Fact checking with: Alexander de Ruiter – CEO
As CEO and founder of OBI4wan Alexander has realized an enormous growth of the company together with co-founder Alex Slatman and a dedicated team over the past 8 years. We interviewed Alexander about the mission of OBI4wan, current trends and developments in the market and last but not least his recipe for success.
1. What is the mission of OBI4wan?
“The digitalization that took place over the past years had a profound impact on the way organisations communicate with their customers and to the outside world. With the rise of social media a completely new channel to interact with customers, to share information and to publicly receive feedback emerged. As a result the number of service messages that organisations receive via social media and messaging channels increased significantly over the past years. At the same time, the expectations of consumers towards organisations and their service are steadily growing. Complaints about poor service or negative events can go viral in no time via social media and cause damage to a company’s reputation.
And this is where OBI4wan comes in. Our mission is to put organisations in genuine contact with their customers. From our offices in Zaandam (NL), Berlin and Brussels, our team of experts supports clients all over the globe in engaging with their customers in an efficient and meaningful way and in managing their reputation. We offer software solutions and services for customer engagement, chatbots, reputation management, media monitoring and action-oriented insights based on data and artificial intelligence. With our solutions we empower organisations to surpass their customers’ expectations by delivering fast, personal, efficient and multichannel customer care.”
2. OBI4wan delivers software solutions to organisations that focus on innovation. What are the most important trends and developments in the market?
“I see a couple of trends in the market. If you look at our media monitoring solution, organisations today are trying to predict what is going to happen in the future based on historical data. In this way they are able to forecast, if something is going viral or turning into a crisis. So instead of only focusing on what is happening today, organisations are trying to be ahead of time by using the available data in a smart way.
When it comes to user engagement and customer service, we see a trend away from public conversations to one-to-one contact between organisations and consumers. So more and more organisations choose to implement new channels that support private communication. Especially messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger but also live chat and upcoming channels such as Google RCS and Apple Business Chat have a huge potential and help organisations adapting to the changing environment.
Also the application of chatbots and ai in customer service becomes broader. With chatbots that answer simple and recurring questions in a fast and effective manner, organisations have a tool in hand to handle the growing number of requests via online channels while offering high quality service. By automating simple questions, customer service agents can focus on adding real value to the conversation with customers. Our chatbots work in the same environment as customer service agents so that at any moment during the conversation a warm-handover from chatbot to agent can take place. In this way you combine the best of two worlds and as a result customer satisfaction as well as employee satisfaction is going up.”
3. What does digitalization mean for customer contact and how can organisations respond to this?
“In the past, customer contact was mainly handled via telephone and email. Today, there is much more focus on modern channels, such as messenger and live chat. It is not an option for organisations anymore to not be present on these channels. In today’s digitalized world, organisations need to look at where their customers are and to make it as easy as possible to get in touch. However, being present at multiple channels at the same time is a big challenge – if not handled well you easily lose the overview. Therefore it is important to bring all channels together in one platform. In this way, you have all conversations in the same environment and your customer service employees can answer directly from there. Having all data in one platform, also enables you to create 360 degree views of your customer.”
4. OBI4wan has grown explosively in recent years and has received several awards for this. What are the most important guidelines for an organisation that wants to grow fast?
“There are a couple of important factors that contribute to success. First of all you need ambition and set goals that are realistic and challenging at the same time. Next, you need employees that are not only highly motivated and passionate about their job, but also share the same vision. You also need to be willing to take (calculated) risks and strive for more. Financial health is also an important factor for growth, seeking external funding can be a good option.”
5. What tips would you like to give other organisations?
“One thing that I have learned is that you need to be focussed and set your goals but at the same time you also need to be willing to change your proposition based on your experience in the market. After all you want to create a product that the market is ready for and if that is not the case, you need to adapt and change.”