chief Customer Officer.

Infor’s two strategic tenets of agility and a customer-first attitude have served customers well during the pandemic. Agility is part of the Infor DNA. To embrace continuous and meaningful improvement, we experiment, iterate, and objectively make decisions on where to invest and de-invest in our technology and services. By responding with speed, empathy and expertise Infor sales and services teams have helped customers address highly unusual circumstances providing a focused reaction to our customers’ challenges day to day.

Engaging with customers has taken on an entirely new dimension since the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19. While travel restrictions and social distancing mandates have drastically interrupted the traditional customer lifecycle, the need to connect and engage with customers has been more important than ever, says Nancy Mattenberger, Infor EVP & Global Chief Customer Officer.

“The pandemic has been difficult for absolutely everyone. Fortunately, Infor sales and services teams have continued our customer-first strategy and have still been focused on building and strengthening relationships, proving we will do whatever we can to help our customers be successful,” says Nancy. For instance, “we focused our teams on proactively reaching out to customers to jointly create success plans to keep projects moving forward and ensure even if circumstances changed that we were able to achieve the customers desired outcomes.”

She added, “We also pivoted our education team to provide free training subscriptions to ensure our customers could reinforce training while employees were working from home, and, finally, we have doubled-down on automation and self-service in our support team so we could continue to reduce the time it takes to resolve issues on critical solutions for our customers.”

Meeting evolving needs

Customer needs have evolved over the span of the outbreak. In the early stages of quarantine, customers were putting response plans in action as quickly as possible. Needs ranged from basic contingency planning to seeking advice on online collaboration tools, remote connectivity, and logistical answers to remote deployment of solutions.

As a company that is fully adept in the work-from-home model and remote connectivity, we were able to provide guidance about logistics and online tools, including ones from other vendors, when appropriate. Honesty and full transparency were part of the trust relationship being built.

There was also a wave of companies taking steps to limit spending so they could stay in operation. Some customers wanted to put projects on hold, some wanted to escalate projects so that they could take advantage of cloud computing.

“Then, as companies realized this issue may be here to stay for a while, many wanted to rethink their business models and find new ways of adapting—while maintaining health and safety for workers and customers,” explains Nancy. “We had to find ways to connect with customers, understand their priorities, and do our best to meet their needs—whether it was how to scale faster or how to embrace digital strategies.”

Learning curve

The first few months of the pandemic were a steep learning curve for everyone, Nancy adds, acknowledging that the uncertainty of the situation added to the challenges. Also, many customers were finding that their traditional supply chains and go-to-market tactics were no longer viable. “Those companies were looking for new business models, new ways of leveraging their strengths, and delivering services. Some very creative ideas for diversifying and entering into new markets have come about,” Nancy says.

Infor’s healthcare customers are among those facing unique situations. Clinical care facilities faced great challenges concerning the supply chain, workforce planning, tracking of resources, data collection, and budgeting. While technology cannot solve all of the issues faced by front-line care givers, software can make some of the back-end operational and administrative tasks easier to manage. “Our healthcare customers see opportunities to grow and may want to expand their services, but they also need to be highly efficient and effective in how they manage the delivery of services,” says Nancy. “Our solutions can help during these high-stress times. For example, our Cloverleaf solution is the Healthcare IT platform for approximately 85% of the laboratories in the United States performing COVID-19 testing.”

Trust and empathy

Listening is one of the key elements of supporting customers during the pandemic. “This is one of the good things that has come out of COVID-19. People have strengthened their listening skills. We’re responding with empathy and creating relationships,” says Nancy. Sometimes that means not openly selling to customers, but just offering support, tools, and letting them know we share their concerns.

“We also have to realize that our customers and prospects have many pressures right now, as everyone is extremely connected through social and online platforms,” Nancy says. “The volume of email can be overwhelming. We have to be respectful and use time wisely,” she adds.

Timing is critical in this quickly changing environment. Some customers—eager to achieve return on investment—have enthusiastically supported moving forward with solution deployment— 100% remotely. Pre-COVID-19, services teams wouldn’t normally have considered large CloudSuite ERP implementations to be rolled out completely virtually. Out of necessity, new ways to evolve and support our customers have emerged--and have been highly successful.

Final take-away

Many of the tactics learned during the COVID-19 quarantine will remain helpful once travel restrictions are lifted, Nancy predicts. Remote deployment, for example, offers some cost savings which can be weighed against benefits of in-person project execution. Now that we know it is possible, in the future we can make those decisions with customers--using data to support our claims. “Our ability to listen with empathy is something I hope we keep,” Nancy says. “The way we interact with customers will be different—in many ways, we will be better partners. We will be more resourceful. This is a good thing.” The new normal will look very different than in years past, but agility and a customer-first attitude will remain as cornerstones of the Infor strategy.

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