CXChronicles Podcast

CXChronicles Podcast 207 with Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply

August 28, 2023 Adrian Brady-Cesana Season 6 Episode 207
CXChronicles Podcast 207 with Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply
CXChronicles Podcast
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CXChronicles Podcast
CXChronicles Podcast 207 with Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply
Aug 28, 2023 Season 6 Episode 207
Adrian Brady-Cesana

Hey CX Nation,

In this week's episode of The CXChronicles Podcast #207 we  welcomed Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply based in Capetown, South Africa. 

Timetoreply software empowers your team members to perform their best, all of the time by showing them their live email stats and automatically prioritizing the emails and leads they need to attend to next. 

Team managers get real-time dashboards to track metrics & reply times, email volume, resolution times and follow-up cadences across shared and individual mailboxes. 

In this episode, Howard and Adrian chat through how he has tackled The Four CX Pillars: Team,  Tools, Process & Feedback and shares tips & best practices that have worked across his own customer focused business leader journey.

**Episode #207 Highlight Reel:**

1. Understanding & learning from your earliest customers about how to deliver value 
2. Finding signals, clues & customer opportunities in your inbox 
3. Keeping your tech-stack simple to help drive growth + ease scale
4. Understanding your customer journey & creating clear lines of ownership
5. Prioritizing your team's ability to act upon customer feedback regularly
 
Huge thanks to Howard for coming on The CXChronicles Podcast and featuring his work and efforts in pushing the customer experience & customer success space into the future.

Click here to learn more about Howard Moodycliffe

Click here to learn more about Timetoreply

If you enjoy The CXChronicles Podcast, stop by your favorite podcast player and leave us a review today.

You know what would be even better?

Go tell one of your friends or teammates about CXC's content, CX/CS/RevOps services, our customer & employee focused community & invite them to join the CX Nation!

Are you looking to learn more about the world of Customer Experience, Customer Success & Revenue Operations?

Click here to grab a copy of my book "The Four CX Pillars To Grow Your Business Now" available on Amazon or the CXC website.

For you non-readers, go check out the CXChronicles Youtube channel to see our customer & employee focused video content & short-reel CTAs to improve your CX/CS/RevOps performance today (politely go smash that subscribe button).

Contact us anytime to learn more about CXC at INFO@cxchronicles.com and ask us about how we can help your business & team make customer happiness a habit now!

Huge thanks to our newest CXCP sponsor Timetoreply. Visit their website today at www.timetoreply.com/cxc

Reach Out To CXC Today!

Support the Show.

Contact CXChronicles Today

Remember To Make Happiness A Habit!!

Show Notes Transcript

Hey CX Nation,

In this week's episode of The CXChronicles Podcast #207 we  welcomed Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply based in Capetown, South Africa. 

Timetoreply software empowers your team members to perform their best, all of the time by showing them their live email stats and automatically prioritizing the emails and leads they need to attend to next. 

Team managers get real-time dashboards to track metrics & reply times, email volume, resolution times and follow-up cadences across shared and individual mailboxes. 

In this episode, Howard and Adrian chat through how he has tackled The Four CX Pillars: Team,  Tools, Process & Feedback and shares tips & best practices that have worked across his own customer focused business leader journey.

**Episode #207 Highlight Reel:**

1. Understanding & learning from your earliest customers about how to deliver value 
2. Finding signals, clues & customer opportunities in your inbox 
3. Keeping your tech-stack simple to help drive growth + ease scale
4. Understanding your customer journey & creating clear lines of ownership
5. Prioritizing your team's ability to act upon customer feedback regularly
 
Huge thanks to Howard for coming on The CXChronicles Podcast and featuring his work and efforts in pushing the customer experience & customer success space into the future.

Click here to learn more about Howard Moodycliffe

Click here to learn more about Timetoreply

If you enjoy The CXChronicles Podcast, stop by your favorite podcast player and leave us a review today.

You know what would be even better?

Go tell one of your friends or teammates about CXC's content, CX/CS/RevOps services, our customer & employee focused community & invite them to join the CX Nation!

Are you looking to learn more about the world of Customer Experience, Customer Success & Revenue Operations?

Click here to grab a copy of my book "The Four CX Pillars To Grow Your Business Now" available on Amazon or the CXC website.

For you non-readers, go check out the CXChronicles Youtube channel to see our customer & employee focused video content & short-reel CTAs to improve your CX/CS/RevOps performance today (politely go smash that subscribe button).

Contact us anytime to learn more about CXC at INFO@cxchronicles.com and ask us about how we can help your business & team make customer happiness a habit now!

Huge thanks to our newest CXCP sponsor Timetoreply. Visit their website today at www.timetoreply.com/cxc

Reach Out To CXC Today!

Support the Show.

Contact CXChronicles Today

Remember To Make Happiness A Habit!!

CXChronicles Podcast 207 featuring Howard Moodycliffe, CEO at Timetoreply.mp4

Adrian (00:00:00) - All right, guys, thanks so much for listening to another episode of the CX Chronicles podcast. I am your host, Adrian Brady-Cesana. Super excited for today's show, guys. We have Mr. Howard Moodycliffe on the show. Howard is the CEO of a super cool company called timetoreply, and he's here today to share his story with all of us and then definitely jump into the four pillars and talk with us about how his team at timetoreply is tackling the four CX pillars. So Howard, start off today's show, say hello to the CX nation, my friend. 

Howard (00:00:34) - Hi, everyone. Good to meet you. Hi, Adrian. Great to be on the podcast. Looking forward to the conversation. 

Adrian (00:00:41) - A hundred percent. So Howard, I hope you don't let me share this, but guys, Howard just spent 30 hours driving in Africa in a Land Rover with one of his good friends this weekend. So he is back in the saddle this Monday morning and ready to join us. But Howard, before we get into the four pillars, man, I want you to start off today's show like we start off all of our episodes, spend a couple minutes just talking about you, man. 

Adrian (00:01:02) - I'd love to kind of understand, you know, some of the stepping stones in your own journey and your own background and your own career. How did you get into this whole space? Not just with timetoreply, but how did you become the customer focused business leader that you are today? 

Howard (00:01:17) - Yeah, so my background for quite a long time was in marketing for across a whole range of industries, large businesses, small businesses, etc. And that was primarily in London. I then moved to Sydney, Australia, and I got the opportunity to be part of early stage founding teams in a number of startups there from peer to peer rental platforms, medical apps, some fintech, etc. 

Howard (00:01:46) - And what we quickly realized, what I quickly realized was if you weren't actually meeting the needs of the audience that you were going for, you were on hiding to nowhere very quickly. So I've always been very keen and interested and adamant about, you know, you've got to have your customer first. And once you've got your customer, you've got to look after them and you've got to understand them deeply to do that. So yeah, I mean, I suppose the last 15 years have really been in a number of very early stage startups, few exits, etc. 

Howard (00:02:18) - Across a whole range of things, but really, my role has always been about the customer. 

Adrian (00:02:24) - I love it. I feel like I say this constantly on the show, but like, it's amazing how many people forget that a business is nothing without customers, right? 

Howard (00:02:33) - Yeah, exactly. It's an idea. 

Adrian (00:02:35) - Customers bring, not only do they bring the life light of any business, which is cash and money, right? You have to have money, have cash in any business for it to be a real living, breathing thing. But I love the point that you just made when you said understanding them deeply, Howard, like some of the best companies on planet Earth, they do just that. They find what their ideal customers are or whatever that ideal customer profile looks like and they build products and they build services that almost just speaks directly to those people, right? 

Adrian (00:03:03) - And it's so important to do that early because frankly, the more promoters and the more customers you can put in the hopper early on in a business's life cycle or in a business journey, typically the more successful that business is or the easier it is to grow that business. So I couldn't agree more. Was there specific spaces that you were in, Howard, earlier in your career? Was it marketing? Was it sales? What were some of the early type of specific roles that you were holding before getting into the role that you're in today? 

Howard (00:03:35) - I see you have time to reply. Yeah. So predominantly all marketing and yeah, like I said, in London I was working for a really large IT services company. I was in the UK marketing team. So we did everything from campaigns to account-based marketing plans for sales guys. So I learned a lot there. I then moved to Sydney where I ran the marketing for a large media company's digital automotive property. That's where it was. I really sort of cut my teeth on performance marketing. 

Howard (00:04:14) - Previously, it had been really around strategic marketing campaigns, et cetera. So when I moved to Sydney, I got very deep in the whole SEO, PPC world, understanding how to drive traffic to a business, how to keep that traffic there when you'd got them there, et cetera. And then, yeah, then after that, it was really into startup land and it was doing the same just for very, very early stage businesses. A lot of the same rules apply, same strategies apply. It's obviously a lot more hands-on. You're the guy doing the doing. 

Howard (00:04:48) - You're not sort of sitting there coming up with the ideas and you haven't got people doing it for you. And I think that's sometimes a bit of a hard thing for people that come out of large companies to sort of get their heads around, is just how much rolling up of your sleeves you have to do. But it's fun. Once you get into it, it's great. You're right at the coalface and it's all on you. So I think I've really learned quite a lot more about marketing when I was in these small businesses. And then, yes, time to apply, which is where I'm the CEO of now. 

Howard (00:05:21) - I joined the business.

Howard (00:05:23) - Oh, it's about three years ago. So I wasn't, I'm not the founder of the business. I was brought in as a founding CEO, um, raise the money, whip the business into shape and grow it. So I've been doing that for the last three years. I think, you know, having a great time doing it, we're making some fantastic progress. I think we found a really interesting niche. Um, you know, we, we like to keep our products really simple and focused, and I think that's working for us. 

Adrian (00:05:50) - That's fantastic. Uh, number one, I couldn't agree more with you where people that are trying to be involved, uh, people that are trying to have ownership and people that are trying to actually have daily impact right on their business and their job, go join a startup because basically if you're the CEO, if you're the last person, the last guy or gal to get hired onto that team, you are going to be owning huge parts of the business. 

Adrian (00:06:14) - You're going to be asked to do things that you're constantly wondering why anyone would even ask you to do or to own or the business, because that's what it is. It's all hands on deck. And then lastly, I'd say, you know, I know in my own journey, how it's very similar to you, man. It's been almost the last 15 years has been primarily in venture capital growth companies, right? Helping to get the bonfire started, helping to find that ICP, helping to find product market fit and then scaling, right? Starting to scaling, right? 

Adrian (00:06:38) - And I just think that you just get involved in things that I, I don't think you would ever be involved in, in large companies where it, let's call it, it takes decades of involvement to maybe climb a ladder, to even get to a place where you've been involved in certain conversations and certain meetings. And even then I would argue, there's a ton of huge, massive public companies out there where even super senior executives don't have any clue what's going on. It's a few C-level executives that run the entire show with maybe the board and the mix. 

Adrian (00:07:07) - And those are the people that really are doing everything. On startup land, you're rolling up your sleeves every damn day. You're talking to customers. Even when you're not a customer facing person, you're talking to customers or you're forced to learn things about the market or the space or around the needs of the customer. And it sounds like for you, man, you have the same thing as me. That stuff's fun, man. That's addicting. Almost every single day, you're seeing your work. You're seeing it come out onto the canvas, if you will. 

Adrian (00:07:32) - You're seeing bits and pieces of the progress and the evolution of the business every day. The last thing is this, nothing's cooler than when you happen to be one of the founding team members or one of the initial team members, even if it's the first 10, 20, even 50, and you see a business go crazy. Whether it goes to a public level or whether you mentioned a few exits along the way, whether some other massive company wants to come along and buy it because they see some type of value, that's addicting, man. 

Adrian (00:08:00) - That's the stuff that makes you keep coming back. And that's the stuff that makes you keep wanting to go back to the drawing board and keep doing more and more and more of these things. 

Howard (00:08:07) - Yeah, no, it certainly does. I think I've missed certain parts of corporate roles, but I think on the whole, just being there day in, day out, fighting the good fighters, that's what I enjoy. 

Adrian (00:08:21) - Me too, man. Me too. Howard, before we hop into the first pillar of team, because I'm super pumped to hear about the Time to Reply team, why don't you give us the 60 to 90 second high level of who Time to Reply is, and then jump into that first CX pillar of team and start talking about some of the incredible guys and gals that you're working with on a day-to-day basis that are building timetoreply and really working with all the incredible customers that you guys are working with today? 

Howard (00:08:46) - Yeah, sure. So Time to Reply as a business, we're all about building products that help any customer-facing team and sales teams, if you like, perform at their best by providing real-time data and analytics across their email environment. So like I said earlier on, we've really niched into email. That's all we do. We don't do any other channels, but we do it very well. We've been doing it for a while, and there is so much information and data that you can pull out of an email environment. 

Howard (00:09:21) - And I think more importantly, you can do it without having to intrude on any privacy. We don't have to look at the content of emails. We're just looking at metadata, and we're delivering a whole lot of real-time analytics and insights via that. So yeah, that's really us. And we've kept our products simple. They're deep, but they're simple. They're very easy to use, easy to implement. There's no change to workflow, et cetera. And yeah, just like I said, niched very squarely on email. 

Adrian (00:09:54) - And what about time to replies ICP? Who's kind of been that bread and butter client that you guys have been working with? So you mentioned the inboxes, and you and I were kind of talking a little bit about this prior to jumping into today's recording, but what are some of the sweet spots that you guys have kind of hit? 

Adrian (00:10:10) - What types of companies, what types of industries, what types of even email systems or ecosystems are you guys seeing that you get excited about that you know might be a qualified opportunity in a type of business or type of customer that your team's going to be able to help?

Howard (00:10:25) - So we, you know, when we started out, we were, we just cast the net very wide, you know, we're applicable to any, any customer sales team that uses email. But over the years, we got a lot more clear on who gets the real value from our product, you know, where the sales cycles are quicker, where the deal sizes are, where we want them to be, etc. And so we, our real sweet spot is sort of larger SMB, you know, maybe up to the middle size within the mid market. 

Howard (00:10:57) - And within those businesses, you know, we're talking to any customer team manager, director, VP, etc. At the smaller end, we tend to talk to the directors, sometimes the CEO will get involved. And the some of the some of the sectors that are starting to really strengthen up for us include insurance, logistics, manufacturing, professional services, legal services. 

Howard (00:11:25) - And corporate travel is a very big one for us, you know, any, any industry where you've got large customers, you're working to an SLA, you've got a communication SLA, you cannot drop an email, an email can, you know, cost your business a hell of a lot of money. That's exactly where we fit high volume, high, high value clients, basically. 

Adrian (00:11:47) - I love that. And I, you know, if you, for our listeners today, if you visit Howard's team's website to timetoreply.com, there's two big things you guys call out, right, you call out for sales teams and for service teams. Howard, I'd love to kind of start this first pillar of team. Is there, is there like one or two things that you're seeing whether, whether you get an at-bat and you're talking to, let's say that director of sales that you just kind of laid out or the director of customer success. 

Adrian (00:12:15) - Is there like one or two key challenges that you're, you and your team are hearing that is making these people excited to be talking to you guys? Is it, is it, is it struggling to utilize current tools? Is it, is it, is it struggling to see, or sorry, to gain insights from some of the information that's in front of them? What are like the one or two most common things that you guys are hearing, whether it's sales or success, that they want to know more about your, your tool, they want to know more about how timetoreply can help. 

Adrian (00:12:41) - I'm just interested in kind of like what's drawing them, what are some of these common problems or challenges that these, these profiles that you're talking about keep kind of seeing time and time again to reach out to your squad? 

Howard (00:12:53) - Yeah, so the ones that really stick out are we, sometimes a business has lost a customer due to, you know, slow service or slow responsiveness or having missed emails, et cetera. We get a lot of customers or a lot of prospects coming to us via that channel. And because that has happened, it shines a light on the fact that actually email is pretty much a big black hole for them. The teams are working, working through it. You know, they may not be using a CRM or a Salesforce, you know, but there's, it's still a very, very important channel for them. 

Howard (00:13:29) - And it's cost them dearly. So that, that's one of the reasons. One of the other reasons is, and we see this very squarely where the prospect is a B2B business, is that they have, they have to work to communication SLAs with their clients. So it's not about just making sure that you get back to them and you do it, you've got to do it within a specific time period. And often there are penalties if you don't, and again, they just haven't had a very straightforward, simple, easy to use tool that makes sure their teams never drop emails. 

Howard (00:14:04) - I mean, sorry, never miss SLAs. We, our tool will trawl through their inbox, look for any SLAs attached to any email in their inbox and surface it up right in front of the relevant agent in that team and tell them how much, it actually even goes as far as saying, okay, you've got another 30 minutes before this SLA is breached. Maybe this is where you should be focusing. So it's really about, they've lost a customer, they've got SLAs. Some have come to us because it's got so bad that their brand is damaged. 

Howard (00:14:36) - And then, you know, I suppose we also get a lot of people just saying, we don't know what's going on in our email environment. We've got our teams using this channel. We don't want to introduce another channel. We don't want to change workflow, but we just don't know what's going on in there. So they're looking for some, they're looking for a tool to shine visibility or shed some light on what's actually going on in there. 

Adrian (00:14:58) - I think it's funny, this is one of the things that you don't think about and I couldn't help myself, but like.

Adrian (00:15:07) - There's data that suggests that right now, in 2023, the world is sending 347 billion emails sent and received per day, per day. That number's climbing. And you're right. Now, when you think about it, and think about it, any one of us listening to the show, if you've got 50 people on your team, you really only know your inbox. Maybe you've got your inbox nice and cleaned and organized, and you've got your tabs, and you've got your colors. We've all worked with people that have their colors and their tabs, and they've got everything totally decked out. 

Adrian (00:15:42) - But the reality is, there's no way that that's the whole team of your 50. That's only going to be a couple A players that actually take the time and have the diligence to kind of get into that. But this is a massive, massive number. And it makes sense that when you think about larger companies, it's the same thing. Even if a business has 10,000 employees, they probably don't have a super clean, clear look on what's going on and all those back and forth messages with their 10,000 employees. 

Adrian (00:16:08) - Think about the volume of that type of a communication spend for a company of that size, right? And then walking things back to what we were kind of talking about with some of these growth companies, Howard. I would argue, when you're growing and you're small, almost every single email is a little bit more valuable, right? Because that could be the email to the next lead that becomes the next customer. 

Adrian (00:16:28) - That could be the email to the next guy or gal that's going to literally be the person that comes on your team and helps change the whole game for your product or your service or whatever that might look like. So really, really interesting stuff here. Howard, before we jump off of the first pillar team, how have you guys got to build the players on the pitch at time to reply? You mentioned sales, you mentioned marketing. 

Adrian (00:16:49) - What are some of the different roles or some of the different teams that you guys have kind of built early on to help support the growth at time to reply? 

Howard (00:16:56) - Yeah. So really, really early on, we made sure we had a team looking after customers. So when you're in our game, you've got to make sure your customer experience or your customer service team and support team are world class. So we invested straight away. I would say, as most people would have probably said, we were a little early, but with my background, I thought that's exactly where the value is. And the sooner you start talking to customers, the sooner you learn exactly what they're looking for, how you can help them better. 

Howard (00:17:31) - So we've got a very light sales team. We've built our entire business on inbound, but where we have invested is in our customer success and support teams. 

Adrian (00:17:47) - That's awesome. And then in terms of the customer success and customer support teams that you have today, I mean, obviously this is, as you know, this is the stuff that I'm always digging into with our guests. How have you kind of framed out areas of focus or have you guys kind of built your success team to where different individuals own unique portfolios or bundles of specific types of customers? Have you broken it down? How have you segmented the success? 

Adrian (00:18:12) - Is it by industry type, by company size type, or has there been a few things along the journey that have kind of helped kind of parse out how you manage all of the customer relationships that you guys have? 

Howard (00:18:23) - Yeah. So we kind of, I mean, we tier our customers on certain parameters. So it may be size of organizations, size of their teams that are using our product, etc. We have different processes and people looking after annual customers versus monthly customers, but we haven't segmented it by industry. That may be something that we do later, but at this time, it's really around sort of size and contract type. 

Adrian (00:19:01) - That makes sense. That makes a ton of sense. All right. I'd love to dive into the second CX Pillar, tools. We spent a few minutes kind of talking about how you and the team has had to, number one, how have you made some of your technology bets? How have you decided which tools or which technology y'all needed to be able to grow your business? 

Adrian (00:19:23) - And I know on one part, I'm sure you use your own technology, but I'd love for you to spend a few minutes talking about tools and kind of giving our listeners an idea for how you thought about what you needed for a CRM or what you needed for an issue resolution or like a ticketing software or even communications, how you communicate with customers. Spend a few minutes kind of talking about how you guys have thought about the buildout of your own tech stack. 

Howard (00:19:42) - All right. 

Howard (00:19:44) - Sure, so we've got a very simple, very light tech stack. We've got HubSpot at the heart of our business. And then, as you mentioned earlier on, we use our own software. So we're tracking any customer communications from a timing perspective, time to resolution. We basically use our tool plus HubSpot to make sure that everything we do is responsive, no balls get dropped. We've got our own SLA goals that we have to hit. And not all of the conversation flows through HubSpot. So HubSpot is really at the core of our business. 

Howard (00:20:22) - It's a lovely CRM. I'm a big HubSpot fan. But often, a lot of communication happens outside of HubSpot. And that's where we can pick up everything using our own tool, because it doesn't matter whether it goes through another system or not. We can track it. If a mailbox is attached to our platform, we can track it. So we use it in parallel with HubSpot. 

Adrian (00:20:43) - Fantastic. And then, just out of curiosity, is there like a core set of tools that you're seeing most of your time to reply customers sort of gravitating to? Is there like a sweet spot around where you're seeing sort of like a trend or a theme of a short list of specific tools that they're already using? And then they leverage time to reply on top to be able to surface some of those insights? Or is it kind of still everything? Are you seeing your customers using every single solitary software under the sun? 

Howard (00:21:13) - Yeah, it is still out there. And we've got such a broad range of tech environments within our customers. We've got a pretty strong fit if they're using HubSpot. And they're looking to be able to track and optimize email communication more broadly. We tend to fit in to businesses that haven't quite taken the Salesforce step yet. Sometimes they've taken that step and they come straight back because it's too much. 

Adrian (00:21:45) - There's a lot of them out there, Howard. 

Howard (00:21:47) - Yeah, it's a big, shiny thing. But maybe it's too big, too shiny. You don't need all of it. So we play really well there. And so we have quite a few people that have tried it and they come back. And that's with the sales side of our products. 

Howard (00:22:01) - And then, yeah, we've got a lot of customers that either run us alongside ticketing systems or similar to Salesforce, they've looked at ticketing systems and realized maybe they don't need all of that functionality or they don't want to go through sort of a big training period with their team to get them to learn a new software type, changing their workflows, et cetera. If they're looking just to be able to give that responsive, very well-tracked and optimized communication via email, that's us. 

Howard (00:22:39) - And yeah, so I mean, they're either on their way up to a ticketing system, they've got a ticketing system that they want to measure more broadly, or they've looked at ticketing systems, tried ticketing systems and realized they don't need all of that. So it's a bit of a broad answer, but that's loosely the most common environments. I mean, from an email client, we sit across Google, we sit across Microsoft, so we can do just about every environment there. So that's just table stakes for us. 

Adrian (00:23:09) - Is there, out of curiosity, is there any emerging technology or SaaS solutions that you're hearing more and more about in the last, say, 12 months than you ever heard of before? Is there a short list of tools that, again, last year, maybe you weren't even hearing about them and then this year your sales team and your success team was like, however, we got another one that's talking about X, Y, Z, up-and-comer. 

Adrian (00:23:36) - I'm interested in what you guys have been hearing about some of these up-and-coming technologies or up-and-coming solutions that are sort of out there in the market. Anyone that, any short list of products or technologies that you guys are kind of seeing on a regular basis that might kind of be starting to disrupt some of these traditional leaders that we kind of just started to lay out? 

Howard (00:24:00) - Yeah, I suppose there are. 

Adrian (00:24:00) - We're not seeing it too much. 

Howard (00:24:01) - I mean, there is, as we were saying earlier on, just about everything's become AI-enabled overnight. I do think that some of the more considered AI tools are probably gonna start moving up into and starting to take market share. I think it's, I don't think AI is for everyone just yet. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I'd struggle to say there's a sort of a defined set of tools that we're seeing right now that are likely to sort of push their way up into the market. But I do think that AI will probably.

Howard (00:24:40) - Yeah, it's probably going to change things significantly over the next few years. 

Adrian (00:24:43) - Yep. I completely agree. And I also just think that whether you know a ton about AI and machine learning or whether you know nothing about it, there's already tools being built that, for folks that are listening right now, that maybe don't have a ton of knowledge or a ton of expertise. And by the way, either do I. I mean, I know a lot about it just because I'm blessed to have all these incredible conversations with people who do know a lot about it. 

Adrian (00:25:06) - I think the simplest way of thinking about it is you could have the best AI technology, the best machine learning, the best advanced system thinking out there. You still need really smart humans that know what to do with that information. 

Adrian (00:25:21) - And then you still need really smart humans that, once you are able to unearth these insights or you're able to extract this information or you're able to take the top three things out of a million and ten pieces of data that would have taken years to process manually, you still need humans to understand how to do the action part. What the hell do you do with it? What type of action do you take with it? How do you delegate it? Who's going to own it? What's the timeline? How are you going to get it done? How are you going to... I totally agree, Howard. 

Adrian (00:25:47) - I think that there's so many companies out there that probably aren't going to be ready for it yet. But I think the simple thing for our listeners to kind of think about is similar to the same way that the laptop computer or the computer just changed the way that we're able to just do more quicker. Right? Or the bicycle. Here's an even simpler example. The bicycle. You get on a bicycle, you can go 10 times farther and expend a similar amount of energy. Right? I think it's going to be that, man. 

Adrian (00:26:12) - I think it's really going to be like this type of thing where some companies are going to be able to really kind of knock it out of the park and lever the hell out of it. I think some companies, they're going to find insights from AI and from ML that they already knew. They already knew what the top three things are that customers want. They already knew the top three things that customers hate about their space or their problems. It's going to be an interesting thing to watch. 

Adrian (00:26:33) - I don't know that I'm one of the humans that's worried about robots taking over the world just yet, Howard. I mean, I am a terminator, but I think we've got some time before we get to that level. 

Howard (00:26:42) - I 100% agree. I mean, I think of them as robots that are going to help us do our jobs better for a while. Maybe they will kick us out at some point, but we've actually sort of company-wide, each head of function has been tasked to go out and look at AI and look at the tools out there that can help them basically do their jobs better or faster. We're looking to try and squeeze maybe 30% more productivity out of our team simply through the use of AI tools, but it's a very experimental phase for us at the moment. 

Howard (00:27:18) - We're definitely not looking to replace people. We're looking to see how it can make their jobs more enjoyable, free up more time, and be more productive. That's kind of our approach to AI. Next year, we're going to start looking at bringing it into our products, and we've spoken to customers and asked them, what are the top three things they would like an AI-enabled version of our software to do for them? It's really around data cleansing, presentation of insights versus reporting. 

Howard (00:27:49) - We can give you great reports, you can look at reports, you can see things, and if you spend a lot of time looking at these reports, you're going to start bringing insights out. We'd like to be able to put some AI into our product that basically reads your reports for you and pulls out the insights. 

Adrian (00:28:08) - I love that. I think that's huge. Again, I think you're right. There's going to be this natural progression or this natural evolution, and then I wouldn't be surprised over these next few years, Howard, if businesses and companies that do begin to invest in AI, they see exactly what you just called out, which is, if anything, the biggest gain that you get is going to be in the employee experience side. 

Adrian (00:28:28) - What are the manual things or the tedious things or the tedious tasks, stuff that no human likes to do, that you can begin to mitigate so that they can spend more time to be thoughtful and think about things or talk to customers, for God's sake. That might be a good thing to do. I think that's going to be a two-man. I think you're going to see a big gain on the EX side, but naturally, if you're improving and smoothing your employee experience, you're going to see some wins on the customer experience side as well, too. I love that. 

Adrian (00:28:56) - I think those are really great ideas. Howard, I'd love to pick your brain on the third, sixth pillar of process. As you've grown the business, as you've grown the team, as you've scaled time to apply, I'd love to hear you talk about how you wrangle process. Spend a few minutes just sharing with the listeners how you guys manage either your living playbooks, your standard operating procedures. You see a lot of different companies, too. 

Adrian (00:29:19) - You see a lot of different companies and customers, so I'm sure you're looking at a lot of their different ways that they're managing process, but I'd love to just hear how you and the team at Time to Apply have thought about how you keep track of just managing process and then as you've grown and as the company's scaled, what changes have happened in terms of how you have to keep track of process and how you have to keep things tightly knit together? 

Howard (00:29:43) - Yeah, so I think when we first started out, we...

Howard (00:29:50) - built a bunch of processes that were overly complicated. We thought, you know, you can't miss anything else. You've got to be on top of every single thing. And we had these, you know, very complex, great looking detailed processes, sets of processes, if you like. And then as we began to scale, learn more about our customers, we started to understand what the important elements were to focus in on. So we took a step back and actually as we've grown, our processes have got simpler. 

Howard (00:30:20) - It's not, you know, we're not trying to be all things to everyone all of the time. We understand how to run processes that focus in on the important things that matter most to certain people at the right time. So it's a lot of it for us is around understanding the customer journey, you know, understanding how we get people to value within our product quickest. Because if you do that bit upfront, everything else becomes easy. So we actually, I mean, slightly off topic, but it does kind of fit into the conversation. We used to offer a free trial. 

Howard (00:30:55) - You could either book a demo or you could do a free trial. And when we looked at the conversion, you know, the numbers on each of those funnels, the free trial one simply wasn't converting. And that's, you know, when we took a deep look at our product, it's we've got a lot going on and it can do so much. If you just let someone loose into it without understanding what their specific set of results are they're looking to get or their specific pain point, they never, you know, sometimes they do find it. Other times they don't, it's just overwhelming. 

Howard (00:31:27) - And so it was a very low conversion on the free trial. So you can now request a free trial on the site. So we don't force you to have a demo. You can request a free trial, but before you get the trial, we'll just do a discovery call with you. So we understand what you're looking for and we can just sort of accelerate that trial setup for you. Then you can go and use a product and learn all about it. But by doing that and then really focusing on onboarding, and we're quite strict with our onboarding. Every customer has to go through it. 

Howard (00:32:02) - They need to do it within 10 days of becoming a customer and they need to commit to certain things. Getting all of that right up front is just sort of getting your house in order, understanding really what the customer is looking for, making sure that your product's giving it to them off the bat, then allows you to have a much simpler set of processes for the remainder of the customer cycle or journey, et cetera. 

Howard (00:32:24) - So yeah, maybe a long way of going about saying we've actually simplified everything by putting a lot more effort up front and getting the customer onboarded well. 

Adrian (00:32:35) - But I love that. I think there's so many companies out there that don't do that, frankly. And not all that great companies do, by the way, I hate to say it, but there's some incredible companies out there with awesome products, awesome services. That are okay with only X percent of everybody that's going to come through the funnel or everyone that's going to come through the beginning part of the journey is going to stick or be retained. 

Adrian (00:32:56) - And I think that there's so many companies out there that are growing or for our listeners, especially for our listeners right now that are helping to build startups and are helping to build tomorrow's leading companies, onboarding is massive. Howard, I love that you call that out as part of one of the paramount focus areas that you and your team think about within process because it's expectation setting, man. I joke around with our clients all the time, Howard at CXE, but nobody gets married without dating. 

Adrian (00:33:24) - In the dating process, you're learning about one another, you're setting expectations, you're setting boundaries, you're things that are important to you, things that aren't important to you, you're matching, you're pairing. And then maybe some of us decide to get married after that, right? 

Howard (00:33:40) - Yeah, yeah. 

Adrian (00:33:40) - In business, it's almost like onboarding is that's the opportunity right there. No offense to our sales teams out there, no offense to our sales friends, but it's very common for sales to maybe misqualify or maybe there was just some misses with the qualification process. They think they've got a perfect opportunity, perfect deal, perfect client. It's gonna be great, it's gonna stick forever, da-da-da-da. But in onboarding, you often vet that, right? 

Adrian (00:34:04) - So number one, you vet that and you get to dig in a little bit deeper and you get to double tap on some of these things. I think the other thing too is there's a lot of knowledge and a lot of...

Adrian (00:34:12) - A lot of knowledge, a lot of education, and a lot of course setting. Not course correction, but course setting. This is, okay, you want to go to, you're trying to go in this direction, here's one of the paths that you can take. You're trying to go in that direction? No problem. Here's one of the paths you can take. 

Adrian (00:34:27) - I think the other thing, too, is like, so many builders out there, so many business builders, they forget, our customers, they might be interested in like the high level thing that we're all offering, or the high level problems that we're solving, they don't care about the granularities at all. 

Adrian (00:34:41) - They've got their own lives, they've got their own businesses, they've got their own teams, they've got their own customers, and I'm ready to give you an opportunity to, at a minimum, lay out all of the areas where, if and when they are interested in finding out more about X, Y, and Z, here's where you're going to go. It's almost like a tour, right? It's like a tour, or it's almost like helping to guide them around all the different ways that you may potentially be able to kind of help them, or resources. This is a huge one. 

Adrian (00:35:06) - I think there's so many companies, and startups oftentimes struggle with this because, let's call it what it is. You need to get to the point of where you do have an excellent, you know, Vice President of Marketing, or a Vice President of Content Ops. A guy who's been there before, but like, startups don't always have the best assets, right? We don't have the best books that we can pull off the shelf, for lack of a better term, and hand to a customer and say, when you're ready, read this chapter of the book. 

Adrian (00:35:30) - But onboarding is like an area where at least you can start to peg out some of those things that are important. If your onboarding is working closely with sales and success, you're learning every damn week and every damn day around what the common interactions, the common questions, or the common asks are, right? The common things that people want. But I love that you call that out. I think it's one that, and then customer journey mapping too, by the way. You made a comment about customer journey mapping, same thing, man. 

Adrian (00:35:55) - Those maps allow you to plot out all of these different facets for all of the things that your customers are going to go through, right? And then, in effect, you can begin to keep track of, or essentially categorize the milestone moments that matter the most. The things that your company has got to knock out of the park routes you're going to be in trouble with. So, I love some of those ideas there, Howard. I'd love to dive into the fourth and the final pillar of feedback, man. 

Adrian (00:36:17) - And we've kind of hit on some of this, but I'd love for you to spend just a few minutes. I'm going to break this into two parts, as always. I'd love to hear kind of how you and your team at Time to Reply are thinking about managing and acting upon your customer feedback, and then I'd love to hear how you guys are sort of managing and leveraging some of your employee feedback as you grow the business. 

Howard (00:36:35) - Okay. Yeah. So, customer feedback, you know, whilst our process is simple, you know, we do have quite a few touch points. And Barry, who heads up customer success for us, he's got his portfolio of large clients. And part of any, you know, we've set ourselves an objective of making our QBRs, our quarterly business reviews that we do with these customers, events that they want to attend rather than feel they need to. And so, they're very, very interactive, you know. We've learned a lot. 

Howard (00:37:13) - And I suppose where I'm getting to in this is that any single time we touch a customer, there's always an opportunity for them to give us feedback. We've got tools that allow them to feed into our proposed product roadmap, et cetera. So, they can vote on features that they would like to see next. But the sort of the one-on-one feedback sessions is where we get it, you know, you get behind the reason that they want the thing. You also get to, you know, you get the feedback as, you know, are they happy with the product? 

Howard (00:37:47) - Are they happy with the experience that they're having with us? You know, in testament to Barry and his team, we score very highly on that. And that's important to us as a business given, you know, where we play. So yeah, it's really just about making sure that there's always the offer of, you know, have you got any feedback? Is there anything you'd like to discuss? Do you want to let us know anything? 

Howard (00:38:08) - Just at any point in time when we're talking to customers, I'm also, you know, my email is always open to our customers as well if there's anything that they want to pick up with me directly. So yeah, I think it's just giving the customers many ways to feedback to you as makes sense. But then, you know, making sure you set the expectation on which feedback you can act on and when, you know, you don't want to be saying yes to everyone and then annoying those people that you don't get to, right? 

Howard (00:38:41) - So yeah, I think, you know, it's really in any interaction that we have, we always encourage feedback. And then team feedback into the business. Is that right? Was that the same thing? 

Adrian (00:38:53) - Yes. Yeah. Ways and ideas that you try to literally tap your team at time to reply to give feedback that might be able to go right back into the product, right back into the service, right back into the offerings. 

Howard (00:39:02) - Yes. So products, our product team talks to the customers all the time. They're very close with Barry's team and also with sales. So we, you know, we've a lot of collaboration in our business and getting, you know, making sure that the loops are closed quickly and efficiently is important to us.

Howard (00:39:27) - And yeah, I think it's really one of our values within the business is like collaboration, open and honest collaboration. And equally, I think something that maybe helps us sift through the urgent versus the important things that we need to act on is another of our values is like very, is like honesty. You know, we've got a very honest team, you know, there's no, there's no stepping on people's toes, there's no rubbishing of ideas. 

Howard (00:39:54) - But everyone's expected to have a very honest opinion of whether they think that feedback is something we can do, should do, shouldn't do, etc. So yeah, I think it's just about having a really open culture, it's very flat, anyone in the business can be involved. And making sure that it happens often. So we haven't really got a formal set of processes internally for that internal feedback, it's more around just making sure teams are talking to other teams, doing it regularly, having honest conversations. I love it. 

Adrian (00:40:29) - I think our number one, it's like that type of regular conversation, those types of regular questions, that type of regular dialogue. That's the stuff that pushes progress, man. That's the stuff that over time, if you get it done consistently, you can make huge things happen, right? You're just constantly kind of knocking on some of these different opportunities, you're betting which ones might yield the biggest or the best or the highest ROI for both your customers and your team, frankly. 

Adrian (00:40:54) - And then lastly, it's just like that's innovation right there, man. It's constantly working on it, iterating on it, rinse, wash, repeat, doing it again and again and again. And over long periods of time, huge things can happen. So, Howard Moodycliffe, this has been absolutely fantastic, man. Before I let you go, my friend, anything else you want to shout out about things that are going on with timetoreply, any upcoming events, any new products, anything else you want to shout out to the CX Nation before we wrap up today's show? 

Howard (00:41:19) - Yeah, I think I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't. The thing that we're most proud of at the moment is our customer team member facing part of our product. So, we built our product as an analytics dashboard for team managers, which is great. It gives them all the information they need. It's all in real time. Look at a single team member's performance, aggregate, shared mailboxes, whatever you want it to do. And then we're like, that's great, but what are we actually doing to help the people on the coalface, the people in those teams? 

Howard (00:41:53) - The managers get all the information. The managers act on that information, and you either get a pat on the head or a kick, depending on how you did. That's not helping people, really. So, we've built a module called the Optimizer, which actually sits in each team member's email window. 

Adrian (00:42:11) - Okay. 

Howard (00:42:12) - And it just feeds them their live stats. So, they know in real time whether they're responding quick enough. Are they responding to enough emails? It shows them how their stats stack up to their team stats. So, are they doing well? Are they pulling things back? It's all about encouragement, just letting them know where they are. 

Adrian (00:42:30) - Yep. 

Howard (00:42:31) - And then what I touched on earlier on is the whole reply time goal SLA management piece, where we just actively trawl through each individual mailbox and pull up the emails they need to be attending to next. 

Adrian (00:42:44) - Yep. 

Howard (00:42:44) - And that part's all around just helping them do their job better every day, all the time. And since we launched that, we've had massive, massively positive feedback from customers. We see all the data for all of our customers and the performances. Yeah, it's really gone through the roof where they have adopted the Optimizer rather than just using us as a tool for managers. 

Adrian (00:43:09) - That's huge. I mean, look, visibility and just having access and insights, that can be the catalyst for a big, huge, positive change right there, man. Last thing is this, you and I were kind of joking about it before we jumped into today's show. Some of these big, fancy, industry-leading solutions, they don't come out of the box, man. They don't come out of the box. There's a ton of integrations that need to happen. There's a ton of optimization that needs to happen. 

Adrian (00:43:39) - You basically need SMEs to be able to do advanced reporting and analytics to be able to give you those insights. Having just simple, actionable, short-burst insights like, Hey, man, you did this many emails and you've replied to this many messages in your average time. That could be all a company needs is just those insights to be able to see who's crushing it, who maybe needs support or help, or also just capacity. I know that for so many of the listeners on the show, we're the guys and gals tasked with capacity management for a customer portfolio. 

Adrian (00:44:11) - Having even those little bit of insights can go such a long way. Well, Howard, this has been absolutely fantastic, man. Thank you so much for joining the Seeks Chronicles podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your story and sharing the time to reply story with all of us today, man. 

Howard (00:44:26) - Brilliant, Adrian. Thank you. Really enjoyed it.