MarTech Interview with Ben Harris, CEO and Co-Founder at Decibel

MarTech Interview with Ben Harris, CEO and Co-Founder at Decibel

“C-suites everywhere are making digital customer experience a business priority, because if it’s not perfect, customers are less likely to convert.”

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Hi, Ben. Congratulations on your latest funding. Tell us about your eventful journey through the decade and how you managed to take the company to its recent position.

The journey really began for me during the dot com era when I realized my friends, who were starting businesses, were struggling to navigate the fragmented world of Marketing. I had the idea to cut it differently, by the objective of customer acquisition or customer retention rather than the media type and created an agency to do so, exclusively focused on digital.

As the digital world started to mature, brands could see the detrimental impact of poor customer experiences: loss of loyalty, conversions, and revenue. But it also became obvious that they had no meaningful data to make improvements. So, we set out to create technology that could understand those experiences and pinpoint revenue opportunities.

In 2014, the company now known as Decibel was born in London. Immediately bringing on brands like British Airways and LEGO, we knew our Digital Experience Intelligence platform was unique and critical. Finally, brands could see how users actually felt when interacting with digital properties. The platform shows when users are engaged or confused, for example, and brands can optimize their sites accordingly.

Decibel has been growing at an explosive pace since launching. It has developed strong integrations along the way – including our Premier Partnership with Adobe – to fill the critical knowledge gap in understanding online experiences. In 2016, we raised $9 million in Series A funding, enabling us to grow the technology even further and scale the business to new regions, including a U.S. headquarters in Boston and offices in Denver.

Now, Decibel quantifies the digital experience for more than 250 of the world’s largest brands spanning the Retail, Financial Services, Travel and Hospitality, and Media industries. We’ve tripled our global employee base since our first funding round, expanding to offices in San Francisco, Madrid, and Berlin. And, to close out the decade, we have just completed our Series B funding round, totaling $17 million, led by Draper Esprit.

How have Customer Experience expectations evolved in the last 2-3 years? 

Customers no longer have the patience to troubleshoot poor digital experiences – such as a broken button or an unnecessarily long information form. With countless alternative options at the tips of their fingers, shoppers will go elsewhere to get what they need if a website or app is not flawless. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, impeccable digital customer experiences evolved from simply being a nicety to becoming the most important brand differentiator, according to Walker, a customer experience consulting firm. And brands can’t risk customer experience. C-suites everywhere are making digital customer experience a business priority because if it’s not perfect, customers are less likely to convert and thus revenue is on the line.

Which technologies and trends brought these changes? 

It’s no secret that the digital era has forced brands across all industries to have an online presence. But simply creating a website and/or an app isn’t enough anymore. Innovative brands – from retailers to streaming service providers – have set the bar high, redefining what it means to have a top-notch digital customer experience. As a result, customer expectations are equally as high. People have come to expect impeccable experiences from all brands, across all industries. Otherwise, they can go elsewhere with the click of a button.

These growing customer expectations showcase why ensuring flawless digital experiences is more important than ever. Technologies like Machine Learning and AI have made adjusting to these changes in customer expectations efficient and cost-effective for marketers, web developers, and user experience teams. For example, Decibel’s Digital Experience Platform uses Machine Learning to crunch billions of datapoints about the user experience to identify exactly where the biggest conversion opportunities lie. This enables digital teams to quickly alleviate problems on websites and apps, create positive experiences, and pocket the revenue from the resulting conversions and increased loyalty.

How do you plan to extend the benefits of your MarTech funding to customers and technology partners? 

Our Series B investment funds will be used to take Decibel’s experience-focused technology to the next level, enabling our partners and customers to further provide meet customer expectations seamlessly. The funds will also allow Decibel to grow its presence across Europe and North America.

Almost every industry is heavily disrupted by Big Data, AI, Blockchain, and Predictive Intelligence technologies. What kind of future are you building to provide the best CX to customers with your AI and ML expertise?

In the fast-moving digital space, the core thing teams lack is time. With millions of people visiting websites and apps every day, how can digital teams possibly analyze every single visit to identify where the biggest opportunities for improvement lie?

The future we’re building here at Decibel involves giving teams their time back. Over the last few years, we’ve created a vast number of unique datapoints about the user experience that digital teams have used to improve their websites and apps. Now, we’re pairing that dataset with Machine Learning technology that does the heavy lifting of analysis for them. Teams no longer spend hours digging through data themselves but instead are automatically directed to the biggest opportunities for improving online experiences and conversions. It’s having this kind of critical insight on hand immediately that will be majorly disruptive and set the best companies apart in the digital space over the next decade.

Which new geographies and industries are you targeting with your new products? 

The investment will be used to expand Decibel’s presence across Europe and North America. While Decibel’s technology can be applied to virtually any website or mobile app, we’re currently focused on helping Retail, Travel and Financial Services organizations provide exceptional experiences.

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

Our friend Cody Crnkovich, the Head of Platform Partners and Strategy at Adobe Experience Cloud.

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

Having started a London-based digital agency in 2002, Ben became increasingly aware of the gap between traditional web analytics and the ability to make informed decisions to improve website performance, so, he and software architect Timothy de Paris set about creating Decibel Insight.

Ben’s vision for Decibel Insight is to make customer experience a science; reinventing the ways companies create, measure and optimize digital experiences in ways that are obvious, compelling and actionable. Ben has worked more than 20 years in the delivery of digital projects for clients including Microsoft, NYSE, Nestle, Nokia, and Citrix.

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Decibel provides real-time intelligence that enables businesses to measure and improve online customer experiences — at scale.

Pioneering the world’s first technology designed specifically to quantify experiences, Decibel’s Digital Experience Intelligence platform captures unique experience data, enriched by machine learning, to reveal digital body language, understand user state of mind and pinpoint problem areas on your website, web applications and native apps.

Our go-to, universal metric for measuring experiences online, the Digital Experience Score (DXS®) automatically rates the quality of experiences and can be segmented across your entire digital offering and audience for immediate insight into where the biggest wins lie. This intelligence powers best-in-class forensic tools that allow digital teams to investigate exactly how and where to optimize for better experiences. Built on a flexible, fast, open API, Decibel makes it easy to integrate and export smart experience data to enrich your entire stack or model in-house.

The world’s largest companies including Adidas, British Airways, and Fidelity use Decibel to discover opportunities to transform digital experience, drive brand loyalty and grow their businesses.

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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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