Like other high-growth companies, as it scales, JazzHR is focusing on what allowed it to be successful to this point: customer service.
“Our focus starts with our customers and emanates from there,” says CEO Pete Lamson, who joined the company just over a year ago.
JazzHR makes software that focuses on helping companies with 50 to 500 employees with their recruiting needs. The 50-person company is still midsized, just adding its second office, but it has thousands of customers in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Since 2012, JazzHR has grown at a 292 percent rate, and that growth likely won’t be slowing soon, either. The software developer has expanded the ways it goes to market. Now, it allows companies to purchase JazzHR through their payroll provider, benefits broker, HR consultant or recruiter, rather than directly.
But as management scales its internal systems or teams, the core of the business, which at JazzHR is customers, should not change, Lamson says.
With the addition of channel partners, he says it has been critical to maintain that customer focus even though JazzHR is one step removed from the end customer.
Maintain the core
JazzHR keeps customers at the forefront during this growth period, partly because of Lamson’s experience.
Lamson came from the software developer Carbonite, which grew to more than 100,000 small business customers, and he found it important to maintain a dialogue with the customer base during that growth.
“So often software companies rely on online-only support, or FAQs or knowledge bases,” he says. “And we’ve maintained a personal touch in our customer support. So, we enable our customers to talk or email or engage with our support team in whatever manner they choose.”
This commitment goes beyond continuing to be a customer-centric solution and culture, but also being easy to do business with.
You also don’t want to be exceptional at bringing on new business through aggressive sales and marketing, but then fail to meet your customers’ needs, Lamson says.
“Any business can sell anybody anything once. They don’t really have a company until they renew,” he says.
That’s why JazzHR’s 95 percent renewal rate is key. By focusing on the product and customer experience, that’s how you enable growth.
“Furthermore, word of mouth and referrals and reputation within the small business community are of paramount importance,” Lamson says. “So, the better the experience our thousands of customers have, the more likely they are to tell their friends and colleagues.”
Lamson believes it’s critical to not cut corners. Growth is the end result, but a quality customer experience is the means to that end.
“So often high-growth businesses will lose sight of what allowed them to become that high-growth engine in the first place, and in a rapidly evolving technology environment, become bypassed,” he says. “Your product and solutions by definition must change — and in some cases that change or that evolution will happen swiftly — but at the core of it is paying attention and listening to your customers’ needs.
“Of course, there is a laser focus on new business acquisition and customer growth that has to be there, but what I have seen happen with other solutions or other software providers is they become enamored with growth, as opposed to customer experience,” Lamson says. “And over time, inevitably, their growth will decline as a result.”
Update the product, find the right people
In order to stay close to the market, Lamson says it’s about listening to customers and making sure the product is continually updated to meet their needs.
“For example, we meet as an entire management team every single month and review our top 10 customer requests, both from customers who have been with Jazz for years — we’ve been in business since 2009 — that they would like to see and we review the requests of our prospective customers,” he says.
In addition to gathering data, Lamson says companies should proactively reach out to customers regularly to ask how they’re doing at meeting their needs.
JazzHR also spends a great deal of time practicing what it preaches on recruiting. It wants to make sure new staff are ready to be as customer focused as the company requires.
Not only does every single management team member meet potential senior hires, in some cases, the board members also meet those candidates.
“It’s so easy in this fast-paced technology environment that we live in today to have technology pass you by, and we take great care to stay close to what our customers’ needs are so that can’t happen,” Lamson says.