With the GLM 5.0 release a couple of weeks ago, some of its problems that needed to be worked out, and with Summit 2015 next week, things are well beyond busy at Foundant these days. To say our team is stressed would be a profound understatement. Long hours, short conversations and tight smiles are the norm this week. It has been a very “Un-Foundant”-like environment.
Except in one regard.
If you have been an existing Foundant client for any length of time, you would not be surprised to know it is you, and all of our clients, who have been on our minds and what has kept us moving forward when the obstacles seemed impossible. It has also been you, our clients, who have helped us up, dusted us off, told us it is going to be OK and who have passed on their positive feeling in regards to the potential of 5.0 and their excitement for Summit.
We really have a wonderful and unique relationship with our client base. While we have never taken our relationship with our clients for granted, sometimes it takes more difficult times to make us reflect on why we have been able to foster this relationship with so many of you.
A big part of it is our culture of “the client comes first.” It is the most important characteristic we look for when we hire a new person at Foundant. We hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to our clients and each of us strives to uphold that culture and make sure that nothing stands in its way. From the beginning, our dedication to client service was never a ‘business strategy’ – we just knew, at the end of the day, we needed to be able to look each of our clients in the eye.
There are companies all over the world striving to offer great customer service, and falling just short. There are also companies where it seems to come quite naturally to their culture. So, what’s the secret?
I came across an article recently from Business Excellence – Delivering Customer Service is Non-negotiable. The very beginning of this piece by Jeff Powell and Jeff Hilk really jumped out at me:
Good customer service can’t be bolted on. It must be ingrained in a company’s culture. When a focus on the customer is a company’s paramount business priority, everyone, no matter what their role, is ready and willing to assist. Whether or not a company is in a service business, it can view each instance a client contacts it as an opportunity to provide exemplary customer service.
Over the past couple of months, the Foundant team has been diligently working on our biggest software release to date – Grant Lifecycle Manager (GLM) 5.0. This release is aimed at improving our software across the board and fulfilling multiple client “wish list” items. However, most notable, is the ingrained service that has been implemented in GLM 5.0. The new process manager tool was designed to clearly inform a client when their grant or scholarship process is completely set up. We built this to make Foundant GLM easier to use, but also to help clients understand when they are not receiving the full value of our software.
It will also be helpful during upgrades. With most software, in order to find out what new features or capability has been implemented in a release you’ll need to (at the very least) read an announcement email or notification…or maybe even read through and decipher pages of release notes to find out what is new. But, we know you don’t do that every time (or even some of the time!), and we understand. With GLM 5.0’s process manager, if there are items that need attention, it will be yellow. The development team has built into GLM a way for us to easily indicate and remind clients of new functionality they may want to use. If you decide the new functionality is not for you, you can quickly turn off that feature and watch your process go back to Green. We are really excited about this new capability because it is our way of knowing each client is using the full extent of GLM that is appropriate for each of the grant processes.
Although there are tons of awesome changes in 5.0, I wanted to write about this functionality in particular because it represents what Foundant’s culture stands for. It also reminded me of another company you may have heard of. Zappos’ number one Core Value states: Deliver WOW Through Service. It goes on to say:
WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver.
This latest software release and the incredible dedication toward making Summit 2015 an amazing learning opportunity and a resounding success are just recent examples of the things I witness day after day in the Foundant culture. Although we each have our individual jobs, delivering exceptional client experiences is the ultimate goal and, because we each believe strongly in that goal, it becomes something really fun and rewarding to do.
I cannot thank the Foundant employees enough for their dedication and commitment over the past several months. I know we all share a vision for an amazing Summit and for what the changes in 5.0 will mean to clients in the long term.
It’s especially rewarding when clients like Pam Thomas, of the Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation, share their feelings about the level of service they’ve experienced:
You guys are untouchable at Foundant. The support and technical aspects are amazing and just an overall outstanding company. To be proactive with the client base on all levels speaks to the attention to detail of making clients feel they truly are the number one priority.
I’d like to thank Pam, and each of our wonderful clients for your loyalty, support, and commitment to your communities. You are so much more than clients. Each one of you is part of the Foundant Culture and part of what makes Foundant special.
VP of Marketing and Client Services
About the Author
Mark Larimer is co-foundant and VP of Client Services, and leads the Marketing and Client Services teams at Foundant Technologies. His past careers with Extended Systems and RightNow Technologies gives him the experience to understand technology... his compassion allows him to see how technology can be used to make people's lives easier and the philanthropic sector better and more efficient. During the winter months, Mark can usually be found on the ski hill... when he's not in the office making jokes and finding ways to help our philanthropic clients. Mark is highly involved with the Discovery Ski Education Foundation as a board member, former president, and youth coach. He is also actively involved in Youth Philanthropy Connect and was a driving force behind the recent Youth Giving Project in Bozeman, Montana.Follow on Twitter More Content by Mark Larimer