Customers Need to be Heard: A Conversation with Infegy's Mark Calcote
by Infegy Research Team on August 13, 2019
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business.
They rely on you to get whatever it is you offer.
You rely on them to keep your business in business.
This is a principle that we live by. We’ve always made it a goal of providing the most value possible for the people who work with us as client partners.
Whether it’s providing the industry-leading social listening tool, or always taking customer feedback seriously, we recognize that it pays to have an amazing client support team that aims to develop relationships with our customers.
We think it vital for our clients’ success to have relationships that are long-standing, tight-knit and meaningful.
Has your team experienced these benefits? We hope so. We have some thoughts on that front.
Enter Mark Calcote. This is him:
He joined Infegy as the head of client support earlier this year to lead a team that has already nurtured flourishing relationships with Infegy’s client partners. He brought with him some interesting perspectives that are helping the aforementioned principles work in practice.
Below is a brief Q&A conversation introducing you to Mark and giving you a glimpse inside his crazy mind.
So, why should you read a Q&A with some guy at Infegy?
Because his thoughts on how to develop and nurture relationships with customers are key for anyone in business to know, whether you work for a big brand, an agency, a small business or something in between.
Here’s our convo with Mark:
First off, briefly describe your role with Infegy. What do you do? Why do you do it?:
I’m here to make sure Infegy’s customers are successful and make them better at their jobs. That’s the gist. My goal as a Client Success Manager is to partner with our clients to help them find insights for their business or for their own clients.
What it comes down to is that, regardless of who it is we’re working with, they’re trying to go out there and understand humans in the same way and they are looking to our technology and our expertise to help them find that crucial information and we have a team that strives to help them do that.
We pride ourselves on being responsive and setting a high standard as far as service goes. We want to be able to help our clients, give them great ideas, spark creativity and come up with new ways to approach and reach their goals.
Our goal is to make it extremely easy to get feedback, questions or problems to us and address them in innovative ways that help our clients do great work
“Meeting customers where they are, by trying to predict their needs will help create even more authentic relationships with them.”
What can be taken away from being attentive in the way you mentioned? What do you think is important about hearing customers out and addressing their needs quickly?
It comes down to approaching each customer’s needs, problems or questions in a really thoughtful manner. It’s amazing how simply treating a customer’s want or need as special can make that relationship thrive.
A great way to do this is to understand the question or problem and then try to find what’s at the root of that question. A specific question or comment could reveal a part of the larger piece of the puzzle that is at the root of the question or heartburn.
It’s not just about being attentive, but also being proactive and even meeting your customers needs before they express them. Meeting customers where they are by trying to predict their needs will help create even more authentic relationships with them.
This shows that there is a full spectrum. There’s not just a singular aspect that makes great customer support.
So, that term, “customer support” doesn’t really do it justice right?
There’s customer success too. The key term being success. We want our clients to be successful.
The heart of it is the client or customer is the keystone of our business. Without them, we’re nothing. We recognize that it’s our customers we owe everything to. They are at the centerpiece of everything we do.
Off the back of that, one thing that separates the best customer service is going beyond the service part. This isn’t a transactional relationship. It’s not like customers pay and they get what they pay for and it’s over. For us, it’s a partnership. Like sure the product or service is always there for you if you buy it, but that’s not the goal. Building relationships with customers is about treating it like a partnership.
It’s up to you to make sure your customers get the most out of that relationship.
“Listening to people and what they have to say is going to get you so much further than just talking loudly and looking for likes.”
In 2019, there is so much noise out there. It feels like brands are having a hard time grappling with this evolution. How can companies cut through the noise and reach people in a way that establishes a strong relationship with them?
Good, bad or indifferent, everyone gets a voice, right? Whether you like or dislike that evolution, it’s out there and it’s here to stay.
So, how do you be unique, and how do you catch people’s attention? And then how do reach people who you actually want to receive your message.
An example is a traveler mug brand that sends me promotional material every day, multiple times a day and it’s like, “why?!” The brand wants to be heard, but they aren’t paying attention to what their customers and audiences want or need. They’re just blasting out a message.
Most brands are using a machete when they should be using a scalpel.
Today, consumers want to be heard, not talked at.
You can get all kinds of data points about people but until you understand the why and what matters, what it is that makes those people tick, that’s when you’ll really get to the heart of what people want and need and cut through the noisy online environment out there.
There are so many articles about brand authenticity, and how to create authentic experiences for customers, which means there’s a demand for “brand authenticity” yet brands are turning right around and going for very un-authentic experiences. They appear to know what’s right, then don’t take that route. What’s with that?!
Yeah, there’s this focus on a very passive approach where companies are all about collecting likes and shares and followers and monitoring those numbers, which those things are important. But it’s easy to get someone to click a button, and that’s something fun to share with your boss.
Actually getting people to truly engage with your brand and turn that engagement into emotional attachment to the brand and then on to the actual exchange of currency I would argue is so much more important.
Listening to people and what they have to say is going to get you so much further than just talking loudly and looking for likes.
Now for some more questions about you...
Tell us a little about your background. Where’d you come from?
In my last role, I worked on the client success team for a company that does fanalytics and app development for sports teams, media/sponsorship rights holders, and entertainment properties. We focused on identifying and understanding the individual to create tailored experiences, and I got to work with some of the leaders in the international sports industry. I learned a lot (both about how to leverage data and sports like cricket and rugby), and we focused a lot on the facts and the 'what' and 'who' about people. I'm excited to bring that experience into the social listening and text analytics side of things to dive into the 'why' and 'how' side of things.
Do you have a career idol or person you follow that you look up to?
I've been really fortunate in my professional experience to be able to have learned from a lot of great colleagues, mentors, and managers. So, while I don't have any particular idol or person, I draw a lot of inspiration from those people and the experiences I've had along the way. When it comes to learning from outside sources, I tune into podcasts from Reid Hoffman, Tim Ferriss, and Jocko Willink.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote about career, success, leadership, motivation or life in general that resonates with you?
"Always be a student of the game." Recognizing there's always room for improvement, something to learn from everyone, and being open to other ways to approach opportunities helps me keep a fresh perspective.
What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies, interests and favorite activities?
Spending time cheering on my daughter from the sidelines or the stands is top of the list. After that, traveling (next up is a tour of Europe which hopefully includes a stop at Oktoberfest), trying to learn a new language or two, and making the time to earn a pilot's license top the list.
What is the coolest place you’ve traveled to or most fun trip you’ve been on?
We had the opportunity to take my daughter to Australia and explore Victoria and New South Wales. Seeing the koalas and parrots at the Kennett River, spending a weekend in Apollo Bay, taking in all Melbourne has to offer, walking the Harbour Bridge in Sydney and checking out the Sydney Opera House were highlights of the trip. We also found a great little place in Sydney called Kansas City Shuffle (you've got to get breakfast or lunch there if you're in Sydney). Being from KC, we had to stop in.
Where might you go for your company-bought trip after your first year (yep, that’s a thing!) ?
I've got my sights set on Fiji.