Chris Barley: Helping Service-based Businesses Engage More Effectively With Their Customers via Whatsapp and Text Conversations

March 19, 2022

We help small, service-based businesses engage more effectively with their customers via WhatsApp and text conversations, making it easy for customers to get support and make payments from their mobile phone.

Tell us about yourself?

Working as a product manager in telecoms showed me the value of managing calls for businesses who have lots of users. I thought that there would be value to do the same with other channels such as messaging and email. In addition, traditional comms channels such as voice and email are great for having a conversation, but not so good at transferring value ie making a sale. Our aim is to be able to make conversational commerce and payments as easy and natural as chatting to someone and paying, face to face.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Keep it simple! In most businesses, especially in tech, small, new features can result cumulatively in lots more complexity, drowning out the proposition of the business so customers won’t know what you do. Simplicity of purpose enables you to keep your focus.

What problem does your business solve?

In the mobile era, it’s more difficult to connect with customers, as often they don’t answer phone calls, and emails can go to junk or are ignored. Messaging is more convenient – texts are 5x more likely to get a response! Converso makes it easy for businesses to reach out over mobile message channels such as text and WhatsApp, assign conversations to agents and use chatbots where required for maximum message handling efficiency.
Also, engaging customers via email to collect payments can result in overlooked invoices and late payments. Converso makes it easier to get invoices noticed and collect payment by sending payment requests directly via mobile message, resulting in improved cashflow, happier customers and lower costs.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

My own experience in telecoms, and later in retail payments, showed that these tech functions are often siloed in businesses, resulting in expensive and complex solutions if you wanted to connect with your customers and take a payment. They also usually lead to poor end user experience for customers that wanted to use their mobile phone to get support or make a payment. And they came at a cost that small businesses often can’t afford.
So we built a product that lets small business access the tech of large companies, providing best-in-class solutions for a fraction of the cost compared to a couple of years ago, and making it easier for an end customer to use the mobile channels they know and love to connect with small businesses.
This is the great deflationary power of new technology!

What is your magic sauce?

We make it easy for multiple agents or employees of a business to share a single inbox for WhatsApp and text messages (and soon email) so multiple agents can assist customers in the same conversation, at any location – all from the same inbox. No more sharing a mobile phone for sending WhatsApp or texts to customers! In addition, we’ve integrated with Open Banking payments, meaning that businesses can now take real time payments for less than 10% of the cost of card payments.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Our objective is to make communications and payments easier, more secure and nearly free for small businesses.
As part of that plan, we are looking to integrate more channels into our platform, including other messaging channels such as LinkedIn and Messenger, as well as voice, to provide a complete omni-channel solution. For payments, crypto currencies present an interesting opportunity to make the payment journey even simpler, as well as reducing costs especially for international payments.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a fintech startup, there is a constant time demand between iterating and improving the product, and spending time marketing and promoting your message to customers. You need to balance them effectively so you can take on new customers, and at the same time increase the usage and value that the product delivers. This is a hard balancing act!

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We’re now inviting early users to sign up for our wait list. When we have capacity, we’re sending out invites to get started – and the best bit for early users is that it’s free! If you’d like to join the waitlist, please sign up at www.converso.io.

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