Customer Relationship Management: Client-Vendor Symbiosis is a Beautiful Thing

By Jason Rohlf

I love fall for many reasons. First, as a native Chicagoan, I’m not a huge fan of stifling heat, so once those cool breezes and crisp nights set in, my mood vastly improves. (Toss in some brilliant fall colors, and I’m positively chipper.) Second, as a sports fan, I have college and pro football, the MLB playoffs and, most importantly, the start of the NHL season. And let’s not forget all the food-coma-inducing holidays on the horizon. Add it all up, and it’s a no-brainer why fall is tops in my book.

This year is a particularly enjoyable transition for me because of all of the great things happening at Onspring. We’re just coming off our inaugural Onspring Connect User Conference, which exceeded our expectations in every way. I also had a chance to present at the ISACA Atlanta chapter’s Geek Week and to attend the IIA-ISACA GRC Conference, both of which were fruitful. We also just released another major platform upgrade with version 12.0, and we continue to grow, both in terms of employee and customer count. It’s an exciting time to be sure.

Now, I’m not an overly-optimistic person, but I do my best to keep an open mind about what’s possible. At Onspring, we’re a company of problem solvers. We enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to best serve our customers while also taking great care of our team. It’s a delicate balance that must be maintained if we’re going to continue down a positive path. Obviously we need to be adaptive and willing to try new things—to correct course where it makes sense. But we also don’t want to lose sight of how we got here. That part is very important. Stick with what works first, and adapt everything else as needed.

In this situation, the “what works” part of the equation has to be our relationship with our customers—the way we interact with them, our desire to help them solve problems, the feedback they provide us, and the fact that they’re willing to recommend us to other potential customers. It is this symbiotic relationship that sustains us and keeps us moving forward.

The image that keeps popping into my head is of a giant buffalo grazing in the field that has no problem with the little bird that is perched on its head, pecking away at the bugs that live in the buffalo’s fur. The buffalo rids itself of a nuisance, while the bird gets to eat. There are many other examples of symbiosis in nature, and admittedly not every one of them is a perfect 50-50 balance of mutual benefit, but the main point here is that mutually beneficial relationships are the ones that are worth maintaining. The other real world example I would offer would be when my kids ask me to scratch an itch on their back. Maybe it’s the phrase “my back itches” that triggers a psychosomatic impulse, causing my own back to suddenly itch. This, of course, is when I reply, “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

The overarching theme here is that we view our relationships with our customers as a mutually beneficial give and take. We help them improve their processes, ensure data integrity and enhance their overall performance (thus removing the nuisance of struggling to accomplish their professional goals). In return, they pay us for our product and services (which allows us to sustain ourselves and our families). While this may seem simplistic, I would argue that breaking things down to their core helps us define what’s truly meaningful.

Here at Onspring, we make our our customers’ lives easier and give them the tools they need to continuously improve. With this mindset, everything else falls into place.

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