Stuart Silverman, Founder and CEO at RaterBee

Scaling Up Services - 028 - Stuart Silverman

Stuart Silverman, Founder and CEO at RaterBee

Stuart is a 3rd generation retailer, Founder and CEO at RaterBee.

After graduating with a degree in architecture from the Harvard Grad School of Design, Stuart took his design skills back to the retail industry to design and implement the systems that would let retailers scale and stay competitive.

Stuart has worked on technology projects with a broad spectrum of retailers – from Walmart to Armani – on many of the applications that let retailers efficiently operate at the “speed of retail.”

Stuart’s current startup, RaterBee, helps brick & mortar retailers make shopping more Engaging, Productive & Rewarding. They collect real time Customer Feedback to hold store staff accountable for pleasing customers. Its like putting UBER driver ratings into stores to improve service.

Schedule a demo to discover how to track associate behaviors:


[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:22] Welcome everyone this is scaling up services. I'm Bruce Eckfeldt. I'm your host. And today we're here with Stuart Silverman who is CEO and founder of Rader B. And we're going to find out a little bit more about what RaterBee does and I'm excited because this is really an interesting approach to collecting data around experiences. Stuart and his team are tackling some really important issues and creating some interesting technology. So I'm excited to have this conversation. Stuart welcome to the program.

[00:00:46] Well thanks a lot Bruce really appreciate being here.

[00:00:48] Yeah. So what do we start. I always like to have guests give a little bit of a background on professionally kind of how did they get to what they're doing today. There's always a story there and I'd love to hear years and have you tell our audience what got you to write or be super super.

[00:01:03] So I like to tell people in the third generation retailer I've got a picture here in my desk of my grandfather's two sisters Fanny and rose at the family dairy store in the Lower East Side of New York and like the early nineteen hundreds. Wow.

[00:01:18] So it's kind of been in the it's in your blood. Yeah exactly.

[00:01:21] It's in the blood. And I didn't realize it. So my dad was in the supermarket business. All right. And he was in the 50s and 60s. He was one of those guys who was taking the supermarkets all out through the country. Yeah right. And he was he was actually the head of warehousing and transportation. And I remember being a kid on Sunday mornings and reading you know he's sitting in his big chair in the living room and does sun streaming in and he's reading his supermarket news. Yeah.

[00:01:53] The weekly papers that's still out there.

[00:01:55] I don't even know if that Flash has as a digital it's as a digital publication now. And so he'd finish it throw it on the floor I'd pick it up and go through the supermarket news you know check it out what stores open what stores closed and where. So it's been there for a while anyway. So I went to architecture school. We share something yeah. Yeah I went to architecture school and learned all about design and what constitutes elegant design and good design. But when I got out of school it wasn't not a good time to be in the building business. And my dad said you know we're really at the early stages of adding computers to help us do a better job in our businesses.

[00:02:34] I know a guy I know I know I had another guy.

[00:02:38] And so I started working for a guy who built the first commercially available warehouse management systems for high volume retailers. Wow. And it just went on from there. I mean I really enjoyed it and turned out that the things that constitute an elegant design in architecture really constitute elegant design and systems. Yeah it's just really a different language. Yeah it's a different language. Exactly. So I've been doing that and for years I've worked with software companies consulting companies bringing new systems and opportunities to retailers helping to do a better job helping them be able to work at the speed of retail and be effective. And so the last couple of years I've said I wanted to do stuff on my own. I got tired of doing the the enterprise wide inventory management applications and stuff like that. What can we do to improve service in stores in retail stores. Yeah. Because we've all gone into stores and gotten terrible service delivered by ineffective associates who really don't care about being there. Yeah I mean that's not what's important to them. And that's really hurting brick and mortar retail. Yeah it's really hurting brick and mortar retail. I think that what the industry has come to the conclusion over the past 12 18 months is in order for brick and mortar to be able to compete they have to offer great customer experience delivered by engaged retail associates. Yeah. Because if you don't know that you're going to shut elsewhere. Yeah well what about Internet. You may go to a better experience but if you don't have that your dad you're sunk. And so we're thinking well how can we improve that customer experience.

[00:04:18] How can we get associates be more engaged. And we did a lot of stuff I actually did a I did a gamification startup a couple of years ago where we made an effort to game ify the work at retail stores. In the end you really can't base a business on gamification gamification is like a UI. It's like a user interfaces about how to motivate people to do stuff they weren't going to do already. So it's not something you build a business around. I learned that the hard way. At any rate the key about gamification is that you need to set goals. You need to measure progress against those goals and then you need to reward all right. Well the thing that we came to the realization that we weren't able to measure was that interaction between customers and sales associates in the store that in-store experience that Mafia we could measure that. Yeah. So that set us back and we did a whole lot of thinking about ways that we could do that looked at different kinds of tools. And in the end we come up with something really actually very simple. And it's the base of what we're doing in our company Raider B today. So imagine you're in a store. You've done your shopping you bought a pair of jeans. You come back to the register point of sale and while the associate is ringing the sale up there's a screen of a monitor tablet says who helped you today. Well how many times have people asked you. Who helped you today and you said oh I don't know it's that guy back there.

[00:05:47] Fletcher. So what we're doing is is there's a tablet says who helped you today. And pictures of the people who store the pictures. Oh I recognized Josh. He helped me yeah. So I pressed Josh's picture. It comes back to. Well Josh says Well how did I do today. And then we have a series of a four star rating and then a series of best practice behavior buttons greeted me. Helped me find what I really wanted showed me some other stuff that that goes with this pair of pants and a series of things that you know for every retailer they're going to have a different set of things that they want. Yeah if they can be best practices right now. And so now. So it's like 15 20 seconds while the while the the shopper is waiting for the associate to bring it up fills out a quick survey. It's done while they're there it's part of the process and they're gone. And now we've got all of this data all of this associate performance behaviors data that we've never had before. And we can use that to coach and train associates. So we just did a pilot project with a high end men's retailer in a store in a high end men's retailer. And it was about a month or so and we had them we had the shoppers fill out the survey forms and it was shocking that it really highlighted that there were two or three associates who were consistently getting bad ratings. Yeah. So here we are we're an upscale men's apparel store and there are associates out there who are not living the brand.

[00:07:24] So what. And what was the interpretation of the data and then what was the action or the the decisions that it helped support.

[00:07:32] So the data came back is is we had four star ratings one through four and then a series of did they do this. Did they do this. They do this. And then a free form text message. And for this one guy in particular he wasn't getting high ratings. So was getting lost stars he's going to low stars. And he was getting comments like this guy must be new.

[00:07:55] Oh geez. And I guess he wasn't. And I don't know if he was or not.

[00:08:02] Yeah. Honestly I thought it was acting like he was new. Yeah but when I talked to the manager he said You know I had a suspicion that he wasn't living up to. He wasn't living up to what he knew to do. You know here's the data. Oh my God. Here's the data. Yeah yeah.

[00:08:16] So we've created this tool that allows shoppers to be able to tell us what they think about the associates who are helping them to increase in terms of you know as you've gone through iterations of this product what are some of the challenges that you've kind of discovered and and had to grapple with or overcome. Because this I mean fundamentally it just seems it's one of this almost like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle right. It's like I can either can either serve someone or I can know how I served but I can't do both right. Like Mike asking the question can often interfere with the actual delivery of the service or the act of collecting the data can interrupt the service so you know you've chosen kind of do it post kind of immediately post just saying. But tell me about some of the iterations and how you've so as while they're still in the store.

[00:09:02] So what's been interesting is some of the iterations really are key about the placement of the the placement of the tablet where we collect the data in one or iteration. We had them we had the associates actually handing a tablet to the shopper saying please fill that please fill this out. And what's been interesting is we haven't gotten any pushback on filling it out but it interrupted the sales process. It interrupted the sales process.

[00:09:30] Actually Mitt let me ask on that one too because I'm curious in that case did you find that the fact that a sales associate was kind of handing the tablet would end up skewing the data or skewing the feedback like well now I've got this you know I'm doing in front of them or you know there's a little bit more of a relationship pressure there or interpersonal pressure to actually get feedback. Did you find that or what was that.

[00:09:53] Well I don't know. But what we did find out Bruce was that the associate became a gatekeeper the associate didn't always want to give he was out of the shop right.

[00:10:05] Yes. So I'm only going to give it to the people that I think are gonna give me good I think that's right.

[00:10:10] Right right right. So we've now moved to to just setting it up on a stand. Mm hmm. And we're gonna see how those tests work out. Mm hmm. Now we do that we also do that at a place that you're very familiar with. There's a dance studio that we did some work within in Manhattan. Yeah. And they've mounted the tablet at the reception desk. And as the students walk in and out of their classes they leave they leave comments about their experience and the management of this group every Monday and their management meeting they review the results view the comments and then cut and paste the comments and send them off to the people who those comments were about to based on the instructor or the person who gave the class and stuff.

[00:10:58] Correct. Correct. And what if what do you think they've noticed or what kind of changes in either decisions or insights or approach like what. How was it changed that what they do today.

[00:11:09] I'll never forget sitting with the the owner when we first introduced it. Mm hmm.

[00:11:15] And she said she was going through the comments about on an individual and she said oh no I didn't want to see this. She said I told this person that if they had one I had one more one more bad review about her that she was gone. And there it was sitting in her face.

[00:11:35] I mean it looks hard but on the other hand as I see it like oh what a blessing or what.

[00:11:39] What a great tool because now I've got you know real data you know real comments from real customers and it's no longer me as manager trying to make this judgment call. And it's more like I'm just looking at the data the data is making big data is is forcing the conversation not.

[00:11:54] Yeah I agree. I spoke with a woman who was managing one of the cosmetics desks on the first floor and Macy's. You know Macy's Thirty fourth Street you they've all those social shoes working for one of the one of the cosmetic suppliers she was added to Group. And she looked at this and said oh I really like this because it's data now and it's not it's not subjective. Exactly. She said the people that I manage are gonna react much more positively to a customer saying you were slacking off. Yeah. And me as their manager saying you were slacking off because that's more subjective.

[00:12:32] Yeah well I would say it's probably it's still subjective but it's now the customer subjectivity which is all that really counts right. That's what really counts.

[00:12:41] Yeah. So in terms of collecting the data. Talk to me about how you came up with the rating scale. What other skills you looked at.

[00:12:49] I like how how you kind of balance the amount of work it takes versus the kind of quality of the data.

[00:12:57] However you kind of iterated on the the actual feedback process itself or the designers and we're still learning from that.

[00:13:04] Bruce to be honest we're still learning from it. We're the key though is is that we're looking at at a four star rating. Yeah most times you look at ratings you've got five stars right now or you've got the nine star thing. Yeah right. I hate because they only look at you when you really look at that they only look to see if it's top three or anything below it is problem. Why not just so I'm speaking with a retail manager and who said that they would do ratings surveys within their store and they always made sure that they had an even number and start to get rid of the middle and get rid of the middle.

[00:13:40] Yeah right. Because people just check off you because they don't want to think about you. Exactly. I'll just take that all. So let's make it positive or negative even number of stars.

[00:13:50] Yeah yeah. I mean you really you start to get into the whole psychology aspect of customers and feedback and yeah if you give people the out of the Middle star they'll take people off and take it.

[00:13:59] Yeah so I did some work with a another retailer here in the city sports retailer and they have one of those surveys at the bottom of the register tape itself is go to the store you or l Yes it's 300 delegates it took a guy out of that highlighter they always used I like to running around yeah nobody does.

[00:14:22] But okay.

[00:14:23] So I was talking with the customer service manager there and he said you know people who actually do fill this out. And he says I look at everyone it turns out that they average maybe one or two responses per store per month. But he said. But he said he said when I go through them I can tell when they've given up on being serious and they just want to rush through the end so that they can get qualified entered contest.

[00:14:49] I said I should know if there's really that few that means I have a pretty good chance of winning. I said say I was dumb and starting to fill those out I've started filling up but you know what.

[00:14:59] I haven't won one yet really questioning. I'm going to automate it. I'm going to automate a system that fills it out multiple times yes.

[00:15:07] Right. So but what we have found is that does that people. And the surprise me that people are eager to leave extended reform text comments that surprised me. Yeah. And what we're fine. Thing is that by giving them choices on these behavior button it's best practice behavior buttons. They have a choice. They can just hit a couple of buttons and they're done. So they can get in and out quickly. Yeah. And that is in such contrast with the. Again the web based surveys that aren't you know you are out by the register tape there 20 30 40 questions like What. Yeah you get in quickly easily while it's still top of mind. And that seems to be working out for us.

[00:15:48] Use it. Yeah. Because it seems like there's there's some kind of graph of you know where there's the intersection of the amount of debt I can collect and the number of people that will actually respond. Do you sense or do you do you suspect that that graph changes by the nature of the transaction. Like if I'm if I'm buying a pair of jeans I might be willing to answer two or three questions versus I just bought a sixty thousand dollar car I might be able to I might take five minutes is there. What's your thought on that or either in terms of what you've seen or what you suspect.

[00:16:17] I think it's going to change changed by retail type yes. I hadn't really thought about the car situation. But but when you're buying a pair of jeans yes it's gonna be a lot different than when you're buying a diamond ring.

[00:16:29] Yeah exactly. Yeah. And the nature just seems like the dad the amount of data that you have the actual richness of the interaction. You know if it's it's a much more can sort of consultative selling process. Yep. I'm gonna be able to make a lot more comments.

[00:16:42] Well certainly on our initial past here we are not working with mass merchant self-service types of retailers. Yeah really focused on on retailers where there's a level of associate support and helping you find the best thing whether that best thing is a pair of jeans or a microwave oven or pair shoes. It's those are the things that are going to allow the retailer to be successful. Yeah well and I think that a great experience for them in the classes.

[00:17:12] I think that's kind of the classes you know massages things like that.

[00:17:15] Oh yeah. It is you know you don't have a product you don't have kind of this hard good that I can kind of base this thing around and is kind of the that's really what people are buying and the service is kind of icing on the cake right. But these things where the service is literally what is being delivered and what people are paying for how to like knowing exactly how that's going seems huge. I mean if I had I mean I just I can imagine all the different kind of businesses that are these you know service type businesses that have no sense no sense what's actually happening in the class or they may be able like I can go in as an owner or I could survey a class I could take a class with someone but you look at my being there is going to skew the instructor and I can't get inside the other students heads right. Like I don't know what they're thinking I can just see what's happening in the class having a tool that actually got the insights to the the results of that experience like what was the takeaway for folks and what did they feel around it seems it seems like gold if I can really get into that yeah I mean this.

[00:18:13] So think about the refrigerator repairman. Think about your lawn service and pool servants. Right. Think about the DMV.

[00:18:23] Now I don't wanna think about that. Actually I miss the DMV is I don't know if you've had to do anything in the last couple of years. I've been impressed they have done a much better job I remember going 10 15 years ago and yeah it was that classic nightmare.

[00:18:35] But you know a couple of times now I go and they've got you know tickets and numbers I get in out of there pretty quickly so they're thinking about that stuff. But yeah if they could get better.

[00:18:42] So I did go to the DMV somewhere in the last year.

[00:18:46] And that whole ticketing system went down a failure in the price whole number system went down.

[00:18:54] It was so funny because they they they knew what to do. They knew what to do with each section. They had us sit in the seats by our numbers.

[00:19:04] Wow. So so you've got a number but they didn't have that they couldn't call it. Yeah right. All right. So you either mean someone who has very had a lot of foresight or this happens more often so think it through I just you know for four people listening to this episode and kind of they're in these kind of either service based businesses or or businesses that have this kind of real kind of customer service element to them what are the what are the options do you think they're currently considering I mean you mentioned the you URL on the receipt like what are the other things people are thinking about and then you know sort of position yourself relative to your other ones and people that should go.

[00:19:41] So so let me talk about two two areas. One is the customer satisfaction survey which is which is the U or L at the bottom of the register tape and you go out to a website right and they focus principally on the shoppers experience from a marketing perspective. OK. So did you find what you were looking for. Did you have enough time. So it's all about the shopping experience but it's from a marketing perspective. And what we're doing is sure we're doing that marketing stuff but it's much more operations oriented. Yeah. What did you people do. How can we do it better. Let me do feedback so that we provide the data and the results to store operations. Not to the EPA marketing but to the head of store operations and the store manager and the regional director because they're all response for making it happen right. Yeah. Their response from the training to making sure that they meet their numbers. So that's what we're focused on this is so so different from what the traditional customer satisfaction survey is about. Yeah that's number one. Number two on the other side of the platform is is the mystery shop. Yeah exactly. The mystery shopping.

[00:20:54] Right. So mystery shopping program case anybody doesn't know what it is. They hire people to go into a store with a list of things to check out right now and then they come back and it's some time in the future. Two weeks four weeks down the line the retailer will get a report a report as to what the mystery shopper found. So we think that that I mean in some ways we are making everybody a mystery shopper. Yeah and letting letting the associates know that they are being raided by everybody who is a mystery shopper. Yeah. All right. So it's totally different. The mystery shopping thing is just not scalable. You know people can really only afford to do do it once a month for a store maybe or hire people to come in for a promotion to see how it's being handled. It's very event based.

[00:21:42] Now what we're doing is for. It's like for the price of one mystery shopper in a store. We're giving them the ability to collect a steady stream of customer feedback data for that store. Yeah. That the associates and the managers can then use to do a better job.

[00:21:57] Yeah. Talk to me a little bit about which industries you're focus on right now what what segments you're going after and acts I mean where where are you looking to kind of build traction around this kind of application.

[00:22:08] Sure sure. Initially we are going after specialty retail apparel shoes you know everywhere where there's a sort of a consultative sale in the store where we're not as I said before we're not going after the mass merchants we're not going out to the self-service retail but those are the kind of folks we're dealing with. So do the projects we've run this past summer have actually been in apparel to men's operations one is the one I mentioned before and the other is actually digital and digital native men's apparel. What's interesting. Yeah. Who is now moving it to moving into brick mortar stores.

[00:22:44] So here's another another use case for the application is that they were looking to get customer feedback on new processes that they were trying out the stores know being able to get I mean it's coming out of the Agile space I mean I'm all about collecting data and then responding to data by changing and pivoting your product and features and qualities and things like that said I mean it seems like a great tool where I can literally get pretty much real time like I know within a couple hours. Now it's real time. Yes real time. Yeah. No but I could I could literally make changes I could I could come in the next morning with a new plan saying okay hey look based on yesterday's data we're going to try doing it this way. Let's start with these questions let's do this. Like we want to like I can see you know people that are really thinking about innovating in the you know the customer experience space for retail you know literally being able to say day by day. All right we're going to try to find ways of doing this getting feedback seeing if it works even.

[00:23:35] So I think this I mean look I think it's a great tool for know being able to evaluate performance on an individual sales associate level and stuff like that.

[00:23:43] But actually from an organization level it gives me data on my systems my policies my processes and I could actually do iterative design of my experience design from a retail point of view. That's a really powerful application of this. Yeah. Excellent. STUART We're gonna get time here. If people want to find out more about you about Raider b How did they get more information.

[00:24:03] Sure. Well they can go to the site. Raider are a TR b e dot com or you can send me an email at Stuart s t u a party at Raider Buchanan Grant now I'll make sure that email address and the link is on the show notes here so people can click through.

[00:24:21] Stuart this is a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking some time to be on the show. I enjoyed it. Thanks a lot.

[00:24:26] You've been listening to Scaling up Services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt. To find a full is a podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. This is a Web site that scaling up services dot com and toll free to sign up for the free newsletter scalingupservices/newsletter.