Josh Kelly is the Co-Founder of RevuKangaroo, the world’s leading reputation management system, an automated SAAS business that has helped generate countless reviews for businesses on places like Google, Yelp, Facebook and more as well as growing actual revenue for clients, sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars.
Before devoting his work fulltime to RevuKangaroo, Josh had an extensive background in marketing, working at companies like Bonneville international, Parker and Sons, Dial (DMG) Inc and Clover Marketing.
He helped his own family business, a local heating, cooling, and plumbing company in Phoenix, grow from $7 million in revenue to over $100 million in just over 14 years and he has been featured on stages with the Zig Zigler Foundation, Dave Yoho and EGIA as well as major platforms like CBS, Fox, and NBC.
Yanique shared, so, it's fair to say then that you ended up in this business because of a pain point that you were experiencing, and I mean I'm sure many of our listeners, this will connect with them. Generally speaking, people typically end up in an entrepreneurial position many times because of some pain or discomfort that they felt that they could definitely find a solution for and of course a solution for other people who were experiencing the same pain and discomfort.
Josh agreed, literally, in their business like the plumbing HPC company is his first business. They were working their butts off to get reviews and to be positive and they have won awards, they've been recognized by Congress, they won the BBB Torch Award for Ethics, they were doing amazing quality customer service and great work but they were getting like 10 to 12 reviews a month and they're turning hundreds of calls. Now he gets 10 to 12 reviews a day and all are positive, it's totally transformed the business because it doesn't really matter as weird as it sounds you can have amazing customer service, you can have an amazing product, you can have amazing system, you've got amazing software, and if no one knows about it, it doesn't really matter that much. So, they had to find a way to let people know about it and the best way to do that right now is reviews.
Yanique reiterated, so, you were saying that you ended up in the reputation management business and it's not very easy.
Josh agreed and stated that it's easy now that they have a system and they have software to follow it and they have really simplified procedures it's really almost fully automated. Now, they have ton of reviews and they literally get millions of reviews a month for clients, all positive, driving them out to third party sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, depends what business that you're in and actually literally driving real revenue and real customers to you. So, now it's easy but it took a long time to get there, not like a month of development work, he’s talking years of development work and then years of refining and then talking to clients and figuring out, so it was not an easy path but now, if you join your RevuKangaroo, it's pretty turnkey. It's pretty simple, pretty fast and their average client grows about 18 percent in revenue with the first six months in the program specifically from them.
Yanique stated. So, this particular platform organizes your customers reviews of individual employees and pushes positive reviews to major websites and those websites include Google Plus, Yelp Facebook, Twitter and more. So, pretty much if I let's say I wanted to visit a restaurant that I'd never heard of before that maybe I was out and somebody said, “Oh, there's a new Mexican restaurant that opened up on X street,” and I decided to go on Google and I saw like a Google review, your platform allows that restaurant to be able to have people rate their restaurant to get a good Google percentage rate.
Josh agreed and stated that that's the way consumers work right now. So, if you're to go to a restaurant or a hotel or hire a service, the vast majority of people about 87% of people look you up online beforehand. That's the current statistics it's actually growing. And the first thing they look at is reviews, actually 87 percentage people that looked at your reviews. So, restaurants are a great example. If you've never been to a restaurant and you're trying to find a specific type of restaurant, most people are going to google it and or go on Yelp depending on where you're located in the world and look at the reviews. Now here's the problem with that system as a business if you just allowed it to happen. Customers are fickle, they just are, if you had a really great experience at a restaurant and the food was really good that's what you're supposed to do. So, it's actually pretty hard to get positive reviews, however, if you've made a mistake which happens, if someone had to wait or the spice level was off on that dish or whatever it is, any single dish that can happen. It's way easier to get negative reviews and it's just a hard thing, like you have to drive a lot of reviews for it to really make a difference too. If you're a restaurant and you've got 15 reviews that doesn't make him feel really comfortable, he’s sure you're the same way. So, it's a numbers game too. So, what they've essentially done is if you need reviews on Google what they're going to do is they create an online funnel for you on your website. They automatically email and text message all of your customers asking how your service was and they actually tie it just like you said to a team member. So, what he means by that, if you're a restaurant, they're actually going to write a review on your server or maybe a bartender and the reason they do that is it tends to skew a lot more positively and they get way more feedback. It's really hard to get a review on the ambiance of a restaurant or how nice the tablecloths are or whatever. It's much easier to get review on, Jennifer the server because you had a relationship, you talk to them, good or bad right. And they say, “Hey, how is your service with Jennifer from 1 to 5 stars?”If it was an amazing experience they automatically drive it out to those third party sites, they pre populate the stars, they make sure it's landing where they can actually drive business for you. They had a bad experience instead of right now them going out to Google and become a permanent mark on your business, they're instead going to collect that customer's information, find out exactly what happened, find out which team member it happened with and send it to the management team and say, “Hey, this customer had an issue with this team member, here's exactly what happened, why don’t we reached back out to them, make it right.”
So, you're getting a chance to recover that negative experience before it kind of firestorms and gets out of control.
Josh agreed, and here's what happens, let's say that customer you turn around and now has an amazing experience, if that one-star review is out on Google, good luck changing them. The truth is that customer totally turned around now loves your business, it happens all the time but that one-star reviews stays there and other people they're looking up your business, they don't get the context to that, they don't get to find out that you turned around amazing service or that was a one off or was a weird experience or that's not normal. All they see is a one-star and a bad description. So, it's really important that you take control of your online reviews because the truth is your online reputation is happening with or without you. The customer is in control and they should be, but he thinks you should have a say in it. If there was a bad experience, he would want to know about it and he wouldn't want it to be permanent, if he could fix that and turn it around then leave him a review then. And truthfully, if they had a really bad experience and then you followed up with them and the customer hates you even more because you did a really bad job of following up then that's understandable, then ok maybe this isn't a one off, maybe this is just a bad business. Then it's going to show up on Google anyway, but for so many businesses they do great business and they're great people with great products or services and you look them up online and it just doesn't show it and he doesn't think that's fair.
Yanique shared, it's interesting you mentioned a little bit of digitization and a little bit of humanization and how I ended up in this business of doing podcasting was, I am a customer service trainer, that's what I do for a living. And so, I figured podcasting would be a great platform for me to reach more people and build more awareness around customer experience but one of the things I've found over the years is I really don't think people are going to want that fully digitized experience at some point. They still want to deal with another human being. I think technology is great and it does definitely help to accelerate the process to make things much easier, it definitely makes your life more convenient freeing your time to do the things that clearly brings you closer to your goals. But for some things especially when you're feeling a pain like as you said there is a plumbing situation or your cable breaks down or there is an issue with your kid at school, you will have to have some interaction with another human being. How do you see that manifesting with this whole digital revolution with chat bots and everybody trying to technologize their businesses? But at the same time as you mentioned still handholding and having that human element in the business that people still feel like they're not a transaction but they're a person.
Josh stated that he actually thinks this really kind of depends on your business and your industry. Like he said if you're selling spoons you could pretty much automate stuff. A school is a great example, like that's a personal thing, it's important. That would be in his opinion really horrible to digitalize, that's much more handholding than most others. You could make the argument, “Hey, you could put kids in school, and you make them watch videos and that's consistent.”But he doesn’t think anyone wants to do that. But some people think of business like that, and they shouldn't. He thinks digitizing and systemizing and automating is a beautiful, wonderful tool and he thinks more and more people should use it. He thinks it's like any new technology though, what's going to happen is people are going to overuse it at first, they're going to get excited about it, they're going to go too far which is kind of what people are starting to do now. And then once they go too far, they realize, “Hey, that was too much,”and they'll start dialing back. A good example is like smartphones, everybody loves and uses a smartphone almost across the world. Children are given smartphones now at a young age, he didn't have that technology when he was growing up of course. But now like it was essentially they gave them the phone and they have free access, now parents are very aware of what's happening on their kids phone or more so, they're more restricted, they have hours that they're allowed to be on their phones and they’re not, they're adjusting backwards right and realizing a natural balance, everything works in balance. So, he thinks short term, he thinks more and more businesses are going to move towards automation as a way to save money and then over time they'll move back from the automation some to improve their customer experience.
Yanique agreed and stated that everything should be done in balance because at the end of the day we're still human and connectivity is so important. As you mentioned earlier because I'm the mother of a 13 year old and you're right, you give them the phone and you give it to them with no restrictions, no boundaries are set when the phone was presented to them but then over time you recognize that the phone is not taking precedence over the things that will really help them to be more successful. So, now you have to put boundaries in and clearly Apple realized that because they created Screen Time where parents can no shut the phone down, shut down their accessibility to certain apps without even having to have that interaction with the child because they would be on an app or a playing a game and at 9 o'clock the phone shuts down, it's bedtime because failing that you can tell them to shut the phone off but unless you're going to stand over them physically, how do you know that when you close that bedroom door and going to your room to sleep that they're really shut the phone off and they're not playing that game. So, balance is very, very important.
Yanique mentioned which dovetails back into the things that motivate you when you mentioned it's all about helping your people to grow and develop and help them achieve their goals and if they're able to do that then you feel like you've been motivated and it kind of pushes you forward to go on to the next day.
Facebook – Josh Kelly
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Nick Mehta is CEO of Gainsight, the Customer Success company. He works with a team of nearly 700 people who together have created the customer success category that's currently taking over the SAAS business model worldwide. Nick has been named one of the Top SAAS CEO’s by the Software report three years in a row, one of the Top CEO’s of 2018 by Comparably, he was a finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and holds one of highest Glassdoor approval ratings for CEO’s. On top of all that, he was recently rated the #1 CEO in the world (the award committee was just his mom, but the details are irrelevant). He also co-authored “Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue,” the authoritative book on this field. He is passionate about family, football, philosophy, physics, fashion, feminism, SAAS customer success and people have told him it’s impossible to combine all of those interests, but Nick has made it his life’s mission to try.
…………“Hey, can I help you learn about the product?
………….Can I help you learn how to use this new feature?
…………Can I be more proactive with you?”
And so, Gainsight's all about helping our customers use data to be proactive with their customers, to basically help them be more satisfied but also spend more money over time. They do that in a lot of different ways, they can do that if you've got big customers and where you're like managing them in a more kind of a human fashion, they can also do that in a way where Gainsight can be kind of embedded inside your website or your experience kind of like nudging the customer to do the right things in a more digital way. “Humanizing the Digital Experience!”
Outcome meaning, “I have a goal, I'm trying to achieve something.” And you can think of car ride as an example. He’s not trying to buy a car, he’s not even trying to rent a car, he’s trying to get from place A to place B, that's the outcome. And Uber, Lyft, other companies helps him achieve that outcome. With Airbnb, he’s trying to have a great experience with his family on travel, Airbnb delivers that outcome. And so, he’s not thinking as much about booking a hotel or booking reservations, he’s thinking about getting this outcome. And so, that concept of the vendor, the company being responsible for both a very personalized experience as well as owning the outcome. And think of the old world with the car, you buy a car and you buy a physical car and at the end of the day, it's your job whether you driving it or not, whether you know how to get to place A to place B, whether you get lost, whether you take the right route, it's your job. But when you hire Uber, Lyft, anyone else, it's their job to own the outcome, they have to make sure you have a good experience, they have to be price competitive, but they own the outcome. So, the thing that's changed is vendors are expected of very personalized experiences and to truly own the outcome in this new world.
Yanique stated that that's a mighty revolution there that were experiencing.
Nick stated that it’s huge and he thinks it's actually hard because it's a totally different mindset. You used to say like, “Hey, I make this widow, I deliver this service.”But now it's like, “No, I deliver this outcome.”And it's a higher bar, it can be stressful sometimes, but also very rewarding if you do it right.
Yanique agreed. Because the flip side is if you're really doing what you're doing right, then it means that your customers will walk and speak great things about you and they're going to talk about their personalized experience, they're going to talk about from top to bottom and everything in between and a lot of times none of your marketing captures all of that.
Nick agreed and thinks that that's so much bigger now because that advocacy, that informal word of mouth and because of social digital, it's everything. He'd argue nowadays it's very unlikely that a customer's going to buy from you without having talked to somebody who's worked with you before, either informally or through a review site, like a Yelp or something else. So, your customers are your growth engine now in this new world.
Yanique mentioned, customer service, I've picked up what you said a while ago in terms of it's really hard and how I even got into this whole podcasting thing is that I'm a customer service trainer and I figured, okay, podcasting is really becoming popular and so this is a good way for me to have a platform where I can reach more people and bring greater awareness to customer experience. And so, one of the things I say to my participants in the training is customer service is one of the hardest jobs that you can ever do because the biggest part of any organization is the people. And it's funny because yes, data is so important and we're driven by data nowadays and things are digital, but I just don't see us getting to that point in customer experience where people aren't going to want to deal with another human being. Even with the rise of digitization, what's your thoughts on that?
Nick agreed, there's these sorts of two trends that are happening that can be kind of at odds with each other, but he thinks they're synergistic. There's this obviously amazing data and automation version of the future where we don't have a role on the planet anymore or we're merged with the robots or whatever, maybe that'll be fun who knows. But he thinks that with any trend, there's a countertrend the end of the Yang and the Yang is that people actually value human connection maybe more than ever, perhaps because it's a little bit more sparse nowadays because he has young kids at home and his oldest is 13, and just as is well documented, you'll see how little time they spend with people face to face anymore and so there's this sort of pure digital experience, which is great, but it means that all the human experiences are so much more special. And so, to him what that means in the field that folks in this podcast are in is that job of humanizing the experience has never been more important. Now you start to leverage the data, leverage the automation, you don't have to do all the busy work anymore, but your ability to put a human being in front of that is he thinks it's still as important as ever and he thinks one of the things that's interesting is as you probably see in your work too, call centers, some of them are switching back to like, “We're going to put a human on that first ray.” The automated stuff is great and sometimes some of that automation is allowing us to have certain customers that we're going to just put a human being there so they can have that human experience and he thinks that that's never been more important. He also thinks that on the flip side, we need to acknowledge that for our workforce, because frankly, otherwise these jobs become super demoralizing and he thinks we have to acknowledge the humanity in our workforce and leverage that and really celebrate that, not just treat them. The expression he loves to try to eliminate is employees are our greatest assets, which is implying that their assets, which they're not, they're not on your balance sheet, they're human beings and so really kind of trying to humanize the relationship with employees, which he thinks in the last 30 years as a society predicament America, we've gotten wrong where we've sort of thought of the employees much more as just a cog in the system.
Yanique agrees. Without the employee, the business really cannot function because you need people for the business to function.
Nick shared that he highly recommends it, it's a quick read, but definitely an eye because you realize how much more you can do. He thinks if you open your eyes to how you can create trust in your team. The second book he'd recommend, another one that was very influential from the business side, it's called The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answer, it's by a venture capitalist named Ben Horowitz, who is a CEO as well previously. And it's a great book because he realizes there's not any like book you can write about just being a CEO or being a leader that has transferable lessons because every situation is different. So instead, he talks about basically how everything is hard, and you have to sort of accept that and maybe there's some kind of therapy and he'll talk to you about the challenges. So, he talked about all these challenges in his company as it almost fell apart but ended up being very successful. So, those are two he thinks on the work side that he'd recommend. On the personal side, he will say, admitting something about himself, he’s big on vulnerability and he'll say that one of his many flaws is he has a massive fear of missing out. He’s always wondering what somebody else is doing right now at any given point, whether it's at work or otherwise and FOMO as people call it and there's a very funny book by Mindy Kaling who's a comedian in the U.S called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)and it absolutely captures his sentiment at most times, which is, “Is everyone doing something fun and I'm not invited?”So, that's a little bit more into the window of who he is.
Twitter - @nrmehta
LinkedIn – Nick Mehta
Yanique re-confirms, so, basically gratitude to appreciate what you're going through and also just to be persistent and resilient in anything that you're doing and just never give up.