Guy Letts, the CEO of CustomerSure, discusses how a focus on customer feedback has helped his company work with over 200 customers in seven years.
Tell us about your history with the company
Launched in 2010, CustomerSure is a company that specialises in customer feedback & Net Promoter Software, for companies who differentiate based on quality of service.
“They say that the best idea for a business is to solve your own problems, and that’s finally where my idea came from, because I had a big problem when I took over as Head of Customer Service in a large company.”
They say the best idea for a business is to solve your own problems, and that’s finally where my idea came from.
“This problem was that revenue was going down in my area and complaints were going up, so it wasn’t a good state of affairs.”
“The solution was a customer feedback platform, which would help other people get the same fairly dramatic results that I, and my team, were able to achieve. The platform that we ended up with worked so well that it became the basis of CustomerSure.”
How has the company grown since you become CEO?
“I would say it’s been steady growth for seven years now, but we’ve done well and are now up to 200 customers.”
“Where we find our product appeals particularly is challenger brands. Organisations that we have worked with like the new utility companies, technology vendors and more forward-thinking companies have seen particularly good results, especially if they have complex technical support.”
“The most critical thing is that we have grown by working with people who really get it that customer service makes or breaks a company. If you’re of that mindset then our platform works really well.”
What do you attribute your success to?
“The key to our success is in getting organisations to rethink customer feedback, and we did this by making three key points, which go hand-in-hand with our platform.”
“First of all, we look at the feedback process from the customer’s point of view: When would customers be most likely to want to give feedback? Just because one way seems to be working doesn’t mean that we’re not annoying customers.”
“The second thing was to think about how we can make it really easy for the customer. When you’re describing a company, or your experience of a company, nobody ever really goes on for more than about 20 seconds. So, if the customer can tell you what makes them happy or angry in 20 seconds, don’t force them to spend longer filling in a long survey.”
If the customer has highlighted a problem in their feedback and you can fix it quickly, you’ll really blow their socks off.
“The third step is one that many companies forget, and this is to make it clear to the customer what will happen once they have given their feedback. If the customer has highlighted a problem in their feedback and you can fix it quickly, you’ll really blow their socks off.”
What do your customers tell you are their greatest challenges?
“From my time in contact centres, I would say that the biggest challenge is keeping focused on what is really important, when there’s so much else going on.”
“If you’re trying to improve service within a fast-moving business, where there’s a million and one demands on you as a manager, you end up trying to marshal resources, people, systems and harness it all to deliver great service.”
“But you’ve also got to develop your staff, implement the latest HR initiatives, obey the rules from the accounts department, get some air time with IT, comply with new legislation (like GDPR) and you generally have to deal with curve ball complaints that get escalated.”
“So, when there’s so much going on, it’s hard to give priority to that most important thing, which is making your customers’ lives and experiences better.”
What do you predict will be the biggest change that will happen in the industry in the next five years?
“Having been within the industry for 35 years, I’ve seen a lot of new initiatives come along and be hailed as the latest silver bullet, but they end up actually soaking up a lot of time and money while not delivering on the original promise.”
“What I have also observed is that, while something does usually arise from the ashes of those ‘pioneering projects’, these lessons often come with a hefty price tag.”
“I’ve found that the biggest ROI often comes from clear thinking, a willingness to challenge the way things have traditionally been done, and radical simplification. So, I would advise contact centres to be cautious and not to rush into purchases of new technology because I fear that the biggest change will be the adoption of technology that promises much but actually delivers frustration for customers.”
What product developments will your company be making over the next five years?
“There are always two strands to what we do. The first strand is to focus on what our customers are asking for. The competitive edge in our product centres on helping improve customer satisfaction, rather than just measuring it.”
“So, we’re always learning from our customers and trying to simplify what we do to help them. When customers tell us that we’ve made processes so much simpler, that is one of the biggest compliments that we receive.”
Busy people don’t want complex systems, they want capable systems that do what they need.
“Busy people don’t want complex systems, they want capable systems that do what they need. They really love it when you make their jobs easier.”
“The second strand is innovation, as we aim to anticipate our clients’ customers’ needs. Take the iPhone as an example, it’s a bit of a cliché, but it didn’t come out of a focus group, it came through somebody understanding their audience and having the right expertise.”
“So, we study our customers, listen to them and then we prototype new ideas, working with customers to refine them and pilot them in the real world, until they’re robust.”
What is the most gratifying part of your job?
“It is truly a sweet moment when a humble UK software company wins competitive contracts against larger and better-known US companies – few things compare.”
“As somebody in the North-East within a technology sector, where we’ve often been in poor relation to ‘Silicon Valley’, when we win against them, if you will, it’s very sweet indeed.”
“As an example, we were recently selected by a utilities company which had a list of 15 possible vendors, so it was great for us to celebrate when we won. But actually that’s just the starting point, because they don’t know that they’ve chosen well until the acid test, which comes six months later.”
“So, the most gratifying time is when our customers are in a position to judge and they tell us that they’re glad they chose us.”
What has been the best company/contact centre that you have recently visited?
“I love all of the contact centres that we work with, but I love them each in a different way so it’s hard to choose a favourite.”
“What I liked about my most recent visit, to Parkdean Resorts’ offices, is the way that every individual I met, regardless of role, exhibited energy and enthusiasm consistent with their strapline: ‘Creating Amazing Memories’. It’s clear that a culture of genuinely caring for customers is well established and it’s infectious.”
“On our site, we do have a few case studies with other experiences to learn from, like Utilitywise and Tastecard. Their contact centres have achieved some great results in terms of performance, improving key metrics (such as Net Promoter Score) and boosting revenue.”
To read the case studies, just click on the following links: Utilitywise and Tastecard
If there was one piece of advice that you could offer our readers what would it be?
“What I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to do in my career, and I would encourage any contact centre to do, is to champion the cause of your customers.”
“Get out and see them, meet them. Leave the cosy confines of headquarters and get out!”
“It’s always hard, and there are many pressures to overcome. Sales will get resources, priority and all the glory, while you’ll always be challenged to reduce costs. It’ll be frustrating, because it’s easy for other people to play the ‘cost card’, but it’s not always the right thing to do.”
There are two ways to improve profit. You can reduce cost or generate revenue. and it’s the brave person who takes the path of increasing revenue.
“Sometimes you have to make a case for value, for doing the right thing by customers and having the confidence that it will actually generate revenue.”
“There are two ways to improve profit. You can reduce cost or generate revenue, and it’s the brave person who takes the path of increasing revenue.”
“To do that in a customer service role, you can improve retention, service and your brand’s reputation.”
Thanks to Guy Letts for sharing these insights.
To find out more about the solutions that CustomerSure offers, visit: www.customersure.com