In 2014, I faced a crossroads. While my company — video conferencing pioneer Lifesize – was building servers and dedicated appliances for the data center, our competitors were pocketing victories with the flexibility of a cloud service delivery model. I weighed our options, and it became clear that our only chance for surviving this industry shift was to transform Lifesize into a leading SaaS-based conferencing company.

Our road to reinvention was going to involve a lot of discomfort as we faced hard truths. It was critical that we overhaul our product, uproot our organization and completely transform our approach to customer service — the last of which was a tremendous undertaking. The truth was, at a dismal Net Promoter Score of -4, our customer service strategy was sinking our business. Yet today, nearly two and a half years later, we’ve reached a remarkable score of more than 70 and a retention rate surpassing industry medians.

How did we do this?

We got obsessed… with our customers, that is. While customer service is an ordinary business function, customer obsession is an entirely new way of approaching customer relationships. As a customer-obsessed organization, we strive to deliver an unmatched customer experience by exceeding expectations and helping our customers succeed. This approach involves effort from every department in the company, and it has made a significant impact on our business’s growth.

Get Obsessed from the Core

There’s truth to the saying, “Happiness starts from within.” Nothing impacts the customer experience more positively than service from an employee who is unabashedly excited about his company’s product. In fact, research from Gallup shows that employee engagement can have a significant impact not just on customer ratings, but also on productivity and profitability.

Since a company’s potential is inherently tied to the motivation of individuals that run it, planting the seeds for growth in the corporate culture can yield tremendous results.

Back in 2014, we at Lifesize recognized the need to re-engage and reinvigorate our employees as we started a new chapter of our company’s story. We saw the connection between happy employees and happy customers, and as we collaborated with our employees to define our core values, we unanimously agreed to “Lead with Customer Obsession.”

For this strategy to succeed, it was vital to get everyone on board from top to bottom, side to side. Every employee had a role to play.

Get Everyone Involved

Our award-winning customer success program — led by our Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer — is an integral part of our customer obsession approach and success, but it’s not just our customer success department that’s responsible for the customer experience.

To get your entire company involved in creating an unparalleled customer experience, it’s important to understand the different elements of the customer journey and mobilize every department for support.

At the core of the customer experience is the product itself, which means the product development and management teams are integral to customer obsession. Is the product architected to solve specific customer problems? Are product roadmaps designed to address evolving customer needs? Without a product that delivers what’s most important to the customer, your business will not be able to deliver a positive customer experience.

Once you have a product that uniquely addresses customers’ needs, how do you make prospective buyers aware of it? A customer’s first impression of your company and the product is critical, which is why your company’s marketing team also plays a very key role. Marketing efforts need to be carefully crafted with the customer in mind, demonstrating that you understand exactly what content resonates with prospective buyers and that you can meet their needs better than any other vendor.

Marketing efforts also help pave the way for successful sales conversations, providing in advance the necessary context on what is driving the buyer in any particular case. Your sales team is then responsible for engaging in conversations on a deeper level, allowing for a frictionless experience that shows the customer you understand the challenges they face and are ready to be their partner in a solution.

You’ll then need a best-of-breed customer support and success team to ensure that customers are succeeding in their deployment and onboarding efforts. This team is also essential to helping customers scale their solution as they themselves grow, establishing a long-term partnership that goes much further than point of sale.

Coming full circle, customer support can also help create a feedback loop back to product development and facilitate development that’s in line with customer needs. At Lifesize, we developed Lifesize Community, an online forum designed for customers to ask questions and provide feedback. This platform is monitored daily by our product management and customer success team, which responds to questions and provides tips about product features and future updates. This forum has become the cornerstone of our customer communications; more than 30 of our product enhancements were rooted in customer requests on Community over the last year alone.

This collaborative approach has given us visibility into customers’ needs and plans like never before, and it helps us daily to adjust messaging and product development accordingly. Our collective commitment to customer obsession over the past two years has ultimately been aimed at showing customers that we’re not interested in being a vendor who sells them a product. We want to be a trusted partner who helps them succeed in their business. In our view, this is what customer obsession is truly about. And without it, our unlikely reinvention would have been an impossible one.