Listening Is the New ROI: 5 Questions With HundredX CEO Rob Pace



HundredX, which provides enterprise-level listening solutions, recently commissioned a study with YouGov that found 94 percent of business executives agree that listening to customer feedback is increasingly critical to the bottom line.

A full 500 business executives noted that despite 89 percent of business executives believing instant customer feedback is critical, just 73% leverage real-time customer feedback tools to drive business strategies, retention and content.

Missing the mark on customer experience can be costly, reports NewVoiceMedia. In the US, for example, poor customer service experiences cost businesses $41 billion annually.


Rob Pace, Founder and CEO of HundredX, established his company to use technology to multiply positive outcomes. HundredX launched the first emoji-based Express Feedback solution in 2013 and since then, Pace has learned: “When you give people an easy way to tell you what is on their mind, they usually have something good to say.”

The name HundredX originates from the illustration of the farmer who plants a good seed in the right growing conditions and produces a crop 100X greater, according to the website.

HundredX’s research uncovered a key trend in business performance: It’s increasingly about outcome versus output, and the core difference between listening and surveying is the feedback provider’s data collection.


Pace spoke with brandchannel about the impact of listening on the customer experience.

BC: What are the top factors that have caused the switch from output to outcome?

Rob Pace HundredX

Rob Pace: Common sense—that’s what consumers and employees care about, not historical organization around the output. Drill-down and re-weighting in our study found the relative importance in data. Movement from output to outcome is the most profound change in 30 years.

There are three eras: before 2007 and the iPhone heyday of branding; then the one-to-many model, Google and Facebook ads at the top of a marketing funnel in terms of awareness; and now we’re entering an era with new tools and declining costs where it’s now one-to-one.

That’s focused around outcome correlated to retention. The funnel is being reshaped to a cylinder with the emphasis at the bottom in a funnel-world of mobile. If you get it right or wrong, the result is amplified exponentially. Cost is down to connect one-to-one while benefits have gone up. The economics now allow one consumer at a time.

Business has three basic components: capital, product and people. With technology, product is scalable and the data from 98% of executives said it’s all about people. All about their outcomes. Dollars were once spent on getting a person into an organization; now it’s about keeping them.


BC: You emphasize that brands need to prioritize speed in customer feedback, but can it all go too fast?

Pace: Speed matters. Listening and feedback about time and utility minimize time and the tax on consumer and employee. Being smart about time and utility is an entry to use and scale.

Consumers are busy. In a restaurant setting, what should we ask them? Is it, “I like the food, the service was slow, good server.” This is not precision surveying. Speed is essential to get involvement and participation. Data is wrong when skewed to loud-sourced rather than crowd-sourced. To capture the in-the-moment reaction wherever you are anytime provides data that is more positive. As of now, it takes too long.


BC: You’ve found that people are more likely to provide feedback if they can use an emoji. Where and how do emojis come into play for customer feedback?

Pace: The advantage is you can achieve three things with one press of a button: mood, happy/unhappy; it’s binary so you can route and sort it; and they’re universal.

Good or not so good doesn’t really matter. Brands are spending money on things people don’t care about. Emojis are not a trend. That said, voice may replace them someday but for now it doesn’t scale very well.


BC: Can you tell us more about your EmpathTech tool?

Pace: We saw the opportunity to create solutions that replicate great people skills and harness the scaling power of digital. The most important people skill is listening. EmpathTech is a way of thinking. Formerly a company’s model was disruption and lowering costs. Now it’s what is the best of human behavior and how do we scale that?  We need to scale empathy and through technology, it’s seen as an impersonal way of scaling the personal for consumers and employees.


BC: Any surprises for you along this journey of discovery?

Pace: The piece that’s most exciting is, give people a 30-second opportunity to tell you what’s on their mind and 80% of the time it will be positive—and if a person is involved, they want to tell you. Yes, we hear what’s broken and fix it but there’s that 80% of good societal impact on human beings.

Ask a crowd what should we know and the crowd is collectively brilliant: We just need to listen to them and they will drive your business. We are heading in that direction. So much social good is going on.

The reason I founded this company, I got to work with hundreds of clients who won, if they connected with customers. Not just retaining customers, but better than churn. Good begets good is the most important thing in business but only a small number make it integral to their culture.

We’re on a quest to use a background of financials to turn squishy data into a business model. If you do this, you will retain X customers for this long.

We’ve done it over and over with clients from sports to retailers. We can model it out. It’s qualitative and quantitative. This ROI model is so dramatic. The language of business is required but marketers from the ad world, where it was hard to measure, can now work with a real estate company and make 5% better assumptions or change a lease from 11 to 12 months. Concepts of what’s important should be “model-able.”


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