Recently, tax professionals from one of our long-term customers, Tyson Foods, were generous enough with their time to visit Vertex headquarters for a lunch and learn session. Hundreds of Vertex employees from nearly every corner of our company attended the event in person or virtually.
The objective of this type of gathering is to translate an abstract concept, “customer intimacy,” into a tangible and productive activity. By providing the opportunity to more of our people to engage directly with our customers, our employees cultivate a deeper understanding of (a) customer’s unique needs, (b) how customers leverage our solutions, and (c) how they personally might adjust or improve their specific work within Vertex to ultimately add more value.
When Tyson Foods’ tax professionals took our conference room stage to talk about their industry, their company and their tax challenges, it was rewarding to see my non-customer-facing colleagues absorb firsthand knowledge about Tyson Foods, a 20-year Vertex customer.
It was also rewarding to learn that Tyson Foods has donated more than 80 million pounds of food to hundreds of food banks since 2000 as part of its philanthropic focus on hunger relief. That sort of information is particularly valuable because it gives all of us a more personal understanding of our customers and their organizational values. Tyson Foods has built a business around providing food and creating jobs. By providing Tyson Foods with Vertex solutions for 20 years, we have helped them execute their noble mission.
By translating our own organizational values into practice, we gain a deeper understanding of our customers’ organizational character and their values. But how do you convert an organizational value into practice? Especially one as complex as taking personal responsibility to understand clients. That question is important for many companies these days. At Vertex, we have multiple responses to that challenge.
Like many organizations, we contend with a “triangle challenge.” That is, we have a smaller portion of employees who interact with our customers on a daily basis (the tip of the triangle) and a larger portion of employees whose duties, while crucial in shaping and supporting the products and services we deliver, are not provided with frequent opportunities for direct customer contact.
To address this challenge, we’ve developed multiple ways to take responsibility for understanding our clients (an activity that addresses one of our core organizational values).
One example, like many software and service companies, is that Vertex uses input from Customer Advisory Boards. These solution specific boards consist of customers and representatives from Vertex’s product and strategy teams. They meet regularly to discuss customer challenges, while collaborating on long-term product-development innovations and priorities within our suite of offerings. This client feedback is really important to us and is shared with our development teams to shape the future of our offerings. We also offer non-customer facing members the opportunity to listen in on customer conference calls or attend a client kick-off or go-live celebration.
By offering these types of opportunities, the triangle challenge seems to transform into more of a virtuous circle. This greater understanding of our client's world ultimately helps all of our employees find ways to adjust their own practices so that Vertex is continuously and purposefully seeking ways to better support our clients.
Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.