Podcast Transcript 

Bart: (00:44)

Hey builders. It’s kind of ironic that I as an eCommerce store owner know more about my customers and have an easier time following up with them. Then many brick and mortar businesses do. Today we’re talking about Zack Oates who built a startup to solve just that problem. Zack is an entrepreneur, author, consultant and blogger and he started a nonprofit assisting battered women’s shelters in Ukraine. He’s really an all around cool guy. His personal blog Bowl of Oats chronicled his journey of 1000 dates before he met his wife. And today’s Zack runs Ovation, uh, customer experience and engagement platform for brick and mortar businesses.


Zack Oates : (01:20)

Thanks for joining us today, Zack. Yeah, Bart, thanks for having me. So tell us where you’re coming from. You’ve, you’ve been to school, you’ve worked at big companies, and now you’re leading a, a startup if you’re on, but tell us that background. What’s the story? So I graduated with my undergrad in advertising and I moved to New York and I got a job at like the coolest advertising agency ever. And after two weeks I was like sick in my stomach, just like, this isn’t me, I don’t want to do this. Interesting. Uh, but what, what does a guy do? I have an advertising degree. You’ve been working toward this for a long time. That’s a dream. You’re there. I’m there. And, um, and so I didn’t know what to do, so I had like this quarter life crisis and uh, quit. And after two weeks, well, two weeks.


Zack Oates : (02:10)

Yeah, no, yeah, yeah. Give me two weeks. Exactly. No, so I, I finished out like a summer, like I did like the whole internship thing and instead of staying there and, and looking for like a job in the city, in advertising or staying with that company, uh, I left. And, um, so you finished the internship, finished the internship, and then I just traveled. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I went to Ukraine. I had started a, a, a nonprofit. So I went to Ukraine to get that all set up and I, uh, came to Utah and I wrote a book and I fell in love and I proposed to someone else and like, it just was like this whole, you know, uh, find yourself exactly. I spent six months where I did not sleep in the same bed for than two nights.


Zack Oates : (03:00)

Whoa. It was just like totally traveling everywhere. And at the end of that, I came up with this idea for a business and it was, uh, taking an algorithm and translating someone’s Facebook page into gift recommendations cause it was Christmas time. I’m sitting in my sister’s room trying to figure out what to give her for Christmas and I’m like, Oh, let me just go to her Facebook page and like, you know, see what things she likes and talks about and then see if that sparks any ideas. Yeah. So I did that and it actually like worked pretty well and she really liked the gift. I got her. Then I was like, I wonder if I could like, I wonder if I can, you know, automate this. So looked into it, started building an algorithm start. Well, first of all, I started yourself. You have, well, I started, well, I started researching like what is an algorithm, right.


Zack Oates : (03:45)

Like do this. And uh, started to put together a team and then just met some guys who believed in me in the idea and uh, raised some money and started a company. And so it just kind of like all happened and I had no clue what I was doing. I had never started a business. I didn’t even know how to run a book. I had to run like accounting books or anything like that. Like I didn’t know, you know, the only thing that I knew is here’s an idea and there’s no reason why you can’t do it. So this is your first year out of undergrad. Yeah. You started this company, you raise some money. Yeah. You’ve got a little team and you’ve created an algorithm for gifting. Yup. Cool. And we, we launch it and it just goes, it’s like crazy. We get featured in the wall street journal, New York Times, Mashable does a full cover about us.


Zack Oates : (04:32)

What was it called? It’s called a give him this, give him this. And the company was called Imply Labs and our product was give him this, which was a gifting product, Imply Labs owned the algorithm. Okay. And, and Mashable did this whole feature about us and Wired Magazine calls me and is like, Hey, you want to do an interview with you? I’m like, yeah, sure. Cool. Whatever magazine. I was like, so like I didn’t understand, didn’t hear what they said. And I was like, so what magazine are you from again? They’re like, Oh, Wired. I was like, Oh yeah, totally. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Cool. Yeah, I’ll, I’ll set something up, hung up the phone and I was like, oh my gosh, look, this is a freak it out. And it was then that I realized, here I am like this kid who knows nothing about nothing, you know?


Zack Oates : (05:17)

And I literally can, can affect people around the world. Yeah. And it just was such a, such like a solidifying thing in my mind that anything is possible. And I had that, it really instilled in me by my dad, you know, he is a three time Superbowl champion, so he’s got three Superbowl rings and like, you know, five pro bowl appearances and he’s just from like some Backwoods place in Georgia and not really super athletic to be honest. But he just is a super hard worker and, and made it. And I just think that’s super cool. Uh, growing up with that and seeing the fact that, you know, like my dad was the best in the world at his position and that’s not some like something I read about in some book or some article. It was like who I ate dinner with every day.


Zack Oates : (06:15)

And so growing up with that, it’s like, why not? Like anything is possible. And then when I got my first taste of it, of really doing it,


Bart: (06:24)

That’s awesome. So let’s, um, let’s move forward. So where to from there you, you got some attention, you were like, okay, I’m an entrepreneur for life. Yeah. I love the fact that a Wired called you up and you’re like like wait, who? Oh, cool. And then where from there, so then, uh, exited that company and you know, it was in like a, I tell people I bought a Bugatti with that exit. Um, it was a picture of a Bugatti, but it was, it was fine. I like, it ended up being great for us. Um, and then I was like, I felt very under. Um, I felt like I didn’t know enough, you know? And so, cause I didn’t have the opportunity to go and like work someplace and learn under the tutelage of a big business or like mentors and, and it was just like my business partners who were my mentors.


Zack Oates : (07:20)

Yeah. And so I was like, well, what do I do if I want to learn more? And so I, uh, I went and decided I wanted to get my MBA and I thought, what a great place to go and learn. And then while I was getting my MBA, I had an opportunity to go work at Amazon and PWC. And Amazon is a very entrepreneurial place where you kind of like own your projects. And I felt like I kind of knew how to do that. What I wanted to learn was I wanted to learn how do big businesses do it. Yeah. And so I got involved and I went to PWC and I did management consulting. They’re doing, uh, focusing on customer experience for fortune 100 companies. And it was just like mind boggling. Like they would just opened up a whole new world to see how these huge businesses do it and take those principles that I learned there.


Zack Oates : (08:05)

And then I became obsessed with like, okay, now I’ve got to get back into entrepreneurship. You know, while I was there, I kind of, um, I calmed the entrepreneurship bug during my MBA by being involved in another startup. And we actually won the world’s biggest business competition and like rang the NASDAQ bell with that, which was super cool. And then I quelled my entrepreneurship bug in a PWC by publishing a book about dating, cause I’d been on over a thousand dates before I got married. And so I wrote a book about it called dating never works until it does yeah. A hundred lessons from a thousand dates. And uh, but then after that book was published and I did like the book tour and everything, then it was like, well, what do I do now? And it was just itching, itching. And the idea for innovation, um, came to me and, uh, based on something else I had done previously and I just knew it was the right time.


Zack Oates : (08:59)

So now I gotta think that people are wondering what happened after the, you know, big business school, um, start up competition that you won. Yeah. So it was, it was incredible. So we go to this business competition and there was like over 850 businesses that, uh, competed and they whittled it down, whittle it down, whittle it down. So there’s like 42 companies and then they whittle it down to like, I think the thing he was like, you know, I was like 48 then 12 and 24 than 12 and 6 and we just kept on moving up and up and up and up and every round they just kept on moving us through to the next round. And then we were finally in the top six we pitch, it goes, it goes pretty well. And so we’re backstage and I’m like, you guys, can you believe we’ve probably got like sixth place.


Zack Oates : (09:52)

Think of all the teams, we’ve got like six place, crazy, then they announce sixth place. And it wasn’t us. I was like, we got fifth. They announce fifth place. Then I was like, no, no way. We got fourth, they announced the fourth third, they announced the third and then I’m like, we got second, we got second, they announced the second and then I was like, you guys, they forgot about us. Like they forgot, they legit forgot us. And then finally they like call us up there.


Bart: (10:22)

So you weren’t like, yes we got first.


Zack Oates : (10:24)

No, like kidding me. I was like, no way we would get, first I was blown away that I was there, you know what I mean? And uh, and so it was just insane. And they brought us up on stage and we ended up winning first place, then we ended up winning like judge’s choice.


Zack Oates : (10:39)

So all in all, it was like something like 700 grand that we won. And it was an amazing experience. But at the end of the day, I still had my question of how to learn how most businesses do it and there’s a, and, and I could’ve stayed and we could’ve worked together, but it just like my, and I loved the company, I loved the product. Um, but it just like wasn’t, it wasn’t the right thing for me. And I just, I, I wanted to learn more. And so they went and they kept building it and I, uh, I went and did PWC and sit on as an advisor. Got it. Cool. Yeah. And then you finish business school. Yeah. Went to PWC. Yep. And then what happened? So then I had an opportunity to go, come back to Utah and work at a, a huge nonprofit doing internal strategic consulting and, uh, this nonprofit, I mean, it’s international and just there in over a hundred countries.


Zack Oates : (11:40)

And so it was really cool to go into work there at the highest levels and, um, rewrite some huge processes and, and start an innovation program there and, uh, really have an impact in something that I cared about. Um, while, and I, I told you before, they only had me work 40 hours a week, so it’s like I had 40 hours a week to do, to build a business, you know, so that’s what I did. That’s when we really, um, the team and I, uh, built ovation was during that year of me doing that, uh, internal consulting and actually got back together with my first CTO that I built Imply Labs and give them this with, yeah. And now he’s the CTO, my business partner for Ovation as well. Oh, that worked that well. Yeah. Um, so with ovation, tell us a little bit like, what was the problem that you were solving?


Zack Oates : (12:33)

So in going to all of these dates, right, you want to know over a thousand dates, which means I’ve eaten more frozen yogurt than any human should. And between the traveling and the, uh, dating, I would eat out like 15 to 20 times a week. Yeah. And in doing so, what I realized was it was just crazy how the communication between a customer and the business was almost nonexistent. Yeah.


Bart: (13:00)

I mean, think about it as a transactional exist. Go and pay for your food, eat your food, leave.


Zack Oates : (13:05)

and bounce, right? They don’t know who you are or anything. And, and if you look at, if you look at online businesses, they can very easily measure customer experience. They can pixel you and, uh, track you and show you ads and invite you back. And they have a live chat where if you have any problems, you can talk to someone instantly.


Zack Oates : (13:25)

And yet you go into a physical place.


Bart: (13:29)

There’s irony there.


Zack Oates : (13:29)

There’s nothing isn’t that crazy? And people will go, Oh, the retail apocalypse, brick and mortars are going out of business. Well, yeah, there’s no way to bring people back or find out who they are unless you want to take some, you know, these antiquated loyalty apps where you have to like download this big thing and people don’t want to download apps anymore, right? Uh, just for like a single restaurant or retail store or you have these receipts surveys that nobody takes and takes like 26 digit unique codes they have to type in to get and write it on your receipt and bringing that receipt within three hours in order to get 50 cents off your big Mac. Like it’s just,


Bart: (14:07)

but at least someone circled where the receipt.


Zack Oates : (14:12)

And then, and then on the other side you have these online reviews where people go to just trash companies when anything goes wrong because there’s nowhere else to do it.


Zack Oates : (14:23)

And it just seemed preposterous that it was at the time 2016, 2017 and we were relying on receipt surveys or online reviews and I thought there had to be a better way. And so I started to interview business owners, a brick and mortar business owners. And, and as we started to surface restaurants and retailers had a huge problem with this and uh, they were getting raked across the coals cause people are three times more likely to leave a negative review. And especially the food and beverage industry, it is so critical to have an awesome online reputation. Right? Or you die. Yeah. And in travel industry as well. So, uh, that’s, that’s what it was. That’s what it came out of. It came out of like a frustration that I felt like I would, I, the only way that I could communicate to the business was by leaving them a negative review and every negative review loses on average 30 customers.


Bart: (15:16)



Zack Oates : (15:16)

And so it hurts. But I was like, how else am I supposed to tell them? Right. And then you have this other thing of a waiter or waitress comes up and they’re like, how was your meal? You’re like, Oh yeah, it was great. It was great. And they walk away, they’re like, man, my burger’s cold. Or like, man, these fries are kind of gross and the manager comes up, right? I don’t want to make a big fuss about it. And so what Ovation does, it surfaces those problems that otherwise would lead to negative reviews, unhappy customers, um, or just in general just dissatisfaction. And then we’re able to, um, to really leverage the customers that love it, to share their experience and come back. And so we’re taking these tools that online businesses have had for years and bringing them to the physical world.


Bart: (16:02)

And how do you do that in a non-app way?


Zack Oates : (16:04)

So what we do is we have, uh, you know, things that we’ll put on prem. So we have, you know, smiley face kiosks. We have table toppers with QR codes, we have posters with text. This number, uh, we have a basic loyalty, um, or integrations with POS. So we have a whole bunch of different ways that consumers can engage with the business through Ovation without ever downloaded an app. And the only thing they ever need to do, like the, the most amount of work is holding up their camera to one of our flyers. And it automatically opens up a webpage with one question, not 20, one question to say how was your experience? And if they loved it, we push it to share their experience and and um, we invite them to come back and this is all while staying compliant with all the terms and conditions of, you know, Google and Facebook, et cetera.


Zack Oates : (16:53)

And if they didn’t love it, we put them in direct contact with uh, the owner or manager and to the customer. It’s all text messaging. They don’t have to download, login, create an account. And to the business owner it’s a really simple app that they download on their smart phone. We’re in three clicks and five seconds they can respond to an upset customer and resolve that concern before it becomes a negative review and a lost customer. So you had to think about the customer experience as well as the business experience as you were creating this process. Like how can you make sure that it’s easy for both of them? Right? Yeah. Cause if you think about received surveys, that’s great for a business, but it’s very inconvenient for a customer. If you think about an online review, it’s very convenient for a customer, but it hurts the business, right? So what we needed to do was create something that was both easy for the customer and simple to manage. And that’s, that’s our whole premise around our, our product is again, easy for the customer, simple to manage and everything we do goes through those two filters before it goes through. Anything else.


Bart: (17:59)

And your focus here is really helping brick and mortar smaller or any size?


Zack Oates : (18:06)

Well, I mean we started off with the onesy twosy so that’s where like our heart is. Um, but we’re, we’re mainly working now with, you know, uh, nationwide chains.


Bart: (18:14)

Yeah. franchises. Yeah. Okay, cool. And so when you were at PWC, like did you see that the bigger companies, fortune 100 companies, were they doing this right or did you see a bunch of gaps at that level as well? And you were like, I need to fix this? Wherever I go.


Zack Oates : (18:33)

what I saw was a bunch of unique tools, not just, and what’s interesting is they weren’t just tools for the organization, but they were tools for departments of the organization. So different departments were using different tools and it was pretty dispersed, but it was based on what the needs of that department’s customers were. Yeah. And so what I saw was them building out all of these big custom tools and these smaller chains and brick and mortar businesses not having anywhere near the capacity to build that out. They didn’t have the custom tools. Exactly. So if I were able to take these learnings from being an entrepreneur, anything’s possible and learning what these fortune 100 companies are doing with customer experience and combine those, um, then we can create something that would help them to have the same, have similar power of the big companies without the, the dev.


Bart: (19:31)

The overhead. Yeah, exactly. So you mentioned, you know, really thinking about not just what’s easy for the business or not. What’s not, just what’s easy for the customer. Thinking about what’s good for both. What other common mistakes do you think people you know, business owners and entrepreneurs make when it comes to customer service or customer experience?


Zack Oates : (19:56)

Yeah. Well one thing that, you know, this is like, I’m on a personal mission for this one, but hours of operations, it drives me nuts. I mean like absolutely nuts when people don’t have their hours right online. I mean like, especially with things like holidays, like it’s really not that hard to change your hours to let people know if you’re going to be open or closed on a holiday. It’s really not that hard to like say you’re open at nine and open at nine so you close at five and close at five. What I see so many times is people who will say they close at five but like you go to a restaurant and what that means is the, the kitchen is closed and cleaned at five and so last orders are actually in at four 30 or something. Like, it’s like, no, no, no, no hours of operation are for your customers, not you, not your employees.


Zack Oates : (20:53)

So like if, if the whole place is empty, you know, and uh, and you say you’re not closing for another half hour. When people close early, they said she went into service based company that drives me nuts.


Bart: (21:08)

And the problem there is really not that there are specific hours, it sounds like it’s that the expectations aren’t properly set.


Zack Oates : (21:16)

That is exactly right. And, and just set the hours that could consumer can, can know what to expect. Like if you show up and it says it’s open for another half hour, it should be open for a half hour,


Bart: (21:28)

Which requires a little bit of like putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Exactly. What would they benefit from if we put that out there? And what does that tell the customer?


Zack Oates : (21:38)

You know, like it tells the customer you’re not important enough for me to stay open. Right. Um, and so that’s one of those things where it is, uh, I have left, like the most scathing negative reviews I’ve ever left have been because of that.


Zack Oates : (21:55)

Um, because it sends the wrong signal. It’s like, I could think about a time I went to go pick up a girl for a date one time. And uh, as I went to go pick her up, I showed up and she was in yoga pants and like a tank top. And I was like, and here I am in, I mean I’m not in like a suit and tie. I mean it’s not prom, you know, but I, I’m dressed up for a date and you’ve got a button down, shirt, button down, short sleeve shirt and you know, untucked jeans, dress shoes, like they’re normal date stuff. And I’m like, huh. And then she, I was like, well maybe she hasn’t gotten ready yet. I was like, Oh, so you ready to go? And she goes, Oh, let me grab a shirt. She opens up her closet, reaches into a pile of clothes, pulls out a crinkly collared shirt, smells it with you right there. Yeah. And then she kind of like squints and the nods her head and puts it, I’m like, wait a second, like, what is going on? And then I was like, okay. I was like, maybe she just wants to like do something, catch like a drive through maybe like I don’t know. So then the nail in the coffin was, she’s like, alright, let’s go. She pulls out, I kid you not Bart. She pulls out Crocs.


Zack Oates : (23:18)

I mean like we’re not, we’re not going gardening, going to a shower in some third world country. We’re going on a date and she’s wearing Crocs and then it dawned on me, ah, this isn’t a date, I’m just her straight gay best friend. And that was the last date we went on. But, but it’s a signal of what she was doing. Right. The fact that she had yoga pants and like wasn’t ready and didn’t really carry showing up and then put on Crocs. It’s like, what signals are you giving to your customers? Are your bathrooms clean? Does your sign do, are the lights on your sign lit up? Do your, do your employees greet them as they come in? Do they feel like they are cared about? Because if they don’t feel like they’re cared about, then why are they gonna come back? And when you care about someone that’s, that’s how you build a relationship with them.


Zack Oates : (24:11)

And Mark my words bar businesses of the future are going to be around in the future because they’ve built relationships with their customers. Without those relationships, you’re not going to have a company because there’s, it’s so easy to start businesses. That product and service is just table stakes. You have a great product and service. Awesome. That’s what people expect. And so what it’s about is how do you make them feel and the greatest of all human desires is the desire to feel important. And when you close up shop early, when you’re not greeting people, when you have dirty bathrooms and dirty floors and your tables aren’t clean or your clothes in in your retail shop are messed up or your employees are using foul language behind the counter, all of that communicates. And so either you’re communicating, Hey, I care about you. I want to have a relationship. Or you’re communicating, you’re disposable. Yeah.


Bart: (25:13)

Yeah. That’s interesting to think about. Like the difference between a business and a and a consumer or a customer in this case like business is really held to a different standard, right? Like yeah, totally. Obviously businesses can look at customers and decide to uh, you know, do I want this customer or not? But ultimately businesses generally want a lot of customers and they want to build those relationships. And so if they want to do that, what I’m hearing is think about what those customers will feel like. Think about what’s going to make those customers feel appreciated and important and think about like what will make that customer want to come back, not just the product or service but the environment and the way that you treat them. Like we’ve all been there in that restaurant when maybe not all of us, but I’m thinking about several times when I feel like I’ve been rushed out right when I’m enjoying myself, you know, and I probably as a customer should be thinking about the staff and you know, people waiting tables or are trying to close up and I should be, you know, thinking about them as well.


Bart: (26:22)

Right. So there is hopefully customers think about businesses and how they can treat businesses as well also. But I think the first step is those businesses treating customers well and over time those customers will treat the business as well also.


Zack Oates : (26:37)

Yeah. And, and there’s this, I think that’s, that’s a great distinction because there’s this erroneous bifurcation of individual behavior in a personal setting versus a professional setting. Humans are humans. Yeah. Yeah. They build a relationship with other humans the same way they build a relationship with the business. And if they feel like someone isn’t listening to them at a party and they got their head on a swivel looking for like someone else to talk to, who’s more interesting, they’re not going to want to build a relationship with that person. So too with the business and we think, well, I’ve got the best sandwiches in town. Nobody cares about your sandwiches if you’re being a douche bag. Right. And there are subtle ways that you can do that. But when it comes down to it, it’s like you do that by, uh, by, by showing them that you don’t care.


Zack Oates : (27:36)

And there, because everything communicates, you really need to look at it holistically from that customer perspective, like you were saying, and uh, and realize that your customers are humans. They’re not customers, they’re humans. First. You have to like build a relationship with them and the steps are very similar to building a relationship with someone that you’re dating versus a business person. Do you have any like, specific stories with ovation that you’d like to share? Like a customer that you have done? Just that you’ve treated them like a, a date? Yes. So, so let me tell you a story about, um, one of our customers. He runs a, uh, a fast casual chain, you know, healthy, great, great, uh, great company, great service, and he really cares about customer experience and he cares so much that before he was using ovation, he was using comment cards and a comment box, right?


Zack Oates : (28:32)

Like, you don’t see that too often, but ovation really in in essence has like a digital comment box type feel to it. Yeah. So one of his, uh, loyal customers who had been in quite a few times, um, said, you know, uh, it was a little bit frustrated, so used ovation and sent in some feedback and said, man, I wish you had vegan options. And by the way, it seems like you’ve gotten pretty chintzy on your portions. They seemed to be getting smaller. And he was like, that’s a weird comment. Like, we haven’t changed your portion size since we started. He called up the location of where she was, um, where she ate, found out that when they, a couple of weeks earlier, they hadn’t messed up and had put the wrong size scoop for the chicken. And so they actually had been given, been given half size portions for the last couple of weeks and they just didn’t know it because, you know, they just had the scoop there and that was just what everybody was using.


Zack Oates : (29:32)

Right, right. And so he was able to correct that issue. He wrote her back through ovation and said, first of all, we’re looking into vegan options. I’d love to run some ideas by you. Uh, and to, I found out that we’re using the wrong size scoop. Thank you so much for letting us know. And we apologize. You know, I wanted to personally apologize to you. So here’s a $10 gift card and you know, you could send promote promos through ovation as well. And it’s, now here’s this, here’s this woman who had eaten there a whole bunch of times, had an issue. There’s nowhere for her to leave that type of feedback. I mean, what she gonna do, leave a one star review when like everything has been good, but there’s just something that she wants to give feedback on. And you know, nobody uses common boxes and receipt surveys, you know, shouldn’t even know if it had them or not. And so there was ovation and she was able to give that feedback and she re and then all of a sudden she gets a text message from the CEO apologizing and thanking her and giving her a promo and she writes back like, wow, that was so unexpected. Uh, you’ve won me for life. Thank you for being such an awesome company. That’s fantastic. And, and that’s the power of ovation.


Bart: (30:44)

Turn a bad situation into something good and it strengthened at the end of the day. It strengthens the relationship.


Zack Oates : (30:51)

Wow. Yeah. And that’s the thing, Bart, is that these unhappy customers have the highest likelihood of becoming loyal customers. So if you have a dissatisfied customer, you have a 70% chance of turn that into a loyal customer. If you can resolve that concern quickly. And, and that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize. They think, you know, unhappy customer. Oh, well.


Bart: (31:13)

So the first step in that is create a way for people to give their feedback, uh, and something that’s convenient, something they’ll actually do.


Zack Oates : (31:22)

And then something on the, on the flip side, like, you know, some they’ll do. So you can collect feedback. Then on the flip side is something that’s easy to manage so they can respond. Yup. Right? So we’ve designed it so that customers aren’t expecting a response. Um, but we have such a high amount of feedback. We get 16 times more feedback than receipt surveys. And then on the engagement side, we get 18 times higher engagement than online reviews as far as winning, winning back and unhappy customer. And so we want to make it easy to actually take action, not just in an aggregate of like, Oh, these are the things that are going well in general. But like did you talk to Sandy, did you resolve Sandy’s concern? Okay, great. Prove it. And that’s what we really enable.


Bart: (32:09)

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So you know, as our builders are thinking about this, I’m sure they’re trying to apply it to their own businesses. Like, okay, what do I need to do to capture feedback? What do I need to do to be able to follow up and, and uh, turn a bad situation into something good. Can you provide maybe just, uh, you know, two, three pointers on how they could design that process?


Zack Oates : (32:32)

Yeah. So the first thing as far as like in looking at the architectural design of this is you need to architect solution that meets your customers where they are. Make it as convenient, as stupidly simple as possible where you are. It shouldn’t require any explanation or any training. Your, your staff shouldn’t even have to know that this program exists in order for your customers to start utilizing it, right? So it needs to be super simple and meet them where they are. Email is not where customers are typically, right. That is becoming more and more thing for spam and of the past and every, you know, we all get like these surveys. They’re like, how was your experience? And if the only way that you have to contact your customers via email then sure do that. But that’s not where your customers communicate. It’s not how they chat with their friends.


Zack Oates : (33:25)

So be where they are. So even for online businesses, you’re suggesting maybe chat or text or even text, why not bridge the physical and the digital and uh, so, so meet them where they are, making it convenient for them. Next is make it really easy to engage with them on an individual basis. Because when you respond personally to those dissatisfied customers, you have such a high likelihood of winning them back when they feel that they’re heard. Because when they feel heard, they feel important and their voice matters. Yeah. Um, and then quick example, I um, wrote honeycomb. So a year or two ago, honeycomb changed their recipe and they came out with like this new quote unquote and improved a recipe. Well, look, don’t mess with my childhood, right? Just leave it. Don’t touch it. Right. Just don’t mess with my childhood. And they did and I got very frustrated.


Zack Oates : (34:28)

So I wrote them a long Facebook post on their face, on their fan page, letting them know how frustrated I was that they changed the recipe and that I would never buy honeycomb again cause it tasted like some plastic imitation cereal. So, you know, I don’t think anything of it. Um, it was about six, seven months later, I get a message back from them on Facebook and it said, Hey, what’s your mailing address? We want to send you something. And so, sure, why not? I sent him my mail and address and I get a box of honeycomb, the original honeycomb with an a with an apology typed out in hand, signed, uh, apologizing for changing honeycomb. And they actually went back to the original restaurant recipe. Wow. And they took it off. Now I’m not saying this because of my faith, but years among others, they heard, they heard their customers.


Zack Oates : (35:28)

There was a huge backlash. And so they didn’t just say, Oh yeah, okay now we’ve heard in aggregate that nobody likes this new one. Sales have dipped. So we’re going to go back to the original recipe. No, no. What they did was they took time individually to respond to people who had voiced their frustration and that is customer service. And I am a honeycomb or for life now. And I just think that’s such a great, there was such a great customer experience to see that they heard the aggregate voice of they needed to make a change back and they handle it on an individual basis. And if you’re not doing the aggregate and the individual you’re missing out cause there’s two parts to making it better. One is making sure it doesn’t happen in the future and resolving the root cause of it and the other is resolving that individual customer.


Zack Oates : (36:19)

And then lastly is the principle of just take a step back, look at your business, look at your online assets, type in your business name, and use the word reviews after that. See what pops up, look at your physical presence, your bathrooms, your floors. Look how everything communicates. And think if this were the only thing, if the floor was the only thing I knew about this business, would it communicate that I mattered? Oh, I like that. And that is, so those would be like the three keys. Make it easy for them, manage it on both an individual and aggregate basis, and then look in and see if everything communicates. What does that one thing communicate? Yeah, I really like this. I appreciate it. So last question for you, Zack. Where to from here? Where to for you? Onwards and upwards and God, words we go.


Zack Oates : (37:09)

I love it. So you’re gonna keep building ovation just a couple of years in how many years? Yeah, we’re at, I’m a year and a half full time man, who? About two years since we hired our first employee. Okay. And things are going well? Yeah. We just closed a a seed round of $1 million and we have tripled the size of our company in the last six months. And so we’re, we’re growing, we’re cooking, but you’re going for profitability as soon as possible as what I hear. Exactly. Yep. So we have, we have growth, but we have steady growth. Um, and what’s great now that we have the money and a very clear path to profitability is that, uh, an investors who believe in our philosophy, um, is that we’ve got a steady growth business and we’ve got a vision for bridging the, uh, the digital and the physical world.


Zack Oates : (37:58)

And we have this vision for, for changing and revolution, revolutionizing the way that customers communicate with companies. And we are building a solid business to fund an awesome vision and not the other way around. We’re not like the sky in the pie or pie in the sky kind of company. We are, we’re building very, um, we’re, we’re building smart and we’re building steady. We’re smoldering. We’re not trying to like pop and burn and hope something sticks. Yeah. You want to keep those relationships. You want to keep the business going, you want to build a to stay. I love it. Exactly. Cool. Zack,


Bart: (38:36)

really appreciate you coming in today. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Bart. Appreciated builders visit built to stay for a printout of four things you can do today to improve your customer service experience. We’ll also have links to Zack’s blog and ovation, which I encourage you to check out

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