Setting Expectations with Customers
Sarada Ramani, Director, CI Global Solutions LLC & Founder Computers International(www.ciindia.com) is a well accomplished leader in the area of Software Services. She comes with more than 2 decades of industry experience having helped her company to grow into Organization catering to the clients in America, Canada, South America, Africa, Middle East, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. From an ordinary middle class housewife to receiving 11 National Awards – the special one among them being Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur of the Country – 2004” award from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, then Honorable President of India establishes her tag line “Its Possible” Sarada talks about a company that she founded in 1996 – CI global.
She calls herself as an accidental entrepreneur. She was a housewife for 14 + years, she did a diploma for six months to actually help her daughter in her school studies. This lead to her taking up a computer faculty job to and moved into entrepreneurism because when people around her began telling her that she has the capability to begin something on her own and there was no looking back from then. She started with a training institution offering customized training packages for young and old empowering people with technology skills. Though the beginning was good and one year went by, as a very small organization and with limited budgets, bandwidth and not knowing the right strategies, she could not make it into scalable organization.
At this juncture, a lucky break occurred through one of her connections to get into software development for a US based client. . Sensing a larger opportunity in services, she showed immediate interest and began working towards bidding and winning the deal. She was also upfront in letting the prospect know that she was a startup and needed sometime to set up the place. To get the team in place, once again Sarada reached out into their network and could get the support of a veteran who helped them in recruiting the right team for the job. Since the customer knew it was an experimentation at both the sides, he also gave them an extensive support and ensured that the team could succeed by starting out relatively easy projects and then upping the expectation as time went by because he saw the fire in the belly in CI Global initial 7 member team and was willing to invest in a vendor to make them succeed. More than the difficulties in executing the project, they faced a few difficulties in setting up the office, internet connection, being aware of the operations in delivering the code.
Once the initial sets of issues were nailed, they began focussing on quality as the primary means to keep the customer happy and the focus on creating a sustained value for their customers is the way that they got both repeat business as well as the subsequent new engagements. Sarada’s advice to founders: “Tell the customer that you are a startup and but are willing to deliver value to the customer by going all out to fulfil their expectations. As the Initial cost of acquiring a customer can be high adapt a strategy to pick your first deal at any cost and once the customer is convinced about the value from the relationship, they will always give you a better pricing later. However, ensure that the customer is aware that you are bringing down the pricing to prove your mettle and not because your services are cheap. Now CI global in the last few years has been a sustainable company and have created value for the customers and the employees. There are atleast 20 customers who do not look at other vendors as they believed in the value they got out of CI.