What better way to win the business game than to make it, well, a game?
FUEL CYCLE equips businesses to engage with customers through gamification and gamified rewards, surveys, group discussions, live chats, etc. — as if they were on a social network. The data collected through these online communities gives brands the insights they need to make real-time decisions that serve the commerce king: the customer.
The dashboard displays data in a friendly way to help brands with concept testing, brand health tracking, usability testing, price point determination, and media and content evaluation, no matter what industry they’re in (because every business has customers!).
The software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based platform serves e-merchants in particular by connecting them directly with customers and empowering them to test price points, concepts and usability.
“Currently the market is incredibly volatile and uncertain,” CEO Bahram Nour-Omid told PYMNTS. “According to Forrester, brands face a 50 percent higher revenue risk in 2017. Brands must either disrupt or be disrupted. The only way for brands to stay competitive is to engage in real time, rapidly iterate and continuously adapt.”
Née “Think Passenger” in 2007, the company continued to build out its Fast User Engagement and Listening (FUEL) community platform until it eventually changed its name to FUEL CYCLE this year to better reflect its mission: giving clients x-ray vision into customers and their journeys.
PYMNTS caught up with Nour-Omid to find out how FUEL CYCLE got where it is today and how it will continue to change the game going forward.
PYMNTS: Why was the company founded?
BNO: From the beginning, our goal has been to put the customer at the heart of every conversation. Our SaaS-based online community platform connects brands directly with their customers to drive meaningful engagement that helps businesses gather accurate, real-time insights that fuel growth and success.
PYMNTS: Can you show me some data or proof points on how the company has helped retailers? Please provide some client examples.
BNO: Discount Tire, a tire and wheel retailer with over 900 stores and billions in annual revenue, turned to FUEL CYCLE after their traditional methods of conducting market research and gathering customer feedback failed to provide the actionable insights they were looking for.
Feedback from traditional post-purchase surveys, for example, tended to be very reactionary and isolated to that specific visit. Through FUEL CYCLE, Discount Tire was able to establish an open dialogue with their key customers, called the “Discount Tire Customer Copilots.”
These customers help drive important business decisions through their feedback on everything from tire commercials to measuring tread depth. Discount Tire’s community currently has more than 3,000 members who have completed over 10,000 surveys, resulting in eight community-driven business impacts, including redesigning the online appointment process to be more customer-friendly.
PYMNTS: Looking back since founding, what has been the proudest moment for the organization?
BNO: Last year, we more than tripled our customer base and I attribute our success to two things. We not only have a product that helps businesses succeed in an increasingly disruptive market, but we also have a team that is dedicated to helping businesses build real, long-lasting relationships with their customers.
PYMNTS: What has been the biggest hurdle? How did the company overcome?
BNO: When I took over as CEO in 2010, I truly believed in the company’s overall vision, but I also saw an opportunity to completely overhaul the platform and improve the user experience. That’s why over the last three years we’ve focused on major product enhancements and continuous updates to build the most user-friendly community platform that delivers the insights brands need.
PYMNTS: Can you give me some personnel growth numbers? Started with # (who?) and now have # employees?
BNO: We’re currently a team of 56 but we’ve fluctuated over the years. We were at 73 people in 2010 but we quickly learned that personnel count isn’t an accurate measure of growth or success.
We’re a leaner team today yet we’ve steadily grown our customer base, clearly defined our product market fit, delivered immense value to our customers, and set a clear path for our future. Focus and clarity, not quantity in sheer numbers, are the true drivers of growth. We’re extremely lucky to have such a talented and dedicated team who share in our vision.
PYMNTS: What’s the company culture like?
BNO: The core principles that dictate our company culture are extreme impact, endless curiosity and team before self. This is not only reflected in our interactions with one another and our collective drive to continue learning but, also in the way we’re constantly challenging ourselves to go above and beyond for our clients.
PYMNTS: To what do you attribute your success over the years?
BNO: While we’ve always been a community platform, we recently revamped our offerings to focus on being a holistic business intelligence solution. We’ve succeeded in staying ahead of the competition over the years by sticking to our core belief that the customer should be at the heart of every business decision, while simultaneously embracing new technologies and adapting to the evolving needs of brands and consumers.
We carefully analyze every new trend in relation to how it will improve our platform and the overall customer experience. We strive to provide our clients with the most advanced, usable community platform that gives them real results.
PYMNTS: What’s next? What does the future look like?
BNO: We’re continuing to explore and incorporate the latest technologies that have the biggest potential to improve the customer experience. We recently introduced automated data visualization and mapping, a feature that will comb through data and make hidden connections visually apparent to users.
We’re also working to further integrate our platform, so brands can pull key data points from multiple sources and platforms — including marketing automation software, POS systems, social media, and CRM — for a 360-degree customer perspective.
We’re always testing emerging forms of communication so we can help companies engage with their customers more meaningfully and efficiently. For example, we’re currently testing chatbots, as more and more consumers prefer to interact via text.