“The most important layer on top of having a great product is having great service. That's what we see our customers feeding back to us in their reviews.”
Rupert Mayer, CEO, IPfolio
A strong product with excellent customer service is a winning combination for success in the software industry. Almost sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it? Yet how many companies do you think truly excel in both areas? (IPfolio is one, of course :)). We know we have a strong product – our sales growth in the last three years proves that – but we also score extremely well in the second half. We wanted to describe the origins of those high scores on software review sites.
We gathered three of the principal architects of the IPfolio customer service experience to discuss those origins. How has the company garnered so much praise among IP pros? Founder and CEO Rupert Mayer; Vice President of Customer Success Kevin Nugent; and Tyler Dunk, Sr. Manager, Client & Project Success discussed the IPfolio recipe for super happy customers.
IPfolio: What do you think sets IPfolio apart in the marketplace?
Rupert: Proven customer success. Unlike most other players in this space, we can prove that customers are more successful after implementing IPfolio. We have actually solved pain points and problems for them. We do not sell them a shiny thing with lots of bells and whistles. We solve their actual, real-world, “this is costing us money” problems.
Kevin: Customer support or service must always align with success. In terms of customer support at IPfolio, we actually don't even use that phrase. We say customer success. In fact, my title is vice president not of customer support, but customer success. We see this as an important differentiator because success is ultimately what our clients want. They don't want just another product or service. They want to become more successful, which is what Rupert referred to.
Rupert: If you look at the testimonials on the IPfolio website, solving real problems is reflected in the reviews and testimonials. A common narrative is "Before we had X, which was not working for us. Now we have IPfolio, which has solved our problems."
Tyler: Expert knowledge, best practices and personally delivered results. That sums up the motivations of the Customer Success Team. When clients begin to use IPfolio, they start to fully appreciate the system’s agile flexibility, and the ease with which features can be introduced and processes tweaked.
IPfolio: Customers are then looking at it as a package deal, software and service?
Rupert: Absolutely. Customers laud not only the product, but also the service and the attention received from our team. This ties back to creating the right product by choosing the right technology platform, but also finding the people who are passionate about making customers successful.
Tyler: If you’re going to help customers, you need to be where they are when they need it. It’s important to emphasize that our model is global, which enables us to be responsive to our clients wherever and whenever they need it.
IPfolio: Where does customer success start?
Kevin: Assuming you selected the right technology on which to build, it begins at the very beginning of the engagement. My main function is to make sure that clients, even before they become clients, are successful and happy going forward.
As soon as even the first sales call, my team is involved to make sure that we have a very accurate understanding of prospects before they come in the door. We want to know their needs and processes to make sure that going forward each step of the way makes them even more successful than they already are.
Tyler: We make sure that at the start of that initial call, we have everything we need to have a very engaged conversation so we get the information we need from the prospect to make sure that we're a fit at every stage.
Kevin: Fit is critical for us. Discovering this is our primary focus. If we decide it’s not there - a realization that usually happens early on - we’re very open with the company so they don’t invest any more time and we go our separate ways.
IPfolio: How do you determine this?
Kevin: A lot of it comes from asking the right questions. We ask a lot. What types of IP do you typically manage? Is your company culture more of a fast-moving startup or more traditional? What’s your organization’s stance toward IP? Is IP perceived as a strategic contributor or cost center? What’s driving this research into IP software & systems? What’s the difference between what you can do now and what you want to be able to do after deploying IPfolio? It’s definitely not a 10-minute conversation.
IPfolio: Assuming they’ve passed the “fit” test and decide to more forward, what role does your team play in the next phase?
Kevin: When a new customer signs a contract, they can expect full engagement from the customer success team during the on-boarding phase. People on the team will help them with the various processes involved like identifying whatever workflows they may have, analyzing the data, and mapping their internal projects and processes. It’s not uncommon for someone to be coming from either no platform or one they found to be sort of hindering. In that case, we’ll sit with them and either define or refine them. We can help them optimize their processes due to IPfolio’s flexibility as a platform.
Tyler: With clients, we take a lot of pride in being trusted advisors and providing one-on-one accessibility. After onboarding, the Customer Success Team remains connected with customers using an account management process. Whether it’s suggesting benchmark practices, making configuration changes or educating them about new features, we’re a pretty regular presence in their professional lives.
IPfolio: Do you think this is common in legal or IP management software?
Kevin: The initial planning? Probably. But what makes the customer success process different here at IPfolio from places I'm familiar with is our implicit understanding that everything we do is iterative. Mapping out your initial configuration is one thing. With many vendors, this is where it ends. Unfortunately, it doesn’t acknowledge or account for reality.
We know that 100% of the time we're going to iterate and we're going to have to refine our initial configuration to match real-world processes and behaviors. With any new system, once you start using it, clarity appears. The need for adaptation becomes clear. You're going to realize, "Oh, you know, I don't like this particular process here or there, and I want to shift them around." With IPfolio, iteration is part of our DNA.
Change is built into our model and very easily supported because of the infrastructure that our software is built on. We can just log in and make changes in a few seconds that will more closely align how the software works with what the customer wants to do.
Tyler: The main mandate for our team is to remediate issues as quickly as possible for our clients as well as contribute to product development decisions that will help everyone. Although Kevin was referring to day-to-day adjustments, product development is important to consider.
We are constantly releasing new features. With a 14-day dev cycle, communicating and educating customers about the new features coming, how to use them, and how to incorporate them in future processes is part of the IPfolio customer success process, as well. We want to teach them how to make use of them not just now, but also in the future.
We’re constantly releasing new features. To ensure these enhancements deliver value to clients, it is important for us to actively contact them, build excitement for new features, effectively explain their use and then solicit ideas for further improvement.
IPfolio: Sounds like a “caring is sharing” philosophy?
Rupert: The human component of deeply caring about a customer's success and really wanting to delight him or her is huge for everyone here. If you look at the people on our customer success team, this is what they breath, burn and live for. They want to delight each customer. Combine this with a strong product, its capabilities, and ability to solve the customer’s problem, and you’ve got powerful stuff. It makes all the difference. It's where magic happens.
In the end as a company, customer success, being passionate about customer success, being enthusiastic about delighting customers every day, and having the “want-to” to go the extra mile for someone you only know through email or over the phone will be noticed. Our customers repeatedly point this out in their testimonials.
Tyler: The bottom line is you really know you've delivered great customer service when customers publish unsolicited and independent reviews online. We have dozens of them online. I encourage everyone researching IP management software to look them up.
There you go. The secrets of making customers happy aren’t secrets. Most of them are B2B technology versions of the Golden Rule. We’d like to thank Rupert, Kevin and Tyler for their time.
If you'd like to discuss IPfolio's incredible impact on IP management at your organization, this link will start the conversation: