Putting Customer Insights in the Hands of Operations Transcript


Welcome to another episode of customer experience superheroes series. My name is Bruce, and I’ll be your host for today’s episode.
Each episode is packed full of ideas, inspiration and insights from the great and the good. Across the world of customer experience. We look to find guests on this podcast, who will challenge assumptions, they will make us think differently, and also give views and opinions, which allow us to really rethink how we’re approaching customer experience. Sometimes it’s strategists, sometimes it’s solution providers, but always, they’re superheroes. And today’s guest is no exception. I’m delighted to have Adam, our fear with us today. Now, Adam, our fear is a name you may not be familiar with. But you certainly will be familiar with the work that he does real time feedback. It’s a form of insight collection that we’re all very familiar with. And Adam will come on to explain the value of it. But it’s really important to understand its purpose, which is very operational. Quite often with customer feedback, we find ourselves in the vacuum of collecting insights for the purpose of presenting performance and progress at boardroom level. But really, is that valuable? Or is it more valuable to be able to put the insights into the hands of those in the operational functions? Who can administer change, and improvements, even in real time on behalf of the customers? Let’s hear more than from the conversation I had with Adam, when we caught up recently. Adam, welcome to the CX superheroes podcast. Nice to meet you. Yeah, good, good to have you here. Now, as I say, in fairness, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, what you do is probably a lot more famous than you. And perhaps that’s how it should be, you know, countless organizations make real improvements to their customer experience. And it’s all because of, of what you do. But before we get on to talking about real time feedback, just give us a little bit of a history lesson here. Where did you start? And how did you end up with real time feedback? It’s a funny story. Because I started out when I was in college, I started an auto repair shop, which grew to several locations here in the Texas region. I sold those back in oh five and then started a concierge company, primarily servicing auto manufacturers, like OnStar does for GM, we have a handful of brands that we support. And our entire philosophy was, how do we get a customer to get off when they got off the call with one of our agents, and go, Wow, that was really a great phone call. And we’re still doing that 17 years, we’ve been supporting automotive manufacturers, and I’ve learned a lot about the power of words, and that a customer can hear you smile over the phone. And that a customer can tell when you really liked your job and what you’re doing. And I got into the hospitality space about 10 or 11 years ago. So having not only the concierge experience of how to make customers happy, but now you have to translate that into a face to face environment. How do you make customers happy and continue to come back to your restaurants or to your bars, etc. And I really saw a drop off about five or six years ago, where customers were less and less inclined to tell you when they have an issue in person. Even when a manager would walk by a table and look at the customer and say hey, I’m the manager here. How’s everything? Traditionally, if there was an issue, they’d still say, Fine. But then when we looked at the online reviews that a customer might have left, even though we’ve talked to them and ask them if everything was okay, they would still go online and leave you well not so positive review. And you’re scratching your head saying why didn’t they just tell me when the manager walked up. And it turns out that as the generation that is the one that spends a lot of the money the younger generation, they grew up behind their cell phones and their keyboards and that face to face personal interaction is not one of their top talents. So there used to give giving people digital information, but not so much face to face. So we set on using our team of incredible developers to build a real time communication platform where customers who had an issue or not even if they want to give us accolades could do so digitally, in a manner that there used to. And we found that we had a lot more engagement when it was digital versus in person. And that’s how real time feedback was really born was building our platform for our own use, and then took it out to market where we are. And when you say where you want now give us an appreciation of geographies you’re supporting. The industry is just you’re supporting any of the organizations. I mentioned them. Yeah, right now, our biggest footprint is in the arena, space, arenas, venues etc, where professional teams play, and does have a large, large gathering of people at one time. And that’s been real key to our growth, because they are popular names of stadiums and arenas that are known. And that’s really opened a lot of doors for us, where we started and cut our teeth in the large space venue. And now we have a lot of retail organizations and restaurant chains, they use our platform to fix things operationally in real time. Automotive has been a great industry for us. Because it is such a when you think about industries that people complain in or don’t trust, and are very heavily weighted on that customer review. It’s the automotive industry, especially when it’s the second largest purchase you make as a vehicle. So having a stellar customer experiences and customer reviews online is very important to that organization being successful. So by fixing things, when a customer gets his or her car fixed at a dealership, and they had trouble communicating with the service advisor, or their car’s returned dirty, or whatever, one of the several things that can go wrong when you pick up your vehicle from a dealership, especially when you just paid a large repair bill, it is very important to get that capture and capture that customer’s real experience in real time and try to fix it before they leave and tell friends or family or go online and blast the dealership for falling short of their expectations. But retail automotive, and in arenas have been huge for us right now, with expansion into so many different industries that don’t even know really had a customer service item. One of the industries that are really growing for us right now are parks and recreation.

Because they have less people to manage their facilities at a park and recreation center. So our platform is being used by several large cities, we’re about to launch Dallas, and all of their parks and recreation. If you have kids, I’m sure you’ve been to a park where you see things that aren’t maintained as well broken swings, a sprinkler head that’s been broken and just shooting water in the air for hours and hours. And most people don’t know, how do I relay this information to the people that can fix it. By utilizing a platform like feedback, you can have real-time two-way conversations very easily with whoever it is that’s in charge of maintaining those facilities. It is very interesting to me, because you’ve got these different sectors you’re working with, they’ve got different motivations, and you take automotive, to your point there, they have JD Power surveys from the manufacturers and the dealerships, they’re heavily incentivized to deliver a great experience for customers. And if that survey goes out before they’ve had the chance to resolve any issues, it can be damaging, even that may not be a really good reflection of what’s going on in that dealership, the fact that they are they don’t get it right first time, but they’re very responsive, it is a massive asset to have on your dealership, you know, having people there who can resolve things quickly. But if you don’t have the ability to find that out, and you only find it out in your survey, afterwards, then you get a poor reflection, it’s not really a true reflection. So in that respect, you’re helping them to actually be the business they’re trying to be coming on to parks and recreation. It appears to me there. This is more about the fact we have a limited amount of resource. And we have a very large estate. How can we possibly be everywhere all the time, or certainly at the places we need to be without increasing our headcount and be in a pocket tend to be state run or run by a council. They can’t just put more people on. So your solution is and I guess the arena’s is real time, you’ve got a window, a short window to resolve things you can’t say Let’s have a meeting next week, and figure out how we deal with that issue that’s occurring in the toilet tomorrow, today. So very different motivations. Have you found that you need to adapt what you do to suit those different environments? Or is it actually you know, it’s a fairly generic application. It works really well across all of them. Yeah, so getting in the data, the right data to the right people, has always been a challenge in any solution. But we found that it depends on the organization, our platform, the technology we developed and patented, is location based and smart. So when you scan a QR code, it knows exactly not only where it is that it was scanned and relays that, but you can also program it, that these particular set of QR codes go to this particular department. So now, it’s not just giving everybody all the data to sift through as these are coming in, it actually delivers that exact piece of information to the people that can actually do something about it, and take action and fix it. So originally, when we first started, it was one QR code went to everybody. And then we had different QR codes that were smart and knew where they were went to everybody. And now it’s, I can make this particular QR code, go to this particular person, even within certain amount of hours. So during these hours, it goes to this person during other hours, it goes to somebody else, so we can pinpoint it, and slice it and dice it any way the organization wants to consume that information. So you can support my job as an operator, just in time management becomes a reality, I can make sure that the most urgent of the requirements gets dealt with first. This is one of those areas that we’ve really struggled with customer feedback is this democratization of data, getting it to the right people at the right time to make decisions? And I think br I largely hear that it tends to be getting it to the right senior leaders forum to make a critical decision. But what you’re talking about here is that in the moment, feedback, isn’t it that kind of, you’ve got a window here, a very short window to actually resolve something, and you’re putting it in the hands of the individual who’s empowered to make that change. So they can action quickly. When it comes to kind of what’s sitting down and working with organizations, how important is it for you to have the confidence that they will not only take that information, but they will act upon it.

So we’ve built several functionalities into our software that not only obviously delivers that information, but also measures how fast you’re responding to the customer, how fast you’re closing out the ticket, the notes that you’re putting inside, and it actually gives you warnings, hey, and when you close it out, you say, you know, we see that you’re closing out this feedback, but you never responded to the customer. And the customer in our platform has the option of either being anonymous, being non anonymous, and then asking you for a response. And if that customer is asking for a response, it could just be Got it, thank you very much we’re on it. And then that customer goes, I contributed to the experience here at the venue that I like to go to. But customers want, we found that although things like post event surveys, collect a large amount of information, that customer almost never anticipates a response from the organization. With hours, we want not only for you to give us that data, but we want that organization to respond to you and let you know that they received it, and that they’re doing something about it back to your point, it is very important for the business to not only get that data, but to respond to the customer letting to know that they received it and it’s being something’s being done about it. Because customers want to know that they’re not just giving you information that’s going by the wayside and not being not contributing to the betterment of their experience. That is just so reassuring to hear that we have seen with organizations, the ability to listen and act upon it, listen, and listen and listen, act. That’s all that happens. But actually to go back and recognize the customer with a feedback to say, thank you, we’re on it or thank you is resolved. It just increases their trust. It makes as you say they feel like they’re being listened to. And guess what the next time they run one of those relationship surveys, they’ll fill it out. Because they know that hey, this is an organization that when I give feedback, they act upon it. And it also helps us if you think about this, the way I’ve always thought about it is if you’re coming back to me straight away on something like I’ve just noticed that there’s a tap that’s running in the men’s lose needs sorting out. It also gives me confidence that when I’m booking tickets, you’re going to get back to me quickly. When there’s a new offer comes up, you’re going to get to me quickly. I just get that accomplished. You’re an organization. This is a stadium that responds quickly to me. Just be interested to know, I’m a season ticket holder for a football club here in England. There are lots of things that go on. What’s the biggest issue that comes up at stadiums, either broken chairs, chairs that are malfunctioning in some capacity, and then drunk spectators?

Is there a correlation between the two?

They could very well be. But think about it right now, if you are sitting in your seat, you might be with your kids. There’s somebody behind you yelling, throwing stuff, cursing, that for me to relay that information currently, to a, somebody that can do something about it is very unnerving. You have to get up from your chair, you have to walk, you have to find security, you have to point the guy out. And then that come back to your chair, they saw you leave. And then five minutes later, security comes and tells him something. It’s obvious, it’s you. And it’s most people say, You know what, I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want anybody know that. Um, the ones complaining about the drunk guy with our platform. The venue’s flashed a QR code on the Jumbotron, or what have you, or they announced it, every one of our clients gets their own URL. So for example, American Airlines center is tell a see, so they announce it during various points during the event. If there’s any issues whatsoever that you need to let us know about, please go to tell abc.com and let us know, or the scanner where they put the QR code up on the Jumbotron. And now I have a direct line of communication very easily to Central Command. And I can say, hey, there’s a drunk guy sitting behind me. Not a problem, Sir, where are you sitting, I respond because it’s all either text message or WhatsApp, back and forth. And then, lo and behold, three minutes later, security comes up, tells the person hey, we’ve had complaints about the way you’re acting, pipe it down, or whatever the scenario is, and nobody knows it was me. And I was able to resolve my situation very easily, which is wonderful. And we talk about sex for good is going beyond business and trying to improve society with better experiences. That’s a case in point, isn’t it, because if I’m there with my family, I do not want to ruin this moment for myself, I don’t want to put myself in a vulnerable state. And also, as to your point, I don’t want to be the guy that everyone else says Sit down, he’s only had a drink, just leave it alone. But I’m uncomfortable. This is not going as I wanted it to. And I need a way of getting this resolved. What you’re providing is that lifeline for people to discreetly call out and say, Hey, this isn’t as it should be, you must find that extremely rewarding and fulfilling to know that not only helping the organization improve its efficiency. But you’re actually helping in a social way here, because you’re increasing the enjoyment and the entertainment of people, I come away from that event, thinking I didn’t think was going to enjoy it because there was the drunk guy there. But it was dealt with brilliantly by my club. And thank you my club for taking this seriously. And for the rest of the time, I’ve had a really good experience that changes. If I’m with an eight and a six year old kid, they may not want to come again, if that guy sits there all the way. But actually, if it’s dealt with, they’ll come back again. That must be really rewarding for you.

Very, extremely rewarding. It’s funny, the first time we launched at a venue back in 2019, a family had come there with her daughter to a concert, the Jonas Brothers concert. And they purchased the tickets to a third party, ticket seller, StubHub. And when they bought the tickets, they thought they were buying stage side seats in the front by where the boy they’re going to be performing. And they their daughter had Down syndrome. So they got through two hours before they got settled in their seats, and they realize that they’re sitting behind the stage. So they took the opportunity. There was a QR code up on the Jumbotron. They scanned it. And he started off by saying the words not complaining that but because we bought these seats, we thought there were state seats. You guys should let StubHub know that the seats are not state seats as they were represented. So you just put it at that he goes, we’re here with our daughter. For her birthday. She loves the Jonas Brothers her 16th birthday. Just letting you know. Within minutes, the team at American Airlines center sent a VIP Team they responded to the family. Were you sitting with how many people are you? Would you like for us to move you? They brought a VIP Team. They took pictures with a little girl in front of the Jonas Brothers poster and sent it to the family. And they moved it moved them into a VIP area, completely transforming their experience. And you can see the back and forth between the family and the venue. And then they went on and made a post on Facebook, about how great their experience was. Thank you. She hasn’t stopped talking about this moment and how great it was. But it’s good it gave them without that information. They would have never known there was an issue at all. And that family would have sat there, they drove three hours to come to the concert. And it would have been a bad experience. And now using a platform like ours are able to not only relay the information, but it gave the venue an opportunity to fix it and to your point, turn a bad experience into a great one.

Wow, that’s a lovely experience. And that’s that is the same as the dealership we were talking about earlier. The organizations that you work with, they’re smart, they’re good, they have their customers intentions, best intentions at heart, their customers best intentions at heart. However, they’ve not had the data to be able to act upon it. In a parallel world, there’s a VIP Team sitting there twiddling their thumbs saying, I wonder if we could help anyone out. But they’ve just not got the data to know how to pinpoint and saw that. Like, the dealership may be a great dealership and just have a few problems, but they resolve them really well. But without the data, they end up getting a bad rap about it. That could have ended up being a Twitter story to say, per what a shame to my daughter. And it turned out to be this was my view. So that’s fabulous. This is great. This is in the moment, type responsiveness that we all expect organizations to be able to do but haven’t perhaps appreciated, they too want to deliver it, they just haven’t had the data or the technology to be able to achieve this. So there’s obviously within those sectors you’ve spoken about, there’s a lot of room for greater development of solutions for them. And there’s many more stadiums out there as well. What about other sectors, Adam other sectors out there that you think they’re not connected in this space yet, but they really should be? retail environments are, especially now with online shopping being so popular and growing, it’s, it’s only going to get more and more, especially with virtual reality coming on board where you can experience more of that product in the comfort of your home. So I think retail business businesses that have brick and mortar, and are heavily leveraged in real estate, where they’re wanting customers to leave their house, get in their car, drive to a retail store, only to be met with bad experience from an employee that doesn’t want to be there is there just to collect a paycheck, I was at a Bed, Bath and Beyond. And the cashier was actually on Instagram, messaging and reading and stuff like that, while they were checking me out with one hand with cell phone on one hand, and the scanner and the other. And I said I go, can you please get on your social media after you check me out? Yeah, sorry, I didn’t even realize what they’re doing. And afterwards, after I checked out, as soon as you scan my last item, you went back to his phone. Once I finished paying, I left and I watched the gentleman, he was on his phone for another 45 seconds before he called over the next customer, you multiply that over the course of the day, and you got probably two, three hours of wasted productivity of people waiting in line because this guy wants to be on Instagram. So I actually found the manager and said, hey, just so you know, this guy is on his phone constantly. I don’t think that’s very good customer service. She goes in, she shook her head. And she goes, Man, we’ve told him several times about this. And she walked over and sets up until but you know, the empowerment of me. So we have several retail organizations that are using our platform, the number one thing we tell them is put a QR code on the cashier, and says was our let our manager know if our cashier was friendly. And we found, we actually even tell them to do contest at whoever, whichever cashier gets the most likes about their experience. Get something a day off for free. Let the cashier tell customers, hey, tell my boss how we’re doing today. Can you scan that QR code for me? While I’m checking you out. And it’s been fundamental, because the employees of today are smart. They know that most customers won’t say anything. And they can go on with their bad behavior. And they won’t get reprimanded. But if I put something in front of you, on the cashier that has direct line of communication to my manager, I’m not going to do those things. Because I know that as soon as a customer has a bad experience, you’re going to scan that QR code and tell my manager that I’m doing a bad job. And I don’t want that is Yeah, it really does help empowers those people on the floor to be able to provide a better experience. And as you say, when online retail is your lunch, you need to figure out how can we improve the experience. And that’s one way you’ve got a game changer over online online can’t do that. You can enhance the experience by dealing with things that don’t work as well, in the moment. In the past, we were very reactive with this sort of stuff. And you mentioned about relationships, surveys, and some organizations do scrape their relationship surveys and look and see what they can do to make improvements. Others sadly, just look at the scores. We come to your world, and it’s actually moved from reactive to active resolution. I guess the next thing is pre-emptive or proactive. How do you see what you’re doing, evolving to somehow resolve before the issue occurs? Or what is the next step? Where do you go next? So our technology currently puts together ports that tells you that you’re getting a very and keep in mind that our platform is really organizationally based to not help not only the organization as a whole, but really that particular store and its employees. So if I’m a manager of a particular store, or rooftop, as we call it, really, I care about the whole organization doing well. But really, I care about my particular ecosystem and my particular store, and in our platform helps you identify key issues in your store, and will give you recommendations about how to fix it. Plus, we have client success managers that will look at the data once a month, and have a phone call with the manager goes, hey, here are some of the things that we recommend. Not only that, we have the ability to have pre canned responses, because not everybody knows how to respond to customers properly, for example, a restroom issue you can type in, here’s how we recommend responding to that customer. And then they just click on pre canned responses. And it already has the language, what to tell the customer and how to respond. Thank you for letting us know we’re sending maintenance is on the way. So by loading the lips of the people that are responding to these customers on a regular basis, and having preset corporate approved responses to those issues, that goes a long way in making sure that everybody’s being responded to not only rapidly but also in the same manner. And that customers know that that organization cares. And it’s been really eye opening to see how many managers will tell us, there was things that in the surveys that we got back from corporate, never even touched on some of the things that customers are complaining about, but then matter to the customer. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a survey that says how clean are our restrooms, the restrooms are a big to me, being in the restaurant space, whenever I walk into any business, and I look around the restroom, and how it’s kept, tells me a lot about how that organization or that store manager cares about everything else. Because if this is how they’re keeping something that they know, I’m going to see what happens in the areas that I don’t see what’s going to happen. In the restaurant business, they say that you probably won’t eat it 90% of the restaurants if you walked into their kitchen, just the the way that there’s food everywhere, there’s stuff that falls on the floor, and they pick it up, that usually doesn’t smell that great. Keeping the places that customers are able to see, clean is very important to what what happens behind the scenes. I remember being in a dealership and they had the tech stack, the day the CRM, door wide open all the cables hanging out of it clearly in view, these 10s of 1000s of pounds worth of automobile. They’re gleaming and shiny. And my focus was on what’s going to happen with my data. Yeah, because that’s what that said to me. And I do understand, I take your point about restrooms are, I remember this, and I don’t know whether it is a kind of folklore it is true. But airports, if you have a lavatory or clean toilet, then it increases my confidence in the security of this airport if it’s messy, and how do I trust you really on it? Because I think these things have a bigger impact. Don’t they really fascinate? I mean, do you find you are working more and more in conjunction with other parts of the tech stack in CX? Or because of the way you’re working? I guess is I don’t even need to tell you who I am really do. I don’t need to tell you I’m at C 24. If I’ve just come from Lou block A, you only need to know that blue block A is dirty. Can you sort it out? Please? But are you finding your data is getting integrated with the rest of the organization’s data?

Yes, we built API’s to go into Salesforce and even Medallia. The problem is that we try to stay away from being just data for that organization, where we are more localized to say, yes, we will give you all the data you want, and we’ll integrate it so you can drop it into any CRM that you want. But keep in mind that you really want to focus on operational repairs and issues. Rather than just being more data stick. When some report that you show once a quarter or once a once a month, one of the things that I’ve learned is that some organizations do not share the customer data with the stores that they’re collecting data about in the dealerships. For example, there’s one OEM I’m not going to mention the name. But when we were talking about the pilot program, where we’re going to launch the real time feedback platform, when I asked them about their surveys that they send from the powers, don’t share that information with the dealership I said, What’s the point of getting that data for you to have as an organization if the dealership doesn’t know where they need to fix things? Even though it’s in hindsight, and the customer is already gone? You don’t? Why don’t you share that data with the dealerships? And he goes, they get revenue based on how well they’re performing, but we don’t show him what the issues were, which to me is mind boggling. Yeah, I really don’t understand that. What really don’t understand that when we get to a point then where you’ve got a ability to resolve issues for organizations in the moment. Do we get to that point as consumers where you have organizations that don’t have this capability? We deselect them, you can do you feel that you’re at a point where you’re part of the reason I differentiate, I go to this place rather than go into that place, because I know if there’s something gone wrong, they’re on it. And they don’t know that it’s real time feedback, all they notice, the organization is really responsive. So if I do walk into a shopping mall, and I see spillage, then I can contact them in 30 seconds or two minutes, there’ll be someone there with a bucket, whereas the other shopping mall, will pile your walk in and walk out and it’s still there on the floor. So therefore, I’m going to go to that shopping mall. Do you think as consumers, we’re at that point where we’re differentiating by how well organizations respond?

Yeah, obviously, I’m sure you’re familiar with a CES customer effort score? How hard does that organization? Or how easy does that organization make it for me to connect with them and let them know about things. And that does play into it. When you see an organization that wants that feedback in real time and not only gets that feedback, but acts on it, it does make it it does make a factor in the decision making process of where I’m going to go next time, because I know that they’re reactive, and they take care of my issues. We’ve even built functionality that we recently launched, that allows a manager to record a video when respond to that customer. Because we found in the surveys of customers that have used our platform, would you prefer to have a text message? Or do you think if a manager responded with a video that says, hey, Christopher, this is the manager of XYZ, thanks for letting us know, I really appreciate it. And it took the manager 10 seconds to record and send it to you. Now, especially now we’re on a zoom platform talking. So I think people are a lot more comfortable recording themselves and sending it as a message. And we found that, that that organizations that did that, that recorded it rather than responding through text messages, really get a an uplift in that customer engagement, because that goes Wow, that guy took the time to record a video and send it back to me. I think that goes a long way rather than just send me a text message. So organizations that teach their managers and empower their managers to respond in innovative ways such as recording a video when or sending it to a customer makes such a big impact on that customer’s experience and perception of that business.

So glad you say that, Adam, because humanizing the digital experience, I’m sure it’s an expression you’ve heard, and to hear, taking the moment to record a video, which doesn’t take that much longer than actually typing out the answer just ensures that you’re able to remind the customer, there are real people behind there acting in service of you. So thanks so much for sharing a kind of a good appreciation of where real time has come from, what it’s up to now and where it’s going. And I think we can rest assured with quality applications like this out there, that real time experiences will improve organizations have the right intentions. They want to make a difference. They want to help but perhaps just the capability hasn’t been there, but you’re bringing this to them. So thank you for that. And thank you so much for coming on the CX superheroes podcast, I really enjoyed the conversation. I know if people want to get ahold of you, or want to find out more about real time feedback, how do they go about that the best way, just go to real time feedback.com and hit us up through the contact submission form. And we’ll be more than happy to chat with you and see how we can make your organizations from good to great.

Wonderful. Thank you, Adam. Take care. All right. Thank you.