Guest Column | April 25, 2018

How MicroBiz Improved Its Culture By Expediting Customer Request Response Time

By Kevin Kogler, Founder & President, MicroBiz

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MicroBiz, a cloud-based POS and inventory management software company, has more than 25,000 small and midsized retail partners worldwide. The distributed company has employees throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. When SoftwareBusinessGrowth asked MicroBiz President and Founder Kevin Kogler to share advice with other software companies about building and improving corporate culture, he expanded on getting his employees to respond to customers quickly. Here’s how his software company did just that.

One of the most successful things that we have done culturally at MicroBiz Point of Sale was to focus our employees on responding to customers’ requests as quickly as we can. Because when we do this, we have the best chance of engaging a customer while they are the most focused and passionate on the request at hand.  

As time goes on, customers become increasingly distracted as other activities take on greater importance, and the urgency of their request will dissipate. Waiting does help settle customers down –and if you wait long enough they may even actually forget about the issue.  However, waiting can cause you to miss areas of improvement. Plus, customers perceive the most value when you respond while their issue is top of mind.

While this seems easy, it is quite challenging as there is a general tendency for people to defer hard or unpleasant tasks.

So, we really had to focus employees on a handful of key philosophies derived from a book named Lovability written by a friend of mine, Brian de Haaff, co-founder and CEO of Aha!.

  1. Speed Is Better Than Perfection – You do not need to strive for perfection.  Very often a good solution delivered today is better than a perfect solution a month from now. 
     
  2. Embrace Interruptions – Contrary to conventional wisdom, you should embrace interruptions. Most people are taught to try to tune out distractions, but tuning them out is a mistake. Responding to interruptions will allow you to pick up valuable data and react more quickly.
     
  3. Compare Each Request With Our Goals – Constantly compare requests and your responses to our stated goals.  This comparison will help you quickly decide if this is something that you should spend time on or not.
     
  4. It's OK To Say “No” – You should respond to requests quickly and decisively because you cannot afford to keep revisiting them. A quick and polite ‘no’ is better than a long “no,” or no response at all. The key is to make a decision based on available information and its importance so you can move on to the next one.
     
  5. Be Transparent – Explaining the “why” makes the “what” simple to digest. This is especially important when saying “no.”

We found that focusing people on being responsive simplified things for employees and improved the culture at MicroBiz Point of Sale.

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Kevin Kogler is the Founder and President of MicroBiz. He is on the Board of Trustees of Shelton Capital Management, a San Francisco-based mutual fund company, a member of the National Ski Patrol and active with the Retail Solutions Provider Association (RSPA). Kevin was a principal in a partnership investing and running software businesses including Opus Pharmacy Systems, a developer of software to manage retail pharmacies, and CAM Commerce Solutions, where he was President until engineering the sale of CAM and spin-out of MicroBiz.