Turning ‘Ranters’ Into ‘Ravers’ – Interview With Rant & Rave’s Dennis Fois

Sometimes brands and businesses need a little extra help to gain or re-gain the trust of customers, and this is where companies like Rant & Rave come in. They help brands take real-time, inspired action to reduce customer effort and deliver a great experience overall. But Rant & Rave seem a little different to your average customer engagement specialists…

Rant & Raves claims to turn ‘Ranters’ into ‘Ravers’ by first focusing on what the customers want rather than the brand, and only work with companies who are ‘willing to think outside of the box’, so we just had to get an interview with them. We had the pleasure of speaking with Dennis Fois, CEO of Rant & Rave and gained some valuable insight into the workings of one of Europe’s fastest growing companies 2015.

Dennis FoisRant & Rave seems to come at Customer Service from a different angle. Can you explain a little about how you’re different?

By really focusing on the Customer. A paradox of Customer Service is that it’s usually approached from the Brand to the customer (inside out). Usually driven by process, costs and questions that a Brand has to deal with. At Rant & Rave we turn things inside out and start with what the customer wants to talk about. We create an environment where at a transactional level the consumer can leave some feedback in their own words in free format. This information is emotional information which is a great source of actionable feedback for the Brand and creates opportunities for engagement.

That engagement can be initiated by the Brand, as an example by removing the need for a consumer to chase for an update or check a status. This reduces the overall effort that a consumer needs to exert, which is seen as positive by the consumer – a first step in creating a Raver – removing obstacles and small irritations. In the words of Stephen Covey, a deposit in the emotional bank account.

You claim to turn “Ranters” into “Ravers”. What do you mean by this and what is the process?

The recipe is a secret that only our customers can enjoy. We don’t like corporate lingo as it creates a distance with consumers and favours rational arguments over emotional content. Our Ranters are Detractors and our Ravers are Promoters in old language.

It all starts from authenticity; the Brand really needs to want this as consumers detect that immediately and this comes through with every interaction. The desire to act on feedback is imperative to the success as ultimately the ROI comes from the actions the Brand takes. The ingredients are real-time, open questions, pro-active communication and action. These form the building blocks for an engagement framework that can wrap round the communication channels, always listening for an opportunity to engage.

“overall Brits are more positive than negative (56% to be exact)”

From your studies, can you identify what consumers are “Ranting” about the most?

Yes of course. This is key and is what consumers value most. This is different by client and process or situation. There is a trend at a very high level that Consumers are ranting most about the process where they have to chase for updates or extend a high amount of effort. However they are, on the whole, more positive about staff that communicates well with them and keeps their promise i.e. a call back.

You have won many awards and have been named one of Europe’s fastest growing companies 2015. That is quite a title to have. Why do you think you’ve been so successful?

That’s down to one thing: People – our staff to be precise. The whole company believes in what we do. It’s meaningful and we are actively driving change within Brands and consumer’s perception. What we do matters, so much so in fact that we often talk at Board and CEO level. Our customers feel this and this builds confidence and better relationships, which in turn translates to our customers actively recommending our service – RAVERS!

This is our dream, to create a true Raveolution where Brands and Consumers can be connected on a more emotional level and utilise their on-going dialogue to continuously improve their interactions.

“This is our dream, to create a true Raveolution where Brands and Consumers can be connected on a more emotional level…”

Rant & Rave has had a great number of big-name clients and successful case studies. Which has been your favourite success story/client to work with and why?

The list of favourites is growing and I have them for different reasons. Recently the West Brom has rolled out Rant & Rave in their Branches and the way staff and management have adopted it is nothing short of inspirational. Real-Time Feedback is embraced by all and if anything needs acting on it is routed to the Branch where staff immediately contact the customer to help – one to be watched!

I also love the fact that we are helping Utilities to engage better with their customers and there are some real gems in there, OVO Energy & Scottish Water stand out.

A case study of particular interest to us is your work with Npower. They received the title of worst company in the UK for Customer Service last year, but now they are working with you. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and how you see the company improving?

I think the timing of that title was unfortunate as the company had already defined a change program, and there is a real desire within Npower to deliver great service to it’s customers. An example of this is that as we were designing the system, the contact centre team decided to start the adoption before the system dashboards where live by creating their own cut-out dashboards that would be manually updated by staff and stories could be shared.

With the new Frontline Agent Engagement functionality we have been able to make it live in real-time with all the frontline staff. As customers leave feedback our technology separates out what is important at agent level and gives that back straight to the agent in a game-like manner. The agent can self-coach based on customer feedback where other things may be valued other than product knowledge alone or how long you have been on the phone. Agents love this and it’s admirable to see how Npower has been able to roll this out across its large contact centre.

On your website you state that you work with brands that are willing to think outside the box. Can you give some examples of “thinking outside the box”?

There are lots of examples. We have one client that made the case to snr. Management to increase the costs in their contact centre. They used what their customers were saying to support their case that if they could spend a little longer with them on the phone it would increase overall satisfaction, problem resolution and reduce the propensity to re-contact – Average Handle Time (AHT) reimagined!

Another client that is using our Frontline Engagement module mapped competency profiles to the feedback collected and have now made that part of their recruitment process. In other words they are now recruiting for skills that consumers value. Turns out communication skills are sometimes valued more than product knowledge…

“Turns out communication skills are sometimes valued more than product knowledge…”

Consumers are more empowered than ever, forcing brands to be more pro-active than re-active. Can you suggest some ways that brands can be pro-active in their approach to customer service?

Start by thinking as if you were your own customer. Ask management (it helps to get buy-in) to follow the journeys that customers follow. Look at your website FAQ and ask yourself questions: ‘is this to increase customer satisfaction or reduce cost?’ Is it reasonable for us to expect the customer to do this himself or herself?’ ‘What is our competition doing?’ Once you have a good idea, this can then be turned on its head by thinking about a no effort approach: how can we let the customer know about this before they feel the need to ask?

The answers are usually found in those little moments that matter – ordering status, first invoice of new service, new product etc.

Do you think the arrival of omni-channel has had a negative or positive effect on brands and businesses?

I feel that overall it has had a positive effect on Brands. I am not convinced however that it’s down to the reaction to channel adoption. I think that B2C organisations have been very fortunate with the timing of the macro economic movements and the adoption of technology. When you remember that omni-channel really started to gain traction during the global crisis, brands were fortunate that it was accepted at this time that this would be used as a way to be more effective with costs to serve.  As more experience was gained by early adopters and disruptive new entrants entered into the marketplace, this quickly changed to be more about customer convenience. Coupled with increased consumer confidence as economic recovery was underway one could argue that this was the perfect climate to slowly adopt Omni-channel strategies. Today it’s a different story with customer confidence and empowerment at an all time high – a good thing that those progressive Brands have already thought about their communication channels then.

Lastly, aside from jumping on board the Rant & Rave train, (which, of course, is also advisable) what advice can you give small businesses that are struggling to engage consumers?

To define what you stand for in the first place: Are you cost-lead or service-lead? It seems like a simple question doesn’t it? The reality is that a directional statement is often not defined and as such not part of the overall purpose of the business.

Dennis Fois

Dennis Fois is the CEO of Rant & Rave, one of the UK’s leading specialists in customer engagement, providing innovative technology to half of the FTSE.

Dennis joined Rant & Rave in January 2014 after three years with eGain Communications where he was instrumental in developing the organisation internationally.

Prior to that he was responsible for strategic alignment of financial service initiatives and new business development at insurance firms, ADP Claims Services and ABZ Business Services, before moving to a role in liquidity management at Barclays.

Having worked in Italy, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Switzerland Fois settled in the UK in 2007.