In an industry where SaaS is an increasingly popular business, it can be refreshing to speak with someone who runs their business with VaaS (Value as a Service) at the core of their operations. Under the leadership of CEO and Chairman of the Board, Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa has grown from a small start-up company to a multi-billion dollar public organization, driving measurable value for enterprises around the world.
I sat with Rob to discuss his views on how organizations can improve their customer service methods, no matter their size or revenue.
M.R. Rangaswami: What advice would you give other organizations about how to maintain and improve customer service as they grow?
Rob Bernshteyn: At Coupa, our first core value is “ensure customer success.” We believe that it is vital to focus on actual customer success, as measured by meaningful outcomes, not just “satisfaction” or “service levels.” As you build your business, start by figuring out what success looks like for your customers—what value are you delivering, how can it be quantified, and do you have alignment with your customers on when, where, how it should be delivered. Then work maniacally in partnership with your customers on delivering upon it.
We do this by aligning with our customers on their measurable success criteria long before they become a customer – we focus on what’s not working today and how to measure clear improvements throughout their Coupa journey, from process efficiencies, to savings, to better supplier management, risk mitigation, and so much more. Meeting these success criteria and delivering measurable value to our customers is how we’re constantly working to ensure their success.
M.R.: Coupa is known for having an incredible culture. How have you maintained that as you grew?
Rob: As Coupa has grown from 25 to more than 1500 employees, we’ve always focused on evolving, not maintaining, our culture. Maintenance would presume that everything was perfect and ought to stay the same, but we’re constantly learning and focusing on how to improve, especially in light of the growth we’re seeing across the globe through new hires and acquisitions. As we scale, we continue to focus on blending the core components of our culture that have fueled our success with the new ideas and experiences from people who have joined our organization. Our employees participate in “Coupa Core,” a series of global programs where we discuss how to evolve our culture and develop internal culture champions.
Even after scaling to over 1500 employees, what hasn’t changed are our core values. Very early on, we organized our company around three core values: Ensure Customer Success, Focus on Results, and Strive for Excellence. These values sit at the center of everything we do at Coupa and ensure that we’re all prioritizing the same things as our company and culture continue to evolve. They are the binding mechanism around which we are organized. They are what truly make us an organization.
M.R.: What are you most excited about with your latest innovations at Coupa?
Rob: For the last 10 years, we’ve focused on building the most comprehensive and open Business Spend Management (BSM) platform the world have ever seen. Today, we’re leveraging the continuously growing dataset of over $1 trillion in cumulative spend running through the platform to help each of our customers spend smarter. With Coupa Community Intelligence, we’re able to deliver insights from the community back to the community through spending benchmarks, recommendations, and alerts about suppliers, commodities, and potential fraud. These insights help customers mitigate risk, remain compliant, identify smarter spending opportunities, and improve process efficiencies. Coupa Community Intelligence comes from our belief that ‘none of us is as smart of all of us’.
One of our most recent announcements that is powered by Coupa Community Intelligence is the Coupa Business Spend Index (BSI). The Coupa BSI is a leading indicator of economic growth based on analyzing business spend decisions of hundreds of companies around the globe. It shows trends in business spend sentiment over the next three-to-six months and offers business leaders a window into how companies at aggregate and within different industries are feeling about the future of the economy.
In addition to Coupa Community Intelligence, I’m excited about continuing to expand our BSM offerings in breadth and depth, from our payments solutions to our advanced risk management capabilities to our new advanced contract management technology, and more. We feel like we are really just getting started, and I look forward to working with my Coupa colleagues in continuing to deliver even more customer and shareholder value in the years to come.