The next of the 7 P’s is Process. Process is a difficult one to describe, so I will give an example from my past. In this case, we will talk about processes that are externally facing. There are challenges making sure the way a company works internally as well is aligned but each firm works differently.
In this case, I want to draw on my experience from Red Condor. The week I arrived, the company was releasing a new version of the product. It failed on release in a way that created a large number of issues for many different subscribers. One of the problems was that the SQA department did not have an effective test for that particular issue. The cost to develop one was very large. But the problem was really a process problem and at the same time a Market/Branding problem.
So, let me back up a second and talk about the market challenge at Red Condor. The company started by providing SaaS solutions to small businesses and local governments for Spam Filtering. This became problematic to scale and there were inconsistent marketing methods applied to the scaling. At that point, the market focus was moved to small ISPs. These customers were larger and brought more subscribers in a single sale. Where an Enterprise sale might bring 1,000 users, an ISP sale brought 10s of 1000s.
The problem with this is that the feature sets and the requirements of the two markets are not the same. This was particularly true around Customer Service. ISPs were used to having their own people provide maintenance for products and had some challenges using a SaaS solution because of this. Again, not a universal issue but it did mean that we had to up our game on the service side.
So, how did this all become a Process and Branding issue? Given the financial plight of Red Condor at the time, we decided to separate out the releases between the ISPs and the smaller businesses. It was a calculated risk that losing 1 or two small customers on a new release was less painful than losing an ISP. Not a great solution, but one that cost no money to implement. Given that we were teetering on bankruptcy, it was a path forward.
From a Branding Standpoint, what it meant was that we were more about the ISPs over time than we were about the Small Business Customers. Of course the customers saw this, and the expansion of the SMB business slowed. The ISP business picked up rather dramatically over the next couple of years and it was a trade off that you had to make.
There are lots of ways that companies signal what they think about the markets that they serve and how the customers react to that. In this case, our Process changes led directly to how our Brand was perceived by the two different customer bases that we had. Something to think about as you change things!
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