So, Mark, thank you for your time today - before we deep-dive into Lokulus, how about a few questions about yourself? Let's begin...
Where are you working from currently?
I guess like many people, I am predominantly working from home with the occasional visit to the office for a group discussion. I’m really fortunate that I have a dedicated home office that is disconnected from my living space, in fact, it is sufficiently disconnected that I have to cross the small road that runs through our village, so on colder days I even have to put a coat on to go to work!
How long have you been CTO at Lokulus?
I’ve been the CTO at Lokulus since Alister and I took over the company in June 2019. Directly prior to that I was able to take some time out since leaving TransUnion the previous September.
What is the most important part of your role?
Together with Alister, I would say that it is ensuring that the company has both a direction and trajectory that enables us to grow in a very competitive marketspace whilst being true to our values.
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
At heart I’m an engineer, therefore there would nothing better than to be configuring the platform to demonstrate the great solutions that could be created. For the benefit of everyone’s sanity, that isn’t were I get to spend my time, but along a similar vein, one aspect of the role that I really enjoy, is distilling the great technical capabilities of the platform into real-world benefits for our various customers and prospects. A challenge for all technical organisations is to be able to communicate to a broad audience in non-technical language and hopefully we are starting to achieve this.
And what are your key goals for Lokulus?
Firstly I would like Lokulus to be an inspiring place to work that promotes a culture of innovation. As a company we need to keeping pushing ourselves forward to meet the ever evolving demands that our customers are experiencing from their customers. If we achieve this then we will naturally succeed as a business and continue to become trusted and respected partners with our customers.
Now, into a little more about the business itself...
What does Lokulus do?
Lokulus is a 20 year old technology company that has developed a configurable software platform for optimising the interactions for an outward facing organisation, such as a retailer would have with their customers.
Simply put, we improve how an organisation engages with their customers across a broad spectrum of interaction channels such as email, web chat, social media or text whilst, in parallel, improving the consistency and reducing the cost to make this communication.
These positive interactions enable our client’s to build strong brand equity and good customer relations, resulting in repeat business and happy employees. Whilst engineering is our core DNA, we compliment this with a team of experienced consultants who configure our software platform to meet the varied and exacting demands of our customers across several industry sectors. This tailor-made support has enabled us to have long-term relationships with our clients - not only do we create technology to fit their business, our team is on hand to support them as their business needs change.
What do you think is currently the biggest issue facing the digital and tech industry?
Promoting the use of hype and jargon, resulting in a reduction of trust. Let’s face it, many of us in the technology industry have been guilty of bamboozling customers with jargon for decades or more, often with the aim of creating a sense of urgency or uniqueness. So not a new phenomenon but more recently we have seen an increasing use of attaching pre-modifiers to almost any technology in order to ‘sex it up’, from hyper to bot to AI.
We are now starting to encounter customers who have latched onto snippets of sales presentations or online research seeking these jargon-laden technologies to cure all business problems. This requires us as part of our initial engagement returning the customer back to their original problem statement, i.e. what is the challenge or problem they are looking to solve.
When we bring onboard a new customer who has been sold inappropriate technology, it is hard to resolve their original customer experience problems as their budget has been spent and they are out of time to rectify it. But worst of all is their lack of trust in technology vendors, that we have to rebuild.
What would you consider to be your organisation’s biggest challenge?
Considering the current global pandemic, our business objective to expand into other territories such as the Americas and Australasia is probably one of the main challenges that immediately springs to mind. As a business, we had previously enjoyed success in the Americas on a direct basis and our plans were to develop partner networks to support this expansion. Zoom and Teams maybe be both fulfilling and changing attitudes to remote meetings, but when you are looking to develop long term relationships the intimacy and commitment of face to face meetings can never be underestimated.
What is your organisation’s biggest achievement?
We are equally proud of the length of time the business has been operating, the duration of our client relationships and finally our employee retention, many of whom are now into double digit years of tenure with us. Our business has grown with their businesses and it reflects in their success. Due to the change in consumer habits, accelerated by the COVID pandemic, positive customer experience is now regarded as the single most important issue for online businesses. It creates repeat business, customer loyalty, stronger brand equity and ultimately more revenue! So as we approach 20 years in business we‘re proud to enable our clients to stay ahead in customer interaction technology.
What do you think the future looks like for the North West's digital and tech sector?
Judging by the significant influx of major tech brands to the region I would say that it is definitely buoyant, especially when you consider the likely wave of secondary organisations to support these tech giants.
We have taken the conscious decision to relocate from the city centre to the leafy surrounds of Cheshire, into the Glasshouse at Alderley Park. With good communication links and a fast-developing community of like minded technology businesses, it proves that the Manchester Tech sector can successfully expand into the suburbs and cope with extra growth.
And finally, what would you say to anyone out there who is considering their CX strategy....
2021 is going to be a crucial year, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it's that customer behaviour is more demanding and more challenging than ever and customers find this important. The overall increase in customer interactions (inbound) especially for our retail and financial clients went significantly up this year, especially during the lockdowns. One of our online retail clients had increase of 63% in traffic in the same period, one had 120% growth, and another, (which involved a channel shift to self service), grew a whopping 346%.
If anyone reading this is thinking about what they can do or improve their current set-up - feel free to give us a call to chat. The future is hard to predict, but we are here no matter what the world throws at us all, our strength is working together to make it through.
To connect with Mark, start a conversation of just say hello, please click HERE.
Also! We’re expanding our team by 30%, check out https://www.lokulus.com/careers/ for a full list of roles.