“CRM has fundamentally transformed customer interactions.”
1. Tell us about your role in X2Engine?
In my position as CEO of X2Engine, I am involved in all facets of the company — from strategy and marketing to finance and sales. Additionally, I oversee our team of engineers to propel our product forward, ensuring that our product is providing outstanding services to our customers.
I was asked to join the board of X2Engine, Inc. in early 2017, as I was blown away by X2CRM being the much needed next-generation CRM platform. Shortly after, I took the helm at X2Engine, to realize X2CRM’s potential as an enterprise-ready software company, not just an open source project.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
In 1988, I started one of the first CRM companies — Aurum Software, which went public in 1996. At that time, my background was large database implementations for Fortune 500 firms. I set out to build a marketing/sales solution and quickly realized that a central database with all customer interactions would give customers a complete view of their customer base and interactions and provide great insight into their customer base.
More recently, I was a COO at a platinum reseller for SalesForce Marketing Cloud. It exposed me to today’s company needs and how the gamut of marketing automation solutions didn’t fully suffice for some companies’ intentions. Oftentimes it’s due to data inconsistencies and lack of interoperating systems that are expensive to resolve.
When I first saw X2CRM, the tremendous advantage of having one solution perform all functions inherent to Sales, Marketing, Support with a common cloud infrastructure, a common database and a common language and a common workflow engine supporting all functional areas could be a game-changer to companies who demand more out of their software.
3. How do you think technology is changing the Marketing Sector?
Technology is completely redefining marketing because it’s supporting the theory that marketing isn’t linear, it’s unfixed in structure. Consumers are savvy, they interact with companies on a wide range of devices, during a wide variety of interests, places and requests, and each interaction needs to be handled in the most personal and direct way possible.
This consumer trend began because of technology – primarily smartphones. And now technology is shaping how companies market by enabling better analytics, better predictive measures, and more accurate and relevant communications.
We are fortunate that X2CRM has acknowledged this in its data structure and in its marketing automation, process and workflow structure so that companies can quickly capture and quickly respond to customer interactions.
4. Can you explain how digitalization has made companies more consumer focused?
Through digitalization and social channels, companies now receive immediate feedback to nearly all aspects of the company: their brand, pricing and offers, services or products, and finally their value that they deliver to their consumers. At the end of the day, it’s all about satisfaction and loyalty.
Digitalization allows companies to extract insights much earlier in the process and also more frequently so that if relationships are getting derailed, companies can rectify situations. This is a very consumer-focused behavior that we are now seeing B2B companies pursue. The rationale is that digitalization helps treat each contact as a unique, invaluable interaction.
5. How has CRM software contributed in customer satisfaction and Company Customer Relations?
CRM has fundamentally transformed customer interactions.
Customers now expect to be greeted by a representative who is fully aware of recent transactions and customer interactions including their purchase history and pre-existing issues. All customer interactions must be tracked within the CRM system to analyze the impact. X2CRM Enterprise has a powerful analytics engine that can compute what each customer activity means to the business.
6. How do you differentiate your CRM Software from other CRM software available in the market?
We admit, the CRM space is an awfully crowded market. We are often asked “why now” and “how will X2CRM break through these competitors?”
The first major difference is that X2CRM is a new solution that leverages the most notable and modern software technology advancements. Our architecture is proven to scale (it is what Facebook runs on), the X2CRM Enterprise runs on the most popular Cloud solutions (AWS and GCC), and the platform is natively expandable because it is open source.
Others that we are competing against usually can’t say that they do all of those three things. Either they are running on old architecture which is limiting their security and performance, running on a proprietary technology stack which limits integration, customization, and user experience, or they control the keys to the fortress by licensing it as closed source – which places CRM users in a contractual noose.
Because customer interactions have fundamentally changed with higher expectations, companies can’t tie together several end-point solutions to cover the customer journey evenly. The answer to “why now” is because customers are demanding more than what siloed solutions can deliver.
As for how will X2CRM break through the saturated market – we have seen that companies that are dissatisfied with their current solution set of multiple SaaS based tools come to us. And they do so with a caveat, such as “if you solve this for us, then we’ll switch.”
X2CRM Enterprise’s ability to significantly extend and handle unique customer data not found in competing CRM application packages gives us the advantage. X2CRM uses a “codeless” approach to quickly build new modules in days rather than months with other applications, providing our customers easy implementation and extendibility.
We break through the saturated market by showing the customer just how flexible the platform is, and how extreme customizations are easy to do. We play in the replacement market, and we do well by solving addressable problems by the customer.
7. If given a choice to select one, what according to you are more important, developing great products or customer service and satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is our top priority. Even if you provide a terrific product to clients, this does not ensure client satisfaction. Therefore, I believe that a complete focus on customer success is critical. Our business model includes options where we will do the entire implementation of X2CRM including conversion from legacy CRM and Marketing Automation. X2Engine purposefully designed a modern software solution that includes services and support, to help companies that want to maximize sales and marketing integration. Our investment in creating solid migration and support systems, allows clients to replace legacy CRM systems quickly, without productivity or information loss. At X2Engine everything — our product, marketing and service approaches — is focused on delivering customer satisfaction.
8. What advice would you like to give to the Martech startups?
First, experience and complete understanding of the current environment is critical to proper startup development. Research the prospective customer’s workday and identify an area that causes a problem that significantly impedes their business. Then, create a solution that solves that problem and solves it in a way that has some barriers to entry so you can have a sustainable business. Finally, as you introduce this innovation to the market, find proof points where you have removed the pain, and as evidence to begin investing sales and marketing.
9. What is the Digital innovation in Marketing according to you that will mark 2019?
Artificial intelligence innovations and advancements that are predictive and unique to customer journeys will bring the biggest changes to our technology.
10. How is the introduction of AI in Marketing helped in easing the functions of Marketing? How do you prepare for an AI Centric world?
Due to the amount of data that is captured by CRM processes, AI can and should be leveraged to provide services that streamline the sales and marketing processes. Also, open data sources expedite the computations that the ML and AI are evaluating.
AI-powered analytics can personalize the customer journey, but also ensure that automatic trigger of tasks and events will guarantee that all aspects of that journey are attended to.
11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Our major developments will be announced soon. They are all aligned to provide a better customer journey, including self-service accessibility and hyper-focused personalized communications. Both lend to a better and more effective customer interaction.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
We have a great team at X2Engine and break out of the traditional silo effect by having team members switch back and forth between groups and projects to allow everyone to interact with different technologies and different people. This allows everyone to gain an across-the-board perspective of the company and its product.
13. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?
Braveheart – because the main character didn’t accept the norm and created a revolution when the dynasty didn’t serve the people well enough. Although he dies in the end, the cause continued on and eventually changed the empire.
14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
Of course X2CRM (X2Touch), and for my traveling executive lifestyle I frequently use Uber, Lyft, Yahoo Finance, Waze, Hotel Tonight, WhatsApp, and Netflix.