When a college, university, or local government entity decides to upgrade their document management application to the next generation of cloud-based platforms, they’re bound to increase efficiency, speed responsiveness, and strengthen data security. But to unlock the full potential of these benefits, it takes a strong and productive partnership with their vendor of choice. In this article, Benji Whitney, Vice President of Client Services at Softdocs, shares why a customer-centric approach delivers a better experience, smoother implementation, and greater ROI.

Where did you start your professional career?

After graduating with a degree in management information systems from the University of Oklahoma, I went to work for IBM as a systems analyst in their business consulting services group. Five years in that role gave me a better understanding of the technical side of professional services. Then I moved on to Perceptive Software, who created what was initially known as the ImageNow document management product. This was my first exposure to client-facing services and was a better fit for my combination of technical acumen and soft skills. In my 10 years at Perceptive, I grew as a leader, improved my project management abilities, and loved working with customers.

What appealed to you about joining Softdocs?

After Perceptive and a couple of short stints at two other Kansas City companies, I spent five years at H&R Block. This took me back to the zeroes and ones of my degree and time at IBM. DevOps was the hottest thing in professional services at the time, and getting deep into this area was very beneficial. But I missed working closely with clients and helping them problem solve. So when an opportunity arose at Softdocs, I relished the opportunity to return to a customer-focused role. I enjoy the technical aspects of what I do and am always eager to keep up with the latest trends and advances. But what I enjoy most is leading a cohesive team that’s all pulling together to serve our customers as best we can.

What’s your philosophy for professional services?

It’s all about people. That’s true among our team, who I encourage to maintain high standards, push themselves, and serve each other. That carries over to how we prioritize our clients. One of the most rewarding things is going to trade shows like EDUCAUSE and having customers come up to say thank you for helping implement their process automation solution and keep it going. Sometimes there have been some speed bumps along the way, but when we stick with it and help the client get over that, they see that we’re truly committed to their success.

Building those relationships is key. To me, professional services should never be an afterthought or something that’s simply nice to have. If we all do our jobs to the best of our abilities, keep the customer as our main priority, and work well together, then our services become real differentiators for Softdocs. Yes, our cloud-based process automation solutions and the high level of security they provide are best in class. But I am determined for our professional services to be just as impactful as we work daily with clients to meet their needs and solve any problems that inevitably crop up. I want every customer to enthusiastically recommend Softdocs and be willing to share their stories, which should include a positive experience with our professional services team.

How important are teamwork and solid leadership to getting clients the outcomes they seek?

Very! At some companies, the sales team never says no to a customer request and oversells functionality. But at Softdocs, someone from our team is on every call once a deal progresses to a certain point. This means we never overpromise and are actually capable of delivering the kind of solution the client needs. Leading a services group is truly a team effort, and everyone has a crucial role to play.

All too often, I’ve seen the executive teams at other companies approach professional services as just another way to generate revenue and boost the bottom line. But at Softdocs, we have a fixed fee model that means the customer knows exactly what they’ll be paying for implementation and support. So they can be confident they’re not going to get nickel and dime fees added on later. That’s a more honest and transparent way to run a services group.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a coach, and the servant leadership role I’m in now at Softdocs is very similar to what a head coach does. It’s up to him or her to establish a mission – which for us is serving our customers and helping each other give our best on every single project. We’re trying to create a culture of excellence and grow a team that consistently performs to a high standard. To achieve this, we need to trust each other, respect everyone’s skills, get to know each other outside of work, and have good chemistry. I try to create an atmosphere of psychological safety, so everyone feels confident being themselves and contributing new ideas that often give us ways of upping our game.

Ultimately, this kind of teamwork doesn’t just make Softdocs a great place to work or allow professional services to be a valuable asset to the company. It’s all about understanding each client’s individual needs, creating strong relationships with them, and living up to or even exceeding what they expect from their process automation project.

Click here to learn more about the great work Benji and his team do and how they can help make your project a success. Contact us today to dive deeper.