Spearline’s JJ Barry talks about customer engagement and being world leaders in CSAT and NPS

An interview with JJ Barry, Customer Engagement Manager at Spearline.
On Wednesday 09 October 2019 by Orla Clancy
JJ Barry, Customer Engagement Manager at Spearline

 

 

Can you give us a brief overview about yourself and your role at Spearline?

 

I'm with the company now about eight months, moving across from a role in the construction industry as a project manager, so the biggest change for me was in relation to the technical aspect of it.  Luckily enough, Spearline has a lot of very clever and patient people who really helped me get up to speed so I could fill up within the role of a customer engagement manager.

 

What does the role of a customer engagement manager entail?

 

Ultimately, we're the single point of contact for customers, supporting them during interactions with the tool, with the software.  

 

Internally, we filter those requirements, those questions among our departments so we can satisfy the customers' needs in relation to what we are providing.  

 

When a customer comes on board, initially the sales team bring them in, and then we go through a proof-of-concept phase.  The next step is an onboarding phase with our technical-solution architect team where we provide our training, and then once that's completed, they're handed to us.  At that stage, we're responsible for them during the customer life cycle while they're with us.

 

What does CX mean to you?

 

There are many different definitions of CX, but for us, it's basically customer engagement, and how the customer feels about the experience of interacting with the brand being the Spearline brand.  

 

CX is an internally function within the organization because it flows beyond us on the front-facing side as customer-engagement agents, so every other department, such as marketing, development, testing support internally, they feed into the customer experience.  It's a celebration of businesses that put the customer first.  

 

Our CSAT and NPS scores are up there with the world leaders.  It's something that we can be proud of, and we are a customer-centric company, and we do value our customers a lot, and how we interact, and how we provide support to them.

 

How do Spearline help their customers?

 

Our co-founder and CTO Matthew Lawlor describes it very simply - we test toll and toll-free numbers globally for connectivity, quality, and PDD, so ultimately, that's the service that we provide for our customers.  That service then is backed by a slash platform that enables customers, in real time, to automate testing, and also there's an analytics function where they can see results, measure quality, measure connectivity, measure PDD.  

 

We have real-time alerting so if you're an organization, such as a contact centre and you have a multinational presence, we can let you know within two-three minutes if you're having a problem.  That enables you to then address that problem as quickly as possible. The ultimate goal is that the impact on your customers is minimized.  

 

I was talking to one of my customers recently, and I asked them, what's the vision?  And he said to me, look, the vision here is for me to know about issues before I receive customer complaints.  And that all ties back then to his brand and how his brand is perceived by their customers.  

 

We're living in a market where customers have a lot of choices, and this idea of service, up time and quality in relation to your voice, and communications with your customers is becoming more and more relevant, and a differentiator between who a customer chooses to provide a particular service.

 

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What will be a typical day for you as a customer engagement manager?

 

The first thing I usually do is have a look at the job tester.  That allows me to look and see what happened in the time that I wasn't here.  Now, our customers are always covered anyway because we have our 24/7 support, but specifically for my customers, I just see if there's anything happening, any trends that are showing in relation to connectivity, or quality drops, so on, so forth.  I'll pick out some examples and I'll reach out to my customers, and try to add a little bit of value add. For example, if we're testing a number in Brazil for a customer, a toll number, and we see that we had some connectivity issues. I might just do an international call, a test to that number, or a GSM-testing country so I can provide a little bit more, and then I'll reach out to my contact, and just say, look, we saw this issue in our in-country testing.  We can see here I've tried an international route that the problem is still presenting, so then, that helps those customers refine where the actual issue might be, and is a value add.  

 

Next, we review emails - we're very involved with our customers.  There's a lot of information that flows between us. I prioritize what needs to be addressed, and then a lot of my day is spent on conference calls, again, speaking to our customers.  I really enjoy that aspect of it. I find it more beneficial to both parties, as opposed to the email, to jump on a call every now and again, have a chat, chat about the weather, see what's going on, and then get into the business side of it, and see how we can add some value into what they are providing to their customers.  

 

Then, we have our internal meetings.  Spearline is a very dynamic and innovative company.  We're constantly growing our product offering, and a lot of that is driven by our customers.  Our customers come, and they have an issue, they have a problem that they need help figuring out that often drives our innovation internally in relation to the solutions that we produce, which then ultimately addresses an issue that they are having.  The day itself is a big mix of people, problems, and then a movement across the departments internally, the marketing, and so on, so forth, to once again, the ultimate goal is to provide this superior level of customer service, customer engagement, which again, we look at these CSAT and NPS scores that we're getting back from our customers.  It seems to be working. They seem to be happy.

 

How important is it designate a customer manager for customers?

 

I think it's very important to have that single point of contact, and where that comes from for me, is my own personal experience in having utilities or whatever at home, and have an issue, and I ring up and I talk to A, and yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll get that sorted, and then I ring up and I talk to B, yeah, yeah, get that sort, and by the end of it, after talking to 10 different people, I'm frustrated, and I have no one I feel like I can go to address my problem.  

 

With customer engagement, we're who our customers come to if there's an issue, or if they have a problem or a question.  Now what we do is we filter that internally, but they know they have our email, they have our number, so we're there to support them, and I think that is very important as far as providing a level of service that reduces their time involved.  Again, going back to that example, too many hours spent on the phone, whereas if I had one name and one number, well then, that issue could be addressed. Yes, it might take a day or two to address, but I know that person is there to help me when I need them.

 

Do you think having one point of contact per customer creates more trust?

 

Yeah, I think so, and I think the product itself will stand or fall on this performance, so no matter how much trust I have with one of my customers, if the product isn't performing or meeting a need that is there, well then it's irrelevant.  We’re very fortunate at Spearline to have an excellent product that is constantly evolving to meet the customers' needs. I think the single point of contact also provides accountability, and that reflects onto the brand, and trust in relation to the brand.  I believe it does create more trust.

 

In your opinion, what would you consider to be the best way of engaging with your customers?

 

This is purely subjective - it's my preference.  My preference is always face to face contact at a conference or going and visiting our customers.  We're trying to promote this idea that we go and visit our customers once a year. The thinking behind that would be that you'd sit down and have your formal meeting, go through this is what we're doing for you, this is what we're seeing, these are the trends, these are the analytics, then discuss, okay, what problems have you?  Ultimately, that's what we're here to do is address a problem and make it easier for our customers, and then go break some bread, and sit down, and find out a bit more about the individual, and about the person behind the title or the role. For me, that's my favorite method of communication.

 

That sounds great.  When a customer comes on board, how do we get them up and running as quickly as possible?

 

It’s all down to the team.  We're customer facing, but we have all these customers who are performing their role, allowing us to do what we need to do.  I compare it to this idea of rugby players pass the ball to the guy on their shoulder. He catches it, we're sweet. If he drops it, we're in trouble.  

 

We're lucky that we have a great sales team, and then our CE team goes through the onboarding process, getting the customer up and running.  What we do is, once we get them in, we do a proof of concept which explains what we do, and then we do an onboarding call where we have meets and greets, and we also have our TSA team who are responsible for uploading numbers, making sure our VR traverses, CI recognition.  It kind of flows through, and we try to do it over the space of a month. The goal is to sign up the customer, go through introductions, get the technical side sorted, and then get numbers and testing. Of course, that's only half the battle.  

 

When a number is in testing, we then have to go through how does a customer understand these analytics, these trends, this quality drops at certain times, these connection issues at certain times.  Every two weeks, we try to arrange a sit down or conference call, and run through the previous two weeks. We refresh on the last points the customer raised, run through those, any more questions, so on, so forth.  That's basically how we get up and running, and because it's a SaaS platform, the idea behind it is self-service.  

 

Once the customer is trained, they have the ability to go in and determine if there are issues and if they want to add numbers.  They should be able to do it all themselves.

 

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