People often ask what keeps me up at night.
When I joined Xero five and a half years ago, there were around 60 people in the Australian team supporting around 51,000 subscribers. Looking around Xerocon Brisbane today, and seeing more than 3,500 accountants and bookkeepers who advise more than half a million subscribers in Australia alone, gives you a sense of how much our community has grown.
But bigger numbers are never a measure of success unless they come with the trust and advocacy of your community. And that means continuously showing up for your customers.
That’s why one question comes back to time and again as we expand to support more small businesses, and that is, what can we do to ensure our next customer feels just as special as the first?
Meet Anton Gerner
Anton Gerner is an award-winning furniture maker from Melbourne, and one of the first Xero customers in Australia. He has crafted one-off heirloom pieces for almost 30 years, so it’s fair to say he understands the beauty of individuality – how a personal touch can transform something functional into something special.
When Anton signed up to Xero eight years ago, he did so because it was a time-saver, but he remained loyal because the team was proactive in meeting his needs. “This proactive approach is something I really associate with Xero, and have done from the very start,” he said.
We were willing to go the extra mile, and Anton remembered that.
Finding the one percent
For any business, it helps to understand that ninety-nine percent of what you do is invisible to your customers. It’s important work, and it may be hard, but it’s expected. We all go to a restaurant and expect good food and wine. To truly differentiate yourself, to make your mark, you constantly have to find and deliver the extra one percent.
How do you create an environment where people strive to make incremental improvements and exceed expectations? How do you build a team that values the moments of beauty you can create for your customers?
It’s all about your people
I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire for attitude, rather than simply for experience. When you recruit people who embody your mission and values, in roles that energise and excite them, you build a high-performing culture that values the relational over the transactional.
Which means, of course, you have to live by your values. One of ours is ‘beautiful’ – and it’s important to mention that now. Because ‘beautiful’ is there to remind us to be ourselves and to go the extra mile. I’ve been in roles where I couldn’t be fully myself – I had a ‘work Trent’ and a ‘home Trent’ and, trust me, no one benefits. Instead, here, we do our best to be real, accountable, bring every idea to the table, and remember that the small things in life can make a big difference.
Only once you have that foundation, can you expect to share it every day with your customers.
What’s your one thing?
A challenge every business faces as it grows is resisting commoditisation – where your goods or services become relatively indistinguishable from competing offerings – in favour of creating an impact through incremental improvements. So what’s the one thing you can do to make the lives of your people and your customers just that little bit better, and when can you start?