LFP187 – Architecting Fintechs to put Customer Support/Service at the Centre w/Hristo Borisov CEO Payhawk

is it possible to do Customer Service well whilst not going bankrupt employing thousands of PhDs in Customer Service at megabucks? And back to an old favourite of FS vs Tech why do we even need it if the tech quotes works unquotes? In retail FS or even FS as a whole Customer/Client Service is essential. However (a) we all have horror stories of dire experience whether its Ye Olde “we are experiencing abnormal call volumes” while you slowly age being held in a queue, on (b) online like my recent attempt to check out my ISAs only to keep getting error messages and when I called the phone number the automated system cut me off and (c) in Fintech where, as I moaned about some time ago, due to having done what I was told to do in their quotes help unquotes chat I was locked out of my Revolut card for weeks with no way back.

Payhawk combines credit cards, payments, expenses and cash into one integrated experience. Which must be A Thing as they recently raised $20m in their Series A. And they must be keen on this experience thing as when I asked Hristo to come up with a fresh topic that hasn’t been flogged to death and is often done badly he suggested Customer Service as his first thought and as we shall hear Payhawk’s business design makes it central not peripheral.

Topics discussed include:

  • living with ~38C temperatures
  • which European capital has the widest annual temperature range?
  • where is the line across Europe on one side of which domestic air-conditioning is common and on the other side rare?
  • Hristo’s career journey
  • what led to founding Payhawk?
  • the desire to found a big company and looking for a pertinent problem to solve
  • a Case Study of Melita a client of Payhawk’s who invented paper coffee filters
  • the next level of innovation will be more “molecular” combining earlier innovations which created Fintech “atoms” of functionality
  • “the basic problem with Customer Service occurs when a company views it as a Cost Centre not a revenue-generating function”
  • early neo-banks misunderstanding the need to be able to get to an actual human being who can get a problem fixed
  • Payhawk’s making Customer Service front and centre – every employee has tow job titles, one of which is “Customer Success”
  • Client Service in B2B is even-more mission critical than in B2C where standards can be lower
  • charging more in order to give the right service – cf Freemium models where no or minimal support is the Ur-mentality
  • how to change a company mentality around customer service
  • vanity metrics and customer service
  • comparison with the restaurant business
  • lean startup and Fintech
  • the centrality of money to people’s lives and hence importance of Getting It Right as opposed to in other dimensions
  • Amazon as a great example of customer service even in the biggest tech companies (albeit one with a great logistics chain in the background)
  • really empowering customer service people in your company and providing the necessary dev support
  • Case Study of Payhawk’s “War” Slack channel and firefighters
  • Payhawk usually has a dev supporting a problem that the customer service person couldn’t fix with two minutes…
  • the general importance of centrality of the goal in designing companies, missions
  • “needs to come from the top” – if the CEO doesn’t get it it’s tough to do well
  • the status of customer service within a company as a barometer of its importance to that company
  • in Payhawk part of their culture is that if you don’t get today’s work done as you were doing something serving a customer that is a great day’s work
  • importance of senior execs reading client feedback
  • a frustrated customer is an opportunity to turn them into an evangelist – which is why Payhawk see service as a revenue-generating function – extending the customers lifetime is literally generating revenue
  • danger of mentality of “doing more with less”
  • the continuum of numbers of clients which connects simple categories like “B2B” and “B2C”
  • “are my tyres spinning on the road”
  • Payhawk’s vision, mission and future plans

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!