NEWS March 27th, 2020
Customer Intimacy: close to the employees
“Cultural match and shared focus”
In IT services, the explicit demand of the customer often entails an implicit desire. To provide the optimal answer to this unspoken need, the business objectives have to be clear to all parties involved. Levi9 Technology Services believes that the right response to the customer demand happens at three levels: the customer itself, the end user, and last but not least, the employee.
People in tech love it when they make the difference. Software development teams are most effective when all parties understand the context in which the product is going to be used by the end customer: the intended goal, user-friendliness and the business value. Levi9 is helping one of its clients build a platform to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. Making this explicit in the performance indicators for the development team is one of the ways that Levi9 is increasing their engagement; the sense of social responsibility then becomes an additional motivation for achieving the objectives. But it starts with a deeper insight into the culture, objectives and needs of the client.
Regular, and preferably informal, personal contact with all parties is one of the keys to getting at the real customer demand. IT service providers try to do this at three levels:
The customer itself – In IT services, by definition the customer demand goes beyond the wishes and requirements of the individual customer or that one contact person. It always involves more people and more departments. Their needs and desires can be very different depending on the internal coordination. The real customer demand is the greatest common denominator of all the individual demands.
The end users – The customer demand is also the demand of the end users. It often happens that companies get bogged down in interpretations and assumptions here. That’s why it’s important to verify that the company really knows its end users. As the IT services provider, that might mean that you have to go talk to the end customers yourself. To be sure that the functionality you are delivering answers to what they actually want.
The employees – As IT services provider, you also have to get up close with your own personnel. This is as important as knowing the customer and the end users. Because even the smallest wrinkle in their interaction with the customer or the end user can have a number of ripple effects that can work against you. And that’s bad for the customer and bad for your own people.
“The interaction with Levi9 is always about a shared focus on making the best possible product” Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO
Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO
Partnership means startup on steroids
Faktor’s explosive growth and sensational success are the stuff of adventure novels. His company was recently purchased by LiveRamp, but chief technology officer Johan de Groot is still working closely with Levi9 on further growth in the field of consent management. “We went through the learning curve as partners, and we’re still learning.”
“At that time, Faktor was one of the few parties that foresaw the rise of data privacy legislation and took it seriously”, explains De Groot. “Even then, we understood that when a company handles the personal data of its users properly, on the basis of consent, everyone wins.” Faktor launched in 2017 with four employees and the backing of several angel investors. “We knew we had to get off the ground by 25 May 2018, the day the GDPR went into effect. That meant we had to go very fast from an idea to a minimum viable product to a fully operational and scalable solution. And we did, thanks to our partnership with Levi9.”
A lot of the strength comes from the broad-based synergies between all parties involved, including the people of Levi9 in Amsterdam and the developers in Zrenjanin, Serbia. “We all have the same focus on producing a good product together. Levi9 operates like a unit of our company. For example, developers have access to our Slack environment and all our documentation.”
Levi9 worked with Faktor on the core product using methodologies like Lean and Scrum. For De Groot, the customer intimacy comes from putting heads together: “We really do it together, across the whole organization. That’s one of the most important success factors. When I get critical feedback from our own customers, I send it straight through to the people on the Levi9 team, with no filter. And then within 24 hours everyone’s working on the solution.”
Meanwhile, new legislation and regulations governing data and privacy keep coming, so the demand for consent management continues to rise. “To keep up with it, we’re growing from four teams to six. The partnership with Levi9 is getting even closer. We’ve strengthened our ties and have become real friends and coworkers.”
The way Faktor uses its people and its tech explains how the company can focus on innovation, business logic and customer journeys. Domain specialists of Levi9 can look on where they need to and call on senior or mid-level developers. “The smart way we put the teams together has given us basically a startup on steroids.”
And the need for growth is also coming from LiveRamp, a specialist in identity solutions. “The speed at which we are able to get products out in partnership with Levi9 is starting to get noticed in California. Who knows where that’s going to lead in the future …?”
“Levi9 operates like a unit of our company”
Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO
“A good match generates energy”
Levi9 Technology Services is very selective about its customers. We first take a close look at whether our culture is a good fit with that of the customer, and whether their needs and the needs of the end users line up with our internal values. And the mission has to be sufficiently challenging for our employees. Everything is focused on creating a valuable relationship for the long term.
“Our tech people want to understand the customer’s business, so they know what their efforts are leading to,” explains Levi9 CEO Pien Oosterman. “Together with the customer, we translate the product vision into technology: the features that will make the difference for the business.”
“Everyone finds it so exciting when they get a chance to work for a startup,” she continues. “It’s something that gives a talented professional the chance to push themselves and grow. And the energy that comes from that is priceless. When the spirit on the teams is good, that’s when a company can make the greatest strides. And we see that most with a strong social drive, like the push for sustainability or a living work environment. And of course, the contribution to the customer’s business goals counts for us.”
“When the spirit on the teams is good, that’s when a company can make the greatest strides”
Pien Oosterman, Levi9 CEO
Unique in customer focus
Levi9 Technology Services places a strong focus on business technology: the tech that companies use to distinguish themselves in their markets. The engineers of Levi9 work in a nearshore model with the business and the management of the customer to develop outstanding custom software.
Levi9 has some 20 staff in the Netherlands and over one thousand in Eastern Europe – all ambitious, highly educated professionals who speak English well. They are not hindered by a superfluous management layer, so they can get straight at what is best for the customer.
Alongside custom software development, commodities are also an important part of Levi9’s services. Cloud services, APIs, business services, and serverless computing are all used wherever possible. Individually and in combination, these technologies are the catalyst for scalability and acceleration.
At all levels – from the break room to the boardroom – Levi9 Technology Services has the right contacts to collect the knowledge and understanding of the customer and the end user, which we do in combination with surveys and research. The result is an optimal interaction that leads to top-quality tech applications and products that make the difference for the customer.
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