A product is only as good as the company that offers it. Think of all those times you’ve loved a product, but refused to buy it ever again. Whether it’s snooty and indifferent sales people, a failure to deliver on what was promised, or a complete lack of after-sales support: a company can live or die on how it conducts itself rather than what it sells.
At VSN, we’ve always been aware of this. ‘Putting the customer first’ may be something of a cliché these days, but all too often – especially in the field of technology – mere lip service is paid to the concept. We don’t pay the idea of customer focus lip service, we live and breathe it.
Innovation and the development of products that truly meet the needs of customers is certainly the core of what we do, but that’s not enough. In the field of media solutions, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ product. So, regardless of how innovative our products are, if we don’t truly listen to the needs of our customers, then we’re already fighting a losing battle. The right product is only the right product when it’s put in the hands of the right customer, and supported throughout. Otherwise, it’s simply wrong, no matter how many bells and whistles it has.
With this in mind, we present the second part of a behind-the-scenes tour of VSN’s offices to discover how our team members work to offer a unique customer experience. To do so, let us introduce you to the next of three key members of our team, following with…
Product development: Toni
It would be easy to mischaracterize my role within the process as the geeky engineer who sits in the back and makes grand plans for the future technological developments that will be added to the VSN range. People often see the process of a project as very linear, with product development being a ‘pre’ stage, and everything else being a ‘post’ stage. They often think of it in isolated chunks: a product is developed, marketing promotes it, sales secures a sale, the implementers implement it, and the support technicians come in at the end if needed. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Indeed, the reality is entirely different. Within VSN, whilst we have departmental roles, our levels of interaction are those of one big team. Whilst my title is Product Manager, when it comes to sales I am right in there helping with the evaluation of potential client needs. I essentially need to be, because VSN isn’t always selling ‘off-the-peg’ solutions. Our solutions are tailored to the needs of the client. So in the process of evaluating client needs and preparing a proposal, we need to be sure that what sales is offering is something we can deliver on: and I’m fairly fundamental to that.
The next part will be the development of technical documentation and often, a Proof of Concept. It’s here that I think VSN really excels; what we provide is comprehensive and detailed, but also to-the-point and clear in outlining not just technical specifications, but how they are going to meet the business case and objectives of the potential client.
As the Proof of Concept evolves, that’s where we often start to delve down deeper into the client needs, which may not have been necessarily clear to either party at the beginning. That really goes back to what I was saying at the start; a project isn’t linear, it’s iterative and collaborative.
Moreover, in situations where the client needs are more complex, then involving me in the process allows us to look at ways in which we could engage in specific product developments or integrations: developments that meet the specific request of that customer, but which – more than likely – will also inform future general product developments.
In this way, the process is incredibly symbiotic; yes, we develop products and offer them for sale, but as clients come to us with their needs, they also inform how our future products evolve.
To me, this idea is really important. People talk about proactive or reactive development. The benefit of proactive development is you can sometimes spot unique opportunities and innovations that clients never knew they wanted. Although we also have to consider the possibility that you might be failing to meet fundamental client needs because you’re so enamored with the ‘clever idea’ you’ve just had that you just aren’t listening anymore. Conversely, if you have reactive development, you might be creating something that the client wants; but the two big risks are that the client doesn’t necessarily fully know what they need, and the process is always going to be lagging rather than leading.
Therefore, with the VSN method of involving development right within the sales process, we achieve the best of both worlds; a proactive and innovative approach to media solutions, but one that has its ear constantly to the ground and is directly in touch with the needs and desires of a customer. Proactive and reactive.
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