Episode 40 Adam Alfia, Founder Real Time Feedback
Welcome to evolve everybody where we focus on the evolution of leadership.
And I’m Kim Ford, your host, and I’m really excited to have a special guest today, do you mind taking a second to introduce yourself, your background, your company, give us a general idea of who you are? Sure, thank you so much. My name is Adam Alfia, with RealTimeFeedback.com, which I’ve been working on for the last four or five years. Before then, and still now, my nine to five was, and sometimes is, I have a company called Maestro that’s a virtual personal assistant company with our biggest footprint in the automotive space. So think OnStar, we do the same thing that OnStar did for GM for non GM vehicles. And our current clients are Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, and Subaru. So if you have one of those cars, you push a button in the car that comes to my call center here in Dallas, which we win, we help you with pretty much anything you need from restaurant reservations to, hey, I need to book a trip or my wife is vegan, and we need to find a restaurant in Spain while we’re there. So we pretty much help you with anything, anytime, anywhere. And I’ve been doing that for about 17 years. So it’s really given me a really good pulse on customer engagement and making sure that people are happy when they call it when our agents are happy. Because you can hear people smile over the phone, a lot of people don’t realize that that when you call somewhere that, you know, you want to make sure you’re smiling because customers can hear it. So we have a very, very white glove type of service that we want you to win when you get off the phone and go, Wow, that was such a great experience. And that really is what led me to start the Real Time Feedback platform, which is what I’m doing now. Wow, that’s awesome. So is Real Time Feedback, is that kind of a virtual or personal assistant as well? No, that is a two way guests and engagement program, where customers at any business that utilize our platform, can actually communicate directly with the manager in real time for any issues they might have or even compliments. So have you ever been at a store and you saw, let’s say, let’s say you’re at a grocery store, and you see somebody spilled a bag of rice somewhere, and you’re walking around trying to find somebody to tell, or you’re standing in line at the cashier, and there’s only two registers open, and there’s 10 people in line and you don’t want to get out of line to call somebody to help because you don’t want to lose your place in line. So we use QR codes to put in businesses where any customer can scan the QR code. And then he has a direct he or she has a direct line of communication to manager to let them know about an experience or about something. And it’s all digital and the manager gets it and they can respond and the customer gets a text message. So it’s a really cool in the moment type of engagement, but we found is that employees have put in just as many feedbacks as customers do, because a lot of times they don’t get to get the ear of management or a lot of times they might have anxiety about complaining to a manager about a work environment or something like that. And being that our platform can be sent anonymously, they can actually voice their concerns to management all in real time and know that a manager got their, you know, their feedback. Wow. Now tell me why does customer service matter? I mean, you know, I sit here as a business owner, you know, b2b. And for me customer service is everything right? But you know, a lot of people would think when I go to the grocery store, you know, you just get what you get, right? You’re there to get your grocery like, like, is there a bigger picture here that people might be missing? Yeah, so if you think about it, I mean, online, especially during the pandemic really took off. So you have a lot of businesses that have, you know, brick and mortar footprints, that they need those, you know, for grocery stores, etc, you know, movie theaters that are starting to also die away. But, you know, it’s really, really important that if and when you walk, you know, decide to get in your car or an Uber, and make that trip to a brick and mortar location, that your experience is great. Because otherwise you’d say why am I even here, I’ll just buy it online, you know, might take me a little bit longer to get but I don’t want to I don’t want to deal with rude employees and traffic and you know, waiting in line and all that stuff. So really, businesses that want to thrive and survive in the new economy, of habit of being able to give a great experience when customers walk in your store. You know, because it’s right now. It’s a double whammy. It’s a customers are just you know, Now getting back into going back into brick and mortar locations. And you have a really, really chat a big challenge right now on getting quality employees. I mean, a lot of businesses are just getting warm bodies. Hey, can you if you can breathe and talk. Come on in. We’re hiring. You know, they’re giving bonuses away now for you know, McDonald’s, you know $1,000 signing bonuses just to
Get so that you’re going to get a less quality employee to now deal with your customers, that customer is not going to have a great experience. And how do you know about that and that’s, you know, we’re feedback comes in where there are problem areas in your store, that your customers can now be your eyes and ears and alert you about any issues from, you know, rude employees, Hey, your bathroom doesn’t have soap, the toilet overflowing. So these are things that we take for granted as customers. But operationally a lot of businesses have to make, have to make you know, schedules for Hey, go check the parking lot, go check the bathroom, go check this. So now when you’re out when your customers are our eyes and ears and alert you about things you can, you can take the limited workforce that you have, and put those to the problem areas rather than just walking aimlessly throughout the store looking for issues, your customers are now telling you, right or creating issues that don’t exist, right because it’s on a schedule. But that schedule, because you didn’t have the volume isn’t really affected by what you expected. You know, I would think at it from the business owner or the store managers perspective as well that getting that real time feedback should really be beneficial, because what that shapes what tomorrow looks like, and where they really need to improve and where there’s weaknesses, and what maybe the consumer wants, in many ways as well. Right? So we just launched so are we have a large footprint in the arena space, we have about 50 different arenas around the country. So I’m actually we have a couple international ones, where they put QR codes during the event. So you know, if I’m a guest at an event at a concert, whatever it is, and my chairs broken, or there’s a drunk fan behind me yelling obscenities or whatever it is, rather than getting out of my seat and going finds the security, they actually flash a QR code on the Jumbotron periodically throughout the event that says anything that you know, we need to know let us know immediately they scan the QR code and that comes to a central dispatch that they can then route whatever it is security or maintenance, etc. They even have him on all the suites where if I’m in a suite with you know, a group or a business associate, I can now if I want more nachos, or if I want anything, you’re just scan a QR code, I said what I want and a boat. It’s all in real time. It’s like magic, somebody shows up with you know, another plate of nachos. So it’s been really, really fun building this, especially some of the technology that we’ve done, what we call trigger codes, we now have these things that you can put in bathrooms, you don’t have to tell anything, you just scan the QR code. And soon as you scan it, it sends a message that the restroom needs attention, or that you’re out of sanitizers for the smart codes. And people now are really comfortable with the QR codes because of the touch list during the pandemic, and Apple and Google did a great job of integrating the QR code technology into the into the camera. So now you don’t have to have a special app or anything like that. Everybody knows how to use it. Yeah, I always joke I say COVID did a few really great things. And one of the things COVID did for us is it taught us how to use QR codes at restaurants, right? Because all the restaurants didn’t have a choice. And so I decided my mother knows now how to use her camera on her phone besides taking a picture. So I think it’s I’m surprised that QR codes haven’t even taken off more than they have. But I think we’re just starting to see them, you know, appear? Yeah. I mean, we’re even integrating payment now into the QR to the fold. Where if you want to pay for something, you just scan the QR code and then you pay immediately right then and there. So lots of cool, cool stuff. Yeah, we were having a yard garage sale in my neighborhood last week. And I actually just printed out like a sheet that said each item what the costs are and I was able to I can’t remember if it was Zeller or Venmo I think it was Venmo I just got my QR code, put it there and just say send the money here. And people couldn’t believe it. They’re like, why would you do that? I’m like, Well, I don’t want to sit there all day and waste my time. And if somebody wants to steal something, that’s fine. But you know, people did, I got paid. And they took my belongings. It worked out perfect. So I figured I’d bring it in worst case scenario. Last stuff I didn’t want anyway. Yeah, my son actually he’s painting curbs right now to he’s 14 years old to save up for a car when he turned 16. And he has it all signed with a QR code. That’s fine. Yeah. Yeah. So that he’s getting paid through Venmo. And I mean, he has like four. So Venmo, PayPal, whatever it is. So yeah, make a little new wave. Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s talk more about customer service. I mean, let’s talk about we have the consumer and then we have the business, right, you know, who cares, right? At the end of the day.
I think that, unfortunately, a lot of store managers, right. If you don’t get a great manager, they don’t care.
But there’s accountability too. So if the store would implement something like this in many ways, the manager is called out and you know, where you have problems and all of a sudden you’re raiding your stores across the country, right.
We just launched a Ford dealership. I’m not going to say where because they’re pretty large in their in their area, but the general manager of the store said, Yeah, we’re having a bunch of customers defect from our service drive, they’re not coming back, we get a lot of one star reviews. So we implemented the platform. And within two weeks, it was evident that it was the service manager of the store that was the issue. Because he was bearing when these feedbacks were coming in half of them were complaining about him. And then what he was doing was bearing with us resolve, you know, marking them as resolved in our system, without ever responding to the customer. So we have a system, we have a system that we built inside, that’s escalation, if somebody doesn’t respond within five minutes or 10 minutes, you set the parameter, it automatically forwards out to his boss or her boss, and then it escalates up the chain. So now if you know that if you don’t respond, your boss is going to get a message in 10 or 15 minutes saying that, you know, John didn’t respond to a feedback, you’re going to be more apt to go ahead and take care of that customer. Yeah, that’s very, very true. And you know, what, how do you get started? Like, how do you even get going and who’s your biggest customers, it mostly retail stores, I would assume is kind of the person that this makes the most sense for. So being that I have a book, you know, I have a lot of experience in the automotive space from my Maestro platform, we went after the automotive space as well. And we just launched Ford at all, they’re quickly in locations so that that’s your Express lube. So we get a lot of people that are, hey, you told me an hour for an oil change. And I’ve been here for an hour and 45 minutes. So a lot of people really feel anxiety about walking over to somebody tapping them on the shoulder goes, Hey, I’ve been here for two hours, what’s up, they’ll just sit there. And while they’re on their phone, they might be, you know, on Twitter or Instagram. And they they’re taking a video saying, Hey, I’ve been here for two hours, the Ford store. And if they’ve got 1000 followers, they just had 1000 people that has heard that this dealership is bad. So you want to preemptively give the customer a digital platform where they can communicate. And the guy could say, oh, you know what, I’m so sorry. It’s getting washed, dry. Now I’ll make sure I’ll pull it around. People just want to be heard. If you give somebody a voice, and you respond to them, they’re much less likely to complain online than if you don’t give them that platform at all. No, very, very true. And we work in the commercial real estate sector, I’m not really strong in retail, but a lot of people that will be watching this are. And I can see where especially the benefits are in that sector, whether it’s a small business or going up into larger chains, where it really does matter what Domino’s pizzas as an example.
You know, where they’re struggling? What’s the biggest complaints is that, you know, not giving good time estimates, I would assume that’s the same with oil changes. And, you know, I think doctors offices need this more than anything. Yeah, so we just launched a large clinic that has many locations. And we even have a platform that as soon as you leave as soon as you check out, it automatically sends you a text message that says, you know, Hey, John, thanks for visiting XYZ clinic, this is the patient manager, Patient Experience Manager on a scale of one to five, how would you rate your overall experience? If they give you five stars? It says great, can you leave us a Google review, if they if they didn’t put five stars that says I’m sorry, we didn’t give you a five star experience, you let us know where we fell short. And that generates a feedback. So now I can respond. And that goes, that text message goes out within seconds after you check out when I was going to tell you we own our own building here in Dallas, where we have our corporate headquarters. And we have, you know, 40,000 square foot building. And what we’ve done here is we put QR codes throughout the building and the bathrooms and the elevator. Because, you know, there’s a lot of maintenance that goes on with a commercial building. And now, you know, sometimes we used to have it where, you know, let’s say a toilet was overflowing. Well, it wasn’t until it was leaking into the hallway where somebody goes, Hey, they’re totally in the bathroom. There’s a toilet overflowing in the bathroom. So now we put QR codes in pretty much every public space there is. And now because keep in mind that only half of the people in a building are tenants that they know where to call management. The other half are visitors they don’t know where to call, and they’re not going to call anyway. If they see a toilet overflowing. They’re not going to call anybody. But if you put a QR code on the mirror, when they’re washing their hands, they’re out of paper towels or whatever, they scan the QR code. Hey, you’re out of paper towels that comes straight to my maintenance guy. And he’s there within 10 minutes fixing it. So now it’s a beautiful communication system where you don’t have to call anywhere. And speaking of Domino’s we have I actually own a pizza place here in Dallas called cutie pies at that,
Andre? Yeah, he’s really good pizza. So they put a QR they put a sticker on the pizza boxes, because 90% of our businesses delivery. And then it’s usually through third party apps. So when they complain about anything, it’s usually through those third party apps, you know, UberEATS, etc. But I don’t want them to complain through that. I want them complain directly to us. So we have QR codes on all of our boxes when you open it that says if your order is not absolutely perfect, let our manager know. And when you scan that QR code, it says my pizza was perfect.
If they click on that, it goes to Google, I have an issue that goes to feedback. And that generates a fever. So and we’re doing that actually, for a bunch of fast food chains, putting the taco stickers. If you’ve ever eaten at a Wendy’s or McDonald’s or Chick fil A, and you leave, and they forget ketchup, or whatever it is, they screw up your order. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience calling that store is such a, you know, some answers. Yeah, some kid answers. And they go, can I speak to a manager? Yeah, sure, no problem, you sit there for another five minutes on hold, you hear about a yelling in the background, fighting him to the phone, but it’s a hassle. A lot of times, you’re just going to save screw it, I’m not gonna call. But if you make it easy, scan the QR code, you know, somebody gets it. And they actually can document that in our system that somebody gets a free meal next time, they can reference it next time. So it’s a really well put together platform that allows businesses to take care of their unhappy customers quickly. Yeah, and I like the concept of, you’re kind of controlling the message of where it’s going, if you give them an easier place to go, where they feel like they can get a result instead of going to Twitter as an example. You know, it’s so funny, I posted a picture and it was just being silly of my dog, you know, waiting for the delayed flight who is just clearly doesn’t want to be in the bag anymore. And, you know, immediately Southwest is, you know, it was southwest. So super great attention really responsive. But I’m like, wow, I didn’t mean for the hassle. I don’t think most companies even pay attention like Southwest does. But I can see where what you’ve done is you’ve enabled all size companies and all types of businesses to get this type of information. And I would assume your technology allows some type of mutual integrations or some type of integrations if they already have an established system in place, right CRM, so we can tie in to Salesforce, or if you have Qualtrics, or Medallia, a lot of people when we first talked to him about it, he goes, Oh, I got to make that I’ve got you know, survey platform, I go, Well, what is your customer get that survey, they’re long gone, they’re back home, they’ve already had their experience, you’ve already told a couple people. So it’s, you know, there’s an 8020 rule 80% of customers will never say thing. You know, they might tell their friends and family, but they’re not going to post online, they’re not going to go on Yelp, they’ll just not come back. It’s 20%. You know, Yelpers are only about 20% of the population. And but it’s the 80% that you really have to worry about, you know, why are my customers leaving and not saying anything? And you just don’t know. But if you let them, you know, we there’s a new metric that’s really followed closely now called CES customer effort score. If you make it easy for the customer to engage with you, when there’s an issue, there’ll be more likely to come back because now they know that you really like you said they’re, they’re listening, and they care. Yeah. So. So do you think it really matters in the grand scheme of things? A lot of people just think, Oh, I had a bad experience. And you know, maybe the manager thinks so what if they don’t come back, somebody else will come. But in the grand scheme of things, it does matter, doesn’t it? Customer service? Yeah, it’s crazy. Because I mean, we all have customer service nightmares. And you can recall them if somebody goes, Hey, what’s a bad experience you had at Walmart, it was a bad experience. And you can easily remember, yeah, one time I was there, you know, so it stays in our frame of mind. And I tell I mean, and conversely, if I have a great experience, you might not tell as many people, but it’s still when somebody asks you about a place you say, Yeah, I had a great experience there. But it does matter, especially in today’s where, you know, a bad experience can travel around the world and a microsecond. You remember that situation, I think it was united where that passenger got dragged off the plane, I mean, they lost a billion dollars in value, in like three days from that post of somebody’s posting a guy getting kicked off, you know, an airline. So, you know, it matters, it matters more than any time than ever before. A lot of times when we’re putting our presentations together for clients that were that we’re promoting the product to, we’ll pull a Google review that they really had from somebody that posted one of the locations like a really bad one. And most reviews have like 1000s of views on them. I mean, that’s 1000s of people reading a bad experience. And I always go, whenever I want to look at a company. If I want to eat at a restaurant, or if I want to do go to a hotel, I always look at the worst ones, because I expect to have good service. I want to see what the horror stories are. Because those really tell you how bad management might be. Right? No, very true. Have you done anything in the security space like it, but I think of you’re doing it yourself kind of in your office building. But I would look at that kind of a call center right being available, which you already have in place in some type of kind of first alert from a security level, you know, with maybe roaming floating guards.
Have you done? We are in the process of launching a bunch of storage facilities to storage facilities currently, if you’ve been to one lately, they don’t have anybody in the office anymore. Exactly. Yeah, they have like 10 people managing they have one manager managing like 10 locations and they’re never on site. So how does a customer interact with anybody? So we’re actually putting QR codes throughout the facility around the building.
Was when you first come into the gate, that you can scan and talk straight to a manager. And then on top of that, we built software that the very first time you sign up for the storage, and your, when you go there to put your items, you’ve probably never spoken to anybody, you know, it’s all online. So when you show up, and you put in your keypad code in to get in the first time, five minutes later, you get a text saying, Hey, thanks for choosing XYZ storage. This is John, the manager. If there’s anything you need, you know, click on this link, let me know. And then it sends them to the, you know, the real time feedback page for that for that location. So now they can have a conversation, make it easy for the customer to communicate with you. And you’ll you know, they’ll stay longer for sure. Yeah, I would think at a large, you know, a larger building complex, where you have maybe a multi building, you know, office building structures where a property manager to be able to have that kind of insight, they would never know that on the third floor. At the end of the hallway, there’s four pizza box stacks for two weeks. I mean, they might not ever know that without somebody tell him and he make it so hard. We have to go get a phone number. I mean, if it was right there at every hallway, to say, hey, you know, there’s a mess on the fourth floor. You’d have to make it easier, or you can’t expect people to know that there’s an issue, right? Yeah, I mean, somebody got stuck in our elevator a couple of months ago when, I mean, they saw the QR code and scanned us and say, Hey, I’m stuck in the elevator, we had a power outage of the building. And luckily, I was able to call somebody and they wouldn’t open the door for them. But you know, you never know if you have any key imagine how many people are going to not that a building cares about. I mean, they care also care about reputation. But also, you know, you want to have a good experience for all your people and just communication in a world that’s filled with communication. It’s crazy to me that you walk into stores. And sometimes you can walk around for 10 minutes looking for somebody to help and nobody’s there, we’re actually doing a pilot program with a, a well-known, it’s still under hush hush, but it’s a well-known home improvement store. And we’re putting QR codes in there woodcutting area that when you scan, you know if you’ve gone to Yeah, to whatever. And yeah, one of them and you’re in you’re waiting in an area and that you keep on hearing them called over the intercom but nobody shows up. They get deaf to that. And a lot of people are paying attention. But if I scan a QR code, as soon as I scan, it automatically sends whoever has the key. Walmart, for example, doesn’t have anybody in their jewelry counters anymore. Because there’s they have a phone, but people hate talking on phones anymore. I got kids and I call my kids they don’t answer. But and they text me back. What do you want? Like I want you to answer the phone is what I want. You know, the younger generation 40 under that grew up behind cell phones and computers and all that. It’s being increasingly they don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to have the it’s all digital, you know, text me, I me? Whatever it is WhatsApp, but don’t talk to me, don’t call me. So when you flip this around, how does an employer promote great customer service within? So you know, the ones that really have a lot of engagement on our platform is the ones that employees because employees love getting great feedback, you know, compliments, etc. So yeah, you’re right, it does. And, you know, if you if you train your employees that when somebody’s checking out said, Hey, I’m checking you out, there’s a QR code right there, can you scan and let our manager know how your experience was here today, a lot of times, they’re going to give a compliment to the employee, we have a lot of restaurants on the platform where the where the boy, the server goes, Hey, if I did a great job, if I didn’t do a great job, let my manager know, scan that QR code. I mean, good customers love that kind of stuff, if I can, if you gave me great service, and I can tell you a manager and give you, you know, a boost in your morale and all that stuff. Of course, I’m happy to do it. It just people rarely would call a manager over and say, hey, you know, Jenny’s doing a great job. You just, it’s out of the way. But if somebody says hey, can you scan that QR code and go straight to my manager? Of course I can. So that’s really you have to have a culture where employees are asking for feedback constantly. And not only for compliments, but you know, what wasn’t great. Let my manager know. And me as a customer. I mean, I really, really appreciate when I have a voice and I can send the customer the manager something and they respond to me, we’re actually building something that cuts for businesses that really want to go over the top, that the manager can actually do a voice record or you do a video recording, and send that back to the customer. One time I had a manager do that to me, I was like blown away I go that’s, you know, they responded to me, I complaints about something and I got an email back. And there was an actually video recording a manager apologizing. That’s really, really strong. I forwarded to like, 20 people go check this out. That’s awesome. I love it. I love it. So a lot of companies right now are kind of on the we hope on the flip side of, of the pandemic and a lot of companies have been in unique situations where you know, they don’t have their employees necessarily all together anymore. They’re trying to figure out what’s next. What advice do you have for business leaders is they kind of navigate tomorrow.
Yeah, look, they do the frontline for any business as the employee, and the employee sees things on the ground that management or corporate never sees. So if you give them a great pipeline of communication, and let them actually affect the way that the business is run, saying, Hey, we really care about your values and your views, and etc, we want you to tell us wherever we, you see room for improvement, you know, here’s a, here’s a QR code, and also a URL that you can go to, we actually built a function that’s called hashtag EMP. So when you leave a feedback, you can put hashtag emp, and it designates that it comes from an employee rather than a customer. And we get a lot of utilization from that, from people complaining about other employees for the good, for example, or, Hey, every time I come here, I show up, three employees aren’t here with me, and I got to do, I got to, you know, deal with customers on my own. But these are things that usually a lot of businesses don’t have the proper channel, for that employee to really, to know that management is getting it because you can complain to your, you know, your maybe your System Manager and go, Yeah, whatever. But if you know that the store manager is getting your feedback, you’re going to be you’re going to, you’re going to be much more inclined to let them know and that you can submit it anonymously is even better. Because there’s, there’s almost zero platforms that I can, if I want to send my boss an email, I got to make a fake email account, and then send them an email. This way you can send it and know that you’re, you know, that it’s got heard, and it goes straight to the top. So you know, listen to the employees, we have our call center, for example, during the pandemic, we went virtual like everybody else. And then about a year ago, okay, guys, you know, it’s starting to thaw out, you know, COVID is starting, and it’s not that big of a deal anymore. Can we get back in and we had heard a resounding no way. We’re coming back. Now, if we were to implement that without doing like an employee survey, we used feedback to get people’s, you know, you know, idea, if we would have just made a blanket rule, hey, everybody’s coming back without really taking a vote, we would have been, we would have had a bunch of people quit. So you got to listen to your employee, employee base, because there are so many opportunities for employees now to go somewhere else. I mean, everybody’s hiring. So you got to really make sure that the employees are happy, you’re listening to them, take their advice, take the good things into consideration and see well, you know, work together to make a better, better environment for your customers. I love it. Thank you, Adam. Our purpose for Evolve is to really allow leaders a place to learn, connect and grow together. And thank you so much for taking your time and thank you for sharing so much wisdom with us. And please, everybody, follow us on social media and stay tuned as we evolve together. Thanks again.