Q&A: Christian Brauner, Founder and CEO, Servicelovers
RTIH: Tell us about Servicelovers
CB: Servicelovers is a customer service rating concept and community that focuses on motivating employees with positive ratings and recommendations. Employees create a profile and customers can give them recommendations via a tablet/stand in stores.
This new way of getting attention from customers, colleagues and managers has a positive effect on employees who enjoy the personal acknowledgment and it inspires them to do well. The managers receive data via a dashboard and are able to see, praise and reward those employees who the customers have given recommendations to; they also value the full customer insight into where the service is not so satisfactory.
RTIH: What was the inspiration behind setting the company up?
CB: All too often the service from employees in stores can be improved. Due to the pressure from online shopping, it becomes more and more important that employees deliver great customer service again and again to ensure that customers are happy and come back. All retail measurements are focused on managerial skills, needs and wants lacking the one important thing in order to create great service: employee motivation.
As Richard Branson says: "treat your employees nice and they will treat your customers even better". Our aim is to motivate and bring the best out of employees because they can be seen and get credit in real-time from customers, colleagues and managers.
RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?
CB: Great customer service and experience will be the major part of the winning formula in physical stores as buying habits change to a mixture of both online and stores. This means that the industry is aware that its best asset is employees who play a major (if not the biggest) part of closing sales and creating happy customers who return.
When they hear how Servicelovers turns the whole retail measuring and management toolbox upside down and focuses on creating motivated employees because they get credit directly to their own profile, they become interested in knowing more. The retailers that think a little out of the box and those who are not too busy to improve are approving this new way of creating motivated employees.
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
CB: The biggest challenge is definitely when we are negotiating with the largest international retailers. It takes a long time to get every stakeholder in the company onboard to not only understand this new way of thinking, but also to be bold enough to truly believe in creating motivated employees in a new way and to challenge and change what the company normally uses as a measuring tool.
The second biggest challenge is that there are so many retailers out there who are too busy to improve. They fear the big online stores and are too busy cutting costs rather than focusing on where they can create and gain an advantage, with great personal customer service in their physical stores.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel retail sector right now?
CB: I believe the biggest challenge in omnichannel is that the customer journey can be too complex and that it can get too difficult to create seamless experiences in every touchpoint during the customer journey. Customers use all channels and expect companies to know them, from their last purchase to their interests and so on, but too often customers are left disappointed as companies are not able to put their data to its best use. The whole data storage, usage and rules of action and engagement will therefore probably be transformed with the arrival of AI.
RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by a.) an investor and b.) a customer?
CB: The best question asked about my company and the market was by a business angel in San Francisco. He said it was a great concept but asked, here in the US most retailers are bleeding and are scared of Amazon. And there are two ways they go about it, they either focus on cost cutting (and they will die) or they focus on great customer service; how will you show that Servicelovers creates higher employee motivation and drives higher revenues?
The best question from a customer (a retail company) was: how can we inspire and teach employees to deliver better service with the input we get from our customers? That question inspired and sparked us to start building micro learning into the concept.
RTIH: What can we expect to see from Servicelovers over the next 12 months?
CB: Servicelovers will be looking for partners as well as customers abroad within 12 months. We have proved our concept with both happy, motivated employees and retailers who get great insight, so we will start scaling sooner rather than later.
Ideally, we will partner up with some serious associates within the retail industry in selected countries where service plays an important role. Hopefully, e-tailers will soon learn that there is a new measuring tool in town focusing on creating happy and motivated employees, which in turn increases their turnover. So more retailers will jump onboard and you will see us in more stores both in Denmark and abroad.