Q&A with John Joe Barry

When did you join Spearline?

I joined Spearline as a customer engagement manager in January 2019.  The technical aspect of my role was the biggest change for me as I previously worked as a project manager in the construction industry.  The training I received when I started at Spearline was excellent, which really helped with the transition. 

 

What does the role of a customer engagement manager entail?

Ultimately, we’re the single point of contact for customers, supporting them during their interactions with the Spearline Platform, which is a cloud-based SaaS solution.   

When a customer comes on board, initially the sales team (read an interview with our CCO Liam Dunne here) brings them in, and then we go through a proof-of-concept phase.  The next step is onboarding with our technical solutions architect (TSA) team (read an interview one of our TSAs Ola Budak here) where customers are provided with 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.

 

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 Spearline brand.   

CX is an internal function within the organization that flows beyond us on the front-facing side as customer engagement agents; every other department, such as marketing, development, and testing support internally, feed into the customer experience.   

Our CSAT and NPS scores are up there with the world leaders.  It’s something that we are very proud of as we are a customer-centric company.  We really value our customers and strive to provide a level of support that meets their individual needs.

 

Back to basics, how does Spearline help its customers?

Our co-founder and chief technical officer (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.  That service is provided by a platform that enables customers, in real time, to automate testing, and also there’s an analytics function where they can see results on quality performance, measure connectivity and Post Dial Delay.  

We also provide real-time alerting so if you’re an organization with globally dispersed contact numbers, we can let you know within two-three minutes if your customers are having issues connecting to those numbers or the quality on those connections are not to a standard that will promote a positive customer experience .  That enables our customers to get a head start on addressing those issues. 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 to his company’s brand and how it is perceived by their customers, we address that need for him.  We provide objective real time analytics, reflecting the experience from their customers perspective. We measure the full call flow, off network, from a customer picking up a phone in Brazil, Ireland or any of the 70 countries where we have fixed line testing capability, and provide a unique insight, previously not available, of that experience. 

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

 

What is a typical day for you as a customer engagement manager?

The first thing I usually do is have a look at the job tester which is a history of all the testing across our customer base at a point in time.  That allows me to look and see what happened in the time that I wasn’t here. Our customers are always covered because we have 24/7 support, but specifically for my customers, I like to 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 to highlight any issues I see. For example, if we’re testing a number in Brazil for a customer, a toll number, and we see that we reported some connectivity issues on that number, I might do some additional testing on that number from international or GSM routes and provide this detail to the customer, so they have more real time information to help them resolve the issue with their provider.  In particular in relation to quality issues, our analytics are extremely powerful as quality is measured using PESQ which is an ITU standard that is an objective and scientific measurement, allowing our customers to confidently address issues with their providers.  

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, to jump on a call every now and again, have a chat, about the weather, see what’s going on, and then get into the business side of it, and see how we can add more value to what they are providing to their customers.  

Then, we have our internal meetings.  Spearline is a very dynamic and innovative company and we are constantly growing our product offering, and a lot of that is driven by our customers.  Our customers come to us, and they have an issue, they have a problem that they need help figuring out and 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 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 are happy and getting value.

 

How important is it to have a dedicated customer engagement 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, for example, utilities at home.  If I have an issue, and I ring the support team and I am referred to several different departments, I end up feeling frustrated and it seems like no-one can 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.  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 supports our customers needs.   

 

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

Yes, I think the product itself will stand or fall on its 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.  

 

What’s your preferred style when it comes to engaging with your customers?

My preference is always face to face contact in a web conference call 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 is 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, 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.

 

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 team members who are performing their role, allowing us to do what we need to do.  

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.  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 technical solutions team (TSA) who are responsible for uploading numbers, making sure the correct IVR traversals are set and generally ensuring that the configuration is as required .  It 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 into testing in the space of 4 weeks. That’s the first half. 

When a number is in testing, we ensure a customer understands the analytics, the trends, the quality drops at certain times, the connection issues at certain times.  Initially every couple of weeks, we try to arrange a sit down or conference call, and run through the previous couple of weeks analytics. We refresh on the last points the customer raised, run through those, any more questions, so on..  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 schedule tests on demand. The ultimate goal being allowing our customers the control and knowledge to utilise our solution to achieve their goals.

For more, connect with John Joe Barry on LinkedIn here.

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