Smart Dolphins has morphed a lot over the past few years. It might not be clear to the outside world, but we have undergone a major transformation and have found a great deal more success as a result. Our business has never been more sustainable and our customers have never been as happy. I’m confident we’ll continue to find more of the same.
The organizational renovation started about 5 years ago. We had been in business for nearly a decade, but in many ways we struggled to be the IT Support Provider that we felt our customers deserved. Too frequently we seemed to be in a state of chaos and never had enough time and energy to do all the great things we REALLY wanted to do for our customers and ourselves. It wasn’t for a lack of effort or caring. In fact, sometimes trying too hard and caring too much was part of the problem: We’d make ambitious plans to do better only to get only part way done and have to postpone to put out a big customer fire or manage a wave of customer demand. It was a crappy rollercoaster ride.
We came to understand that the way we (and almost everyone else in this industry) approached the business was fundamentally flawed. The industry is primarily approached through the lens of firefighting and this was our default mode too. It is easy to do. Customers know they have a need when something isn’t working and are happy to pay for the fix. IT service providers know how to fix stuff and find it easy to sell the hours this requires. Few customers and IT service providers know what is needed to be holistically proactive and prevent problems – this is much more difficult to buy and sell. Despite this, we decided we needed to be more than firefighters, no matter how difficult the transition might be.
At our peak, prior to this transition, we had around 200 active customers and 15 employees. Our revenue had grown nearly every year, but we were constantly plagued with inconsistency in our customer satisfaction, revenue and profitability. Those are some important ingredients for a sustainable company over the long haul. Today, we have 40 customers. Going from 200 customers to 40 might sound like a disaster. In our case, it was the exact opposite.
Our customer satisfaction measured through Net Promoter Score is now consistently above 80+ (“An NPS of 50+ is excellent” according to Wikipedia). Our revenue and profitability are very stable. Our team of Dolphins have never been stronger or happier. We consistently see the results of our proactive efforts consistently reducing our customers’ “tickets per endpoint” (i.e. problems per customer computer) metric.
I have been optimistic in the past about Smart Dolphins, but never more so than I am today. Five years is a long time to see dramatically different results from a whole new way of providing IT Support, but it is clearly worth the time and effort. The momentum we are building is palpable and I’m crazy-excited about what the next five years brings for our team of Dolphins, our customers and the broader business community. This is a way better ride than that old crappy rollercoaster.