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Jul 3, 2014

Listening and Being Heard are Important to Regulated Companies

Listening and Being Heard are Important to Regulated Companies
Listening to customers is at the core 
of product development for MasterControl.

by Brian Curran
Senior Vice President, Product Management and Strategy, MasterControl Inc.

If you’re wondering why your company should listen to your customers, or why as a customer you should be heard, just think of Twitter. Twitter and hashtags seem synonymous. But hashtags didn’t exist until a user suggested it in 2007. It took two years before Twitter, which was founded in 2006, started hyperlinking hashtags.


At MasterControl, we’ve learned the value of listening to our customers over the years. Similar to the Twitter story, many customers view CAPA or QEM as being synonymous with MasterControl. But in the early 2000s, there was no process module (i)  that allowed customers to build forms and launch them on routes. The tool wasn’t there, but the need was. We watched customers try to use custom fields on InfoCards (ii)  to create their own forms. Watching and listening to our customers is a key method we use to help us formulate what we need to develop that will help solve customer pains.

This summer marks an important milestone for us—we are launching MasterControl version 11, a testament to the importance of customer feedback. V11 includes more than 400 enhancements both large and small, including 60 that originated directly from customer enhancement requests. It is our most comprehensive release yet.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you belong to a regulated company. How critical is customer feedback to your organization? How important is it for you to be heard by your providers?

Two Ways to Listen
I will write from experience. In the 21 years that MasterControl has been providing software solutions to life science and other regulated companies worldwide, we always strive to stay ahead of our customers’ needs.

We do this by proactive listening and interaction. First, we have assembled a team of product managers and other top executives with long experience in regulated industries. These industry experts speak the “native language” of regulated environments. They understand the specialized vernacular of their industries. They have walked in our customers’ shoes. All of these help us understand our customers better. It is a fundamental part of our initiative to listen to customers.
  
Second, we invest significant resources in developing various channels that elicit customer feedback and encourage dialogue. These channels include UserVoice platform for enhancement requests, a Customer Advisory Board, annual educational conferences, regional user group meetings, and regular publications.

Why Regulated Companies Need a Partner
The importance of listening stems from the fact that regulated companies are unlike other businesses. Let’s take the example of the life science industry. Let’s say you work for a pharmaceutical company. We understand that your goal is to develop and manufacture life-changing medicines for millions of people worldwide.

We embrace that goal by providing you with solutions and services that will help you deliver your products to more people sooner at a lower compliance cost.

This is an inherent part of our emphasis on people and not just product. It’s reflected in a core value that guides us in everything we do: customer success. Ultimately we are not just about developing robust software; our goal is to help you succeed. It’s the essence of being your partner.

An Invitation
If you’re reading this blog because you want to find a way to improve or expand your quality management system, or if you’re trying to establish one, we invite you to get to know us better. Within your own organization, do you think you could use more dialogue among your employees and with your customers?

We hope that you will gain what we ourselves have learned from our customers. When you’re in the habit of listening, you gain knowledge and understanding. More importantly, that knowledge will help you respond effectively and develop products that address your customer needs.

References:
i To learn more about MasterControl Process, go to: http://www.mastercontrol.com/eprocess_automation/

ii An InfoCard is an “identifier” and a tool within MasterControl system that helps users categorize and search for documents and other information.




As the senior vice president of product management and strategy, Brian Curran is responsible for the direction of MasterControl’s product development efforts, the positioning of its products in the global market, and overseeing the work of its team of product managers. He joined MasterControl in 2002, bringing with him extensive leadership experience in enterprise and entrepreneurial software development companies. 




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