How Does a Company Become One of the Best in a Highly Competitive Market? Learn from Cognizant
Welcome to another edition of PIE, where we interview the brightest entrepreneurs and VCs from Princeton and beyond. This issue features Paarth Shah, a Senior Associate on the Global Corporate Strategy Team at Cognizant. Cognizant is an American multinational corporation that helps businesses grow by reshaping and modernizing their business models, products, and information technology. What’s truly exceptional is that this company has become a top Fortune 500 Company in information technology (IT), one of the most competitive markets in the world. Learn from Paarth how Cognizant stood out from its competitors.
Be Obsessed with Client-Satisfaction — I asked Paarth what makes Cognizant stand out from other companies in this competitive industry. He replied, “We are obsessed, and I’m not exaggerating, about our clients. We might not always immediately know the solution to a problem, or be the cheapest, but we are always thinking about how we can improve outcomes for our clients. How can we help them be better? That’s what drives us. While others in our industry might focus on profits, upselling, or cross-selling products, we are focused on not just being vendors, but partners for our clients. I think that has helped differentiate us from our peers.”
Today, people may have the notion that in order for a company to become a successful, multi-million or billion-dollar company, they need some amazing breakthrough or an incredible founder like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Although that can help, focusing on something as simple as client satisfaction can be what makes the difference between a good and great company, and any company has the capability to do this. It has obviously worked for Paarth and Cognizant, and it can work for you too!
To improve your own customer service, always prioritize the consumer. If talking to them on the phone or in-person, always make sure to be enthusiastic and make them feel valued. Additionally, the little things can make a big difference. Constantly checking up on how your customers are doing, and if there is anything that you can do for them to improve their experience, can go a long way. It lets the consumer know they made the right choice because you value them even though they know that you are busy.
Find the Right Employees — As an entrepreneur or founder, finding the right partners and employees are important in helping your business succeed. Paarth looks specifically for three things when looking for partners: persistence, resourcefulness, and humility. He thinks that in order to be an entrepreneur you have to be “willing to slog and keep fighting even when the deck is stacked against you and part of that fight comes from a willingness to think out-of-the-box, to try something new, and to do the best with the cards you are dealt with. At the end of the day despite what you’re working to build, you have to realize you might not have the answers, you’ve never fully figured it out, and you might be wrong. That constantly forces you to bring your A-game.”
We’ve all worked in groups before with partners that didn’t contribute or work as hard as we would’ve liked, and we understand how big of a difference good partners can make in the outcome of a project. When competing against successful companies, the efficiency of your business reaching a specific outcome or goal is even more important. Thus, as Paarth said, partners and employees who are persistent, resourceful, and humble can make all of the difference in the long run when trying to make your company stand out.
Put Yourself in the Investor’s/Customer’s Shoes — Every great idea or product needs a great sales pitch in order to get investors to buy into a startup’s vision. Moreover, once a company does get up and running, it needs a sales strategy that effectively acquires and maintains customers. I asked Paarth if he could give an aspiring entrepreneur some tips on this idea. He advised, “I think the best thing to think about when pitching/prospecting is to imagine yourself in the shoes of the person(s) you’re speaking to. Do they want to be there? What information would they be interested in or think is relevant? How can I make this interaction useful/enjoyable for them? For example, at my old job, I diligenced and evaluated companies for a living. The things that I would look for would be the size of the market, customer perception, the competitive landscape, new products in development, etc. So naturally, I would be looking for those things in a pitch deck/presentation. Always think from your audience’s perspective. Also, as a side note — these things can be dry, tedious, and nerve-wracking as it is, so I’m always grateful when people don’t take themselves too seriously and try to have a little fun with it (within reason of course)!”
Paarth also recommended a book every aspiring entrepreneur should read. It’s called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. He said, “It’s not one of the classic entrepreneurship books that everyone has heard of, but I think it has some really important lessons that entrepreneurs can take to mind when building and selling products and services.”
In today’s world, technology has become more and more relevant in business growth and efficiency. As a result, companies fight for the best technology and innovations. Cognizant has taken a step ahead of its competitors in this competitive sector with simple yet effective methods, much like Prentis Hall has done with his “win-win-win” philosophy. Great customer service, client-satisfaction, persistent and resourceful employees, and smart sales strategies make all of the difference for Cognizant when making it a top Fortune 500 company, and these ideas can be used by any company to make it great instead of just good.
That’s it for this issue. I’d like to personally thank Paarth Shah again for taking the time to interview with me and give us great insight and advice on what has made Cognizant successful. I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to reach out to Paarth on his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paarth-b-shah/ or me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or comments.