Interview with Eng Tan, CEO and Founder, Simplr

Eng Tan
Eng Tan, CEO and Founder at Simplr

“We’ll start to see a bigger shift and need for experience management tools that help marketers better understand every aspect of how their customer is communicating to them, and at every step of the sales cycle.”

Tell us about your current role and about your background and how you came to found Simplr? 

My role is to deliver a great customer experience for our partners and their consumers. What that looks like specifically ranges from day-to-day quality control to anticipating and understanding our partner needs, to setting up the correct business model to deliver great customer service.

I saw an unmet need in the market for great, scalable and truly cost-effective customer service among startups and new ventures in my previous career in identifying and incubating new ventures for a major enterprise company. We simply could not find any established, trusted customer service solutions that did not require a major investment or long-term commitments. Excellent customer service is a brand differentiator, particularly for smaller companies and startups that are competing in a saturated market. That’s why we created Simplr – to give these companies the customer service tools they need to be successful, without breaking the bank to get there.

My previous experience taught me that an early-stage startup requires everyone to wear many hats and be extremely flexible. Over 12 years of strategy consulting with exposure to over 50 companies across dozens of verticals has helped me to foster a high degree of nimbleness and the ability to pivot to fit new challenges as they come. The need to unlearn and relearn different business paradigms across organizations fostered a comfort with high levels of ambiguity, and another 10 years of enterprise sales and marketing experience provided me with the foundations of how to grow a business.

What is the number one problem that Simplr is looking to solve?

We empower entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups with world-class customer service that drives our partners’ competitiveness and ultimate growth and success.

What are your predictions for B2B experience management tools? How should CMOs plan the inclusion of these technologies in 2018?

I think that we’ll start to see a bigger shift and need for experience management tools that help marketers and company management better understand every aspect of how their customer is communicating to them, and at every step of the sales cycle. We’ll see a bigger focus on predictive analytics and AI for capturing key customer data while reducing costs, particularly in fast-growing areas like ecommerce. CMOs and other corporate management should think about how factors like the shift to an overwhelmingly online retail environment, a more connected global market and the new ways social media can be used to communicate to audiences and capture new data.

What startups in the martech/sales intelligence industries are you watching/keen on right now?

There are lots of interesting startups that are disrupting the industry – but I think the ones that will be the most successful are those that leverage emerging technology like AI, machine learning, natural language processing, among others, to help brands more deeply understand their customers and offer more native, relationship-based experiences.

What tools does your marketing and advertising stacks consist of in 2018?

We’re mainly using Hubspot CRM, Wordstream for Adwords management, and Intercom chat for our marketing stack at the moment.

With the maturity of B2B audience acquisition models, how do you see multi-channel marketing and sales automation integrations playing a bigger role between 2018 and 2022?

We’re already seeing multi-channel marketing shift to omnichannel, as consumers have more ways than ever to connect with brands, whether that is through social media, mobile apps or other connected tools folks are using daily. The need to consider and anticipate how consumers will engage with your brand based on other patterns and demographics are key to omnichannel marketing. The customer experience for brands is almost solely digital now, and we see this impact frequently in the work we do with Simplr. Customers want to be able to ask questions, learn about a brand or product and receive support 24/7 – they truly see brands as a relationship that they should be able to easily access and speak to natively. So, the approach that brands take should be to learn about their customers in new ways – such as the use of customer support, particularly with tools like Simplr that use technology like machine-learning and AI to capture data that is not accessible through the traditional call center or phone support models.

I think we will continue to see brands shift to an omnichannel approach from 2018-2022, as digital growth and new tools are developed and used by customers to gather information to make purchasing decisions. It will be vital for companies, particularly small-medium sized startups, to consider ways to differentiate their business and develop deep, lasting relationships with customers in order to see considerable growth.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader? How do you leverage AI capabilities at Simplr?

There are two approaches that business leaders should take – the first is setting up a business model that maximizes data access and curation. Second, the identification of talent that will be a good fit for your business, using new tools like machine learning and practical operationalization. At Simplr, we believe in making our human specialists more effective and efficient by adding in automation to help deliver better customer service. Machine Learning helps accelerate repetitive and transactional tasks such as talent screening, customer inquiry routing, and knowledge base curation and presentment to specialists. This helps make specialists more effective and provide a better experience and relationship with customers.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Tools that simplify and accelerate my work are invaluable, particularly because I am so busy managing and multi-tasking across all aspects of Simplr. I cannot live without Slack for communication efficiency, G-Suite for team collaborating and Trello for work-flow tracking.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Pointing back to the previous question, the use of tools to help streamline work and allow for greater creativity is vital, particularly for startups and growing companies. There are so many great digital tools that when used correctly and after some time spent learning how they work best for your team, can really promote idea-sharing amongst your team.

What are you currently reading? 

Purple Cow by Seth Godin on how to make your value proposition stand out from the crowd. I tend to focus on non-fiction in the business and entrepreneurial fields where I am constantly looking for new ideas. I consume most of my information through listening to audio books, videos, etc., allowing me to multi-task and work simultaneously.

What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

Ask the right questions.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read

I don’t necessarily have one person that I would tag, but I am generally open to learning more from folks who are looking at new ways to approach the evolving digital customer experience as well as people disrupting the ways that startups reach new audiences and evolve as a business.

Thank you, Eng! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

As CEO & Founder of Simplr, Eng brings over 22 years of experience leading strategic initiatives and program execution and management across the retail, commerce, tech, automotive, transportation and industrial industries.

Prior to founding Simplr, Eng spent 9 years with Asurion Corporation, a global leader in customer service with over 300 million customers, where he served first as VP & Head of Americas Marketing. In this role he led the channel marketing organization and was responsible for growth in Asurion’s major technology protection programs including U.S., Canadian and Latin American Tier 1 wireless carriers. Eng then moved to VP New Ventures & Corporate Development at Asurion where he launched and developed the organization’s corporate capability to identify, incubate and grow new business.  Eng also spent 13 years with Booz & Company (formerly Booz Allen & Hamilton) where he led strategic business restructuring across a wide-range of industries and verticals.

Eng leads strategic decision-making, product and program development, and business management in his role as CEO for Simplr. He holds a AB in Economics from Harvard University.

Simplr provides e-commerce companies with top-notch, US-based customer service that’s scalable and affordable. In a 24/7 connected world, Simplr lets e-commerce startups design an outsourced and on-demand customer service solution that meets the needs of their business. Simplr delivers maximum flexibility with no contracts and the ability to ramp up or down depending on volume. Simplr was incubated and funded by Asurion, a global leader in customer service with over 300 million customers and shares Asurion’s legacy of excellence in customer experiences. Where enterprise-level solutions are costly and restrictive, Simplr can provide world-class customer support tailored specifically to the needs (and budgets) of high growth startups.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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