By Nathan Rudyk

Sometimes, a tech CEO just nails it when it comes to positioning a product or service.

Last night I spent some time rewriting a client's draft customer success story. In the story, the cool hosted service was repeatedly referred to as a great/innovative/efficient TECHNOLOGY.

And then today I read FreshBooks CEO Mike McDerment's interview with start-up guru and author Dharmesh Shah, where McDerment says the operative word for his online invoicing software is not technology, but EXPERIENCE. It's a lesson too many tech entrepreneurs learn way too late. So here's an excerpt from the McDerment-Shah interview I hope you'll enjoy. It's great stuff:

First and foremost, we try to make sure we know what business we are in. While we are the leader in online invoicing, we are actually in the experience delivery business. I think business people often forget this. To remind us and guide us, we have a concept known as 4E which stands for “Execute on Extraordinary Experiences Everyday”. Let me break 4E down with some examples.

“Execute” underscores the importance of getting things done. FreshBooks is an idea factory. Everyone here is creative and full of ideas about how to continually improve the business (for ourselves, for our customers, and for our partners). Ideas are great, but execution is everything.

“Extraordinary” means exceeding expectations, and this can be more easily achieved than you might think. For example, you don’t “expect” to get a live person on the phone when you call a website - therefore it’s extraordinary when you call us and speak with a real live person. How about getting a call from the CEO of your invoicing service to go out for dinner – were you expecting that? Probably not.

As I mentioned, “Experience” delivery is the business we are in at FreshBooks. You thought we were in invoicing? We earn money because we provide extraordinary experiences to the people who use our service. This manifests itself in our application design, and the overall user experience when people interact with the FreshBooks team (both online and off). It also applies to how we treat people we work with, and the sorts of people we hire. Why? Because if your workday is an extraordinary experience, that will rub off on your work and the customers you serve.

“Everyday” is a cautionary reminder to ensure that every experience our customers enjoy is extraordinarily executed, and that means doing it every day. If someone calls us and encounters impatience when they need customer care - that shatters their extraordinary experience. When they encounter a bug in the application, again – experience shattered. Therefore, we strive for unrelenting execution, everyday.

(Nathan Rudyk is President and CEO with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech PR and product marketing agency.)

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