Interview with CRO, Chatbox – Brad Epker


“Rather than speaking to digital messaging, I’d like to speak specifically to mobile messaging”

1. Tell us about your role in Chatbox?
As the Chief Revenue Officer, I oversee all Go To Market activities including sales, alliances and marketing.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
My aim is to help organizations fix broken processes and drive both operational efficiency as well as customer experience improvements. There are literally thousands of technologies that claim to do this, but I’ve always gone to work for companies with products that I personally would actually use, and have a very strong value proposition. As a salesperson, I was one of the biggest consumers of business cards and getting them was a real pain before using ImageX (later bought by FedEx Kinkos) to order them online. A few years later I went to work for DocuSign because I recognized the hardest part of getting a contract completed was getting a physical signature. I am very proud to have helped make DocuSign a household name. Now I am working with Chatbox to help fix antiquated methods of communication like phone and email. I believe that businesses should be communicating with their customers in the same expeditious way that people are communicating between themselves, and that is with text messaging. Today, we are all living in a mobile-first world. Chatbox’s enterprise texting platform is helping every kind of consumer spend less time on the phone or in email by allowing them to simply text their requests, and it’s helping companies be more effective by alternating between automation and customer service agents based on the customer need.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing Sector?
It’s clear that consumers have increasingly high expectations of the products they use , the places they visit, and services that they receive. They actually want to build relationships with companies. They want to be rewarded for their loyalty, and they want all of this to be easy and fast. The only way to make that happen is with the right combination of technology and people. This should start with basic communications, and text messaging.

4. Can you explain how use of automated chat system has benefitted marketing professionals?
Even though the company is called Chatbox, our specialty isn’t live chat in the traditional sense, meaning on a website or tethered to a computer. Instead we think SMS first. Speaking specifically to automated communications tools on mobile devices, I think the benefit to marketers is allowing them to expand their reach in a scalable way. Snail mail and email have been seeing decreased engagement for many years, so having another channel to use to connect with customers is hugely important. A great example of this was when I recently notices on a friend’s phone there were over 100,000 unread emails, and zero unread text messages.

5. How does your platform contribute in better customer acquisition and satisfaction?
How many hours of your life have you spent on the phone with customer service trying to get an issue resolved, or better yet, on the phone with sales trying very hard to give someone your money? I truly have not seen an easier way to facilitate some kind of service, support or sales transaction than the Chatbox platform provides via SMS, chat and Instant Apps. Many of the companies considering Chatbox have told me the same.

6. How do you differentiate your chatting platform from other such platforms?
Many of the companies in our space are focused on sms message deployment, meaning it’s a one-way process. You get the message, but you can’t respond. In order to take any action you still have to email, call, or go online. Our platform for bi-directional text messaging supports genuine conversations, and responses to outbound messages can be processed either through automation or routed to a live agent who can help. The companies interested in Chatbox often have five vendors or more providing different services to create the customer experience they want to project, which also means that reporting on results and improving the process is more difficult.

7. What are your predictions on the future of digital messaging?

Rather than speaking to digital messaging, I’d like to speak specifically to mobile messaging.

The emergence of mobile chat apps like Whatsapp and WeChat made a lot of sense when mobile data was less affordable. Generally speaking, I think people will actually have fewer apps on their phones, not just for chat but for purchases, bookings, scheduling, etc. This is due to a combination of privacy concerns regarding what apps do with personal data plus the growing number of hacking attempts. I think people will want hyper personalized conversations based on a specific need or requirement , done with a combination of sms messaging and one-time use micro-apps, which are really just web forms that capture the needed data, process the transaction and then basically go away.

8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
At Chatbox, we’re constantly seeking to understand the common challenges for smaller, innovative tech companies. Based on my experience, I would say:
● Focus on selling customer value, and not selling technology. Tech changes, but offering true customer value never gets old
● Invest in sales and marketing as soon as you have the capital to do it. Repeatable business is not done by word of mouth and a personal network alone.
● Fail quickly and learn from it.
● Focus on repeatability. Your technology solutions, sales and marketing programs, and internal processes can’t always be one-off. That’s the only way to scale.

9. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2019?
Tell me if you find a good one. I continue to have challenges with conference calls dropping, meeting reminders that disappear, dead zones in terms of phone reception when I’m on sales calls, and an inability to easily pull the metrics that allow me to manage my business. Anyone who can genuinely improve upon the existing and commonly used sales technologies will warrant some of my time. Honestly, Chatbox itself has become a routine part of my sales process. When someone asks what we do, I just tell them to text a number and not only can they experience it themselves, they’ve given me the best way to reach and interact with them. That’s not the best use of Chatbox, but for me, it feels like one of the most innovative sales tools that I’ve used in years. Ultimately it boils down to meeting your customers communication requirements where they live. We all live in a text first world. Businesses need to pay attention to that trend.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world as a leader?
You know the saying, “Trust but verify”? That’s a core philosophy of mine. AI can only get us so far. It needs to be successfully deployed in combination with knowledgeable people. If I am presented with an option to “chat with a representative”, I might spend a few moments trying to find what I need, knowing that it’s most likely searching a database of canned answers. But like most folks, I get antsy pretty quickly if I don’t find the solution to my problem. Businesses deploying AI and bot solutions need to allow users to seamlessly transition from AI to a real person when they need one.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
We just received notice of a provisional patent for Authenticated SMS. This allows the recipient of a business related text message to verify that the sender really is who they claim to be. The process is easy for the recipient and lends credibility to the organizations that are sending the messages. We hope to make this feature generally available soon.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I’m fortunate to be working with multiple people who have worked with or for me at more than one company. I’ve known everyone on my team for at least 10 years and some 20 years! This means that we’re able to move quickly because the rapport has already been built. Most of us have been in the same industries, with a focus on B2B2C, and we all have experience with nascent tech products and building a market from almost nothing.

13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?

Chatbox celebrating 5 years back in March 2019.

A number of Chatbox’s employees are remote, like Scott Fortin (one of our co-founders), based in Victoria, BC. Here he is giving a “fireside chat” (note the candle).

A favorite challenge of remote employees during conference calls is catching screenshots of in-office employees perfectly positioned in front of the main conference room artwork.

And here’s me! Go Buckeyes [NOT…I lost a bet]!! Go Spartans!!

14. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?
Saving Private Ryan – I truly appreciate the generation that showed us what real dedication, persistence, selflessness is all about. I think this movie does what I would consider the best job or portraying these amazing characteristics.

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?

Spotify, FlyDelta, Slack and most of all…text messaging.

Brad Epker is the Chief Revenue Officer at Chatbox. He has experience of over 30 years Sales & Sales Management, with most time spent in Fortune 500 C+ Sales Experience. In addition, 19 years of Start-up Company Sales & Market Development. He has done MBA in Technology Management, specializing in early stage go to market execution.

ChatBox is a simple, scalable solution for communicating with customers in their preferred medium — messaging. It enables a new kind of collaboration between brands & their customers over text, live chat, social, and email.
Chatbox believes that digital messaging is the future of communication.

For more information please visit our Website.

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