Joe Gagnon is the CEO of Sparkcentral, a messaging customer service platform founded in 2012. Based in Hasselt, Belgium and San Francisco, CA – with clients sprinkled throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia – the company is in a prime position to accomplish its stated mission: to change how customer service is delivered around the world by enabling businesses to message with customers.
The company’s goal is to help businesses achieve digital transformation within their contact centers via modern messaging options such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Social, and Chat.
According to Pew Research Center, 97 percent of Americans send at least one digital message a day, but very few of those messages are sent to consumers’ favorite brands or businesses. While digital messaging has been steadily increasing as more companies embrace the growing demand for digital transformation, most brands are still playing catch up. According to prestigious research firms such as Deloitte, Gartner, Forrester and others, consumers are hungry for a greater degree of autonomy when it comes to contacting customer service.
Non-voice interactions like chat, SMS and social media messaging are now the preferred modes of contact for most consumers, and comfortability with new forms of AI is also on the rise, with smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home becoming common fixtures in many people’s homes.
“It no longer makes sense for consumers to call customer service when most people are already using non-voice channels to interact with their family and friends,” said Gagnon. “Sparkcentral’s messaging platform combines all those outlets on one platform for a complete 360 degrees view of the customer. This high-performance framework not only improves CSAT and ESAT scores but also prepares enterprises for the next wave of digital transformation.”
Gagnon’s high-performance business philosophy is reflected and stimulated by his personal life, which is governed by a “Be All You Can Be” attitude reminiscent of the popular US Army motto.
“I learned a lot as a first-time CEO,” Gagnon explained, “but eventually, everyone reaches a point where they’re no longer being challenged – when they’re in danger of stagnating or mindlessly accepting the status quo. I wanted to tackle something seemingly impossible that would stretch me mentally, emotionally and physically.”
That something ended up being six marathons in six days on six continents.
“It was hard,” admitted Gagnon, “but worth being able to prove the naysayers, including myself, wrong. The part that surprised me was how much of the experience I was able to translate to my business life. Among other things, it taught me to have a plan for every contingency, that nothing’s impossible unless you don’t even try, that it’s okay to ask for help, that hardship is just a more intense form of living and that ground zero has a way of revealing everyone’s true colors.”
These lessons have served Gagnon and Sparkcentral well. The innovative startup is now the messaging solution provider for a roster of international brands, including AXA, DirecTV, Emirates, ENGIE, JetBlue, KBC Bank, MTN, Netflix, Nordstrom, Western Union and Zappos. These clients have experienced a 20–60 percent reduction in customer service cost, as well as increased CSAT and ESAT scores, thanks to the ease and flexibility of asynchronous messaging solutions that allow customers and agents to interact without needing to be available at the same time. This makes it possible for consumers to contact Customer Service on the go without loss of time or conversation history, as all conversation history is securely encrypted and available to both parties on both the front and the back ends.
“It’s an exciting time in the business world with technology improving the way that people are able to work and communicate,” Gagnon stated. “High-performance thinking means high-performance results. Sparkcentral’s goal is to be at the forefront of a digital transformation that will change the quality of agent-customer interactions for the better. Happier customers translates to stronger brand affinity, and who wouldn’t want that?”
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