Author: Dr. Richard Mayr
I would like to begin by once again listing the three essential points that are important to customers when it comes to a future-oriented customer/supplier relationship with their product manufacturer in IT. A corresponding Gartner study was dedicated to this topic and analyzed the following points:
1) how important is the product strategy and roadmap for customers?
2) how decisively do customer feedbacks flow into the product?
3) which pricing models do customers prefer.
89% of customers consider a clear roadmap from the product manufacturer to be a decisive factor in the purchase decision.
We addressed the issue of roadmaps very early on, put them into practice, and have also referred to them in our presentations for years. Now the question can be asked whether this does not give the competition too much information about where our journey is going!
Yes, it can be seen that way. But the question must be asked, what is more important for the success of the business, a potential customer or a competitor who may have been informed in advance? We have clearly decided in favor of the customer here and have not had any negative experiences with it to date. Also, the depth of detail of the information is shallower for the customer than it would be for the market competitor.
The consideration of customer feedback in product development is even considered important by 91% of the customers in their decision. If one regards that completely reduced, it would mean that the customers determine the product development! No product manager likes this idea. On the other hand, it must be clearly shown that customers know best what their needs are and that this is “free market research” for every product manufacturer. We handle this very carefully: every customer feedback is structured, analyzed and discussed in our product meetings. The first question is always to what extent the expressed wish or need is “standard-worthy”. If not (usually it is rather individual requirements that reach us), then we do not reject this feedback, but transfer it into an extension that fulfills this requirement, but can do even more, i.e. can meet the product standard. This way our product remains maintainable, homogeneous and future-proof, but still evolves according to customer feedback. The customer is, so to speak, our best source of ideas for the further development of our products.
And 90% agreed that the pricing model must fit the customer’s needs. This is not surprising, since we all prefer a pricing model that matches our needs. In the end, however, this would mean that each customer would get their own price, tailored to micro-functionalities and individual needs. As a product manufacturer, however, we also clearly see our side of the coin: we have to be transparent and uniform in our pricing, otherwise we lose credibility. Here, we have to bridge the gap between one side of the coin (individual pricing models for each customer) and the other (transparency on the part of manufacturers in pricing). But do these two viewpoints then even fit on one medal, let alone on one side? Yes, by offering very modular software products and also using the possibilities of Software as a Service. In this way, we always and at all times offer customers the possibility of putting together the right modules and thus also growing in terms of their requirements.
Conclusion: customers want to know how their selected product will develop in the future. They also want to contribute their own experiences and ideas. Expectation does not only refer to the present, but also to the planned or expected functionalities! The whole thing coupled with a cost model that is not off the peg, but fits like a tailor-made suit! And we manufacturers can meet this wish very well, as listed above!