Delighting Customers with Transformative Experiences

IT 100 - In Partnership with City Union Bank

Sankar Lagudu, Co-founder & COO of Responsive
Sankar Lagudu, Co-founder & COO of Responsive

Responsive, founded in 2015 as RFPIO, provides an automated strategic response management (SRM) solution. It improves the management of mission-critical information requests and not just RFPs, and this automated approach empowers the customers to respond to more RFPs with a greater chance of success. As part of the Smart CEO COO Series,  Sankar Lagudu, the company’s co-founder and COO, shares Responsive’s strategies to improve innovation for ensuring customer delight and employee engagement

Innovation and Vision

How do you foster a culture of innovation within the company, and how does this shape your long-term vision?At Responsive, fostering a culture of innovation transcends traditional company practices; it’s a mindset that permeates every aspect of our operations. Our ethos, encapsulated in values like ‘S4 – See something, say something!’ and ‘Give the time back!’, encourages open communication and efficiency, essential for creative thinking. Regular brainstorming sessions and a commitment to pursuing the best ideas, not just the low-hanging fruits, further nurture this innovative spirit.

Aligning our teams with our collective vision and objectives is key. This alignment not only unleashes individual creativity but also drives continuous improvement across the board. We’re not just developing point solutions; we’re crafting a comprehensive platform for the Strategic Responsibility Management space. This approach is not limited to a single product or service but is about leading a transformation in our industry.

Our long-term vision is interwoven with this innovative culture. By staying at the forefront of industry trends and valuing disruptive yet valuable solutions, we believe we can unlock transformative potential. This isn’t just within Responsive but extends to every employee who joins us on this journey, empowering them to contribute meaningfully to our collective success.


Leadership Challenges

Can you describe a significant challenge the company has faced, and how your leadership approach guided the company through it?

Responsive faced a significant challenge during the pandemic, marked by rapid market shifts and uncertainty. Our successful navigation through this period is a testament to our exceptional team and leadership approach. Each employee displayed an impeccable sense of ownership, crucial in these trying times.

Our company’s employee-centric and customer-first mindset played a pivotal role. This approach empowered our staff to devise innovative solutions to adapt to the uncertainty. We increased the frequency of all-hands and leadership meetings, fostering a culture of open communication. A critical part of our strategy was the development of a dashboard to monitor essential data points, enabling us to predict areas needing support and intervention.

Moreover, we maintained constant communication across the company, keeping employees engaged and informed. Upgrading our systems and workflows was instrumental in ensuring our team remained connected and equipped with timely, relevant information.

This proactive and adaptable strategy not only helped us steer through the crisis but also reinforced our reputation as a flexible and responsive partner to our customers. It underscored the resilience and adaptability of our team, key factors in our company’s ability to overcome such unprecedented challenges.

Strategic Partnerships

How do you evaluate and pursue strategic partnerships, and how have they impacted the company’s growth trajectory?

Although Responsive enjoys healthy organic growth, we consider strategic partnerships and acquisitions to accelerate our growth and enhance customer experiences. Our evaluation process for these alliances focuses on three key areas: synergy, innovation potential, and cultural fit. We prioritize partners that complement our strengths, enabling us to offer more comprehensive solutions to our clients.

A notable example is our acquisition of RFP360, a strategic move that expanded our capabilities in Request Management in addition to Response Management. This acquisition was more than just an expansion of our product line; it opened up new market opportunities and was a leap forward in our growth strategy. It demonstrates how carefully selected partnerships and acquisitions can significantly impact our growth trajectory. By expanding our market presence and enhancing our technology stack, these strategic decisions have not only accelerated our development but also strengthened our commitment to delivering comprehensive value to our customers.

In summary, our approach to strategic partnerships and acquisitions is not just about growing Responsive; it’s about continuously seeking ways to provide better, more innovative solutions to our customers, staying true to our mission of delivering excellence.

Competitive Landscape

How does your company differentiate itself in a crowded market, and what are your strategies for maintaining this edge?

Responsive sets itself apart in the strategic response management category by offering a comprehensive platform complemented by a unique blend of professional services tailored to meet customer needs. Our commitment lies in delivering best-in-class solutions infused with industry best practices, ensuring our customers receive unparalleled value and experiences.

To maintain this edge, we focus relentlessly on continuous innovation and keeping pace with industry trends. Our R&D team invests significant resources in exploring emerging technologies and practices, ensuring we stay ahead of the curve. A key aspect of our strategy is integrating customer feedback directly into our development process. This ensures that our solutions not only meet but anticipate the evolving needs of our clients.

This approach has been instrumental in distinguishing Responsive in a crowded market. More importantly, it has helped us turn our customers into enthusiastic advocates for our brand. By consistently delivering exceptional solutions and services, we’ve fostered a strong customer base that not only trusts our products but is also vocal in its support. Customer loyalty is a testament to our success in providing not just a product, but a truly transformative experience.

Stakeholder Engagement

How do you balance the needs and expectations of diverse stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors?

Balancing the needs and expectations of our varied stakeholders is a fundamental aspect of our strategy at Responsive. Recognizing that managing competing priorities is inherent when pursuing ambitious goals, we approach this challenge with a commitment to transparency and active engagement.

For our employees, we cultivate an inclusive culture that not only values but actively seeks their input and offers them with opportunities for growth. This inclusive approach ensures that our team feels valued and invested in our collective journey.

Engaging with customers is equally crucial. We maintain an open dialogue, utilizing feedback and surveys to understand and proactively anticipate their needs. This customer-centric approach keeps us aligned with the market and responsive to evolving demands.

Investors, on the other hand, are kept in the loop through clear and comprehensive reports detailing our progress and strategic direction. This regular communication fosters trust and aligns their expectations with our company’s trajectory.

Our holistic approach to stakeholder engagement ensures that every group’s needs are not just acknowledged but integrated into our company’s fabric. This strategy creates alignment and satisfaction across all fronts, fostering a strong, unified direction for Responsive.

Global Strategy

How do you adapt your business strategies to different global markets and regulatory environments? Let us say, you’re entering a new market – what would be your first few steps?

Responsive, as a SaaS solution, has inherently embraced a global perspective from the outset. Our platform is designed to be both geography and industry-agnostic, catering to a diverse global clientele. As we enter new markets, our approach is multifaceted and nuanced, tailored to meet specific local needs, comply with regulations, and align with regional preferences.

Our initial steps in global expansion involve extensive market research. Our skilled marketing teams are dedicated to understanding local needs, trends, and regulatory environments. This research is critical in shaping our product offerings to ensure they resonate with the local market. Additionally, our Partnership and Alliance teams play a vital role in gaining deeper market insights. These teams help in forging local partnerships, crucial for enhancing our market presence and understanding regional nuances.

A key component of our strategy is local talent acquisition. By building teams with a deep understanding of the local market, we ensure that our services are not just technically proficient but culturally and regionally aligned as well.

This localized approach, underpinned by our global vision, positions Responsive to effectively navigate and prosper in diverse markets. Our agility in adapting to different environments, combined with our robust global strategy, is integral to our success in international expansion.

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.

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