Getting Value From Customer Partnerships at HigherMe and Eleven Software
Pacific Lake’s Hannah Barrett moderated a panel with Elise Polezel, CEO of HigherMe, a software business for quick service restaurants, and Hannah Greenberg co-CEO of Eleven Software, a WiFi management platform for large hotel chains, to discuss the ways that they have each built exceptional customer relationships at their respective companies. Although HigherMe and Eleven Software have different customer profiles, Elise and Hannah both operate in franchise ecosystems and lead companies that provide user-friendly software in underserved markets. Elise and Hannah spoke to their own business challenges and how they each discovered ways to become not just a vendor, but also a partner to their own customers.
Know your target customers - avoid the “messy middle”: Early CEOs often don’t know what type of customers they want to target and have a hard time saying “no” to customers that may not be the most suitable for their companies. Hannah shared an example of how the Wifi Software Management market size is as big as the Pacific Ocean, but she and Alex Lopez (her co-CEO) decided to focus on global, high-quality hotel brands as their target customer.
Be a partner, not a vendor: Elise spent a lot of time learning what franchisors wanted and studied customers’ buying patterns to understand how they behave. By understanding her customers, building strong relationships with them, and keeping open communication with them, HigherMe was able to raise prices 30% YoY with no churn or complaints. Eleven is focused on being a consultant rather than a salesperson and prioritizes transparency about customer feedback so that clients feel like they are being heard. Both CEOs aim to be thought partners for their customers, rather than just being providers of tools or services.
Empower your team to be part of the customer relationship: Customer intimacy is an ongoing journey. Both CEOs shared examples of how they involve their teams in understanding and being part of the customer relationship. Hannah invites her teammates to meetings, even if they are not on a specific account, so that they can learn and hear from customers directly. This allows the broader team to be in the loop on larger group discussions - they hear about the customer’s desires directly, rather than receiving a message about it from the CEO. Elise has enforced a process where teams will post emojis or positive messages on Slack when a customer fills out an onboarding checklist and begins their journey with HigherMe. Since those messages are highlighted in a public forum like Slack, there is a sense of recognition amongst the team for new customer relationships.
Want more 2023 Pacific Lake Conference highlights? Find additional CEO lessons here from our four part series: Building Enterprise Value at Datacor, Navigating the Seas of Talent Strategy and Optimization at Predictive Index, and Scaling The Team For Growth at Banyan Software.