Jack Barmby, CEO of Gnatta and Founder of FM Outsource tells us about better software for better communication and customer service outsourcing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jack Barmby: It’s been a rough year for my family and me personally – my Mum, Sally Chandler, passed away last month after a year-long battle with illness. The impact of COVID restrictions on that experience took its toll for sure. What I do know is that she was extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in the businesses we created together – not just in this last year but since they were founded.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Gnatta and FM Outsource.
Jack Barmby: Gnatta (an omnichannel customer communication platform) was the product of an internship I took while at University in 2012. My remit was to radically improve how a small logistics firm was handling their social media interactions, and I found at the time that there wasn’t much software out there that could do what we needed. We launched a company called FM Outsource to provide customer care resources with a specific interest in digital channels (although it covers all channels now), while I worked with some developer friends to create the technology we needed. Gnatta was officially incorporated in 2015 as its own business.
How does Gnatta and FM Outsource innovate?
Jack Barmby: The core of our product is the workflow engine. It’s completely customizable, and that means clients can build unique automation to accomplish a huge range of tasks within the customer communication platform. Assigning interactions based on complex prioritization rules, profile aggregation to gain a single view of the customer, collecting information from external systems – it all adds up to something that is very bespoke. That level of customizability means our clients can optimize their operational efficiency, minimizing their cost-to-serve. It’s all about making the customer service agent’s life easier.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jack Barmby: Gnatta has had an exceptional year this year. In the aftermath of high-street closures, eCommerce rocketed. That created a resulting flood of customer queries – customers who buy online will look for help online. They don’t go back into the store to do their return, and they post it. So customer service teams are suddenly bigger and busier than they’ve ever been, and Gnatta has been here to help them scale up.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jack Barmby: As a SaaS company, we were well placed to operate under remote working policies – and in fact, already had a proportion of the team working from home before COVID. The pandemic also didn’t present a change to the way our product worked – it just presented a change to the way we interacted with our clients.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jack Barmby: As with many, we rely heavily on Slack, Zoom, and project management tools. Being a tech startup, however, these were all tools we were already using before COVID. While we’re looking forward to a return to the office when it is safe to do so, the increased investment in these tools over the last 12-months we believe has strengthened our communication as a business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jack Barmby: Our competitors include out-of-the-box solutions like Zendesk or Freshdesk. Or pricier applications like Salesforce, in some edge cases. We stay ahead by offering an enhanced level of customizability without the pricing barriers present in other enterprise-level applications.
Your final thoughts?
Jack Barmby: I believe it is every business’s responsibility to respond to the unique circumstances that COVID-19 has presented with compassion. While we have been lucky, many other business models have not been, and hard times may be ahead. So we intend to take that personally and will be working very hard to ensure our employees and clients alike receive all of our support; however it is required.