Jaakko Männistö, CEO & founder of Feedbackly tells us about creating an effective customer experience.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jaakko Männistö: Thank you for asking. My family and I have been very fortunate that we have had the opportunity to work from home, and the entire family has been staying safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Feedbackly.
Jaakko Männistö: Entrepreneurship and brainstorming are at my core. My first touch to entrepreneurship got when I was 12 as I founded “Nurtsit Bois” (Roughly translates to “No grass!”) – the Lawnmower company. Since then, I have been involved with entrepreneurship in many companies and projects. The road has taken me from office cleaning to real estate and to be a travel guide, among other things.
Today, I am the Founder and CEO of a Startup company Feedbackly. Together, we build the world’s sweetest and most powerful tool for measuring customer experiences. As a company, we can no longer decide how we communicate with our customers – our customers decide that. The result is the new era multichannel of customer data collection and communication throughout the customer Journey – Feedbackly has been developed for that specific need. Our goal is to increase sales, especially in online stores and retail, through a better multichannel customer experience. Currently, Feedbackly is a fast-growing startup that aims to be the number one in the world of measuring the multichannel customer experience and analytics tools.
How does Feedbackly innovate?
Jaakko Männistö: We have a method of really trying to understand and listen to what our customers and our potential customers are saying and what they really want. It is really important to understand is not necessarily something that they are able to say right away but to really try to understand their problem, and if you understand your customer, you will be able to solve their problems and innovate and use solutions to those problems. In the end, that is also the essence of Feedbackly as we help our customers to understand their customers better and to understand their customers’ feelings and emotions better than anyone else and if that weight gains a competitive advantage.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jaakko Männistö: The beginning of last year was at least, say, devastating. We had been able to create a good sales motion and good growth motion but basically all that just disappeared overnight. Altogether we lost 30% off the revenue that was planned for that year and the entire growth lotion off of the year. I’m happy to say that due to our personnel and their professionalism, flexibility, and new ideas in innovation, we have been able to rebuild part of the company and part of the product as well as part of the services, and now we are back on the growth track even though that Covid has a huge impact into our customers and their budgets are mostly closed still. So basically, now we’re doing much better and growing again, so things are going to be brighter, I believe!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jaakko Männistö: Yes, yes, we did. We had to lay off part of the personnel for a time to gain some time to rethink and revamp the strategy. I think there were three main lessons that we learned at that time. Firstly, the customer equity that we had been building with our customers by that point basically saved us from a bigger catastrophe meaning that we had been ourselves investing in customer experience already for a longer period of time and therefore into a good customer relationship. Secondly, it occurred to me that people and the personnel are braver than they do they tend to think, and they tend to show on a time when there’s less turbulence, but very best employees really strive when the difficulties occur, they don’t freeze, or they don’t get scared, but they get even more determined to work towards our common goals which I’m very grateful. And thirdly, one of the biggest things that have saved us as well as why is a very quick and bold move of changing strategies we base. We basically rethought our entire business in just a matter of weeks and not months or years.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jaakko Männistö: What a good question. I will hopefully try to find an answer to this myself as well! But for me, I think the main thing is not to take things too seriously and just force yourself to try to stay positive. So basically, to think that how fortunate you are to be able to be an entrepreneur to be in a position where you are and what would be the worst thing that could happen is if things go south. It is usually something that is not as bad as many times people tend to think. Usually, those problems are financial, and in the end, those are still manageable. For me to generate stress and really relax, there are a couple of things that are very important. First of all, you know, just to get regular exercise and go out and actually during the Covid time it has been one of the most helpful things is just to get out in nature and we been very fortunate here in Finland that we’ve been able to do that so. For example, we went for a hike off of about 130 km, which was a very awesome experience in the Lapland of Finland.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jaakko Männistö: We have multiple different competitors in the market coming from on a little different angle trying to solve the problem starting from consultancy to different software companies but what is the differentiator frost is definitely scalability and the really rigorous cycle of invasion and understanding the customer so for example right now we’re bringing out a completely new way of measuring customer experience being the first ones in the world to actually do that and to build a model around that. Now, if it’s gonna work or not, if it’s going to hit it off, and being honest, I don’t know yet! But at least we are always the ones that we’re bringing the new things to the market, and this keeps us growing, and this keeps us ahead of everyone else from our competition.
Your final thoughts?
Jaakko Männistö: I know that everyone is anxious and waiting to get back to normal life but let’s just hold for a little bit longer together so that we can make sure everyone is safe and gets through this situation! Stay safe, everyone!