Oz Merchant of Wellistic tells us how they are building a wellness community for parents and bringing together the largest community of healthcare providers.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oz Merchant: We were fortunate. COVID had a minimal impact on us personally. I know others did not fare so well. It changed our routines a bit, but 4 to 6 weeks into it, it became our new norm.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Wellistic.
Oz Merchant: I have been in the SaaS space for over 15 years. At the time, I had just moved back to the United States from The Netherlands. I was surprised to find how easy it was to buy a house and a car, but when it came to something as personal and deeply important as our personal health, there was no easy way to find trusted wellness providers. After searching for some existing solution without any luck, I thought this was a good opportunity to build it myself — to scratch my own itch. That’s what spawned the Wellistic journey.
How does Wellistic innovate?
Oz Merchant: I started by exploring other review sites. I saw many that offered very little information to software review sites which did a great job of eliciting meaningful reviews. I pursued the latter as a model and identified the journey a consumer goes through to fulfil a wellness visit. In most cases, there is a check-in, a visit with the provider, and a checkout. Each of those are separate experiences, and oftentimes an experience at one portion of the journey may colour the whole journey. By calling out each portion of the journey, it gets the consumer to stop and reflect back on specifically that portion of the experience. Now, as a consumer, this more specific information is useful to me to a more informed decision. In addition, as a service provider, the specific information offers an opportunity to specifically improve the right piece of the consumer journey.
For example, if someone states that the waiting room was very cold, as a consumer, I may choose to bring a sweater when I go for my visit. As a service provider, I can check the thermostat and act on this feedback quite easily. Another example may be during the checkout, and there is an issue with the insurance. Typically these few minutes of frustration could colour the whole experience in a negative light. Now it offers an opportunity for the consumer to isolate the frustration to exactly a specific portion of the experience. And as a service provider, this may indicate a revisit of the existing checkout process. Maybe it could be more streamlined. Maybe the personnel need more training. In either case, it all now becomes actionable.
This is just one of many ways we’ve innovated to deliver a more meaningful experience in finding good health.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and what are the lessons learned?
Oz Merchant: Unlike Wall Street, the main street was hit hard. Many of our customers were forced to shut down for a long stretch of time. Some were allowed to open but at very little capacity. Unfortunately, others were not in a place to open their doors ever again. This made it hard for us to grow during this period until we made a key pivot. We introduced the ability to find wellness providers who were offering their services virtually. While not all businesses could go that route, many of them got creative and found ways to serve their community in an online fashion. While we had to reduce some of our staff, it also forced us to rethink our go-to-market strategy and shift from a sales-led approach to more of a product-led approach. In hindsight, we should have made this shift a year sooner. Lessons learned.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Oz Merchant: We streamlined the platform for self-service. We introduced bots to field initial inquiries. This coincided with a strategy change to becoming more product-led. We continue to use Jira and Salesforce, which have been core to the business since day one.
Your final thoughts?
Oz Merchant: I always heard the best time to start a business is during a recession. It forces innovation and creativity while running lean. We certainly had to adapt quickly to that mindset to survive. And foundationally, it made the company stronger. Hence, I think the main street will come back stronger too. The demand has not gone away, just patiently waiting for the world to open back up. Soon the main street will be thriving again!
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