Founded in 2005, Signifi Solutions is at the forefront of the automated retail industry providing innovative solutions that enable retailers to create exceptional customer experiences, expand brand presence, and increase revenues. With an intuitive, guided touchscreen interface and state-of-the-art robotics, Signifi's kiosks dispense a range of high-value items from premium electronics and luxury goods to pharmaceutical products and specialty packaged foods. By managing design, engineering, manufacturing, software, deployment and post-installation support services, Signifi is able to reduce complexity and costs for its clients, who include some of the world’s most recognizable retailers.
Looking to Strategically Enable a New level of Customer Success
When Ian Steinberg joined Signifi in 2020 as Senior Vice President Strategy and Sales, the company had just started its shift from offering self-serve kiosks to being a full solution provider. Included in this shift was the launch of a strategic account management model.
Today the company’s client base comprises a mix of approximately 100+ self-serve and full-service customers. Signifi’s account teams are responsible for both the success and expansion of these customers. As part of that, they need to know each client’s business and how Signifi solutions are both performing and serving them, and ensure every client interaction paves the way for high satisfaction, upsells and cross-sells.
While Steinberg believed in the account management model, he saw the need to improve it.
“We have five account managers today and my goal is that every one of them manage a mix of at least 15-20 strategic and watch-list clients. They can only do that if we free them to focus on analyzing account activity and engaging clients in strategic conversations,” he explains.
Getting Bogged Down by Data Wrangling
As Steinberg explains, the advantage of Signifi being vertically integrated is that it has a holistic view across all the elements associated with the solutions it develops and manages for its clients. The key to account growth is arriving at actionable insights from the associated data. “We need to drive the business from a headlights-on, actionable view,” he says.
The data that Signifi collects on behalf of its clients captures how much revenue a client generated via its kiosks and how many service tickets are associated with those kiosks. Signifi’s operational platform (Vision) captures revenue, inventory and utilization metrics, while its Freshdesk platform captures support tickets and service requests.
Because these two systems are not connected, Signifi’s account managers had to manually gather and aggregate data to generate client reports that would provide necessary context, while helping identify growth opportunities and kick-start innovative discussions.
Unfortunately, account managers were wasting hours pulling data from siloed systems and then enhancing it to get a view into client health. To understand all the data they were viewing, they sometimes had to ask questions of colleagues in other departments, such as why the helpdesk prioritized a certain ticket. It could take days for them to hear back.
“That’s not a viable model for a growing business, especially as we bring on multiple new clients,” explains Steinberg.
While Signifi had grown its business to date by hiring more people, Steinberg saw the need for a different approach to set this rapidly growing business up for long-term success. “The only way we're going to build our capacity in an elastic way as we continue on our hockey stick growth curve is through intelligent automation,” he explains.
Harnessing SKAEL’s Unique User-Centric Automation
Working for a company that understands the power of automation, Steinberg knew he wanted a solution that automated low-value, repetitive, manual tasks for his account managers. As a transformation leader in his nearly two decades at IBM, he had become familiar with many automation solutions and capabilities, including those enabled by Robotic Process Automation (RPA). But he quickly turned his sights to SKAEL.
“To enable our strategy, I knew we needed something like SKAEL. SKAEL stood out because it enables user-centric automation versus enterprise automation. This means we can deploy unique Digital Employees across our business. We needed this differentiation and SKAEL’s vision fit nicely with our needs,” he explains.
Dramatically Accelerating a Key Process
Knowing process automation is a journey grounded in data accuracy, Steinberg chose to start with a focus on Signifi’s structured data. He involved account managers in determining the process steps the Digital Employee would automate. After running a 90-day proof of concept, Signifi empowered its account managers with a Digital Employee focused on intelligently assisting them in producing reports on the health of a client’s automated, self-serve retail program.
Via a Microsoft Teams interface, account managers indicate the client and report time frame, and the Digital Employee pulls the relevant data from the systems via APIs and generates the report. As a result, the account team can produce these reports in minutes, as opposed to the hours it took previously.
“Our account managers find it incredibly quick and easy to use the Digital Employee. We've reduced the 8-16 hours of data preparation and enhancement to produce each report to mere minutes,” he continues.
Just as importantly, Signifi can now produce these reports for all clients. “What each account manager was able to do for only one or two select customers, they can now do across the portfolio of customers they manage. We’re increasing our capacity to grow without just hiring more people,” he says.
Delivering Meaningful Value and Insights
But the true value of that efficiency comes with the freedom each account manager gains to focus on higher value-add tasks revolving around managing and growing each client relationship. “We used to just deliver data with no context. Now we can deliver meaningful insights in context, making our account managers value-add trusted advisors,” Steinberg says.
That’s not the only reason these insightful reports are a differentiator for Signifi. “We're giving a horizontal view into the health of each client’s program in a way that not only supports what they're paying us, but also up-levels the dialogue and increases stickiness. Instead of asking our clients how their programs are working, we can demonstrate a better ROI that includes the identification of opportunities to help improve their programs.”
Expanding the Reach and Impact of Signifi’s Digital Employee
In the next phase of the project, Signifi plans to call upon SKAEL’s built-in support for Natural Language Processing so account managers simply voice their request for a report.
Steinberg also sees opportunities to expand use of the Digital Employee into finance, operations and other parts of the business. “We could link our Digital Employee into our ERP system, HubSpot, and financial system. We are now working with departmental sponsors to come up with compelling use cases that help us accelerate adoption,” he adds.
He even envisions putting the Digital Employee in the hands of Signifi’s customers. “It’s possible to link our Digital Employee to a client’s systems, such as a point-of-sale solution or their help desk. This would empower our customers to gain more insights into their own data in between interactions with our account managers. But even more, by exposing our clients to our partner ecosystem, we continue to bring them added value that reinforces why they chose Signifi – solutions, innovation, guidance and trust,” he explains.
Already since Steinberg joined, Signifi has nearly quadrupled its annual revenue. He believes the company can quadruple revenue again in 2021, and sees technology like SKAEL’s Digital Employee as a core part of achieving that goal.
“I see our partnership with SKAEL as a game changer for the long term. It’s not just about the technology and the platform, but also in how we work together to identify new opportunities for growing both our businesses while harnessing the power of SKAEL’s technology,” Steinberg concludes.