Customer Success

Eddie Vedder

I’ve been on a real Pearl Jam kick lately.  Their music defined my high school years and on a recent plane ride back from our London office, I watched the Pearl Jam Twenty documentary.  Then, this summer a friend gave me an audio recording of their April 6th performance at Lollapalooza in Chile.

Five songs into the concert, frontman Eddie Vedder impressed me so much, I had to listen over and over.  Here’s why:

Back in 2000 Pearl Jam played to 100,000 fans at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. During the concert, the crowd rushed the stage in excitement and nine fans died tragically.  The event had a life-changing impact on every member of the band and shaped how they approached large music festivals going forward.

So for them to play the 100,000+ Lollapalooza festival in Chile was a big deal.  They were sensitive to large crowds and wanted to keep fans safe.  Twenty-two minutes into the show, watch Eddie’s interaction with the crowd below.  The video should start at the right spot (22:15), and you can stop it at 24:40. Keep in mind, he’s speaking to 100,000 people who mostly speak Spanish!

Wow!  Did you see the crowd move back at 23:55?! Amazing.  Watch it again.  That is a serious partnership the band has with the fans and vice versa.

So why am I talking about Pearl Jam?  Well, it made me think about our Alfresco values and the process for choosing a vendor to do business with.  Sure, I start with a long list of vendors, I read Gartner and Forrester research, I shortlist the vendors that meet our business requirements and I look at costs, but here are some other items that you should look for when choosing your next vendor:

  1. Responsive. Eddie saw a potential problem and stopped to fix it.  Will the vendor you choose be proactive like this?
  2. Friendly. Notice how he asks the crowd how they’re doing in Spanish? I want my vendor to treat me like a real person, not just another record in their CRM system.
  3. Honest. Eddie is upfront in saying that he only knows a little Spanish. Is the vendor being transparent during the evaluation and will they be transparent after the contract is signed?
  4. Caring. He says it’s getting tight and doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.  I want my vendors to have my best interests in mind and constantly advocate for me.
  5. Patient. Eddie speaks slowly and calmly to the audience – he doesn’t rush them.  Working with a vendor is a partnership, so if all they seem to care about is what your procurement process looks like, they’re probably not a good fit.
  6. Leadership. He asks everyone to come together as a team, as a family.  That’s awesome and it worked.  How a vendor navigates a tricky or stressful situation is very telling.
  7. Communication. Eddie gives clear instructions on what he wants everyone to do.  When I work with a vendor, I don’t want to project manage them. I want them to be organized and clear.
  8. Dedicated. He could have had Security deal with the issue, but he did it himself.  I don’t want a vendor with a lot of overhead.  Don’t send me from an account manager to a project manager to the next person, etc.
  9. Appreciative. Eddie thanks everyone for their cooperation and it’s sincere.  I want to know that as a vendor you are thankful for my business and will do everything in your power to keep me as a customer.
  10. Going above and beyond. He finishes off by giving a toast that he wrote in Spanish. Would your vendor do something like this for you?

I’ve used these “softer” criteria many times including my decision to go with Acquia, Lingotek, Mark Boulton Design and Prominent Placement — and it works. So congratulations you four, you’ve passed the Eddie Vedder test!

Like this post?  Feel free to share: 10 ways #EddieVedder can help with your next vendor selection, from @chrisvitti #CIO

About the author

Chris Vitti

Chris Vitti is the director of websites and marketing technology at Alfresco. Prior to Alfresco, Chris was at Gartner for 8 years managing their websites, intranet and content management systems.

Leave a comment

  • That same year the same thing happened at a festival with Foo Fighters. And ever since Dave Grohl stops shows and does the same thing. It’s become part of big show management and participation.

    Yes, it is certainly impressive and I confess, when the same thing happened at Reading Festival I was amazed by the power.

  • Larry Furr

    Great post Chris. As a fellow fan of Pearl Jam, I’m glad to hear that Lingotek passed the Eddie Vedder test.

  • Alan Ponga

    We need to find any possible way to use Pearl Jam as a prime initiator for finding new business haha….as a huge Pearl jam addict, I loved this post!

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