Speed — Things have to happen immediately. As we discussed before, customers are wow’ed by quick and efficient solutions. At Ageras, we are able to give our customers a fast solution for their accounting needs, our partners a fast solution for growing their business, and fast service if any issues arise.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mikkel Jensen.
Mikkel Jensen is the United States director of Ageras, an accounting marketplace that connects business owners with accountants. His background consists of over 10 years of entrepreneuring numerous start-ups and enterprises in an array of industries in both the United States and Denmark.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Well, interestingly enough our business initially started in Denmark 8 years ago as a marketplace for finding a partner to help with small jobs — dog walking, babysitting, cleaning, and so on. In time, we chose to shift our focus and set out to find a concept that would be of higher value to both our partnered workers and clients. We discovered that the accounting industry had the highest value and most interesting market, with an industry that provided both the lifetime value of an accounting client to partners and crucial financial help to business owners. With this, we have expanded our model to a new country nearly every year and are now offering our platform in 7 different countries.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
As an international company, starting up in a new market can be hectic. Our expansion to the US happened so fast that we actually forgot to translate a lot of our client communication before launch. That meant that our clients were receiving most of their information in Danish! It actually took us a while to realize this mistake.
Obviously, the lesson is that the devil is in the details. We now have a checklist that we go through every time we make changes in our system to avoid mistakes like these.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Our employees here in the US have definitely been the most important part of our success. As a European-born company, converting our concept to fit with American business culture has definitely been an interesting journey. However, we have been lucky enough to build a strong team with local employees who have all been extremely helpful in adapting our concept and building our business to fit American standards. I’m very grateful to have such a talented group behind me.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Without your customer, you cannot have your business. Their success is your success, and their needs need to become your needs.
For example, in recent years, Amazon has taken good customer service to new standards. Consumers now expect to get what they want immediately. Adapting your customer service to changing customer needs, and going beyond them, not only keeps your customers happy but also keeps you on your toes and builds a mindset to look out for what’s next.
As a business, we must put the customer first. There are so many options out there and it is so easy for customers to shop around and go somewhere else. We always ask ourselves how we can improve the customer experience. At Ageras, our product is free for the customer which in some ways makes our job more complex. The value we provide needs to be beyond valuable for the customer.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
Good customer service is not always easy. I think a lot of disconnect comes from the need to be excellent both proactively and reactively. You can be the best chef in the world, but some customers will still not like your cooking. That’s why I feel that true customer service is about how you solve the problem because problems will always occur.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Absolutely. Customer service is probably the biggest competitive advantage that you can have as a business.
In this day and age, customers expect to get an answer immediately. Some businesses are still used to being a bit slower with an email within a couple of days. Competition has pushed the speed needed to succeed with customer service. A business that is able to solve problems quickly and efficiently will really wow the customer and set them apart.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
At Ageras, we are able to get that WOW when we give our customers a fast experience. Business owners are coming to us because they want to get connected with accountants, and oftentimes have an urgent need or have been unsuccessful in finding a specialized accountant by themselves. Our goal is to provide them with a perfect match as fast as possible, so when we deliver 3 matching partners to them within just a few hours, they are very impressed. When things come together, our customers get exactly what they need very quickly and that always results in a wow.
Recently, we helped a customer find an accountant for a specialized audit that came in almost 10,000 dollars under his budget. He let us know that he was wowed by the personal service and perfect match for his needs.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
We have one simple goal — to match customers with accountants. Everyone on our team works for the match. When we are able to provide these “wow” experiences, it is a victory for everyone — our partners, our employees, and most of all our customers. It’s really a win, win, win situation. This motivates us to keep working hard and make valuable matches.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Speed — Things have to happen immediately. As we discussed before, customers are wow’ed by quick and efficient solutions. At Ageras, we are able to give our customers a fast solution for their accounting needs, our partners a fast solution for growing their business, and fast service if any issues arise.
- A little bit extra — It’s important to give the client the feeling of getting more than they ordered. Set realistic expectations to the customer and then go above and beyond them.
- Forward-thinking — It’s very important to be one step ahead and foresee what will happen tomorrow. Creating a good plan will get you far. When we expand to a new area in the US, we carefully plan our move to ensure that we will have success in providing our services to the new market. Failure to think ahead can lead to failures in service.
- First impressions — A customer’s first impression can make or break their view of your business. Mistakes or bad experiences at the start of your relationship with the customer will have a lasting impact if they even choose to continue with you. Provide perfection from the start.
- Adaptability and flexibility — Here at Ageras, we make changes quickly to meet the changing needs of our customers. It’s important to not be set in your ways when it will benefit your customers and business to make changes.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
Today, the online world has become crucial for businesses. Social media and online reviews have become important for connecting with customers and can make or break a business. If a customer has a bad experience, you can be sure it ends up somewhere online — but getting a positive experience online has the same value. Encouraging your wow’ed customers to leave a positive review can boost your business and send a great signal to potential customers.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would definitely start a movement for free education. Education is beyond important because it enables a ripple effect. By educating more people, we enable more ideas that can improve our world. Education provides benefits that not only will directly affect others right now but also years and years into the future.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow Ageras on LinkedIn, Facebook (@agerascom), Instagram (@agerascom), and Twitter (@ageras_com). We love providing resources for both business owners and accountants on social media — free webinars, e-books, accounting updates, and more.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!