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 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.

Episode 021: CX for the Contact Center with Patrick Dennis

Posted on April 13, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , , 1 Comment on Episode 021: CX for the Contact Center with Patrick Dennis

We talk with Patrick Dennis about developing your customer experience. Today you need to take both a macro view and a micro view. On the macro level, how many touchpoints are your customers experiencing, and what is their satisfaction level with each?

Time Stamp: 6:20 Coffee and car example. One of the challenges of managing an effective contact center is to understand where you fit in the customer’s life. For example, when talking about coffee, sometimes Patrick wants a quick cup from Dunkin Donuts. Other times, he wants to wait for a high-quality cup from Blue Bottle, which takes about 20 minutes. Most customers don’t have a single preference all of the time – they are multifaceted, and the contact center should be too.

Show Notes

One of the primary purposes of modern technology is to bring people together. Communication is such an integral part of society that it’s almost mind-boggling to consider all of the various methods at our disposal. Phone calls, emails, texts, instant messaging, snail mail – each one has multiple options, and new apps and channels come out all the time.

While technology does make it easier to communicate, many businesses are struggling to keep up with demand. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Patrick Dennis, CEO, and founder of Aspect Software. He offers a lot of insight into how to make a contact center more customer-focused so that the experience is ideal from end-to-end. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Understanding Your Customer

Patrick Dennis of Aspect Software discusses the power of the contact center.
Patrick Dennis

One of the issues that plague many companies is the fact that they are quick to embrace technology without really understanding the purpose behind it. Yes, adding text messaging is great, but not if your customers have no interest in it. So, when building a contact center and establishing your touchpoints, it’s crucial to understand the needs of your clientele. Not only can you be serving different demographics, but each person’s preference can change as well.

As Patrick puts it, his mom still balances her checkbook every month, while he never uses checks. So, for a bank, they have to adapt their offerings to suit both Patrick and his mom, who will have wildly different preferences. On a more individual level, Patrick Dennis may prefer to use his phone app for various tasks, but want to call an agent for something more substantial (more on that later). In each case, the bank has to have a channel ready to accommodate him and other customers like him.

Macro vs. Micro Operations

When developing your customer experience, you need to take both a macro view and a micro view. On the macro level, how many touchpoints are your customers experiencing, and what is their satisfaction level with each? For example, let’s say that there are four interactions on average per customer. The individual has a 90-percent satisfaction with the first two, and 85-percent satisfaction with the last two. Overall, that sounds pretty good, right? However, when you do the math, that customer has a 58-percent rating of the entire experience.

So, if you’re not looking at your interactions from a macro level, you could be creating more customer churn than you realize.

Contact Center Macro Vs Micro

On the micro-level, many companies focus on data analytics. However, the data can only tell you part of the story. It’s always vital to understand the context of that data. For example, you may be trying to limit the length of calls to your call center to streamline operations. But, if a longer call time results in happier customers, then you don’t want to cut it short.

On that note, Patrick Dennis illustrates a pivotal point in modern communication – most customers want to speak to a representative when discussing significant decisions. Making a doctor’s appointment, moving money around between accounts, filing a complaint – in these instances, the customer doesn’t want a robot or automated system. So, while the number of calls may be lower, they are far more complex. As a business, you need to adapt to that.

Building the Experience Around the Customer, Not the Channel

Finally, we talk about how many companies are focusing on building out stacks around a particular piece of technology. One stack for live chat, one stack for emails, it creates silos that can interfere with the customer experience.

Instead, these businesses should be focusing on how the customer wants to interact with them. On average, individuals will change their preference over a year, and even over a single day. What’s important is that the interaction is consistent across channels, since the same customer can be using different ones. So, when building a contact center, companies need to recognize the reality of that and adapt accordingly.

We talk more about the basics of CX for contact centers, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Patrick Dennis and his team at www.aspect.com.

Enter the drawing for a free ticket to Aspect’s annual ACE 2020 conference here:

Episode 019: Effective Sales Process in Banking with Neil Stanley

Posted on April 8, 2020April 8, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 019: Effective Sales Process in Banking with Neil Stanley

Neil Stanley talks with us about how today the average banking consumer is much savvier than in decades past. Rather than relying on a teller or manager to know everything, a new sales process is needed that recognizes customers can do the research themselves before walking into a branch.

Time Stamp: 14:00 uberizing the banking world. Because banking is so entrenched in the mentality of tradition, it’s hard to get managers and CEOs to adapt to shifting paradigms and a better sales process. However, by creating an “Uber”-level app, Neil Stanley and his team make it easier for this industry to accept change.

Show Notes

Usually, it’s not hard to find examples of adaptation and rapid development in the world of SaaS. However, one industry that seems to be slow to change is the banking and financial sector. Most of the time, big banks and institutions are timid to embracing change, thanks to a variety of factors, not the least of which is the looming specter of “tradition.” When the banking sales process lags, they feel it in their pocketbook.

Although getting banking managers and CEOs to adapt to new technology is a challenge, Neil Stanley and his team at The Core Point are making it more accessible. In this episode, I sat down with Neil to go over how his software is becoming revolutionary for bankers, how it has modernized the sales process for deposits, and what it means for other SaaS CX companies.

Bringing a Better Sales Process to Banking

Neil Stanley changing the sales process in banking
Neil Stanley

There was a time when the only way to do anything at a bank was to speak to a teller or a branch manager. Whether it was opening an account, transferring money, or one of a dozen other tasks, you had to rely on people to do it for you. This sales process is struggling in our modern world.

The first significant shift for banks was the advent of the ATM. Now, consumers were armed with the tools to do many of these things autonomously. These days, the most notable change is mobile apps. However, while institutions do adopt new tech, they are notoriously slow about it. Not only that, but the products they offer are still largely the same as they’ve been forever.

Neil illustrates this point by talking about certificates of deposit (CDs). Most banks only offer CDs with a maturity range of 12 to 60 months. However, no rule or regulation says they have to fit within those parameters. A bank could theoretically have the deposit mature at any time, but they don’t. Why? Because “that’s how it’s always been done.”

Tradition is a big hurdle for Neil Stanley and his team in changing the sales process of the bank, but his software is easy enough to understand that he’s able to get managers and CEOs on board with minimal training. Once they see the potential for upgrading the banking experience, they recognize the value in it.

Adapting to a More Knowledgeable Audience

Another reason why it’s so vital to shift the paradigm at banks is that the average consumer is much savvier than in decades past. Rather than relying on a teller or manager to know everything, customers can do the research themselves before walking into a branch.

What this does is upgrade the normal conversation – the sales process itself. Now, a customer will know to ask specific questions, which can complicate each interaction. If tellers aren’t more knowledgeable than the consumer, there’s a breakdown of trust and value.

This is another reason why The Core Point is so critical for the modern era. It not only empowers a bank to offer more flexibility, but it enables employees to keep up with the average customer.

Finding the Line Between Value Added and Simplicity

According to Neil, the biggest pain point for banks and other financial institutions to improve the sales process is data management and integration. First, because this data is so sensitive, and second because it can be so time-consuming to transfer information from one program to the next.

Thankfully, Neil and his team were able to create software that alleviated that problem, while also being easy to use and understand. As he puts it, they had to find the line between being complex enough to warrant adoption, but easy enough to avoid onboarding problems. In this way, The Core Point is symptomatic of SaaS as an industry, as most apps have to straddle that line all the time.

We talk more about banking and The Core Point in this episode, so be sure to check it out here. You can also find out more about Neil Stanley and his software at thecorepoint.com.