Guest Column | June 15, 2023

Why Listen to the Client? A Deeper Look.

By Angel R. Rojas, Jr., DataCorps Technology Solutions

Listen Ear

In our journey to transform DataCorps into a Lean Learning Organization, we've continually emphasized the importance of adaptability, efficient processes, and a proactive approach. But there's another equally crucial element - our clients. In this article, I want to delve into why it's essential to listen to them and how their feedback forms an integral part of our value stream and the broader enterprise. 

First, let's understand what I mean by “enterprise.” In the Lean philosophy, the enterprise isn't just your company; it includes every individual, process, and entity that contributes to delivering value to your customers. It’s an interconnected network where everyone and everything is interdependent. Our clients, with their unique needs, challenges, and feedback, are an integral part of this enterprise. 

Now, how does the “value stream” fit into this? The value stream is the sequence of activities needed to design, produce, and deliver our services to the client. Each step in this stream should add value to the client's experience. However, it's not always easy to determine what exactly constitutes “value” for the client. This is where their feedback comes in. By actively listening to our clients, we can better understand their needs, adapt our value stream, and enhance the value we provide. 

Another key Lean concept is “Gemba,” a Japanese term meaning “the real place.” In a business context, it's where value is created. For us at DataCorps, Gemba is wherever our clients interact with our services. It could be their office, a Zoom meeting, or even an email thread. By going to the Gemba, we can see the situation first-hand, gain insights, and make more informed decisions. 

Now that we've laid down some concepts, let's illustrate how this works with a real-life example. Recently, we brought on a new client. As part of our service, we migrated their systems to the cloud. However, shortly after, they began experiencing software issues. The software vendor, instead of owning up to their mistake, tried to shift the blame onto us. They attempted to take advantage of our client's limited IT knowledge, suggesting that the issues arose due to their choice of DataCorps as their IT partner.

Our client was in a tough spot. They needed their software up and running, and they needed an advocate who could cut through the noise and get them a solution. So, we stepped into that role. We didn’t just want to restore their services; we wanted to make sure this wouldn’t happen again. We went to Gemba, engaged with the software vendor, and ensured they implemented a more robust process in the future. 

This experience highlighted two important lessons. First, our role extends beyond providing IT services; it’s about standing up for our clients and advocating for their interests. Second, the voice of the customer, in this case, the client's need for an advocate, is a powerful tool. It can guide us to adapt our value stream, navigate to the right Gemba, and provide the value they genuinely need. 

This incident also reminded us that we need to continuously gather and act upon client feedback. As the landscape evolves, so do our clients' needs and expectations. By actively listening to them, we can stay ahead of the curve and provide the services they need, not just what we think they need. 

In conclusion, why listen to the client? Because they're the heartbeat of our enterprise. Their feedback helps us identify areas of improvement, adjust our value stream, and refine our approach. It directs us to the right Gemba, enabling us to provide effective solutions. By listening to our clients, we can ensure that we’re not just reacting to their current needs, but proactively preparing for their future ones. 

In our next article, we'll explore how we've integrated these insights into our approach at DataCorps, and how we strive to continually improve and add value to our clients. Because at the end of the day, our mission isn't just about providing IT services; it's about creating a partnership where everyone grows together. 

About The Author

Angel R. Rojas, Jr. is President & CEO of DataCorps Technology Solutions.