When I founded Xactly more than 13 years ago, I was on a mission to completely transform the world of incentive compensation. Up until that point, there had never been a SaaS offering in the space. In fact, SaaS overall was a brand new concept. So I was not only asking customers to take a chance on an unknown newcomer but to trust an entirely new form of tech delivery.
Because customers in the SaaS world weren't locked into lengthy contracts or expensive software and implementations, they could simply leave if they didn't get both the solutions and services what they were looking for. I knew that to accomplish all of this I would need to build a new kind of company, one with employees who were engaged, passionate, and dedicated to customer focus and excellence. It's my personal belief that at the heart of all great companies is a thriving culture - one that’s developed through shared mission and values, not unlimited PTO or a 5-star chef. While these perks might be enjoyable, when the novelty wears off you're not any closer to having a motivated or engaged workforce that's excited to get out of bed and do great work every day.
When we set our sights on locking down meaningful company values, my team and I came up with a list of 13 things that we believed encapsulated the company we wanted to be. You can never have too many values, right? Turns out you actually can. I would stop employees in the hallways and say, “What are our core values?” The question was almost always met with blank stares. It taught me that if the employees couldn't even remember the core values, then there was no way they could be living them.
So we revisited the values and focused on the things we really wanted to stand for. What we landed on were four key values: Customer Focus, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence. When I got back to my desk to type out this list, I made the serendipitous discovery that, when rearranged, the initials of our values spelled out C.A.R.E. These were the values that stuck, and they have served as the foundation for our thriving culture ever since. I've always thought of care itself as the fifth value, and it's inspired our philanthropic work in our communities from day one. We are also part of the Salesforce 1:1:1 initiative.
This year, my team wanted to take our core values to a whole new level and are kicking off our inaugural C.A.R.E. week. From San Jose and Denver to Canada, Europe and India, every team member will be participating in both internal and community service events that celebrate our culture and commitment to each other and the areas in which we work and live. Throughout the week I will be delving deeper into each letter of our core values to share with you how they continue to shape our company and the way we do business. Now that you have indulged me in a little Xactly history lesson, I will start with the “C” in C.A.R.E – Customer Focus. This is where you may be rolling your eyes…what company in their right mind today doesn't list customer centricity amongst their highest priorities.
But what does it really mean? As noted above, SaaS has done a lot to force companies to care and think more about their customers. In this environment, the customer is more empowered than ever to switch vendors if they aren’t getting the experience they desire. So for Xactly, it was imperative for customer focus to be ingrained in our very DNA – an attitude and belief structure that spans everything we do. But this goes well beyond the mantra of “the customer is always right”. In fact, it's building the relationship needed to tell them when they aren't. In the compensation business, companies often go with incentive plans they have been using for years – or something that the head of sales dreamed up on the back of a napkin. For Xactly, the value we bring in terms of customer centricity is helping customers see that there is a better way. Backed by more than 13 years of pay and performance data built on our artificial intelligence platform, we have the information of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sales performance management.
Core to this philosophy is listening and getting to the heart of the customers’ challenges – and knowing no two are the same. For some, it’s a simple calculation problem. It all comes back to listening and truly knowing what the customer wants and needs – even before they know or think of it themselves. Our job is to always be one step ahead, always adding value that makes our customers lives easier and the data to help them prove to their high-ups that forging a new path might be necessary. Whether it’s our Friends of Xactly (FOX) online customer advocacy community, advisory board, training sessions, or our IDEAS site where customers help us shape our product roadmap, or just regular interactions with our customer success, advisory and sales team – we are always listening. In summary, great customer relationships are a lot more like friendships than business transactions. You need to listen, you need to problem solve, you need to laugh a little…and ultimately, you need to CARE. For Xactly, this is the essence of customer focus.