“There are three groups of people with respect to empowerment, those who get it, those who would really like to get it, and those who probably will never get it.”
– John Nordstrom
Thank you for your time on Monday. This is the first in a series of letters that will outline my vision, my expectations, and the transformation of our company. My goal here is to create a framework by which each of you understands our mission and knows how they contribute to the success of the company. Although I will cover the entirety of business, the specific details, plans, and company habits are for you to create. I can tell you where we’re going but only you, working with your colleagues can get us there. It is my belief that innovation and excellence are cultural attributes created by the active participation of all. We all win together, or we all lose together.
Tahzoo Value Proposition
We are on the cusp of significant change in the market and in our business. This presents opportunities for growth for each of you and for Tahzoo. It’s imperative that we pull together and unify our efforts to transform Tahzoo, so that we can better serve our clients and partners. The technology and the cultural changes that are sweeping through the country post-covid have redefined the Art of the Possible. Our digital transformation solutions need to simplify the complexity of change. We will be guiding our clients and ourselves into new paradigms and possibilities. Our clients are too busy trying to do their jobs and service their customers, they will not have the breadth of knowledge and experience that we can bring to bear on their business opportunities and challenges. It will be up to each of you as individuals and working collectively as account teams to develop a deep understand of our client’s business and then design solutions that bring the whole value proposition of Tahzoo to solve problems and achieve objectives.
Why not be the best at what we do? We work for powerful companies that have choice. They can afford to hire any consulting company in the world and yet they choose Tahzoo. We are the boutique alternative to the big consulting firms; we get hired because our clients believe that we are the experts who will provide superior customer service. Not because we are cheap or have inexpensive offshore teams. They certainly have high expectations for us, picking the right company to buy from is a career enhancing or limiting endeavor in a Global 1000 company. Let’s not ever forget that when we are hired, someone has put their credibility on the line, risking promotions and often their bonus to select Tahzoo – we owe them our very best. We do not have the luxury of trading on a brand name, we need to be different than our competition. I always say if you’d like to be pitched by the two-thousand-dollar suit crowd and then have the interns do your project, you should hire Accenture, but if you hire Tahzoo everyone sitting at this table will work tirelessly to make sure you are successful. We need to distinguish ourselves through the power of our ideas, the quality of our execution, but mostly we must simplify digital transformation. We are here to help our clients change and change is hard, but we make it easier to do than our competition.
Our core value proposition is as relevant today as it was when we first started the company. I’ll write more about this in my next letter, technology, methodologies and cultural expectations are converging to drive increasing demand for our consulting and solutions.
At home and at work, all of us want personalized digital experiences that are contextually appropriate and relevant. What’s different now is that we can achieve a higher degree of fidelity and contextualization in our experience design solutions because we have new tools for understanding language, building dynamic front end solutions, and artificial intelligence solutions that will enable continuous improvement. Imagine an enterprise marketing platform that is fully integrated, harmonizes the end user experience irrespective of the channel of engagement … the system, will get better and better over time. Our client’s customers and employees will experience solutions that treat them like valued individuals. We will imbue our solutions with contextually relevant and dynamically personalized experiences. We are going to be responsible for breaking the tyranny of the one size fits all, lowest common denominator user experience and humanize our technology solutions.
Our solutions will provide increasing value over time and as such we need to adopt different ways of doing business with our clients. We need to be thinking in terms of value delivered, not hours burned. We need to make doing business with Tahzoo easier, eliminate complexity, and drive towards long term recurring revenue engagements. Think of it as building subscription-based software and services solutions that are embedded in annual contracts. My goal is that eventually Tahzoo is compensated based on the achievement of our client’s business objectives. A contract that is based on share of the savings or increased profitability. What should we charge a client if we saved them millions of dollars or increase sales by 5% or 10%? The rule of thumb for enterprise software pricing is that you can charge about 20% of the total cost savings or profit created. That is why we need to become a software led service company; we may not get paid 20% of the total value but it will be a lot more than $200 per hour.
We’ll need better ROI models and more clarity about how the work will impact a client’s business. When we pitch for new business, we need to present our results, not just our capabilities. We are working on repositioning the company from a marketing perspective and this will extend all the way through to our partnerships, sales efforts, and how we structure our solutions and contracts. There is a lot of work to do in the arena, we are going to need all the big brains at Tahzoo to contribute to improving our engagement models and margins.
Working with and at Tahzoo
You are not part of Labs, Studios, Consulting, Sales, Project Management or Managed Services … you are part of a Tahzoo team that is responsible building high quality, lasting relationships with our clients, partners and stakeholders. If the whole team is providing great customer service and quality work, you’ll have the explicit permission to ask questions and jointly develop market-leading solutions with your client. I am reminded of a conversation I had with the CMO of Abbott Nutrition, we were discussing the fact that they had set up separate companies and had vastly different digital experiences for each of their brands. I was arguing that they should have differentiated branding, but the user experience needed to be consistent across brands because our research showed that the head of the house or the primary care giver was the decision maker and shopper for Abbotts nutritional products. The same person was buying Pedialyte, Ensure and ESAS supplements, regardless of branding – it was a single person across brands that needed to be serviced. Unfortunately, I lost that battle because the internal politics and budget controls did not provide for a culture of collaboration, it sponsored unhealthy competition. I share this story with you and I’m making the same argument about us, we have one client engaged with the whole Tahzoo.
Tahzoo Brand Promise
Our clients expect and deserve a consistent level of customer service and quality from their entire account team, they do not care about which Tahzoo division you work in. We cannot let our own internal politics and competition, stifle innovation, collaboration, and diminish the quality of the Tahzoo client experience. Remember our brand promise: You will like working with us, we will like working with you, together we will do great things. If you work at Tahzoo you have explicitly agreed to this, if you’re not onboard with this ideal as your standard for success, as your guiding principle, then this isn’t the company for you. As we grow and hire new team members, we need to teach them how we do this, how to collaborate and how to keep the bar high. We are one company, servicing amazing clients, we need to be grateful and focus on adding value every day.
At Nordstrom, I wrote thank you notes to almost every customer that shopped with me. It was an outward sign of an inward thing; I was grateful for their business, and I was trying to build a relationship with each customer so they would ask for me the next time they came to shop in the store. That is how I was raised and taught to think about customer service by John Nordstrom. The little things matter, at Microsoft I would often bring a sheet cake when I visited with customers, I’d put it in the lunchroom and spread good cheer, who doesn’t want a slice of cake in the afternoon? My customer relationships at Nordstrom were very transactional and infrequent. At Microsoft I built lasting durable relationships by getting to know my customers. Some of my best work was years in the making. I’d take the time to understand their concerns, their goals and collaborate with them and share the vision of how Microsoft could help them. Many of my customers became good friends and trusted colleagues. Zig Ziglar used to say, “You’ll get what you want by helping other people get what they want first.” No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care. Bring this mindset to work every day and think about doing little things that demonstrate that you care.
Good customer service is a discipline and a habit that is shared by an entire company, it’s not something for the client partners to manage on your behalf. The reason we strive to hire smart and happy people is so that the natural friction that occurs when people work on challenging problems, is lubricated with good will and creative problem solving. I am intentionally trying to remove unhealthy conflict from our company and with our clients. If you find yourself unhappy, angry, and generally in conflict with your teammates, that’s a sign that something needs to change. Teams are like row boats, if you’re not all rowing consistently and in the same direction there is virtually no chance we will have a happy client, much less produce good work.
When we started Tahzoo our tagline was “Driven by Big Ideas”. The reason I choose this is because I knew that if we met as an account team and brainstormed about how to better service our clients and innovate on their behalf, we’d be a better digital transformation partner than our competition. Once a month during our status meeting with the client, in addition to reviewing scope, schedule, budget, and risks, we’d include a section on our big ideas. We’d share our thoughts and actively innovate with our client. We need to renew this discipline in our company. I want each team in Tahzoo to meet once a month discuss our customer service, the quality of everyone’s work, and brainstorm on some ideas to improve our client’s business. You can simply take the brand promise, you’ll like working with us … do they? We’ll like working with you … do we? Together we will do great things … did we?
Next week I am going to write in more detail about the convergence of standards, technology, and cultural expectations, how they are changing and what that means for Tahzoo as a company and where we need to focus our critical thinking and how to organize ourselves. The Art of the Possible has changed dramatically in the last few years, we have a opportunity to take a leading position against our competition. We’ve been in this space for many years, we have the learnings and the battle scars to prove it … time for us to make a big move.
Let’s go be great!