Veteran entrepreneur Matt Gillin got the idea for Relay Network sitting in a parking lot.
One day he was in a parking lot and received an AT&T text message saying he had not paid his bill. A previous company used to pay the bill so he had not had to do that for some time. AT&T had been trying to reach him, but only had employment contact information. The text included an embedded link which Mr. Gillin followed to pay the tab.
“In that 90 seconds I averted a painful experience but more importantly I got my next big idea,” Mr. Gillin said. “What if every company had that type of strong connection with their customers, a private secure channel just built for this service?”
Companies traditionally rely on other’s channels to reach their customers — media advertisements, social networks or even direct mail. Success is tough to measure but it is generally low.
Seems like the perfect process to be re-imagined in the digital age.
Relay notifies customers via smart texts when a company sends a message. Companies can customize metrics and receive immediate analytics on marketing campaigns.
Customers are onboarded onto Relay with minimal information. Once in the system companies can transform existing touch points like customer service calls, website logins and identification cards into more meaningful interactions.
Mr. Gillin said health care, financial services and home services are three sectors seeing the most benefit from the Relay network, with more than one dozen Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, banks including TD, Citizens, and Santander, and AAA, Comcast and Cox among their clients. Together they reach more than 60 million people.
Mr. Gillin cited several examples of how Relay can benefit financial institutions. It can take 60 days to finalize contracts, which impacts student loans and mortgages.
Relay approaches banks with solutions on how to improve customer connections. Solutions are developed and invitations are sent, with the customer having to opt in to participate. In some cases 85 percent do.
Offering an omnichannel engagement experience increases conversion, and hence profit margins, Mr. Gillin added. In one example one bank reported a 10 percent high student loan conversion rate. That was worth more than $100 million.
“Staying engaged makes it easy for them to drive great loyalty and customer satisfaction,” Mr. Gillin said. “And everyday transactions drive loyalty.”
Study results of millennials show they are fundamentally different in how they consume communication, Mr. Gillin said. They expect immediacy and omnichannel flexibility.
The health care experience is confusing to most customers, Mr. Gillin added.
“By having a connection and the right information at the right time, it can have meaningful impact on consumer health.”
Regular contact via a Relay network addresses gaps in care and is a great preventive step.
“Early detection saves lives and reduces costs,” Mr. Gillin said.
Customer expectations are changing in the digital age, Mr. Gillin said.
“Five years (of data) show customer expectations of business is fundamentally changing. More than 90 percent of all interactions with cable companies and banks are over the phone.”
Communication channels are secure with the look and feel of a private social media channel, though there is some Relay branding within the app.
Individual relay users get better control over the flood of media messages they are exposed to every day, Mr. Gillin said.
“It starts to streamline multiple business relationships on the same platform.”