We sat down with Chief Executive Officer Phil Meer for the first in our series of regular interviews. This series will contain thoughts on the industry, insights from our customers, and updates on how JRNI continues to help organizations build outstanding engagements.
Question 1: Talk about the experiences that have led you to JRNI.
My career has evolved around the concept that technology and operations are one in the same. If a business has a concept that helps solve the problems of today’s consumers and businesses, technology can help codify and operationalize that concept, repeat it, improve it, and accelerate it! Early in my career, I gained an appreciation for the design, distribution, deployment, and support of enterprise software at scale in a business-to-business setting through various Executive Leadership assignments at ADP. Working for a world-class Fortune 500 company helped me to appreciate the complexity that today’s businesses face, especially those enterprises that are operating across geographies, locations, and international borders. This experience also helped me to appreciate the need for seamless data integration capabilities and the value of speed, accuracy, simplicity, and quality in the enterprise software delivery lifecycle.
My remaining experience up until JRNI was as COO or CEO with small software companies that used data to help improve decision-support and operations. This impressed upon me the value of data and analytics in driving “next best action” to help companies and their employees to deeply understand and engage their customers in a manner that appreciates consumer preferences and results in positive experiences and, in turn, loyal customers. Today’s consumers have come to expect that their individual preferences for how they want to discover, engage, and transact with businesses will be honored and remembered, that they will not have to ‘start again’ when moving through various channels (social, digital, call, text, in person), and that a relationship between a consumer and company is made through consistent and repeated high-value human interactions based on the needs of the individual consumer matched with knowledge-able and well-prepared staff.
These experiences brought me to JRNI, a company with the right solution available at the right time to meet today’s market needs. Our platform helps customers to discover, engage, transact seamlessly with businesses, and in turn helps our customers to grow customer loyalty and lifetime value with analytics that support optimized decision-support at each step in the customer journey. We serve over 120 large enterprises including several of the top global financial institutions and retail brands across the globe. With over 15 years of experience, 60,000 global users across 166,000 locations and $2B in annual global transactions facilitated, JRNI has proven its ability to not only help our customers to meet their consumers’ engagement preferences but also to offer unparalleled analytics to support their efforts to analyze and to optimize their customer journeys.
Question 2: What have you learned about the industry and/or the customer experience landscape since coming on board?
I have spoken with over 25 customers since joining in June. One of my first questions is why do you need a ‘customer engagement platform?’ What are the issues that you expect JRNI or any vendor to help solve?
The most common theme was that large enterprises want to know the efficacy of customer outreach efforts. What tactics are working to drive loyal customers and which should be adjusted? Where are we in need of more staff or more consumer education or more appointment availability? What marketing campaigns are leading to deeper engagements, which are leading to transactions and, ultimately, return on investment (ROI)? What products are consumers most interested in? Which geographies and locations are benefitting from virtual appointments and events? Where do consumers still want reliable human interactions, in the language and manner in which they are accustomed to?
What I have learned about the market is that there is no single problem solved by our customer engagement platform. Examples of why the market is in need of a customer engagement platform include:
Low customer conversation rates
Slow velocity/ long cycle times and too many touch-points in the way of consumers fulfilling their transaction
Long lead times for consumers attempting to engage an advisor/salesperson
High leakage rates/High customer no-show on events and appointments
Huge variation in customer experience across countries, geographies, and locations
Inability to organize staff and have resources available to serve customers based on their preferences
Low Net Promoter Scores/staff unprepared to effectively engage consumers
Fragmented technology footprint causing data integrity challenges impacting agents and consumers
Lack of visibility into efficacy of customer outreach efforts across digital, phone, and in person channels, across geographies, physical locations, and service lines
This feedback helped us to shape the Customer Engagement Platform offered by JRNI. In particular, we know we have to offer an Enterprise-grade platform, capable of operating across geographies and service-lines, with a multilingual user interface, a robust analytics reporting engine, and an open ecosystem that allows data to flow into and out of JRNI seamlessly. Moreover, with our staff productivity and scheduling engine, we have focused on our customers’ employees to help them be prepared for every customer interaction in a manner that accounts for their scheduling preferences. We have learned a great deal from businesses across industries and realized that JRNI cannot offer a simple ‘point solution’ to meet the myriad of needs demanded by the market.
Learn more about the ROI of appointment scheduling by downloading our eBook:
Question 3: How might the customer experience environment evolve and change in the next 2-3 years? What strategies will organizations need in the long term?
I actually envision a rather dramatic shift towards consumers demanding human interaction when making a purchasing decision. Over the past 10-15 years, and especially since the pandemic, we have see an aggressive shift to eCommerce with companies attempting to replace human interaction with ineffective chatbots, with robotic phone menus, and with rather frustrating experiences when a consumer wants trusted guidance from their banker, or insurance carrier, or retail brand’s sales or support teams. This problem has been exacerbated by data privacy and mistrust of online eCommerce sites' ability to secure and protect data. Ironically, with video conferencing becoming somewhat mainstream since the pandemic, it is exponentially easier to connect with a trusted advisor over video, or to attend an event and learn more about a product or service without leaving the home. I therefore foresee that consumers will demand more intimacy in the buying process. They will want the brands they trust to know them, to humanize the transacting experience, and to offer seamless discovery, engagement, and transaction capabilities through a more human experience.
Question 4: What has you most excited about JRNI's future?
I am most excited about the continued rollout of JRNI’s Customer Engagement Platform. JRNI was founded in the UK and grew up as a point solution largely focused on appointment scheduling. That use case helped JRNI to build a fantastic company with over 800 global customers including several of the top financial services and retail brands in the world. That said, our customers are demanding a broader, end-to-end platform, integrated with their MarTech Stack, CRM, Workforce Management System, and transactional systems (i.e. payment processing and document management) to better serve their customers and employees, with analytics and reporting helping to recommend actions and measure the efficacy of their unique customer engagement, customer loyalty, and growth strategy.
JRNI has invested in innovation (we have development teams in the UK, US, and India) to not only provide a solution to today’s enterprise customer engagement challenges but also to do so across the globe, with customers in Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. We recently went live with a fantastic customer in Iceland and Sweden! JRNI is the only Customer Engagement Platform that has demonstrated the capability of serving the needs of the complex Enterprise buyer hence I could not be more optimistic about our future.
Question 5: Since joining the JRNI team you have made it a point to speak to as many clients as you can. What themes have emerged from these conversations?
Since joining JRNI in June, my goal has been to speak with as many existing customers and prospective customers as possible. My initial hypothesis was that customers across banking and retail would have largely the same challenges in reaching customers with a strategy that yielded positive experiences, loyalty, and customer lifetime value. I was actually wrong in my hypothesis.
I have heard multiple themes by deeply listening to our customers. Moreover, these themes are not necessarily correlated to the size of our customer or the industry in which they operate. Examples include:
One large customer wants to divert calls into their call center into virtual appointments
A large retail customer has a robust social media presence and wants to embed the ability to speak to an agent (their primary call to action) with 1-click throughout their omni-channel marketing efforts
Another large retail customer has high variation in lead times between when a customer wants an appointment versus when they can actually access an appointment based on location and channel
Another customer runs frequent wine tasting events and wants to not only reduce leakage (people who register but do not attend) but also measure the ROI of these events
Another customer wants to ensure that their high net worth customers have access to a wealth advisor as soon as they have a need (via phone, video, or in person). They also want to give their customers the ability to choose their advisor or select a ‘next available’ appointment
My management team and I have adopted the slogan made famous by Jobs and Bezos: “Listen to the customer and work backwards.” We are certain that the aforementioned challenges highlighted by JRNI’s customers will not be solved by a ‘point solution’ for scheduling, or events management, or transactional solution. JRNI is in the business of Customer Engagement which requires an end-to-end solution serving consumers and employees not only with transactional capability (events, appointments, payments, document management) but also the capability through analytics to optimize and analyze the Customer Engagement Lifecycle at every step. JRNI is defining the new standard for Customer Engagement, and we could not be more excited to take on the broad array of themes that our customers are pulling us towards!
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