Episode 035: Search Engine Optimization with Geoff Atkinson

Posted on May 20, 2020June 24, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags   Leave a comment on Episode 035: Search Engine Optimization with Geoff Atkinson

The Search Engine Optimization industry is worth around 95 billion dollars, but it is dominated with agencies and service-based companies that try to tackle a problem they just cannot solve, granting this industry an NPS score of 0. This episode of the SaaS CX show we talk with Geoff Atkinson, founder and CEO of Huckabury, as he introduces his company’s technical-based solution to this industry’s core problem.

Show Notes

The Search Engine Optimization industry is worth around 95 billion dollars, but it is dominated with agencies and service-based companies that try to tackle a problem they just cannot solve, granting this industry an NPS score of 0. This episode of the SaaS CX show I talk with Geoff Atkinson, founder and CEO of Huckabuy, as he introduces his company’s technical-based solution to this industry’s core problem.

Search Engine Optimization- How to Get it Right

For small and big companies alike, Search Engine Optimization can become one of their core ways they receive website traffic, and in turn create new customers and clients. So why then are there so many service-based agencies that leave customers dissatisfied at every turn?

Search engine optimization with Huckabuy and Geoff Atkinson
Geoff Atkinson

As I discussed with Geoff, it seems that the one thing these service agencies cannot get right is that they just do not understand or have the tools necessary to work with Search Engine Optimization. You can only do so much with marketers and advertising specialists, Geoff and I concluded. To truly get satisfactory and real results you need to take a technical-based approach, instead of having marketers and employees outsource jobs that they do not understand, which leads to a not optimal work force.

How Huckabuy Changes the Industry

I talked to Geoff about what his company, Huckabuy, is doing to clean up the Search Engine Optimization industry.

Search Engine Optimization
Software-based solutions are the key to Search Engine Optimization.

Huckabuy specializes in creating software that can be installed to create Search Engine Optimization. Because the fundamentals of this industry are technology-based, there are many technical roadblocks typical agencies run into that they are not equipped to handle, some of which could make your website unqualified for over 50 percent of search volume.

His company also aims to be more upfront and honest, as an NPS score of 0 speaks for itself when it comes to this industry’s loyalty and satisfaction ratings. Huckabuy aims on being more communicative to their clients, to show them how they are helping and what it means to create an optimal website.

Huckabuy’s two scalable products: Structured Data and SEO Cloud, have helped their average client grow at an average of 62% over a 12-month period. They aim to be transparent with their technology and give every client a positive experience on-boarding. These two products handle all google traffic and within an average of two weeks delivers their clients an optimized website that aligns with search engine traffic.

The Google Algorithm and Customer Success

Many agencies in the industry make claims that all you need for Search Engine Optimization is really good content, choosing to ignore algorithms from search engines like Google. However, as we discussed with Geoff it seems that working with instead of fighting against these algorithms is key to an optimal website.

Huckabuy tries to be predictive with the macro trends that Google follows, allowing their company to stay ahead of the tide instead of being washed to shore like so many agencies after Google’s constant algorithmic updates. It seems aligning yourself with the algorithm is key to a smooth, constant transition for your clients’ optimization.

As Geoff and I discussed, there are always potential problems that come from specializing in Search Engine Optimization software. One he has found is the difficulty definitely showing their customers just how much their software has grown their website and traffic.

Huckabuy’s goal this year, Geoff said, is to develop a mechanism and work on how to communicate to their clients Huckabuy’s software has contributed to their growth.

In this episode we talk a lot more about Search Engine Optimization, so check out the episode here. And if you want to learn more about Geoff Atkinson or get in touch with his company, you can learn more at Huckabuy.com. Also, if you use their Contact Us form and mention this episode of the SaaS CX podcast, you will receive a discount on their services.

Episode 033: Sales and Marketing Coordination with Randy Wootton

Posted on May 18, 2020May 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 033: Sales and Marketing Coordination with Randy Wootton

On the surface, it would certainly seem that sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. What we really want to create is sales and marketing coordination. However, in reality, there is usually some extreme division between those on either side, to the point where it almost seems like they’re on two different paths. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I talk with Randy Wootten, president and CSO of Seismic.

Show Notes

On the surface, it would certainly seem that sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. What we really want to create is sales and marketing coordination. However, in reality, there is usually some extreme division between those on either side, to the point where it almost seems like they’re on two different paths. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I talk with Randy Wootton, Chief Strategy Officer and President at Percolate, a Seismic company.

Achieving Sales and Marketing Coordination

Ideally, the marketing department would talk with the sales team, and vice versa. However, in many companies, sales and marketing coordination does not exist. On the sales side, they complain that the leads are weak or improperly vetted. On the marketing side, they say that the sales staff aren’t closing, despite having such highly qualified leads. Obviously, both statements can’t be right.

Talking sales and marketing coordination with Randy Wootton of Seimic.
Randy Wootton

As I discuss with Randy, it seems like the fundamental difference between the two sides is that one uses data a lot more than the other. In my experience, because the sales staff is out there building relationships and talking with clients, numbers and statistics are met with derision. Most high-end sellers aren’t going to rely on charts and graphs to close a deal – it’s all about how you talk to the prospect. Overall, the sales team puts much more emphasis on specific points and details, even if the data is mostly anecdotal.

On the flip side, since so many marketers use analytics religiously, they don’t interact with clients regularly. So, when trying to capture new leads and push them through the sales funnel, marketers rely on data to qualify a prospect, rather than talking with the person directly.

Unfortunately, this lack of sales and marketing coordination can increase customer churn rates because the marketers are selling one thing while the sales team is selling another. A lack of communication about what’s going into each sale can lead to disaster.

Being Customized Without Being Creepy

Seismic is a firm that helps companies – both large and small – create tailored content to reach customers. These days, the “shotgun” approach doesn’t work anymore. Users are far savvier than in years past, which means that they expect a certain level of personalization in each interaction.

Marketing vs Sales
The fundamental difference between the two sides is that one uses data a lot more than the other

The struggle, according to Randy, is to provide that customization without being creepy about it. We’ve all had that experience where an ad pops up on Facebook or Instagram that seems to have come straight from our thoughts. We don’t remember searching for that product or service, but here it is in our timeline.

As a SaaS company, the content has to tow that line well, and that messaging needs to get to both the marketing and sales team. All too often, marketing has created content that speaks to an individual customer, but once that person talks to a sales rep, the rep has no idea about it. In most cases, that sales and marketing coordination disconnect can lead to higher customer churn. Clients expect the company to have a cohesive strategy at all times.

Quality Over Quantity

One anecdote that Randy recounts is how he sold Seismic to one of his enterprise-level clients. Evidently, the company was spending $40 million per year on advertising content but estimated that only about half was delivering toward the bottom line. So, with a perceived loss of $20 million, the cost of Seismic pales in comparison.

What Randy and his team do is go in and figure out what messages are getting to clients and how they can be tailored even more to compel action. So many companies believe that quantity is necessary to stay above the competition. However, a targeted message at the right time can get a lot more traction than 10 generic ones. It’s all about figuring out the when, the why, and the how.

We talk a lot more about creating better sales and marketing coordination, so check out the episode here. And, if you want to find out how to reduce customer churn with Seismic, you can learn more at www.seismic.com.

Episode 034: Great Project Lifecycle Automation with Mark Robinson

Posted on May 11, 2020May 20, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 034: Great Project Lifecycle Automation with Mark Robinson

In this episode we discussed with Mark Robinson about Kimble Applications is a project automation system that helps SaaS companies figure out how to anticipate needs and address them efficiently

Show Notes

For many SaaS companies, part of the struggle to reduce customer churn comes from a lack of foresight and planning. All too often, projects come along that require various tools and systems, but the company doesn’t adapt its processes to meet demand hence automation can be a solution. In the end, the businesses struggle to retain customers and can’t figure out why.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Mark Robinson, CEO of Kimble Applications. His company helps businesses discover the root problems that come with a project-first mindset and puts them on the right track. We talk a lot about changing one’s perspective and how it can shift a company to become more streamlined and profitable. Here are some highlights.

Looking Forward vs. Looking Back

According to Mark, one problem that plagues most SaaS customer service companies is that they take a hindsight approach to fixing problems and cutting costs. Once a project comes in, so many businesses play catch-up, or they focus on the immediate needs without looking at the road ahead.

Project Automation
Mark Robinson CEO of Kimble Applications.

It’s like looking in the rearview mirror instead of the windshield. Rather than planning ahead and anticipating needs, SaaS companies instead do an autopsy after the fact to see what worked and what didn’t. The worst part? Rarely does that spur any meaningful change. Why? Well, that brings us to our next highlight.

Processes vs. Systems

Another issue plaguing SaaS businesses is that they like to focus on new tools and systems without understanding the need behind it. Yes, it’s nice to upgrade to new software or put everything in the cloud, but what’s the point?

So, rather than focusing on the systems being used, Mark and his team like to focus on the processes. What is the process for getting new clients? What are you doing to reduce customer churn? Where are there shortfalls? Ultimately, it should be the process that dictates which system you use, not the other way around. By focusing attention on the root of the problem, Mark can create a much better automation system around it.

Onboarding vs. Activation

Finally, we discuss the difference between onboarding a new customer and activating them. In many cases, SaaS companies view going live as the “mission accomplished” milestone. However, just because you completed onboarding doesn’t mean that your customers are getting the value they want.

Business Planning
Project automation system that helps SaaS companies figure out how to anticipate needs

Another issue that drives customer churn rates up is that these companies are focusing on the wrong metrics. It doesn’t matter how many times a user logged in or played around with the tools if he or she isn’t getting the work done. Instead of looking at system metrics, how well are your clients achieving the goals they set out to accomplish?

We talk a lot more about project lifecycles and the pitfalls that SaaS companies encounter, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Mark and Kimble Applications at www.kimbleapps.com.

Episode 031: Worker Productivity and Connectivity with Brad Palmer

Posted on May 6, 2020May 17, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 031: Worker Productivity and Connectivity with Brad Palmer

Our guest for this episode of the SaaS CX Show is Brad Palmer, CEO of Jostle. Brad’s company specializes in creating custom-made intranet solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We discuss how Jostle’s model has been so influential over the years, and how that has translated to a lower customer churn rate. He also help maximize productivity of employees.

Show Notes

Productivity seems to always be on our minds – especially as of late. Our guest for this episode of the SaaS CX Show is Brad Palmer, CEO of Jostle. Brad’s company specializes in creating custom-made intranet solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We discuss how Jostle’s model has been so influential over the years, and how that has translated to a lower customer churn rate. He also help maximize productivity of employees. Here are some of the highlights.

Boosting Intranet Usage – Context and Relevance

If you look at Jostle’s success, the brand regularly has five times the engagement of its intranets over the competition. However, when you look at some of the reasons why it becomes blatantly apparent.

Jostle focuses on connectivity and productivity.
Brad Palmer

All too often, companies believed that an intranet had to be a single entity for everyone within the organization. The reality, though, is that individuals want customized information. For example, why should the sales team get a notification related to engineering? Why should U.S.-based workers see details for crews in Canada?

Overall, Jostle succeeds in two ways – by making content relevant and providing the right context at all times . Data can be parceled out by department and by individual so that no one is getting extraneous information. Not only that, but as a person looks something up within the intranet (i.e., a document or video file), that item comes complete with all of the necessary context. That context can be who made it, who edited it last, and where it’s being stored.

These elements make Jostle a SaaS customer service company as well as a vital tool for any workplace. No wonder engagement is through the roof.

How Coronavirus Has Made Remote Work a Reality

Living in the age of a pandemic has revealed a lot of truths that weren’t readily apparent before. One of the most disruptive has been the need for adapting employees to a remote style of work. Almost overnight, businesses who decried the value of remote workers are discovering that it’s not as dire as they believed. Thanks to SaaS products like Jostle, more and more enterprises are seeing that communication and growth are still possible when employees are not in the same building.

According to Brian, this shift has only been a boon to his company’s bottom line. While Jostle has always had high engagement rates (usually around 85 percent), that number has gone up substantially in recent weeks. What will be interesting to see is how long-term these solutions wind up being.

Remote work
Even with distractions like kids, workers can get more done at home. Ironically, it’s because of the lack of time that employees have to focus when they are able to work.

Productivity and Remote Work – the Future of the Workplace

The ramifications of this pandemic are going to be widespread and far-reaching. In fact, it’s almost impossible to predict how everything will play out once life gets back to normal. However, for Brad, the feasibility of an intranet is likely going to become a significant component of the post-corona workplace.

Some of the reasons for this prediction include productivity, communication, and integration.

Higher Productivity

Even with distractions like kids, workers can get more done at home. Ironically, it’s because of the lack of time that employees have to focus when they are able to work. Essentially, individuals can work fewer hours while accomplishing the same workload (or more).

Better Communication

One reason why companies resist the idea of remote teams is that they believe in-person interactions are more valuable somehow. However, the reality is that being isolated forces workers and managers to communicate more often. Just as productivity per hour increases, so does communication. Because individuals can’t randomly chat around the water cooler, they have to be more deliberate about their interactions.

Smoother Integration

Programs like Jostle make it easy to have conversations with groups and one-on-one. The system is fully customizable to fit a variety of needs, all without sacrificing quality or operational efficiency. As companies begin to realize this, they will learn to embrace intranet technology as a tool, not a liability.

We talk more about Jostle and intranets in this episode, so check it out here. Brad also illustrates how his customer retention strategy is helping his business reach new heights. Sure, the coronavirus certainly helped, but they were already capable before it hit. You can find out more about Brad and his team at www.jostle.me.

Episode 027: Virtual Interviews and Hiring with Matt Baxter

Posted on May 5, 2020May 17, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 027: Virtual Interviews and Hiring with Matt Baxter

In today’s episode Matt Baxter discussed that with coronavirus turning the world upside down, everything is becoming virtual – including virtual interviews.

Show Notes

The time for virtual interviews has come. For many companies, the hiring process is still relatively antiquated. Hiring managers and HR representatives typically rely on a mixture of resumes, rounds of interviews, and assessment tests to find viable candidates. Unfortunately, without a cohesive strategy in place, the whole system can be slow and unresponsive. Considering how much of an investment hiring a new employee is, why isn’t there a better alternative? Enter virtual interviews.

Gone are the days of relying on resumes and a single in-person interview. Technology has made the hiring process easier, particularly in today’s topsy-turvy world. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, we talk with Matt Baxter of Wedge, a video-interviewing program. Learn how Wedge is changing the game, helping their own customers succeed and thereby reducing their customer churn.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with Matt Baxter, CEO of Wedge. His SaaS product enables hiring managers to find high-quality candidates with virtual interviews. We discuss how Wedge has changed the process and how the company leverages customer success to grow through the growth of their customers. Here are some highlights.

The Dangers of a Resume

As with all software, there has to be a problem in need of a solution. For Matt and his team, he recognized that the current tools for hiring candidates were still old and inefficient. Even worse, workers these days are much better about over-preparing for both the resume and interviews.

We talk with Matt Baxter of Wedge, about virtual interviews.
Matt Baxter

You may have seen the meme already, about how to write down “I changed a lightbulb” on a resume. If you’re clever, you can use terms like “increase energy output by 50-percent while maintaining high-efficiency standards.” Resume padding is a real problem, which means that businesses have to find an alternative.

Streamlining with Virtual Interviews

Wedge is the perfect tool for weeding out unqualified candidates. First, those who aren’t interested in filming responses and submitting them won’t move forward. Second, it allows candidates to provide answers to a variety of questions without the pressure of being in an interview. Finally, it’s collaborative, meaning that hiring managers can share responses and give feedback without having to align schedules or conference rooms.

However, as useful as Wedge is, Matt and his team had a hard time reducing customer churn at first. The main problem was that Wedge was its own entity, so users had yet another account to log into and manage. Once the development team made Wedge able to integrate, the company’s success skyrocketed.

Matt’s story is indicative of SaaS products as a whole. The more accessible and more streamlined the process can be, the more likely that clients will use and love the software. And we love to talk about customer retention.

Interviewing vs. Assessments

New Customer Service
Video responses from candidates help whittle the talent pool faster.

One of the significant trends coming around these days is the assessment test. Rather than relying on resumes and interviews, companies are forcing candidates to perform various tasks related to the position. Wedge exists in the middle-ground between a person applying and then getting assessed. There are two reasons for this.

First, Wedge enables hiring managers to ask any questions they like, including those that get to a person’s personality, not just his or her skills. Second, because the software allows for multiple takes and refined answers, hiring managers can get a much better idea of who a person is before moving him or her to the next phase.

We talk a lot more about Wedge and how virtual interviews are changing the hiring process, both with the current pandemic and as AI hits the scene. Be sure to check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Matt and Wedge at www.competitivewedge.com.

Episode 030: Identity Fraud with Adam Elliott

Posted on May 4, 2020May 7, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , 1 Comment on Episode 030: Identity Fraud with Adam Elliott

In the United States, individuals can put a freeze on their credit score, which means that no one can run a check or open an account without substantial verification. This would avoid identity fraud.

Show Notes

Although technology is undoubtedly making our lives easier, it’s also creating a significant problem in the form of online fraud. As more of our day-to-day interactions move into the digital space, hackers, and identity fraud perpetrators have easier access to our information which may include our customer retention rate.

To help us understand the threats of the modern world, I’m talking with Adam Elliot, CEO of ID Insight. He works within the banking world, which has much more at stake than other industries. I pick his brain about how security measures can help improve a company’s customer retention rate. Here are some highlights from the episode.

Why Credit Monitoring Isn’t the Best Anti Fraud Solution

A lot has changed in the last 10 years or so. Before, whenever a client would complain about hacks or identity theft, Adam would recommend signing up for a credit monitoring system. Unfortunately, after the Equifax hack, it became evident that even major entities like that could be susceptible, which leaves users in a bit of a lurch.

He has maintained his customer retention rate with his own tactic for avoiding potential fraud claims - freezing his credit.
Adam Elliott

These days, Adam has his own tactic for avoiding potential fraud claims – freezing his credit. In the United States, individuals can put a freeze on their credit score, which means that no one can run a check or open an account without substantial verification. Because Adam isn’t opening a bunch of new accounts regularly, it’s not too much of a hassle.

For an individual, that method can work, but what about for a SaaS company? Well, the answer is a bit more complicated.

Controlling Fraud Through Vigilance

While it’s nice to assume that third-party companies and watchdogs are fighting the good fight, the reality is that no system is impermeable. I’ve frozen my credit before and still found out about fraudulent accounts after the fact.

So, when it comes to SaaS customer service, a company has to be extra vigilant about monitoring its accounts and those of its clients. Taking an apathetic or passive approach to online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked or victimized by identity fraud.

Adam remarks about how he and his wife signed up for a credit card recently, and she activated the charge alerts. On the one hand, it’s a little annoying to have to ask each other about all purchases, but on the other, it’s nice to be notified, just in case. I believe that that will be part of the future of fraud prevention. As long as companies and individuals are proactive, it’ll be more challenging for hackers to take hold.

Synthetic Fraud and the Future of Online Banking

Online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked.
Online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are an adaptable and motivated group. The world is always in a perpetual state of whack-a-mole. As soon as one trick is uncovered and removed, another one will pop up.

As an example, synthetic fraud has taken off in recent years. If you’re not familiar with the process, this is when a hacker sets up and maintains a fake identity for several years. By building up a history and a paper trail, the person can open new accounts and get money from banks and other agencies before disappearing. Because the identity isn’t tied to a real person, there’s little recourse for those affected.

There’s also a bit of an arms race for utilizing technology in the fight against identity fraud. New tech and software are coming around to beat the hackers at their own game, but there has to be a balance of security and low-friction interactions. Users want a streamlined experience – so the harder a business makes it to open an account, the fewer customers it will have—just another part of customer retention rate strategies.

We talk a lot more about online security and fraud, so check out the episode here. You can also find out about Adam and his company at www.idinsight.com.

Episode 028: Mission Critical Support for Customer Retention with Igor Seletsky

Posted on April 30, 2020May 1, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 028: Mission Critical Support for Customer Retention with Igor Seletsky

One of the best customer retention strategies by far is to know what your customers need and sustain it.

Show Notes

Within some industries, the better you are at your job, the less you get recognized. Case in point is server maintenance and customer retention. No matter how hard you work behind the scenes, no one pays attention unless something goes wrong. It’s a relatively thankless position, but one that is crucial in today’s cloud-based world.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Igor Seletskiy, CEO of KernelCare. If you’re familiar with Linux at all, you know that Linux Kernels can be somewhat complex, particularly for large organizations. Fortunately, KernelCare can install patches and upgrades to the system, all without having to reboot. Although KernelCare isn’t the only game in town, Igor and his team have found incredible success, even against major players like Oracle and KSplice.

I picked his brain for a little while to see how he developed his B2B SaaS customer retention strategies. Here are some highlights from the episode.

Building a SaaS Product Because of Customer Demand

Critical support for customer retention
Igor Seletsky

Because of the complexity of Linux Kernels, Igor didn’t really want to get into Kernel maintenance. However, because he was already working with clients and service providers that used Linux, they kept asking him and his team if they could assist with Kernels as well. Based on the sheer volume of requests, Igor realized that his company had to meet demand.

Essentially, he was dragged into the business by his clientele, which is sometimes a good problem to have. Once you know that your customers need your services, growth and sustainability are almost guaranteed. This is one of the best customer retention strategies by far.

Fortunately, Igor and his team were also thrown a life preserver in the form of open-source Kernel software. Part of the reason for his initial reluctance was that they would have to use Oracle’s program, which could lead to lawsuits. However, with an open-source platform, the company could get into Kernel management without the looming specter of legal action.

Service Provider vs. Enterprise Server Management

When KernelCare first came on the market, most of its clients were service providers. However, in recent years, thanks to Igor’s SaaS customer service panache, the company is getting more enterprise-level clients. This created a host of challenges that Igor and his team had to meet.

First of all, the size and scale of an enterprise business are far above any service provider. When handling thousands of servers, one problem can create a deluge of others, which leads to downtime and potentially massive losses for the company.

Customer Retention
One of the best customer retention strategies by far is to know what your customers need and sustain it.

Secondly, enterprise businesses have their own IT departments, so KernelCare is more of a facilitator than a manager. Igor and his team create patches and deploy them, but operationally, the client handles everything else. Most enterprises have specific rules and codes regarding chains of command, so KernelCare has to let them take over.

Finally, working for enterprise-level companies means that Igor cannot make any mistakes. He recalls one instance where over 500 servers went down, which was a huge disaster. Fortunately, the team was able to get them back up relatively fast, but even a short period of downtime can be costly. Since then, KernelCare has adapted its rollout strategy to ensure no mistakes happen. Overall, that mentality just leads to a more labor-intensive workflow, but the results speak for themselves.

A Growing Need for Rebootless Security

When it comes to customer retention strategies, KernelCare is in an excellent position for growth. As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more and more prevalent, companies and end-users are going to have to require updates and patches more consistently. As printers and fridges and washing machines become vulnerable to hacks, software like KernelCare will only be more valuable.

We talk a lot more about server management and mission-critical customer support, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Igor and his company at www.kernelcare.com.

Episode 025: Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka

Posted on April 22, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , , 1 Comment on Episode 025: Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Wolf Ruzicka, chairman of Eastbanc Tech. Wolf and his team have worked with some major players in the tech world, including Microsoft, Facebook, Nasdaq, and others. Eastbanc Tech is unique because it blends the flexibility and adaptability of a startup, but the company is developing software solutions for international corporations.

Show Notes

With SaaS products, a big part of the focus tends to be on startups. Since these are the companies trying to disrupt various industries, they tend to get a lot of attention and headlines. However, enterprise-level SaaS products are also changing the game – it just has more hoops to go through than a lean startup does.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Wolf Ruzicka, chairman of Eastbanc Tech. Wolf and his team have worked with some major players in the tech world, including Microsoft, Facebook, Nasdaq, and others. Eastbanc Tech is unique because it blends the flexibility and adaptability of a startup, but the company is developing software solutions for international corporations.

So, we talked a bit about what makes Eastbanc successful and what they’re doing to change the world of SaaS products as a whole, including how to reduce customer churn.

Learning From Your Mistakes

 SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka
Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products

Because startup companies operate on a shoestring budget and don’t have a massive following, they’re allowed to make mistakes. Growing pains are just a natural part of the product development pipeline, and patches and fixes are par for the course. With enterprise-level software, however, the trick is to learn from other people’s mistakes if you can.

Wolf reminds me of an old saying, “stupid people never learn from their mistakes, normal people do learn from their mistakes, and smart people learn from other’s mistakes.” While it’s not always possible, that’s the goal at Eastbanc. Take the knowledge and failures from both other companies and your own experiences to streamline the development and innovation processes. That way, a customer churn analysis won’t be like reading an epitaph. 

Using KPIs as Motivation

One of the challenges that Wolf and his team encounter when incubating new software products is that it’s too easy to get complacent. Because there aren’t necessarily deadlines or expectations, there is no pressure for the product to deliver. So, instead of letting a project fall by the wayside, his team will develop KPIs and let the data hold them accountable.

In some cases, this strategy can be somewhat literal. If a big client like Comcast is looking for SaaS products to roll out, then there is some level of pressure to get it done by a specific deadline. No matter what, though, Eastbanc always operates under that level of scrutiny. Overall, as long as Wolf and his team hold themselves to the highest standard, they’ll continue to produce the highest quality products.

Layering the Customer Experience

Using SasS Products to Reduce Customer Churn
As technology develops, it builds upon the technology of yesteryear

As technology develops, it builds upon the technology of yesteryear. So it is with the customer experience. For a while, cloud-first approaches were the go-to option for companies trying to make it easier for clients and businesses. Then, a mobile-first approach to ensure that everyone could have maximum productivity on a smartphone. Next came a design-first approach, which centered around incorporating useful design elements to make the product more user-friendly.

In each case, the new focus didn’t replace the old one – it became part of it. Cloud technology is still a significant factor in today’s marketplace, as globalization and working from home become the new norm. Mobile technology is only becoming more ubiquitous as users become more comfortable using their phones for more types of transactions.

So, for a company to build enterprise-level software, they have to recognize how each focus blends into the next. Rather than picking one element (i.e., the cloud), the customer experience has to be consistent across the board – it’s a good customer retention strategy. Next on everyone’s radar is artificial intelligence, which will only add yet another layer.

We talk more about Eastbanc and the future of SaaS, so check out the episode here. If you want to get in touch with Wolf directly, you can find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/wolfruzicka/, or you can find out more about his company at www.eastbanctech.com.

Episode 024: SMS Marketing with Brandon O’Halloran

Posted on April 20, 2020April 20, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 024: SMS Marketing with Brandon O’Halloran

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy. Brandon and his team have created a world-class system that enables companies to integrate SMS marketing quickly and efficiently. We discuss what makes ReplyBuy so valuable to its clients, and how SMS is poised to take over the world.

Show Notes

When talking about digital marketing, SMS marketing still seems like it’s on the cutting edge. Even though more and more businesses are using it, the platform has a few more years before it really becomes the norm.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy. Brandon and his team have created a world-class system that enables companies to integrate SMS marketing quickly and efficiently. We discuss what makes ReplyBuy so valuable to its clients, and how SMS is poised to take over the world.

An Intro to Conversational Marketing

SMS Marketing with Brandon O'Halloran
Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy

Part of the reason why SMS marketing hasn’t become as widespread today is that many businesses don’t know how to use it effectively. For the most part, the value that comes from texting users is tied to the support system. A customer can chat with a representative about a problem via text instead of calling.

For Brandon, however, the key to success is by making the interaction two-sided. For much of SMS marketing’s tenure so far, the messaging has been one-way. A customer gets a text about a particular ad or offers with limited response options. For ReplyBuy, the best tactic is to start a conversation and make it much more relaxed and authentic.

I can attest to the effectiveness of this approach. Many of Brandon’s O’halloran’s clients are sports teams and entertainment venues, and I love hockey. However, the idea of answering a phone call from a sales rep to buy tickets seems so invasive that I don’t do it. A text, on the other hand, seems much more palatable, and I’m more willing to make a purchase when it’s that easy. Also, the ability to converse with a sales rep and ask questions via text is so appealing, not just to myself, but many users out there.

Finding Success Through Integration

Because SMS marketing has been around a while, there are several options readily available for companies to use. However, what sets Brandon and Reply By apart is the fact that they enable seamless integration. When talking about integration, though, we’re referring both to the technology and the adoption.

One of the primary benefits of using ReplyBuy’s software is that it can work with any CRM a company is using already. This way, reps don’t have to switch back and forth between programs, and the data extracted from these text conversations can be tracked and analyzed.

For Brandon, the other side of integration is finding those early adopters within the sales team. Because texting is still such a useful and engaging tool, many reps will have a higher success rate with it, especially compared to other channels like cold calls and emails. Once those “champion” reps get onboard with SMS marketing, it has a domino effect for the rest of the team. As a result, ReplyBuy has a really low churn rate.

Authenticity vs. a Sales Pitch

Finally, we discussed the methods of building a relationship with the customer via text. Spam emails and marketing emails are simply a part of modern life, so it’s easy to ignore them or allow them to collect in one’s inbox. A spammy text, however, seems like such an invasion of privacy.

So, part of Brandon’s onboarding process is illustrating how sales reps need to be authentic in their interactions. Rather than delivering a heavily scripted pitch, the initial message needs to be personal. That way, a customer is more willing to engage in a conversation, rather than unsubscribe from the contact list.

We talk more about ReplyBuy and how the company is changing the SMS marketing industry, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can find out more about the brand at www.replybuy.com, or you can text Brandon directly. Yes, he practices what he preaches – shoot him a message at 402-659-8921.

Episode 022: Recovering in a Downturn with James Avery

Posted on April 15, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 022: Recovering in a Downturn with James Avery

James Avery is in a valuable position to provide detailed insight into how a company can recover from a major downturn.

Show Notes

While we hope that every episode of the SaaS CX Show is prescient for CEOs and founders, today’s episode With James Avery is far more relative to today’s marketplace than most other times. With the novel coronavirus shuttering many companies and forcing brands to cut back or shut down entirely until the worst has passed, we thought we’d talk about recovering from a downturn.

James Avery is the founder and CEO of Adzerk, which he bills as the “Twilio for ads.” Rather than rely on a third party like Facebook or Google to run your marketing campaign, Adzerk enables you to build your own platform. We talked a bit about the need for such integration, as well as how businesses can turn misfortune into a long-term planning strategy.

Here are some highlights from our conversation. 

Avoiding the Digital Serfdom

James Avery
James Avery is the founder and CEO of Adzerk

Adzerk really came about because of the need for companies to remove their dependence on third-party platforms. While Facebook and Google are useful in many cases, the reality is that your business exists at their disposal. You could be making big money right now, but a single update or rule change can kick your brand to the curb. If that does happen, you might lose massive amounts of revenue overnight, through no fault of your own.

James calls this digital serfdom, although I’ve heard it as digital sharecropping. Regardless of how you name it, the gist is that you can’t rely on other people to help grow your business. Essentially, you’re outsourcing your profits, which can become highly dangerous.

It is a bit of a conflict of interest to recommend Adzerk to get around this problem, but as a business, you need to become much more autonomous. Basically, what happens if your keywords suddenly don’t work for SEO, and you have to start from scratch? You need a plan B. That brings us to our next segment-

Preparing for the Worst

Fortunately, James Avery is in a valuable position to provide detailed insight into how a company can recover from a major downturn. As he recalls, about seven years ago, when Adzerk was in its infancy, James and his team booked a substantial client. While that business paid for the first month, they were still using the software but not paying the bills. When James realized what was happening, it was a shock to the system.

Seemingly overnight, he had to turtle up – protect the most valuable assets of the business while trying to avoid the worst damage and survive. So, the management team got set on cutting costs and increasing revenue. Here are the tips he shared from this do-or-die moment.

Utilize Your Existing Customer Base

If you’re a startup, you may not have many customers, but it’s always better to sell to someone who knows the brand than attract a new lead. While that doesn’t mean you should jack up prices, you can talk to your customers about potential revenue streams.

For Adzerk, salvation came in the form of another high-ticket client. However, they wouldn’t be ready to launch for four or five months. So, the trick was to figure out how to stay operational until then.

Don’t Nickel and Dime Your Costs

Recovering in a Downturn

For whatever reason, perks are always the first thing to go, such as snacks in the breakroom. However, while this would make sense from an individual standpoint, it doesn’t do much for your business. Saving $200 a month on snacks isn’t going to right the ship – you have to focus on the big costs first before worrying about the little things.

Not only does keeping small perks make financial sense, but it can help improve morale. Your employees are going to have to work hard during the downturn, so you want to make sure they’re happy. If they’re miserable the whole time, it’s going to make the situation so much worse.

Finally, if you cut perks, then staff members see that you’re focused solely on the numbers, not the value. Then, if you ask employees to go beyond their job description, their response will be, “how much more am I going to make?” Perks show that value isn’t relegated to only money, and your staff will return the favor.

We talk more about how James Avery and Adzerk were able to survive their first big test, so check out the episode here. You can also find out more about Adzerk at www.adzerk.com.