Check Out Our All New Podcast Resource Center!
July 16, 2021

Taking Your Business Virtual In 2021 - Maddy Martin

Taking Your Business Virtual In 2021 - Maddy Martin

This week's guest, Maddy Martin, is the VP of Marketing at Smith.ai – a virtual receptionist company focused on helping small businesses excel and outperform.

Have you ever considered outsourcing answering your inbound calls, outbound calls or chat?

A definite consideration for small business who lack the capacity to bring in a full time receptionist or larger companies who want to catch overflower or offer 24 hours service.

Don't let your customers go to voice mail. Instead discover the difference between a virtual receptionist and a virtual call center (it's important). In addition, hear about what type of tasks you can outsource freeing your time to focus on growth oriented tasks.

In addition, this episode discusses why you should avoid paying inbound phone answering services by the minute as well as the white glove chat service that is available at Smith.ai.

Episode Action Items:

To learn more about Maddy Martin and Smith.ai, you can visit https://smith.ai. Receive a $100 discount on your first month when you use code 'makeeachclickcount'.

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.

Transcript

Andy Splichal  0:02  

Welcome to The Make Each Click Count Podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. And today we're happy to welcome our next guest to discuss today's topic, which is taking your business virtual in 2021. This week's guest is the VP of Marketing at Smith.a. a virtual receptionist company focused on helping small businesses excel and outperform, say Hi to Maddy Martin. Hi, Maddy.

 

Maddy Martin  1:17  

Hi, Andy, how are you?

 

Andy Splichal  1:19  

I'm great. Well, thanks for joining us today.

 

Maddy Martin  1:22  

Thanks for having me.

 

Andy Splichal  1:23  

Now, before we dive into today's topic, let's first hear your backstory. And what ultimately led you to do what you're doing now?

 

Maddy Martin  1:33  

Well, I was at startups for, I guess, the past 12 years or so. And I started out a food startup called Food52, where I put some of my, you know, marketing and econ major work to work for them. And they were a home cooking community that really was born out of the idea that the best recipe is coming from home cooks, and how can we celebrate it build community around them, and I was responsible for some recipe testing and then for bringing to light some highlights of the cooking community. Later on working on the Whole Foods Market partnership that Food52 had established to bring more cooking resources and education to their, you know, sort of customer base and community and led all partnerships actually there as a result of that successful Whole Foods Market partnership really focused on SEO, content syndication, working with HuffPost, Yahoo food, LifePak, or etc. to get our Food52 content out into a much wider audience. From there, I went to your mechanic where I was the first marketing director and marketing hire at all, and really built that company, which is based in Silicon Valley at one TechCrunch Disrupt. They were basically Uber for car repair. So bringing mechanics to your home or office. And we did everything from advertising to affiliates to you know, sponsorships and radio and content, really at a very high scale beyond anything I did it for Food52, we produced about 20,000 pieces of content in less than two years. So massive team to build out a huge repository of very common Q&A detailed answers from Master Mechanics

  on common car maintenance and repair topics. So that really hone my skills in creating efficiency in a marketing team and specialization almost to the point that it was like, you know, a Ford assembly line. And that really had to be the case. And I worked very closely with the engineering team to make sure that we had the the systems in place to execute on those workflows that the you know, staff was was using to create content. So that was a really formative time for me. Back in Food52, I had done an SEO audit, and I understood sort of the engineering aspects there. But in the actual operations and execution of marketing, you know, content production. That's where I worked again with the engineering team very closely, which is a huge benefit of being in a tech startup to have access to teams like that in a marketing role. And then after several years there and several funding rounds, the company was doing extremely well. I moved back to Buffalo, New York where I'm from and at the same time had taken a new role at Smith.ai and I was really passionate about you know, sort of these core elements of your life whether it's food whether it's sort of your your vehicle and transportation or whether it is your your phone and communication. And this was just another area for me to touch on in my marketing work. To make sure I was building a really A robust skill set and my expertise and working with businesses so that they could get the communication solutions. They need to reduce interruptions increase productivity and improve profitability by really carefully delegating to quality teams who can handle anything from calls and chats to intake and lead screening, outbound calls and text messages to Facebook messages for them. So they can focus on what they need to execute on that day and running their business and delivering services in in shipping goods, etc.

 

Andy Splichal  5:42  

Is Smith.ai, your current company has been set at Buffalo as well?

 

Maddy Martin  5:46  

No, they're actually born out of California, they had a headquarters in California for quite a while until COVID last year, and we finally decided while we have the vast majority already of our team working remotely distributed across North America, and actually an engineering team in Spain, a designer in the Ukraine, and the receptionist and live chat agents all across the US and Canada and Mexico. So we really didn't need a home office anymore. And I'm here just on my lonesome in Buffalo, but we've got leadership all over the country.

 

Andy Splichal  6:26  

Now, speaking of Smith.ai, in there, you guys specialize as a Virtual Receptionist, I'm a little confused. What is the difference between a Virtual Receptionist and a virtual call center? Or is there a difference?

 

Maddy Martin  6:44  

Well, I think there's a difference in both execution and also expectation. So when you think about a virtual call center, it's possible there are some models like that where it's really script driven, it might be support, or technical teams who can walk you through, you know, restarting your computer, or maybe something like that. It might be the case that we think of the time when maybe 15 years ago, I had a Dell computer and I need to call support. And I was quite sure that that person was you know, not domestically based. And I think we're used to this concept of a call center. But but we're not as used to that I hope, you know, is increasingly comfortable for business owners and individuals is the idea that there is a Virtual Receptionist service that has people working from quiet home offices, not from scripts, but from a system that gives them the information that they need to sound just like in house at a business. And that's really where the distinction surfaces, a call center is very much like routine and scripted and standardized to the point of like, no personality, no sort of touchy-feeliness that a small business owner wants out of their client and communication experience. So if we're going to sound like we're in house at a small business, or even medium enterprises, you know, SaaS or Startup company, you know, that call centers. So immediately detectable that that's where I think a lot of the sort of subpar experiences and expectations arise when you hear that term. Now, receptionist is much more individualized and personalized. And that's really what we lean into, with the receptionist, we hire, they already come to us with the skill set, they need to be an exceptional receptionist. And then they're just trained on using our system to deliver those services to our clients. And any one of them at any time could take a call for any one of our clients. So they're not dedicated. They are available to any client so that you know, we have the ability to answer basically all the calls that are coming in. With dedicated teams, often what you find is, there's a sick day, there's a maternity leave or vacation and that team that you thought was dedicated that was, you know, so good, ends up being a huge gap to fill and hurry to train up when there's not sufficient capacity. So we do like that distributed model, that sort of broad team availability that maybe a call center would would call to mind but the receptionist service that's remote, really allows you to have that individualized in house experience, where it feels really like you're talking to someone who is in the business not contracted by the business.

 

Andy Splichal  9:44  

Sure. No, that makes a lot of sense. Now hiring virtually especially now we're getting past COVID But it seems to be a great way to leverage your time as a small business. I think you've touched on it a little bit but one of the biggest concerns If I would have or think business owners would have is to ensure that you aren't losing that service, that personal touch? How many? Is it a certain amount of virtual receptionists per calls? I mean, how many people are trained to answer the phones that are able to go off script and to offer that kind of personal service?

 

Maddy Martin  10:24  

Well, so yeah, I should clarify that, um, you know, it's, it's still guideline based, but it's not scripted. And it's funny to say it, but there's a huge difference. So the receptionists are going to use our system and they see how to handle a certain type of call, if the court is calling to alert an attorney that their clients not there at the courthouse yet, or something, you know, has been moved to a new date. Or if it's a new potential lead or buyer for a product, if it's a new partner, or affiliate or vendor who you've hired to work with you, all of these different calls, including ones from existing clients who are, you know, calling to check in or whatever, maybe even, you know, someone's mother calls, you want to have a protocol for handling notes. So it is driven by those guidelines, and a lot of information is provided. But you have the feel that it is someone in house, because they're not literally reading from the screen, they are looking referencing, understanding and then translating it into a natural conversation flow. And I think that's really where the distinction is. But with remote teams, and with hiring being so difficult, I think the thing that I would highlight there is that we're able to draw upon the best receptionists across North America who speak English and Spanish. At the present time, we may expand into other languages, but it is to our advantage and to our clients advantage, and to you know, the advantage of economies resources, to have a remote team to get access to the best talent through Smith AI, because we find for small businesses, if you're based in a an urban area, labor is extremely competitive and expensive and often out of reach for small business owners. But if you're in a rural area, you know, conversely, you've got a labor shortage. And the issue is, you know, how do you find the right talent no matter what you're willing to pay for them?

 

Andy Splichal  12:33  

Know, you've you've definitely hit on a lot of advantages. Do you see any disadvantages to using a virtual? I don't even know if we call it virtual virtual,

 

Maddy Martin  12:46  

Virtual answering service

 

Andy Splichal  12:48  

Somebody who's not in your office use certain disadvantages to it. I mean, how quickly you can get information to them how? I guess they can they transfer the phone? How is that work?

 

Maddy Martin  13:01  

Yep, yeah, they definitely can. So I'll go through a couple points. First of all, that I will say, like we have never told a client or potential client, like, you know, you should fire your receptionist, remote receptionists Are you know, the cat's meow. They're better than whatever you could possibly have in house. That's just not the case. And I think we all know that in our core, and I'm not going to sell that because I don't believe it myself, right. But what we know is that for those who can't afford an in house person, or those who need 24/7, after hours, overflow coverage, it is absolutely critical to not miss any inbound demand or inbound client requests or a call call from a partner or someone who's a stakeholder or someone who's relying on you. You don't want to miss a single call. And these days, the office hours are sort of out the window because people are either working more from home, they're taking care of children, their hours are whenever they have a free time to contact the business or the product or service provider. That's when they're going to call maybe it's the weekend, maybe it's 9pm when the kids are asleep. So what I would say is in house, absolutely. You have the benefit of you know, closer proximity and training. And you know, we see people hiring in house not necessarily even in the same office, but I'm considering a salaried or hourly dedicated hire wherever they may be right and in comparison to our Virtual Receptionists or any Virtual Receptionist service. Now where you start getting closer and closer to comparison is not with a call center that's remote that's just going to maybe answer and take a message perhaps transfer. What limited utility after that right? Where you get real benefit and closer to the approximation of an in house service is where you can do intake forms where you can screen leads are they a good fit where you can take custom orders then you can complete an order form. Or you can take a payment from someone over the phone, where you can make outbound calls for a campaign of leads, who are expecting to hear from you and eager to learn more about your services. So those are things that get closer to what someone in house might do as a sales sales team member as an intake or onboarding specialist. Maybe even closer to, you know, customer support, but when it comes to very technical services, and then things that are, you know, local or product or manufacturing driven, you know, if you have someone to, you know, doing roofing, and you have a technician to do an assessment, or the person who is the receptionist in house needs to be able to look in count materials and the back and inventory. Obviously, you need someone, you know, they're on site. And that's not visibility that a Virtual Receptionist could have. But the the after hours, the overflow and the multi channel handling is, is really critical. I mean, the last point that I'll make is, if you have someone who is in house as a receptionist, who may never even have to handle walk ins or things like that, you know, there are a couple of things to consider. One is, you know, are they utilizing their time fully? Or are they just sort of they're waiting for work to, you know, get on their plate. The other thing is, obviously, the the hours that they work, and then the third thing is the management burden on the owner or director level person who oversees their work, and how much time does that consume? And what's the opportunity cost of them spending their time doing that versus something else. And then I think we get a better idea of the times where that's extremely valuable, where they have technical skills and expertise in the case of a paralegal or a technician, or someone who's literally, you know, doing the service or making a product. And then on the receptionist side, virtually, you know, what are all the things that can be handed off, perhaps even to the in house teams efficiency. So we often work with businesses where we are the Virtual Receptionist, and we will transfer calls to maybe an in house assistant or office manager or or paralegal or a sales associate, who takes over that conversation but didn't get that call that was spam, or an unqualified lead or someone who's out of the service area or doesn't have the purchasing power to buy, etc. So a lot of it is just being the lead blocker or gatekeeper. And then obviously, making sure that for those who are qualified leads, they have a wonderful client experience from start to finish.

 

Andy Splichal  17:56  

Yeah, no, you I mean, you made a lot of great advantages, including the opportunity cost. And when you do that, now, I'm sure you've guys imported quite a few companies. And maybe some of those have even come from come from other virtual remote, not going to call receptionist. Yeah, where do you think that most companies get it wrong when looking to incorporate a remote receptionist into their business?

 

Maddy Martin  18:26  

That's so interesting. Well, I think there are a couple of ways that that they might not get the guidance that they need. You know, the question the way that you phrase it is so interesting, Andy, because I think that if a client feels like they got it wrong, or the burden was on them to figure it out, there's something wrong there to begin with, you know, anytime you're working with, you know, outsourcing or staffing or contracting like that contractor that outsourced resource should be the expert right so if you're ever in a situation if you're listening to this thinking, you know Yeah, I I didn't feel like I could figure it out. It didn't work for me I couldn't determine how to best you know, fit that into my business you know, that is a problem with the company that you talk to because they should be guiding you to figure that out and and if it cannot be figured out that should probably be something that's discovered early on in the conversations you know, like it's extremely complex or maybe you wanted Smith AI to do you know, technical support for you know, some some computer troubleshooting. Well, we would say that's out of the scope of our services. But if you are looking within reason for answering and simple FAQ, maybe appointment scheduling are based on a few criteria to make sure that the prospect or lead is a good fit. Those are simple things at any good receptionist service should do. And they should be following your, you know, customized unique business needs and aligned to your business goals. So if that's not part of the conversation early, understanding the budget, and does that make sense for those calls that are gonna be handled are those you know, profitable or meaningful calls that are worse handling in this way, with that personalized touch and great client experience, then, then you're right off the bat setup to succeed, because the most important thing is to accurately and promptly, you know, get in touch with the people who are seeking to speak with you. And, and a couple of the pitfalls are improper guidance on the, you know, onboarding process, how are you getting your account set up? Have you been asked about, you know, your needs and goals pretty thoroughly? To be honest, I think our onboarding form not to scare anyone has, you know, a couple dozen? If not, you know, three dozen questions. And that's because if you're not going to hire someone, we still need to ask, you know, a lot of questions to handle the scenarios we know we will encounter. And that is that is in your best interest and in ours and making those conversations worthwhile at all right. So, so that's sort of where I stand there, you know, if you feel like it wasn't successful, it may be that the capacity was lacking. And sometimes from the company side with these answering services, they lack the ability to fulfill the promises that might be on their website. And an example of that that comes to mind is calendaring solutions are a dime a dozen these days, there are so many great solutions, and a receptionist service should be able to use pretty much any of them that have a link to follow, right. And we have said very clearly, we can use pretty much any, you know, online appointment scheduling system that that you are already using. Now, some have chosen to say you can only use Calendly. Or you can only use, you know, one of these services that we approve that that really doesn't make sense to me, you know, why is it your role to tell potential clients, you know, what they're restricted to? That's the sort of thing that when you pull on that string, you might find other limitations that that other companies will present to you.

 

Andy Splichal  22:40  

Now, for your clients, is it a monthly charge? Is it a per minute charge? How does that look?

 

Maddy Martin  22:52  

So it's a monthly charge with a per call quota that you can go as

 

Andy Splichal  23:00  

So it's also per call?

 

Maddy Martin  23:01  

it's protocol not permitted. And the reason we do that is twofold. One, we block spam and sales and long number of calls for free. So having it per call makes it very easy to see how many calls we saved you and didn't charge you for. And then also we we have an alignment of sort of goals and expectations with our clients. That's different from those that charge per minute. So we've heard plenty of other answering services like you know, ask Andy you know, could you please spell your last name? And can you spell it one more time for me and now

 

Andy Splichal  23:34  

Okay you know, you were gonna you got right into my horrible experience back when I was in charge of marketing for an Ecommerce company and years ago, we we went to a outsourced I'm going to call them a call center, what it was a charge per minute. And listening to those calls. was almost like having my fingernails removed. They went, they went on and I listened one time to an order for a $5 product that took 30 minutes to get in.

 

Maddy Martin  24:11  

And you lost money there right?

 

Andy Splichal  24:12  

We lost and we cost three times on that initial order. So ya know, that def definitely should be something to look out on. Hey, um, how is your industry been changed from the COVID pandemic? Are you guys just going crazy now? Are you going crazy before? Uh, how's that going?

 

Maddy Martin  24:30  

You know that what's really there are two things that I'll highlight here. So first of all, many Virtual Receptionist services might work virtually for their clients, but actually had call center offices. So when COVID hit and all of those call centers that offer virtual services actually couldn't get their virtual receptionists into their home office. We were in a position where we were already operating completely remotely with quiet home offices for every single one of our receptionist and chat aides, Jennsen in onboarding team members and managers, etc. So our entire team, our support team, our frontline teams, they were already set up to succeed. Now, of course, you know, some of them had childcare concerns that they had to take care of now when typically the kids would be in childcare during the day, but we were in a better position and enviable, enviable position, honestly. And then we were able to take on more clients because we didn't have to look after ourselves and our survival first, right, we already had that taken care of as a remote workforce. So that was one benefit, we've seen a huge surge in demand. And then what we've also seen as a second wave of a surge in demand, were all of these business clients who actually came on and started their services with Smith.ai in 2020. Around January, we saw all of the consumers, whether it's business, or individual consumers of those business clients of ours, come back online wanting to spend, so they're sort of like the net new number of clients was at a faster pace, and then also, their customer base wants to spend money at a faster pace starting this year. So the call volume, you know, has increased significantly beyond sort of our expectations. And every answering service is sort of experiencing that right now. But what helps is that there's a huge rise in interest and website chat, in texting businesses, in the comfort level there and understanding that most of the time Facebook Messenger can be a channel that's effective to messenger business. And as a result, we see there being a reliance on sort of Omnichannel communications, which thankfully, you know, years ago, we added website chat. And being able to answer those chats, in addition to calls, in addition to text, in addition to Facebook messages, has allowed us to say, look, you know, if your call volume is really intense, we see a lot of leads looking to chat in that can reduce your call volume, they can increase net new leads, who wouldn't otherwise even call or fill out a form, they want to chat. And what we've seen is like, also, Facebook has become a big search engine and a big, you know, area of time spent to get to know recommendations for businesses. So that message is happening on Facebook instead of someone you know, going to someone's business website and maybe sending an email or filling a form or a chat, because you can do everything within that platform. So I think, you know, as been says, look at, you know, upgrading their social profiles, updating their Google My Business page, and things like that, they also want to really be mindful of like, you know, where are people referring and recommending your business as like, one of the main sources of great quality clients and customers always, you know, Facebook is a recommendation engine to a large degree now. So being able to answer across all those channels has been a huge advantage for us.

 

Andy Splichal  28:12  

You know, you you're really broad. What I wanted to talk to you next was I see you do have an AI chat service. Is that a separate service? Do they work together? And is that all AI all artificial intelligence? Or do the Virtual Receptionist answer those as well.

 

Maddy Martin  28:31  

So the AI actually works hand in hand with both our you know, a virtual phone receptionists and also our chat agents and also on its own. So what the AI does is it drives efficiency on a call or in a chat that's live staffed. And then it can also handle sort of the sequence of a conversation, going to each next step question or comment validating, you know, that information has been captured and received, you know, prompting, scheduling an appointment, etc. through chat. So on the on the phone side, it's really like live agents backed by AI. And on the chat side, it's really like AI with humans in the loop, or standing on its own is just a chat bot. And the chat bot actually, it's available for free with unlimited chats with a fairly like, you know, limited feature set. But then you can add on sort of unlimited knowledge based questions and answers playbooks, which are basically sequence conversations for maybe a lead or a client or a partner. And all of those tools are then baked into the live staff chat solution, which is really leveraging both you know, you want the receptionist and the chat agents to be fast and personable but you also want them to be accurate and So, you know, I think that the the main thing that AI delivers is accuracy and speed of like those most common replies, especially in chat, where you want that live chat agent to be present and thinking about what does this person need? What situation? Are they in? How can I solve their problem or address this opportunity for sales? The best way possible instead of man, let me look up, what's the right answer to that? And then you're just there to deliver the answer. You know, we really think about it as like, are you delivering a human touch? Because that's what our clients are paying for.

 

Andy Splichal  30:39  

Sure. And you had mentioned the Facebook chat as well, how is what you guys are doing different than like a Minichat?

 

Maddy Martin  30:49  

Well, there are definitely, you know, competitors, and you know, other services with some comparable features. Minichat and other services like that. I mean, if you go on Capterra, or any of these software comparison sites, you can probably find a lot of different chat bot chat platform examples, what I find is that most of the solutions out there are either bots that you get to program yourself gay, or ones that you get to staff yourself, great. So it's like, do you want to spend your time answering chats? Do you want to have slack messages coming to you from you know, chats? Do you want to have via Facebook Messenger open all the time so that you can answer do you want to train a bot? You know, the answer to all of these is probably not what what you get with nothing is really interesting. We don't call ourselves like consultants or anything. But when you sign up for a chat service, you don't just get the live chat, you also get the white glove onboarding, you get the build out of your account. And you get the peace of mind that like someone is looking after all those messages for you and making sure that it's like the optimal workflow, most of the other providers are going to be either part of a huge software company that, you know, your account manager might send you a help doc, or initially there's an onboarding, but it's not that robust, or you've got to DIY it. And we're really at the price almost of like a DIY, sometimes cheaper, but with the service of a really top class, you know, software SaaS company.

 

Andy Splichal  32:30  

And does your chat. does it integrate with all different website platforms? Or are there any restrictions? It does? Okay.

 

Maddy Martin  32:38  

Yeah, what's really interesting is that that chat platform is actually the one that the the chat agents use to answer any inbound message at all. So if it's Facebook, if it's text, if it's website chat, if it's on, let's say, what's the Thinkific, or like some of those coaching platforms, right. Like you might be watching a video or going through an online course, you can have chat on any website, even if it is within a so called web app or platform like that, to me, it's really interesting to be able to run an online course that someone is paid for, and then to use chat for upsells or Q&A or or messages throughout that program. It's not just for websites anymore, it's also for these course creator platforms.

 

Andy Splichal  33:28  

Oh, it's great. Now, most of my listeners are ecommerce.

 

Maddy Martin  33:32  

I was gonna say Shopify, right. I mean,

 

Andy Splichal  33:35  

That's the monster right now. That's the monster. So do you have any success stories specifically to ecommerce? If somebody who's used your guys's service?

 

Maddy Martin  33:45  

Yeah, absolutely. So there's a number of success stories, and they're not all the most traditional ones. But we have a lot of sort of, you know, product as a service service as a product services, you know, Software as a Service, all those things are sort of sellable through online carts these days. Right. So the idea that something is a product, okay, is it shipped? Well, is it a physical good doesn't need to fit? There might be some Q&A, some FAQ that we need to understand around sizing charts are things that are different than h back services, service area locally, right. But when it comes to, you know, what is the, you know, estimated shipping time or charge, a lot of those things are lookup fields that our receptionist could have access to. When it comes to product inventory, that could be something that the receptionist could browse through, just with a little bit of training and expertise that goes beyond what the normal consumer might might have as their own sort of expertise of your product. So a couple of examples. There are like companies that sell wellness items, that they often have consumers who needs to call and chat with us about, you know which item is right for me based on my health concern. There are painting companies or like home paint companies, what's the right color? How do I find the right color to match, you know, my design aesthetic and things like that. So there might be questions like that to make sure that sales is enabled to make that sale, as, as much as possible, get over the customer objections or hurdles or questions that need to be answered first. There are also, you know, products that are perhaps a car part, or an order for a service that they're booking online, like a massage might be basically a service that is ordered online, but it's not strictly ecommerce. So scheduling appointments, and paying in advance for services that you might go on site to receive. Things like that are easily handled with, with Smith.ai, you know, and as long as we can take a credit card by phone and you know, put an order in or put an appointment in, all of that is very doable, the only thing that we won't do is if you need a custom quote, or a special sort of product that needs review, or more management authority to sort of authorize, you know, we're not going to do anything that requires a high degree of discretion. Just because that's often you know, someone who's in the business who's making that decision. But you're

 

Andy Splichal  36:34  

Sure, yeah, no, those are, are great examples. Now, you know, it seems like you've had quite the career, Silicon Valley, the Startup all that, you know, is there any business books that you attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur over the years?

 

Maddy Martin  36:51  

Oh, man, I mean, pretty much everyone who I've worked with, I've learned something from I mean, most recently, Aaron and Justin, who are the co founders of Smith.ai, you know, I miss down and daily by their leadership, by their candor, by their, their character, I just incredible perseverance, not in the face of of hardship, but in the face of really rapid growth, I think that that creates a lot of pressure that they have handled. So with such great poise and, and very clear headed direction, without, without being swayed too much by the winds of the market, you know, they have a, they have a really strong partnership. And I think that says a lot to me about when I see all these other companies starting like, it really has to be a very strong foundation, because there will be challenges and you have to be unified, you know, to confront them. Even if they are sort of these, you know, high class problems like too much demand, it's still a problem nonetheless. So I've been really impressed with how they have led the company and said yes to things and no to others very wisely and and it seems correctly based on how the company is doing. So that has been really formative for me. Early on, though, you know, growing up, my mom is an entrepreneur, she has her own therapy business, and she actually has a chocolate blog and I was impressed with all the free chocolate she was able to get for herself. But professionally, you know, running for 30 plus years a therapy practice in Buffalo, my dad running a reformed Jewish Temple in Buffalo, I saw a lot of entrepreneurship growing up and and the decisions that my parents each had to make day to day to say yes to things and no to others how to prioritize and, and how to always put your people first. You know, they were really have a generous spirit, but they also had time for the family. And I think one of the things that that I've also witnessed, and they witnessed this Food52 which had a wonderful work environment, and witnessed this at your mechanic where we went through also rapid growth and, and challenges and another great work environment. It really comes down to being a good person to your clients and your colleagues and I and putting the right people in the roles that you know, are really a fit for them. Understanding that a lot of people might not know what's a good fit for them or not, you know, so hiring is probably one of the hardest things that any leader will do. And I've been really lucky to be with leaders who have have shown me like what are some really fantastic hiring techniques that that will get you the right people to grow most effectively.

 

Andy Splichal  39:57  

Those are some some great points some great points you made it for Smith.ai. What? What makes your guyses perfect client? Is it all over you professional services, ecommerce, you specialize in one, not the other. What? What, what's the perfect client for you?

 

Maddy Martin  40:16  

It's so funny. So we, I don't think there's a perfect client. But a great client is one who reaches out with questions or concerns or ideas and wants to have a dialogue, right, because even if you're not in house, you still want to have a partnership or relationship where you are getting that level of investment, that is a long term relationship and just evocative of a long term relationship indicative of a long term relationship, I should say. And what I mean is like, it could be a law firm, you know, which is actually the majority of our client base, but but it's expanding actually into new verticals every day, it could be home services professional, which is another large area for us, let's say a track. And it could be a online ecommerce selling, selling educational materials, right. And an all of those, the unique thing that is a common thread that makes them a great client is you know, that email or that call, or that that dialog that says like, hey, Smith.ai, we're thinking about doing this, you know, with you, we want to do an outbound campaign to reach out to clients and see if they'll buy this new thing from us, or we want to do, you know, web chat, and can you help us, you know, sort of capture and qualify these leads, so that we can book as many appointments with people who are willing to spend x amount of dollars for this product with us. And like that dialogue happening is what sort of separates a, you know, okay, or fine client from a great happy client. And we find that more utilization with our services, the more you're on our Virtual Receptionist and our chat service combined. And not just one or the other, the happier you are as a client, the more you feel like you can continue to keep that dialogue open. And the longer that you'll stay with us, because you see on a regular basis, without the burden of work on you, but with the dialog being open to just effectively see proactive change and positive change happen over the course of that working relationship. That's really what is remarkable. And if you're working with any contractor or service vendor, and you know things are sort of hope, hum, see if you know, sort of increasing a little bit of dialogue and saying how can we do this better together? These are areas where we see there being opportunity for improvement, you know, and if they jump to as you'll find if you work with Smith.ai, that's really where that not just great, perfect client, but perfect vendor relationship for the clients perspective also happens.

 

Andy Splichal  43:18  

So let's talk about Smith.ai. How what? How do you stand apart from your competition? What what are you delivering they aren't?

 

Maddy Martin  43:26  

I think that high touch, onboarding and client service, the foundation of the relationship is outstanding. Also, the integrations are the most robust out of any answering service, and even in or above around our class, the level of complexity that we can handle from these 20 transfer lines for six different departments and these various instructions for scheduling and in handling those calls. To you know, where to to send the summaries and to integrate with Slack or Microsoft Teams, or the various systems that our clients are using all of that complexity with the attention to detail the connection personally, to our team members. I think that and the willingness to to help and continue to look back and revise makes us far and away like better than the competition and like you can you can anyone can hire, you know, maybe more engineers or more designers, and you know, it's not going to be as good as a great designer, but you can throw money at those resources if you wanted to. But you can't create that culture of that helpful, generous spirit that Smith.ai has, which is really what embodies a great receptionist at their core, right if you think about the your favorite like receptionist or front desk person who made an impression on you, like you should feel really well taken care of. And I think that we can execute on because we have the people and we have that brain power and that technology to deliver on those promises, that the really great people we have working here will communicate to you.

 

Andy Splichal  45:25  

So for listeners, like sounds great, sounds great. How can they get a hold of you or, or get more information about Smith AI?

 

Maddy Martin  45:34  

Well, a variety of ways, as I'm sure you're not surprised to hear. So you can go on our website, you can call and chat and text us from there, the phone number is 650-727-6484. And our website is smith.ai. And you can email us also at hello@smith.ai. If you go to our site, you'll see that you can chat with us, you'll see that you can sign up instantly for an A sales consultation and onboarding, or just go right ahead and sign up for chat directly. That's actually sort of an instant signup. But we would love to really have a conversation with you first to understand your goals. And we don't want to rush through that process. So typically, even if you talk to someone on our sales team, which is maybe a 15-30 minute call it you'll be up and running within the same day if you have to if you're in a rush, but within a couple of days, you know, even if you're not in a rush, so it's very fast. And we do have a special deal for your listeners, Andy so they'll get $100 off their first month of service with the code, makeeachclickcount. And that's all through one word, makeeachclickcount. And that will get $100 off the first month. And if you bundle services and virtual receptionists and chat, you'll get an additional 5% off. We do offer you know longer term discounted packages for a 12 month term. If you love it and you want to sign up for the next year, you'll get 15% off so that's pretty significant too.

 

Andy Splichal  47:20  

Well that's great. Well thank you Maddy.

 

Maddy Martin  47:23  

Absolutely.

 

Andy Splichal  47:25  

Well thanks for coming on today. Well that is it for today. Remember if you do like this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave an honest review. If you're looking for more information regarding connecting with Maddy and Smith.ai as well as take advantage of that offer I will put the link and information into the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business using Google paid ads request to join the Make Each Click Count Facebook group been releasing some all new free live trainings and more will be happening very soon. Meantime, remember to stay safe keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.