You are only as good as your customer remembers

You are only as good as your customer remembers

As you know, I am very interested in how organizations are using business applications, which problems they do address, and how they review their success. In a next instance of these customer interviews, I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Gordon, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at Tidal Basin about their journey with Zoho. You can watch the full interview on YouTube.

Tidal Basin is a government contractor that provides various services throughout the government space, including disaster response, technology and financial services, and contact centers.

Tidal Basin started with Zoho CRM and was searching for a project management tool in 2019. This was prompted by mainly two drivers. First, employees were asking for tools to help them running their projects. Second, with a focus on organizational growth and bigger projects that involved more people, Tidal Basin wanted to reduce its risk exposure and increase the efficiency of project delivery. This way, the company could actually create a triple-win situation, benefitting the employees, customers, and the company. also following the top management’s motto “if you take care of your people, and you take care of your customers, everything else will take care of itself.” The thought behind this is “that providing a mechanism for people to be more efficient, because everybody wants to come to work and do a good job. Nobody wants to do mundane tasks that don’t add value. And so, if you can provide a mechanism to do that, it enables our employees to then take better care of our customers.”

Being tasked with implementing it, Melissa started off with a software selection process. This process included integration into CRM, a feature analysis, and a cost-benefit analysis. At the end of this process, Tidal Basin selected Zoho Projects “because the cost of the system and the value and the tools that we needed really did win out against the alternative options.

 The implementation was fairly small and, most of all, painless, although the company chose to implement its own way of doing project management, based on principles that are applicable across different sizes of projects, allowing their tailoring according to the needs of the project by means of templates. Tidal Basin initially saw a limited adoption, as they did not immediately enforce the use but went for an organic approach. Still, since there is some adoption, the company sees better visibility into and tracking of projects. In Melissa’s word, what Tidal Basin also sees is “that […] our PMs, are spending less time trying to aggregate information when they’re having their meetings; they’re easily able to go in and kind of follow up on the things that, you know, should have been done between the last meeting and this one. And then the people who are doing those tasks can also be a collaborator. And they’re providing those updates. So, you can also eliminate unnecessary meetings, if both parties know that the work has been done; and there’s no need for a follow up. There’s also the mechanism, being able to tag things and tag people, if you have questions. That kind of helps facilitate communication about a specific task within a project that you don’t necessarily have if you, know, you’re managing via email, for lack of a better way of saying it.

The success of the Zoho Projects implementation led to the adoption of additional products, particularly Zoho Forms and Zoho Desk, to fulfill requirements of public programs. An example that Melissa Gordon brings, is “grant programs require a mechanism for the general public to notify the grantee if there is the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse. And so, we were able to take Zoho Forms and Zoho Desk to build out a reporting form for fraud, waste, and abuse, tie it to a help desk, [so] that we were then able to manage the monitoring and review of those reports that were coming in, and then also aggregate and report that back to the client as part of one of our deliverables.

From here on, it was a natural extension to also use Zoho Desk for employee support. It, since has been rolled out to nearly every department. This, in combination with the embedded analytics provides the visibility that is necessary to improve the employee experience further by not only enabling fast and efficient problem resolution but, moreover, giving the opportunity to identify address areas that can get systematically improved. “You are only as good as your customer remembers” says Ms. Gordon.

And this customer may very well be your own employee! And helping the employee ultimately benefits the customer, is a belief at Tidal Basin.

Being asked what’s next, Ms. Gordon elaborates that Tidal Basin now has a good number of Zoho app in use and people see the value. So, they are preparing for a full-fledged roll out of Zoho One.

Still, a vendor-buyer relationship is comparable to a marriage. There is no eternal honeymoon. Asked for where she sees scope for improvement, she mentions two. Documentation is not always up to the speed of delivery of new functionality. This is something that gets mostly covered by Zoho’s support organization. However, Ms. Gordon regards this as a price to pay for the pace of innovation that she sees. The second one would be the process of becoming a partner. Tidal Basin sees Zoho as an opportunity to provide even more value to their clients and feels that it is somewhat hard to become a partner. Everything else is pretty much business as usual, there is always one or another feature or improvement request, and Tidal Basins regularly sees solutions to them appear in the software.

My point of view

This is an interesting journey of a company that has an outside-in view on its processes and apparently some out-of-the norm values, which I mean in a very positive way. You do not hear statements like “if you take care of your people and you take care of your customers, everything else will take care of itself” or “you are only as good as your customer remembers” – and that they are not lip service.

It also shows the power of a highly integrated suite of independent applications that can get bundled. It enables the implementation of various applications to improve employee- and customer experience at the customers’ own pace. And this, even though not every piece of the software seems to work seamlessly with the other ones.

Still, companies see the value offered by being able to flexibly choose what they need and want and to add on when they realize the value of their current implementation.

May more vendors pursue this path.