Interview with Chris Tranquill, CEO and co-founder of Topbox

Josiah Motley · March 26, 2018 · Short URL:

Discussions on customer experience, data, and the inspiration behind the company

Data is everything. Especially if you are running a business. It can tell you almost everything you need to know about your competitors, your customers, price points, the list is almost endless. The problem is not only gathering that information, but correlating it to give meaningful results that actually mean something to you and your business.

In a world where expectations continue to rise, understanding the customer experience is crucial to maximizing your potential. Like mentioned above, however, gathering and combining that data without help is almost impossible, especially when you consider just how many channels these insights could be coming from and combining that information appropriately.

I had the chance to talk with Chris Tranquill, CEO and co-founder of Topbox, a company that specializes in making sense of all the data out there on you and your company, giving you the tools required to measure and understand your customers' experiences.   

Care to introduce yourself and your role with Topbox?

I’m the CEO and, along with my two partners, a co-founder of Topbox.  Our cloud-based, omni-channel analytics software is the single source of truth for customer experience.

What was the inspiration behind the company? Any interested stories?
My two co-founders, Jeff Yentis and Brian Timmons, and I were executives in BPO operating contact centers with tens of thousands of agents for global leaders like Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Verizon and many others.  
Our clients were looking for data-driven insights to help them manage their NPS scores, first call resolution, sales conversion, customer churn and other critical metrics.  We had mountains of data - our agents handled millions of customer interactions a week, and we had an almost unlimited budget to buy analytics tools.  As you’d expect, we bought the “industry leading” speech analytics solutions – and unfortunately we could never provide anything more than anecdotal findings.  
Moreover, we were getting zero return on the huge investment we made on those “industry leading” solutions.  We decided that we could create something significantly better that would provide real customer experience intelligence for our customers.
We think we’ve done that, and more. We’ve taken our initial product offering and added omni-channel capabilities so that our clients can conduct comprehensive customer experience analysis across conversations happening in any channel, from phone calls and chats to product reviews, and everything in between.

In just a few sentences, what is it that Topbox is trying to fix?
There are millions of conversations happening with companies and about companies every day. Those conversations contain a mountain of substantive, contextual feedback about a company’s brand, their products and their customer support - in other words, what specifically is preventing customers from having a great experience with a company, or what specifically is preventing them from buying a company’s products and services.
The interactions take place on the phone, via chat, through surveys, on social media sites, in product reviews, on apps and other channels.  Companies simply don’t have the ability to pull that data together for deep analysis, which results in missed sales opportunities and higher than necessary costs to serve. Topbox aggregates all that unstructured data, synthesizes it by applying our proprietary classification model, and presents the enriched data to our clients in a very intuitive user interface for deep analysis.
It can be used by anyone from marketing executives to contact center supervisors.
How is Topbox able to take these huge data sets from different streams and decipher it into useful information for the clients?
Our ability to synthesize and enhance data from disparate sources is really our secret sauce. We’re able to blend structured and unstructured data, while applying our classification model to each interaction that passes through Topbox.
The result is an extremely powerful, complete data set that makes omni-channel customer experience analysis seamless, fast and effective for our clients.
Did you have any hurdles during the early days of Topbox?
I think finding the best talent is always a hurdle for companies, whether you’re a startup or in the Fortune 500. We were fortunate to find a fantastic Chief Product Officer, and build a very talented software team around him. 
Handling growth is always a challenge; not just with personnel but with product decisions. Our clients provide invaluable feedback which helps guide our product roadmap decisions, but we need to ensure that we don’t lose focus on the true value of our application. We must continue to develop around that core value proposition. 
Do you have any funding from VCs or other sources?
We did a Friends & Family round in our early days and a convertible note for additional seed money. In fact, we’re in the middle of our series A process right now.  For this round, we’re looking for capital andperspective to help fuel the next stage of our growth. We’re working with some incredible VC firms in this process, any one of which would be a great partner for Topbox. 
You obviously feel strongly about the importance of the customer experience, what kind of businesses could benefit from the use of your SaaS? Is there a particular size of business you cater to?
To say we’re passionate about CX is an understatement. There is just so much that companies don’t know about their customers’ experience with products and services.   Any company handling customer interactions with any real scale would benefit greatly from Topbox.  Our app is sized and priced for both mid-market and enterprise level companies.  From an industry standpoint, we have clients in retail, banking & financial services, cable & broadband, mobile, and healthcare.  Regardless of size or industry, companies who share our passion for CX will see the clear value in Topbox.
Anything exciting coming to Topbox in the near future?
We’re very excited to continue adding more machine learning elements to Topbox. More automation means less work for our clients, and that’s always a good thing.  Our efforts in both supervised and unsupervised machine learning will continue to differentiate Topbox in the market. 
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Josiah Motley

Contributor at various blogs, with a focus on tech, apps, gadgets, and gaming.

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