So how did Rant & Rave come about?
That’s a good question! After graduating from Loughborough University I joined IBM, I joined the international CRM (customer relationship management) team where I learnt the importance of building customer relationships to gain more business. This, combined with my faith in the future potential of mobile technology, resulted in the idea to develop Rapide (now called Rant & Rave) in 2000.
Tell us a bit about the company.
Using our unique SaaS software, we’re able to help businesses find out what their customers, or employees, are really thinking about them. We’ve created a whole range of technology that allows brands to proactively get their messages out to their customers and employees as fast as possible – mainly around the mobile phone. We also introduced the fast feedback side of the proposition to the world. Our clients can now capture and respond to their customers in real-time so they can rescue any Ranters and celebrate their Ravers.
Not only do we now count half of the FTSE as clients but we're also enjoying forming new relationships with fast growing companies or 'challenger brands' who, like us, are determined to challenge the status quo by offering exceptional customer experience.
How did the rebrand and name change come about?
Changing our name from Rapide to Rant & Rave was something that we deliberated over for a while. The temptation was to play it safe, stick to what we'd always done and avoid saying anything that might ruffle any feathers. But we thought that being distinctive was more important; so we dropped the name, Rapide, and re-launched with the ‘does what it says on the tin’ name, Rant & Rave. It’s bold but it epitomises what we do and reflects the quirky nature of our business in an industry where there are a lot of companies competing for the same customers.
What did that mean for how your business works?
Our style has changed – we’ve ditched corporate jargon in favour of clear, concise and friendly copy which allows us to practice what we preach – delivering an effortless customer experience. Though we were slightly nervous about the response from our existing clients we were thrilled that the reaction was overwhelmingly positive; as well as retaining our traditional clients we’ve managed to recruit a whole new breed of customers who are attracted to the fun, innovative nature of the company.
So you think that businesses should be open to change and be able to adapt?
Yes, absolutely – businesses need to be able to adapt and we’re always innovating and developing our technology to improve our clients’ customers’ experience. We also understand the importance of bringing employees along on the journey, sharing their experience and experimenting with new methods. The key thing is not to be afraid of change – and having the bravery to go out there and do things before your competitors to give you an edge that will wow your customers.
You’ve worked with some huge brands including Papa John’s. How have you created these relationships?
We have a lot of legacy brands that have been with us since our launch 14 years ago. We have constant contact with our clients. We have Rant & Rave Assistants constantly on call, whenever they need. We give customers a service where we’re actively there and available whenever they need. When it comes to creating new relationships and recent acquisitions, we identify brands we share an ideology with. We have a conversation with brands that we see would benefit from Rant & Rave, that no longer want to have tick-box surveys to find out how they’re doing, but grasp the fact they need pure feedback, in the words of the customer.
And how important do you think it is for small businesses to create these types of relationships?
The majority of small businesses want to become bigger. There are lots of ways to differentiate yourself, but relationships that create Ravers, who become your secret Salesforce and sell to other potential customers is compelling. First of course, you need to know who your Ravers and Ranters are, so you can act, which is where we come in!
How can your brand help start-ups and small businesses?
Parts of Rant & Rave are really easy to use and involve no complex integration or costly services from us. The obvious one that a SME could use straight out of the box is called Listening Posts. This is basically a little statement that they can use on a poster, invoice, business card, website and/or email that allows the customer to send a text message or click a link and leave a comment and score right there and then.
What advice do you have for small businesses in regards to engaging with customers?
Never leave that small business mentality, no matter how big you get! When you are small you are very conscious of what you do and how it impacts your customer. Make sure that you build on your success in a very scalable way. Lots of small businesses that experience quick success slip up because they’re trying to run too quickly – they get new clients and then aren’t able to keep them all happy so it’s important that you continue to meet existing customer needs, act smarter and pre-empt what your customer wants.
Which campaign(s) you’ve worked with stand out and why?
PR-wise our biggest campaign has been National Rant & Rave Day where, together with our mascots, Rant & Rave (see picture) a team of 50 took to the streets of London to encourage consumers to get ranting and raving about their favourite – and most hated – brands. The aim was to focus on making brands wise up to the fact that customers are willing to tell you what they think, and it worked! We gathered hundreds of pieces of feedback from across the capital and used it to engage with businesses. This generated significant news interest and we were interviewed by over 19 regional radio stations on National Rant & Rave day. We are reliably informed that over 23 million listeners were exposed to Rant & Rave that day!
Of course, the re-brand has also been a big success; it’s given us the freedom to back the brand and provide customers with a memorable company they can really identify with.
How important is it to grow in stages as a business?
It’s hugely important. As mentioned, it’s a bit of a balancing act as you need to ensure that your current customers are happy while coping with changes in the company and taking on new staff and clients.
How can a business determine which way is best to communicate and engage with their customers?
Quite simply, think about it from your customers' perspective; put yourself in their shoes and do what you think they would like. If a customer chooses to reach out to you via email, respond via email. If you’re a delivery firm and your customer is likely to be out and about, send them a text message so they can easily reply and aren’t waiting in all day for you. It’s a case of adapting to their needs.
How can clients benefit from your solutions?
We provide customer engagement solutions with a difference. We were created with the belief that fundamentally brands and consumers want the same thing: to deliver and receive great service. We believe that by reducing customer effort and taking real-time inspired action, brands are able to transform ‘ranters’ into ‘ravers’ and happy customers into lifelong advocates.
Our fast feedback solution works by capturing customer thoughts in real-time via IVR (Interactive Voice Response) – an automated feedback recording platform, text message, picture message or email. Customers are asked to give a satisfaction score based on their experience and answer the simple question ‘why’? This feedback is uploaded onto the Rant & Rave dashboard that is instantly visible for staff to see – and react to in a way they see fit. The results help companies see which employees are excelling at their customer service, while also identifying any areas in need of improvement.
We also produce technology that enables companies to proactively communicate with their clients – all using the mobile phone. We believe that consumers are less likely to complain if they are kept up-to-date, reminded, and feel as though they are cared for by their service provider. It’s a case of giving them what they need before they ask for it – making their experience as effortless as possible.