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Observations from my first October conference season

— by Mike Perno

Companies are always talking about the importance of the customer. They show off customer satisfaction surveys; tout net promoter scores; and even monitor social media to turn up stories of happy clients.

But I suggest that the real proof of customer satisfaction is in the hugs - real hugs that we, as a software vendor, actually get from many of our customers.

Putting the customer first is a core tenant in the “ESM Way.” And, as somebody who has worked on both the implementation and the sales side for ESM, I’ve had the opportunity to build friendly relationships with many of our customers and partners.

 

But, as I wrap up my first trade show season with ESM, what struck me the most was how truly happy our customers are. So happy, in fact, that as we bumped into each other in the halls or on the vendor floor, customers, even some I’d only talked to by phone, would give me a hug.

Sure, we would chat about ESM’s spend management solutions. I always ask how things are going and make sure we’re on top of everything. But, then the focus would always shift to the person – family, life, kids.  Many are eager to know about my baby daughter. (I’m sleeping a little bit!).

Why so many hugs? The higher education market is packed with patient and friendly people.

And, at ESM, we strive to ensure our solutions meet our customers’ needs and solve their problems - from streamlining the procurement process to fully automating sourcing.

 

ESM’s Guiding Principles

 

  • We Care about Our Customers
  • We Run Our Business With Passion And Integrity
  • We Empower Others To Do Their Jobs
  • We Treat Others With Respect
  • We Resolve Conflict Directly
  • We Listen
  • We Include Stakeholders In the Decision Process
  • We Live Our Philosophies Of Success Everyday
  • We Make Things Happen

We work closely together on projects that have ultimately saved their organizations thousands (even millions) of dollars and made big improvements to their workflows. When there is a problem, we do all we can to solve it. And when there is a challenge, we’re always honest about what’s possible.

In fact, Mount Holyoke’s director of purchasing called the organization’s recent upgrade to ESM Purchase “flawless.” How many people can say that about a software upgrade?

Maybe it has something to do with our size. As a smaller company in the eProcurement space, every implementation is significant. There’s no second tier of customers. They are all equally important - for me and everybody at ESM from the top down. Nobody passes the buck.

 

We felt like we were not a little fish in a big sea. Being a small school, sometimes with the larger companies, we’re not as important,” she said “They said, ‘We’re going to take care of you and make this happen.’ And their support line has been great. … They are just a really good company to work with and I would definitely recommend them to anybody.

University of Richmond

Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what a customer at the University of Richmond recently said about us.

“We felt like we were not a little fish in a big sea. Being a small school, sometimes with the larger companies, we’re not as important,” she said “They said, ‘We’re going to take care of you and make this happen.’ And their support line has been great. … They are just a really good company to work with and I would definitely recommend them to anybody.”

We really care. It’s just part of the culture at ESM. In fact, when Anthony Rotoli, our co-CEO, announces the newest customer, he always writes, “welcome to the ESM family.”

Sure, it might sound cliche. But, for me, these relationships are real.

And I’m more than ready for the hugs. See you all next year!