Create accountability: Managers can better track what’s going on and empower employees to take action when they can see each customer’s entire history in one place. Having historical data at your fingertips means you can find answers to questions that clients didn’t even know they needed to ask, which goes a long way in building relationships and booking jobs. Companies can reap immense benefits from the simple act of tracking a call with the right software. For instance, if a caller were a prospect that didn’t convert into a job, a simple look at the data recorded on the call would equip a supervisor with the necessary information to reach out to the customer and drive a win.
As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Uriah Matthews.
Uriah Matthews has 20+ years of experience in customer service, 10+ years’ experience with SaaS (software as a service) companies, and 4+ years’ experience using Successware. He is currently the Innovation and Solutions Manager at Successware. He started in October 2020 and brought with him firsthand experience using the Successware platform, as a former customer. In his current role, Matthews is focused on innovating and modernizing the Successware platform.
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?
I launched my career at the Hilton Sandestin, where I handled all things relating to customer service and guest experience. It was a terrific foundation for what has become over 20 years of experience in customer service. When I first joined a SaaS (software as a service) company in 2011, I managed client accounts and trained them on the software. That’s really where I began to understand the value of educating customers on the technology they use to flourish and get the most out of their businesses. I later worked for another software company as the lead Microsoft solutions consultant and helped launch Office 365.
In 2017, I became the general manager of a plumbing and HVAC company and had the good fortune to be a Successware customer for more than three years. There, I fell in love with how powerful the platform is and developed a deep understanding of the HVAC industry and how customer service technology benefits it. When I went to work for the Successware team, I brought my thirst for modernizing platforms and my firsthand experiences as a customer to focus on innovation and solutions.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
One of my colleagues made this mistake, but it made such a lasting impact on me that I have to share it. I was the channel sales manager at a SaaS email and web security company, and I had a beautiful wingback chair in my cube that invited coworkers to take a seat with me. One day our CEO and founder stopped by to chat and team build. While he and I were catching up, a coworker interrupted our conversation with something that he believed was important. But he really just ranted about a technical issue he was experiencing, right in front of our CEO, but never once offered anything meaningful or actionable to resolve it. When he walked away, it was a little awkward. Our CEO looked at me, took a minute, and then burned the following into my brain: “Uriah, if you’re ever going to come to me with a problem, bring a solution.” I acknowledged the lesson, and then he smiled, got up, and walked away.
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?
I’ve been fortunate to have a few great senior and executive management influencers who took a personal interest in me and my development. As noted above, our CEO Mike Murdoch is one for sure. Another was Scott Paul at that same SaaS company. Technology sales can be complicated, and the results you provide directly relate to the upfront service and discovery executed in the sales conversation. I can’t recall what I did to land myself in his office for a lesson one day, but he treated me to an excellent metaphor to help me understand discovery. He said, “Pretend you’re literally a discoverer like Christopher Columbus or Lewis and Clark. It is your job to do as much discovery as possible on behalf of the customer. The result will be an improved service experience for the customer and increased possibility of revenue for our business.” This lesson has paid dividends, not just in my professional life but also in my personal life.
What’s also really important to take away here is that lessons may often happen without the teachers even knowing it. In my years since working with Scott and Mike, I’ve had the ability to reflect with them and thank them for the advice that they didn’t even know at the time they were delivering so well.
In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Customers have a seemingly infinite amount of information available at their fingertips these days, and they are no longer willing to wait too long to hear back from a company. Prompt customer service has become a pivotal differentiator. Some businesses have only seconds or minutes to respond to a customer inquiry before the customer goes elsewhere.
Even before I started working with Successware, I saw the value of using software to improve operational effectiveness and elevate the customer experience. When you can automatically pull up and log customer records, provide scripting for your customer service reps, easily manage dispatching and time slot capacity, and the like, you are setting yourself up to succeed in this competitive landscape.
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?
Typically, it’s a lack of vision, understanding, or purview. It’s important to acknowledge that there are systems, and then there are systems of systems. I think most people understand how to manage a single system, but when the integration to systems of systems happens, you run into challenges with teamwork due to a lack of agreed-upon vision and territorial team members who are stepping outside of boundaries.
Businesses need great leaders who acknowledge the aspects of their business that rely on systems of systems and will lead the way in integrating these systems. You can’t just depend on a great website experience because there are so many other important considerations. Is that website integrated into the back office? Does the back office have training? Are all parties in the back office gaining the specific insights they need to provide an amazing experience? There is a lot to think about here.
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?
Of course! Consumers are always evaluating value. Many, if not most, do it without even thinking about it. Value means many different things and is unique to the customer doing the evaluating, so it’s important to please the “value sensors” that are assessing your business. Yelp is a good example here. When a consumer visits Yelp, maybe they are just looking at the dollars rating, or maybe they also review additional attributes to weigh their decision. In our business, maybe they look at pictures to see what installs look like or just read reviews to see what everyone else says.
I would reframe external pressures as what consumers want. We now live in an age where consumers can match their wants better than ever due to all of the available information in the palm of their hand. That’s the reality we must recognize.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Absolutely. Going from an all-paper business to a platform software can be a significant jump for some small home service industry businesses, and Dale’s Roofing is no exception. A family-owned and operated business in Rogersville, Missouri, Dale’s has grown significantly over the past 35 years. They now have over 65 employees who all play a role in completing about 150–200 jobs per month.
They began using Successware as their business management software back in 2010. Before that, they were an all-paper business with a small, basic computer database. They were experiencing duplicative customer entries, repetition, and wasted time having to flip through papers to determine if they had been to a house before. Dale’s decided they needed to “work smarter, not harder.” Once their customer’s information was entered into our platform, they could easily find all of their customer’s data and see complete job histories. Now Dale’s uses everything from our call-taking module, to checkbook, to our inventory manager. We could even customize the platform to fit Dale’s specific business needs, and they’ve told us the whole process was practically painless. That’s the kind of customer experience we aim for every time.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
The team at Dale’s has shared with us that Successware’s user-friendly interface has made a world of difference in their business. In fact, they say it made a huge difference in margins and making a larger profit. They can now track that financial data and see what is coming and going and what their margins are. They have also reclaimed countless hours that were once spent searching for paper records and completing paper forms.
Dale’s, and other home service companies like them that we serve are getting new insights into their business. They can see things they might have missed or things they may have waited for an accountant to tell them. Now, it’s at their fingertips.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience.
I’m all about the data, so I’d say put yourself in a position to deliver a Wow! Customer experience starts with collecting, managing, and using data wisely.
1 — Consider HOW you collect data: Take a moment to recognize whether you are dealing with overwhelming stacks of information or if you have actual analyzable data. Rudimentary computer databases paired with paper reporting and invoicing can result in duplicative customer entries, process repetition, and wasted time. Twenty minutes spent flipping through paper is twenty minutes not spent providing an excellent customer experience.
2 — Consolidate the data: Conducting business can be much easier and more profitable when a business has its accounting, communications, marketing, and more all in one platform. For instance, Successware is incorporating a robust omnichannel communication platform called Connection directly into our existing Successware Office software. It’s going to offer clients voice, text, and email in one contact center and improve data-driven decision making with features that can auto-assign lead source, lookup and find customer records, and mark the call as booked or not booked. All-in-one tools like that are a game-changer for delivering customer service.
3 — Create marketing campaigns based on data-driven knowledge of customer needs and interactions: When companies lack a meaningful way to collect and analyze data, they end up marketing according to their best guess rather than solid intel. But in a competitive industry like home service, marketing is too vital for creating new customer relationships and nurturing existing ones to leave it up to guesswork. Using data to determine what drove customers to choose your business or why repeat customers decided to stay gives businesses the power to evaluate the success of previous campaigns and shape future ones.
4 — Create accountability: Managers can better track what’s going on and empower employees to take action when they can see each customer’s entire history in one place. Having historical data at your fingertips means you can find answers to questions that clients didn’t even know they needed to ask, which goes a long way in building relationships and booking jobs. Companies can reap immense benefits from the simple act of tracking a call with the right software. For instance, if a caller were a prospect that didn’t convert into a job, a simple look at the data recorded on the call would equip a supervisor with the necessary information to reach out to the customer and drive a win.
5 — Focus on your first line of engagement. The first live interaction a customer has with your business is often a call, making call-taking possibly the most important part of what you do. It’s the first shot you have to gain, retain, save, or convert prospects into customers. It’s your best chance to retain customers through repeat business or save relationships you might be at risk of losing. From building scripts to recording call information, technology can help make sure customer service reps are all conveying the same core message and options and better understand your customers’ needs.
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?
Word of mouth advertising is always a powerful tool, as are case studies and client testimonials to highlight successful products and services. At Successware, we have worked with many happy clients to share their stories of success using our platform — whether that’s through a traditional media outlet, blog post, or social media share — so that others in their industry can learn from them and hopefully reach out to us about working together.
Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Speed of service is increasingly important. Customers want self-service, such as booking an electronic appointment instead of calling a business to make one. Businesses need to offer automated systems to evolve with these new customer needs and allow employees to focus on helping customers. As part of several new tools Successware is launching this fall, we have an online appointment scheduling tool called BookIt. It communicates directly with our Time Slot Capacity Management feature, making appointment scheduling effortless for both the customer and call-taker/dispatcher.
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. 🙂
Empowerment is the greatest exponential force I could hope for. When I worked for Hilton, they would talk about a speech made by Conrad Hilton referencing the story of Prometheus. They suggested, “As hotel men and women, it is our responsibility to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” I think each and every one of us can create our own fire and spread goodness. There is nothing I could ever do that would ever compare to what we could exponentially create together. The lightning, the spark, the fire, the GOOD is within you — fill the earth.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!