We are happy to introduce a new series of “Engaging Startups”. Like many other startups in the world, we provide companies with the opportunity to foster the one-on-one dialogue with their customers, make business life easier, and ultimately save them precious time and money.
But, what exactly is the mission of these startups? How do they approach customer engagement? What can other startups learn from them?
We had a talk with Arne Bassez, Founder and CEO at Belgian startup Skedify in Ghent, that kicked off in February 2014 and is still in its early stages. Their mission? Trying to take the tediousness out of scheduling by creating software that makes scheduling appointments online by customers with enterprises go a lot more smoothly. According to Arne, scheduling an online appointment should only take one minute. This hopefully saves companies a lot of time and money and ultimately boosts the sales process.
What led you to the idea of online appointment scheduling?
In my last year at college – about a year ago – I realized there were only a few applications available designed to make online appointment management easier. People, and companies, simply lose too much time over scheduling appointments. The average internet user loses around two weeks per year to be precise. I decided to dive into this topic and wrote my master’s thesis about high-tech entrepreneurship.
With a couple of other enthusiasts, we developed innovative solutions for appointment and time management. We made sure we didn’t lose track of the needs of our target audience and figured out if these solutions would work in real life. We quickly realized service companies with a large network of offices, such as the banking industry, insurance companies, real estate firms, and job consultancy firms, stand to benefit the most from our solution. They simply have the most to gain from a customer relationship and an operational excellence point of view. In addition, online scheduling for large enterprises is much more complex and challenging, which gives us a unique selling proposition.
Customers are desperately looking for ways to engage with companies. What value does Skedify offer to boost customer engagement?
The expectations of customers have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. They not only expect a high-level service, they demand personalized support in real-time. It’s crucial for companies to treat them as individuals and not just as a number or a box that needs to be ticked.
“A relationship with a customer is defined by just a few ‘moments of truth’ that will determine whether that customer wants to keep doing business with you.”
In my opinion, brand perception isn’t determined by the amount of times you surf on a company’s website, but by a few “moments of truth”. When customers deal with an issue or a question, companies should be able to seize this moment of engagement with a personalized and qualitative approach. This really is a “make or break” situation: customers will either decide to keep doing business with you or they will look for a [better] alternative.
In that way, Engagor and Skedify offer a service that is very much alike. We share the same story telling companies that, “your customers are online and are desperately looking for ways to engage with you to get the support they need”. Engagor facilitates that conversation through social media, and Skedify streamlines the process of getting the online customer the face-to-face interaction they want and need. Online and offline support, both of which are complementary. It’s all about engaging your customer in that moment of truth.
Which trends and evolutions are important to your product?
Scheduling appointments online is buzzing. In Europe, however, just a few, trendsetting companies have managed to implement this successfully. Within the next few years, online scheduling will become a best practice for enterprises just like social media has become a way to provide support to your customers.
Moreover, there’s a significant rise in people using their online agenda. As of this year, more than half of internet users manages their agenda online. Skedify not only enables customers to immediately see when they are able to schedule an appointment with a company, but they can even compare it to their own online agenda in the same view. This, of course, makes finding the perfect fit a piece of cake. Scheduling appointments with Skedify only takes about a minute or less, which wasn’t the case in the past at all.
Startups are everywhere, so what’s Skedify’s take on startup marketing?
I cannot stress enough how important content marketing is for a startups. Pretty soon, we’ll start with an exciting content marketing strategy of our own. Over the last couple of months, we have worked day and night to get to know the in’s and out’s of online scheduling for enterprises. It’s important, before you start “selling” your product to the world, that you clearly understand who your target audience is and what their main struggles are.
“Before you start selling your product to the world, understand your target audience and make sure you are able to provide a solution to their struggles. Otherwise, your message simply won’t resonate.”
Online scheduling is not just a marketing tool, it has a very significant impact on the way companies operate these days. Every member in the decision making unit of a company has its own challenges, issues, and struggles when it comes to online scheduling. Our goal is to spread out very specific content to these people that perfectly answers their questions. The message we craft has to address the needs of our target audience and prove that we know everything there is to know about online scheduling. Otherwise, our message simply won’t resonate.