Over the weekend, there was an innovation conference in Boston called TEDx. This is the Boston version of the national TED conference, which features great speakers and captivating presentations. The Boston theme was “Revolutionary Ideas.”
I enjoyed hearing Clay Christensen, a Harvard University professor known as “the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation,” present a few ideas from his latest book: How Will You Measure Your Life? He made the point that in the end of days, you won’t need to measure your life in the same way we measure the life of a business.
Mr. Christensen explained that since you’re dealing with God and not the average Wall Street investor, you don’t need to categorize everything you’ve done – as we do with an income statement or balance sheet – and then total the categories so you can see the “bottom line.” God can actually remember and measure you based on each individual thing you did and every different person you had an impact on. You may have done thousands of things in a lifetime and had interactions with thousands of people, but you won’t be measured by what you did “on average” or whether you were nice to old ladies “most of the time.” What if you stole from the company “only two or three times” or cheated on your spouse “only” a couple of times? Would you still end up on the right side of the ledger? Of course not. You can’t stray from the law or your own moral compass every so often and still be a good person.
As I listened to Mr. Christensen, I thought about our Corporate Focus customers and how they might measure us. I thought about how hard we’ve worked over the past 17 years to treat every customer right – whether we’re trying to sell them our cloud-based equity reporting system or help them with an equity compensation audit. We treat each customer as if they have the most critical problem at that moment – or as if we’re just plain glad to hear from them.
Based on Mr. Christensen’s perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to deliver great customer service “most of the time.” That wouldn’t work too well for the person who got sub-par service. Each customer’s issue is very important to them, or they wouldn’t have called that day. It may be holding up their work, causing anxiety, or running up the clock on legal and audit fees. While we’ve worked with thousands of users who are tracking equity information for thousands of companies, to the individual customer, we are only accountable for how well we help them with their problem.
Clay Christensen’s comments caught my attention, since I had just reviewed a recent testimonial in which a tech company CFO talked about our support team:
“I was really pleased to find that the support team at Corporate Focus is absolutely fantastic. If one member of the team wasn’t available, another member would pick up right where I left off with the first without skipping a beat. They would proactively reach out to me to make sure I was getting the information I needed. They even went above and beyond by getting on the phone with my auditors to answer questions during our last audit. Good customer service is hard to find these days, but I’m pleased to know that I found it with Corporate Focus.”
His comments were consistent with what other CFOs have told us recently about our customer service, and I am proud of the level of commitment we’re able to provide to every customer.
I can’t help but wonder if other companies found Clay Christensen’s comments relevant to how their enterprise will ultimately be measured. Will their merit be based purely on the bottom line – or will it boil down to each and every individual customer interaction, no matter how small?