Jose Herrera is the CEO and co-founder of a Horatio, a Customer Experience company for today’s fast-growing brands. Jose sets the strategic vision of Horatio and leads all growth, sales, and marketing efforts for the company.
Prior to founding Horatio, Jose was the Vice President at Morgan Stanley, overseeing the Latin American Investment Management institutional sales group. Originally hailing from the Dominican Republic, Jose and his two co-founders, Alex Ross, and Jared Karson, were inspired to create a company that provides tech-enabled customer support for North America’s biggest brands while also creating opportunities locally on Jose’s native island.
In 2021, Jose was named by Forbes Magazine on the Next 1000 list of today’s entrepreneurs, redefining the American dream.
- Can you share with us in your own words, a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today. So, could you share that with us?
- Could you share with us a little bit about Horatio? And what Horatio does? What are some of the brands that you support? And is it industry specific? Or do you cut across all different industries?
- What are customers’ expectations now in terms of a company or a brand’s response time?
- What are maybe two or three other key performance indicators that you think are critical for a company to truly attract customers that will remain loyal to them?
- In your opinion, do you think if your satisfaction score is high that that guarantees the customer will remain loyal to you?
- Now, could you share with us Jose, what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without you in your business?
- Could you also share with our listeners maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently, or maybe one that you read a very long time ago, but it still has a very big impact on you.
- Could you also share with us maybe one or two emerging trends that you see in customer experience for 2022 and beyond? Anything that you think is coming up that you think brands need to definitely pay attention to?
- Could you also share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? It could be something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
- Where can listeners find you online?
- Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will tend to revert to this quote? It kind of helps to get you back on track or get you back refocused.
Jose shared that he grew up in the Dominican Republic, and he pursued his undergraduate career in the United States. And after he graduated from college, he spent almost 10 years in the financial services industry. And he then pursued my MBA at Columbia Business School, which is where he met his co-founders, Alex and Jared. And after they graduated from Columbia Business School, they started Horatio as a way for them to, number one, generate meaningful job opportunities and improve the working conditions of the Dominican Republic, which is where he grew up, and also redefine what it means to provide an amazing customer experience working with some of the fastest growing e-commerce companies in the world.
What is Horatio and the Brands That Horatio Supports?
Jose shared that Horatio mainly provides omnichannel customer support across chat, email, SMS and social platforms. And they integrate the latest technologies to provide that service on behalf of their customers. They provide dedicated teams that are proud to represent your brand values and voice, they don’t share resources between brands and clients and their main expertise is working with ecommerce companies across all industries within ecommerce. They also work with financial technology companies and cryptocurrency companies, as well as health tech. So, he would say their main expertise is providing exceptional omnichannel customer support for all these different industries.
Customers’ Expectations in Terms of a Company or a Brand’s Response Time
Me: Amazing. Now one of the things that your website says is that you help your customers to improve response time. And one of the statements on your website is “Our average first response time is two hours.” Can you share with us how customers’ expectations have changed I would say over the last maybe two to three years, especially since the pandemic? What are customers’ expectations now in terms of a company or a brand’s response time?
Jose shared that he thinks that the pandemic definitely accelerated customers’ expectations and their needs, primarily through social media and live chat. That is the simplest way to answer customer inquiries and questions. And it’s very important for you to understand the value that comes with being able to provide fast responses to your customers, because there’s a direct correlation between how quickly you get back to your customers, and your customer satisfaction. And we all know that providing an amazing customer experience generates long term value for the enterprise and for your company at the end of the day.
So, the way that they do this is building out a framework that can allow them to quickly understand what the brand value and their proposition is for their customers. And then dive deeper into how can they seamlessly answer any potential customer inquiry across any platform and the way that they do that is, number one, learn the brand inside out and integrate the latest technology that can make their team more efficient.
So, a lot of people think that artificial intelligence is going to replace humans, in their experience, artificial intelligence actually helps their team be much more efficient and they integrate different tools to automate those easy questions that can be answered by AI and then allow their team to focus on those more complex issues that actually require their expertise and their knowledge to go above and beyond and provide an amazing customer experience.
So, they use a lot of software. Obviously, Gorgias is one of their biggest partners. And they love using that tool to automate a lot of things and to also derive a lot of interesting data and analytics that can make their team even more efficient as time goes by. And then also incorporating some other interesting technological tools that can allow them to overall provide an exceptional experience without compromising those response times that you outlined.
Key Performance Indicators That are Critical for a Company to Attract Customers That Will Remain Loyal
Me: So, response time is critical to the customer’s experience. What are maybe two or three other key performance indicators, especially seeing that that’s something that your company consistently tries to deliver through on the brands that you represent that you think are critical for a company to truly attract customers that will remain loyal to them?
Jose shared he thinks surprising and delighting your customers throughout the customer experience journey is critical to create loyalty, and to also build referrals.
Nowadays, marketing expenses for, particularly for ecommerce companies is extremely high and he thinks that by delighting and surprising your customers, whether it’s sending an additional product for them to try or providing them an extra coupon or discount for their families or relative to also try a product, like those are things that made the customers very happy and loyal to the brand.
And obviously, over communicating goes a long ways. So, he thinks that a lot of customers nowadays, they love when the company provides tracking information and feedback as to where is the order, right, because after a while, if you don’t receive your product, you grow frustrated and when you contact the brand, you’re already a little bit annoyed with the experience. So, over communicating and being proactive instead of reactive is the way that they like to think about things and ensure that the organization that they work with always have the customer experience journey top of mind, across all the divisions within the company. Because in their experience, customer experience is not only the responsibility of the customer experience department, it’s the responsibility of everyone across the company.
Me: Amazing. So, there are two things you said a while ago that truly resonate with me one was over communicating, because I tend to say quite a bit. I think a lot of brands forget that or they think that customers know exactly what’s going to happen. A lot of times we don’t know what’s happening on the back end in your organization and it’s critical for you to not just communicate something one time, but for you to communicate it more than one time so that the repetition is there, at some point we should be able to get the message or the information that you’re trying to get across. So, I thought that was brilliant that you said over communicate, because I think it’s so important for you to over communicate, well it’s way better than under communicating for sure.
Jose said definitely. And he actually had an example of this, that happened to him yesterday. He purchased a product a couple of weeks ago and they were very good about over communicating, and telling him that the package was on its way, that the package was set to be delivered on a particular day.
But then all of a sudden, the package was not delivered and no one communicated that to him and he was expecting to receive that package.
So, when he got to the mailing room, he saw that the package is not there, he had to go into the system and he noticed that it was incorrectly delivered to someone else and the brand didn’t catch that.
And so, his experience already is impacted by this negative situation that he had. And then he reached out to the company and he gets an automated response back from the brown saying, “We have a huge backlog. We’re sorry, we’ll get back to you within 72 hours.”
So, that already ruined his perception of that brand and he will probably not buy from them again because now he has to wait 72 hours to get a response. So, he thinks it’s very important that you have the right data set to make those decisions and to be able to proactively reach out to your customers and understand what’s happening and how can things break throughout the entire process of shipping an order right.
So, he thinks a lot of companies haven’t put a lot of focus and understanding that data comes from customer experience. He thinks they’ve placed a lot more emphasis on other areas of the business. But really understanding the data that you can derive from your customer experience team and figuring out how you can continue to make improvements so that you improve that first response time, that you increase that average response time and that your overall satisfaction score continues to increase is critical for the long-term stability and growth of any enterprise or any brand.
Does a High Customer Satisfaction Score Guarantee Loyal Customers?
Me: As it relates to customer satisfaction, there’s an author that I follow for many years, his name is Jeffrey Gitomer. And he wrote a book, but one of the things he said in the book was customer satisfaction does not guarantee loyalty. You do a lot of customer satisfaction scores for organizations, and I’m sure there are certain key indicators that will determine whether or not a company has a high CSAT score as you mentioned, communicating, response time, fulfilling promises, and many other I’m sure indicators that will help to give you a really good CSAT score. But in your opinion, do you think if your satisfaction score is high that that guarantees the customer will remain loyal to you?
Jose said yes, in their experience and with the brands that they’ve worked with, they have noticed that having an increased customer satisfaction score does lead to repeat purchases and overall loyalty and obviously, that also results in client referrals. So, he thinks that it’s very important to understand how to actually use the CSAT metric, because obviously depends on the type of customer.
And you have to really understand like when you should actually rely on CSAT and when you should not use it. And so, in their experience, it’s very important and it leads to at least a from what they’ve seen, having an amazing CSAT score does result in at least a 30% increase in in customer loyalty and engagement with the brands that they’ve worked with and that’s what they’ve seen in terms of like conversion.
So, he thinks it all depends on a lot of different factors. But overall, they’ve seen that it does lead to an increase in loyalty and additional revenue generating opportunities for the brands. So, it does depend on how you measure it and what industry you’re in, of course, if your product is not unique and that’s definitely a different metric. But he thinks that if you have an interesting value proposition and your product is unique, and you provide amazing experience, then it should lead to an increasing in customer lifetime value.
App, Website or Tool that Jose Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business
When asked about online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Jose shared that he is a big user of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the biggest tools that he uses to network and stay in touch with his network. That is one tool that he checks and uses every day to communicate with prospects and potential partners. And he also is a part of an organization called Entrepreneurial Organization or EO, which has been an invaluable network for him to bounce off ideas outside of a business setting and that has allowed him to think strategically about things that he normally wouldn’t think about when running this business.
Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Jose
When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Jose shared that his favorite business book is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. He thinks it’s very cliche, but he thinks that the overall conclusion of that book is find self-motivating people that can lead on your behalf so that you don’t have to micromanage. And he thinks that that is something that they have top of mind at Horatio, is to find people that are really driven to succeed, and they can count on to lead and continue to carry their culture. So, that’s typically how they think about when running this business is being surrounded by amazing individuals and letting them grow and lead their teams.
Emerging Customer Experience Trends for 2022 and Beyond That Brands Need to Pay Attention to
Jose shared that he thinks one of the biggest trends that we’ve noticed over the past couple of months is, there’s been a growth in terms of personalization of your support interactions. He thinks that over the past couple of years, we’ve relied a lot on canned responses and macros. And we’ve also relied on chatbot automation and a lot of templates and that has cost the brands a lot of money because customers can read through the lines and understand that you’re not really taking the time to answer their questions and you’re not really personalizing your interaction to accommodate their needs.
So, they’ve been starting to see a trend where, the majority of their clients wants them to go a little bit deeper when interacting with their consumers and eliminating scripts and using them as a support tool, but overall, trying to be a little bit personable and human when providing communication to their customers. And so, that is one of the trends that they’ve seen over the past couple of months, that’s working a lot. And he thinks that the other trend that they have seen in terms of customer experience, is also understanding how to leverage the latest technological tools that are out there to make your customer experience team more efficient.
So, it’s not about replacing the customer experience team, it’s about helping them leverage all these technological tools and platforms to make the right decisions for the business and the right decisions for the customers. So, they’ve seen a lot of interesting technological integrations happening over the past couple of months that have helped them make the different teams that they manage on behalf of their brands are a little bit more efficient.
Me: So, personalization and an integrational of technological services to enhance better decision making where customer experience is concerned.
What Jose is Really Excited About Now?
When asked about something that he’s excited about, Jose shared that they launched the company in late 2018, early 2019, so they’ve grown a lot over the past couple of years from a small team of 20 in 2019, to almost 800 in 2022. Something that is really exciting is developing leaders within the company and making sure that they have the right support to grow within the organization. So, they’ve spent a lot of time on making sure that their culture remains intact despite the growth that they’ve experienced. And so, they’ve implemented a lot of different interesting initiatives in place at the company to make sure that their leadership team understands how valuable they are to them as an organization and the importance that they have to carry the culture of their team overall within the company.
So, that is something that he’s really excited about is to continue to develop the future leaders of Horatio and ensuring that they’re all achieving their goals and their career pathways is moving forward in the right direction as the company continues to grow.
Where Can We Find Jose Online?
Website – https://hirehoratio.com
Twitter – @hire_horatio
Instagram – @hirehoratio
Facebook – @hirehoratio
LinkedIn – Hire Horatio CX
And something that he gets a lot of people ask him like why Horatio and Horatio was Hamlet’s only trusted friend in Shakespeare, so they wanted to convey that message of trust and using a partner that you can really trust and rely on as you think about outsourcing your customer experience support.
Me: Ah, I thought of it originally when your portfolio was presented to me to have you as a guest and I said to myself, I wonder why the name Horatio so I’m so happy that you decided to share that with us in the interview.
Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Jose Uses
When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Jose shared, “Keep calm and carry on.”
Me: Short and sweet. “Keep calm and carry on.” And could you share with us how that helps you to get back on track.
Jose stated that it just makes sure that he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture and stay positive in the midst of adversity and turmoil. It grounds him to understand the position he has at the company, to continue motivating the leaders within the company and keep pushing towards the end goal that they have at Horatio, which is to, number one, provide an amazing employee experience to their team members on the ground, which in turn provides amazing customer experience for their customers and they continue to deliver in that high quality that everyone expects from them.
Me: Awesome. Keep calm and carry on. Well, thank you so much, Jose for taking time out of your very busy schedule for hopping on his podcast today and basically sharing with us emerging trends that are coming up in customer experience, what are some of the key performance indicators for you to ensure that you can retain and sustain a high customer satisfaction score, and even looking at response time, some of the things that are critical to ensure that your customers’ expectations are exceeded and you do consistently deliver on that experience that your customers become loyal and they’ll walk and spread good news about your business. So we really appreciate all the wonderful information that you shared with us today.
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