episode 21

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Epi 21: Protecting Your Business’s Reputation Online – Curtis Boyd, CEO of Objection.Co

Learn more about Objection.co at: https://objection.co/

Find Curtis Boyd on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/%F0%9F%A4%96-curtis-boyd-5908557b/

JC: Welcome everybody, to another episode of The Future of BizTech. I am your host, JC Granger. I have with me here, the CEO of Objection.Co, Curtis Boyd. Curtis, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Curtis: Sure. So I consider myself a reputation technologist. I started my entrepreneurial journey as a student nurse in a hospital. I figured out how to remove bad reviews for doctors. And I did that manually as a consultant for years. A hospital turned into a physician network. A physician network turned into multiple physician networks. Went back to school for coding. Built a software company out of it, that I didn’t have to read reviews, I could program computers to do it for me. And now we use technology to do what I used to do manually as a reputation consultant.

JC: Well, that’s actually pretty incredible. And no bad reviews is kind of a sore spot for a lot of companies. Can you tell us how this works a little bit? I think wrapping our minds around it can help a little bit. What is it that your software does versus, also what are the rules when people are leaving reviews? What does it filtrate now? Things like that.

Curtis: Absolutely. Our software looks at the review content to look for potential violations in content guidelines or terms of service, community standards of content. So we pre-program all the various rules within a specific website like Google or Yelp or Tripadvisor, And we look for reasons why that review may qualify for removal, why that review may violate certain guidelines. And having years and years of experience, we were able to identify little keyword snippets, little phrases, little intentional based context of why content can qualify. Then we score it from zero to five on how likely it qualifies for removal.

Curtis: And then we programmed a bot essentially to begin dialogue with an administrator and type in a dynamic strategy on why this particular review qualifies for removal based on this set of rules within your terms of service. Creates that email, creates that dispute, creates that flag, video records itself working and then submits it to our customer within the dashboard. So the customer doesn’t have to lift a finger. They just have to say, you know what, I think that review is illegitimate, and then the rest is taken care of for them.

JC: That’s pretty interesting. Now, what types of companies is this most useful for and what size of companies? Because it sounds like this would also be really beneficial on a volume thing, maybe an e-commerce thing or something like that. Do you find a value for mom-and-pop shops, if it’s just one or two, or is this more of enterprise level thing that really has big impact at a top level? Who are your typical clients with this? Who does it help the most?

Curtis: That’s a great question. So we’re a startup. We’re only two and a half years old. Majority of our customers are mom-and-pop shops. They typically really care about the reputation, and reviews really makes us a substantial part of their branding, so to speak. Subway, for example, consumers, don’t read Subway reviews before they go to a Subway restaurant. They know what to expect when they get a Subway sandwich, right?

Curtis: Whereas small businesses, they don’t have that brand, and consumers that are doing research before spending with them, they have to turn to places like online reviews to get a feel for what can I expect if I start to work with this company?

Curtis: So typically the big brands, the big enterprise level companies, they’re less focused on reputation like small businesses would be, because it’s so much more impactful for small businesses. And so that being said, most of our clients are doctors, lawyers, dentists, contractors. We serve everyone, pet sitting companies, vacation-

JC: What about like restaurants? I mean, people look at reviews on that a lot.

Curtis: Absolutely, restaurants are a big, big vertical of ours. You’re right in the sense that the scale is nice because we use software to fulfill all for our customers, where even if you have 10,000 reviews, you’re not paying any more for it, because whether you have 200 or 10,000 reviews, our software is going to do its thing and take care of that volume for you. So it’d be nice to engage with more enterprise businesses that really care about their reputation and want this handled for them, but most of our clients that we engage with are smaller businesses.

JC: So especially with when COVID hit and everything like that, did that have a big impact on your business? I mean, because obviously it affects some verticals like restaurants and whatnot. Did you see a big effect across the board? And if so, was there any changes you had to make or not with your software?

Curtis: Yeah, I mean, I think at first, just like everyone else, come February, March, we’re all like holding our breath. We were like, what is happening? Right? So we saw a little churn in the sense that customers all of a sudden are really getting tight on their budgets, and we totally got it. We were too. Anything that was fluff, we had to cut, because we weren’t sure what the future held for us. So I totally got that.

Curtis: After about two or three months though, business really started picking up because there was a lack of person to person referrals, word of mouth referrals for things. People were talking to each other less and they were going online more to get that confidence to move forward. People were still going to see other types of businesses like contractors, doctors. Business didn’t completely stop. It shut down a little bit, especially for a few months, but after a few months, things started picking up again, and word of mouth referrals really dropped significantly because of COVID. So online reputation became a lot more important and more and more consumers each and every day are still turning more and more to reviews as a source to get that reassurance, to get that confidence before moving forward.

JC: Makes total sense, yeah.

Curtis: COVID for us was terrible, but in regards to a market and economics perspective, COVID was really good for the online reputation industry, because it forced businesses to kind of get their online act together as people started using them more because of this whole indoors, not talking to people as much.

JC: Yeah, I didn’t think about that really, how you’d have less people with that one-to-one referral relationship style and people being at their computers all day now when they were in lockdown so to speak or at least restricted. So, no, I can see how that would actually be good for the industry, even though bad obviously overall for the economy. But there are certain industries that had little spikes here and there, which is interesting.

JC: Now, how do you prioritize your new features for example, and what kind of new ones do you have coming out soon?

Curtis: Yeah. So we’re really excited for our new features. The two that we’re most excited about is the ability to collect video testimonials from your customers. Those can’t really be faked. I mean, sure, you could go on like Fiverr or random places and pay someone to read a script. But those sites are really cracking down on that, which is great.

Curtis: But video content in itself from your customers, people can tell if it’s legitimate, if it’s real, they know. It’s hard to fake. And so I feel like video testimonial aligns with our values. It aligns with our organization really well, because it’s helping create really legitimate feedback for businesses that have struggled to get legitimate feedback on other platforms. This way they can use this video content in their social. They could use it in their marketing assets and collateral and what have you.

Curtis: The second feature, which we’re also building into our platform is essentially a review mapping system. And what it does is it allows a business owner to identify the various touchpoints of a consumer’s journey with their business.

Curtis: So I’ll give a doctor’s office as an example. You have scheduling the appointment. You have checking into the office. You have waiting. Everyone knows about waiting in a doctor’s office. And then the actual meeting with the doctor. And then follow up. So that’s five different touchpoints.

Curtis: Our software can now identify what a review was talking about in regards to which touchpoint. So let’s say a doctor with 500 reviews, now we get to see what part of the customer journey is being talked about the most. And then look at the sentiment, whether it was positive or negative. That way, if all the complaints are about check-in with your really grumpy receptionist. Sure, you’re going to see it, but our tool is going to help you visualize it a bit better, so you can try and understand it a little bit more, what you need to work on in regards to your business, like what part of your machine needs a little bit more oil that you need to focus on more, that you need to optimize so that you can provide five-star experiences for your customers.

Curtis: So we’re really trying to focus a lot more on customer experiences and providing better ones so that your customers can be inspired to share good feedback. They can be inspired to want to go online and rave about you.

JC: So how is it going to work with the video testimonials? Is your software going to reach out via email and say, hey, click here to do a video testimonial? And then it what, takes you to the software and routes into their webcam or they could just do it live right then and there in front of their screen kind of thing, and then it just saves it? Is that how it’s going to work?

Curtis: Yeah. So we create dynamic landing pages for our customers. They get to a certain webpage and on there is basically a record button which connects directly through their iPhone, their Android video recorder or if it’s a computer, it’s a webcam, and yeah, it records and captures that video data and then sends it right back into our application for them to use as a testimonial.

JC: Very cool.

Curtis: Whether it’s via text or email, it’s just a link. And that link has a landing page with that capture. Absolutely.

JC: I’m a marketing guy at heart. My agency, we market software companies and whatnot. So I always ask the question, what type of marketing are you doing right now to promote Objection.Co? What is it that you guys are doing? And what’s working and maybe what didn’t work before, kind of what’s the evolution? Because a lot of the audience are software people too and so they could probably use some advice or at least find out what not to do. Who knows?

Curtis: No, honestly, doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. And a lot of people surprisingly, it’s do nothing and they expect business to just come to them because they have this amazing product or they have this amazing idea. It doesn’t work like that. My recommendation would be to start focusing on… Once you have your MVP to start working on your sales process and easily onboarding new customers.

Curtis: So for us, we put together a sales script. Well, we put together a direct outreach program where we could essentially start with a very cold prospect and then start to warm them up. So what we did specifically for us, because we solved the pain point of bad reviews. We programmed software to look at 80 million listings every single day to look for new bad reviews. So every day we get a list of 10,000 businesses that just got a bad review. Our BDR team, business development representatives, just call them and say, hey, we’re from Objection Co. We noticed you got a bad review and we’d love to give you a free tutorial on how to dispute it yourself. Can I get your email address?

Curtis: It’s a very simple ask. We’re not trying to close the deal. We’re not trying to pitch anything. It’s value. And so we get the email address. We start to nurture them. We nurture them with not only with a tutorial on how to do it themselves, but even post follow-up tutorial, what to look for from administrators, how to communicate with them. We’re trying to prove to them that we know what we’re doing and we’re well qualified to handle this should they not want to do it themselves.

Curtis: Because that’s our customer. Our customer doesn’t want to do it themselves. They want to pay for an expert to do this, and they want it managed and handled for them. Because the DIYers, they’re going to do it themselves anyway, may as well be a resource to them and try and add value. Right?

Curtis: So anyways, that’s our strategy. We look for enough engagement within the CRM, open rates, clicks, visiting certain pages that show buying intent. As soon as we see enough buying intent within the CRM, we call them again. And SDR, hey, let’s get a demo scheduled. Let’s try and close this person and get them into our free trial. We offer a free trial, no credit card. It works great. I mean, talk about no risk, right? So we show them what we can do for a week or two, and then we’d get the payment going and we try and just consistently provide more educational material.

Curtis: And we hope that our new products are going to decrease churn, as a business company, as a SAS company, you’re always going to work on figuring out how to retain your customers longer and how to make them happier. That journey never stops. And that’s certainly something we’re on as well.

JC: Yeah, I think that’s really smart too, by the way, as far as you know… Did you create a software that separately goes and scrapes for those new bad reviews? Like, you create a software to help promote your software?

Curtis: Yeah.

JC: I love that.

Curtis: And what’s funny is our software even goes… Out of that 10,000 businesses that get a bad review, not all of them are removable. Maybe only 2,000 of them are removable. So our software vets those leads so that we can only spend our focus on those 2,000, because we can essentially promise those 2,000 results. If any one of those 2,000 businesses signs up with us, for sure they’re getting results in a few days, they’re going to be happy.

JC: That’s huge. See, that’s brilliant. I love that. I talked to a lot of software CEOs and every now and then I hear just a really cool hook. And it’s like, for one, you already got a cool software, but then the fact that you literally developed another software to lead gen for your software, I mean, there’s just something cool about that I really like. That makes my tail wag. You know what I mean? My ears perk up. I’m a geek from the Bay area. That’s my thing.

JC: All right. Cool. Very cool. So let’s ask the main golden question. With the title being The Future of BizTech, let’s talk about the future here. How do you see, maybe not necessarily just your company, but like what you’ve developed here, how do you see this technology that you’ve developed affecting or contributing to the future of the industries that you help?

JC: So, I mean, where do you see it going in five years, 10 years? Obviously right now it has one function, but have you ever thought that three, five, seven years ahead, like what’s this going to look like and how will your software affect either the industries, or how will it help grow your industry? If you’re in the front and you’re doing something good, someone’s going to try to copy it. It’s going to force you to innovate. What does that future look like in your head?

Curtis: Absolutely. And I hope that they do. We could use some good competition, because that’s essentially what it’s going to do is create cleaner marketplaces online, right? Because we are helping moderate illegitimate content. We’re helping make these review platforms display more useful content, more relevant content. Well, they should be thanking us, but they’re not. But five years from now, we’re hoping that the practices that we use, I hate to say it’s almost cannibalizing, in the sense that what we do now may be just taken and implemented by big tech so that those types of reviews don’t even pop up, but who knows what the future holds into that regards?

Curtis: Our company is currently focusing on technology for consumers as well. So we’ve invested a lot into R&D and to AI machine learning. What we’re doing in a year or two, we hope to have a very well-refined product that can identify the legitimacy of reviews for consumers. So that’s kind of where we’re starting to get into and really lean on. Don’t get me wrong. We love serving businesses. And that’s where our roots are, is serving the business community.

Curtis: But when it comes to fake reviews, whether it’s written by a competitor or an untruthful customer or a bot that are negative and you want cleaned up for your business, in regards to the big picture of fake reviews, it’s only like 4 or 5%. 95 of the fake reviews online are five-star to promote businesses illegitimately.

Curtis: So when I look at the problem, I’m like, great Objection Co is only solving 4% of a problem for the business owners. That leaves the 96% of the problem still on the table. And we’re building technology to address that 96%.

JC: I was going to ask about that. I was going to say, there’s two sides of that coin.

Curtis: That’s right. So we’re building tech so that consumers can order reports, can get data immediately on the legitimacy of a business’s online reviews. Or if you suspect a competitor has fake reviews, you can at least get some data and proof that like, yeah, you’re right. They’re cheating. They for sure paid for those reviews. So we’re not sure how the technology is going to be used. The only thing we really care about is its accuracy, its beneficence for the marketplace, and to help consumers to stop being ripped off. Businesses that have been in business for 15 years, it took so many times and trips and falls and screw ups for them to get their business to where it is today. A five-star experience machine. Businesses that just puts out great experiences.

Curtis: These startups are coming in a year, and they’re buying fake reviews, so when you look at the marketplace at face value, you compare company A and company B, they look like they have the same amount of experience and they look almost equally qualified. When in reality, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Like, one of these companies is amazing. The other company may look as amazing, but really, you’re about to be scammed or you’re about to get a much less of a good experience, because those experiences that you’re reading, they’re fictitious, they’re paid for, they’re not real.

JC: Well, we look forward to seeing the progress of that tech for sure.

Curtis: Cool.

JC: What’s the best piece of business advice you were ever given that you could share with the audience? Maybe it’s advice you didn’t take, who knows. I know some of the best advice I was ever given I didn’t take and now I have to give that advice saying, please take it.

Curtis: One of the best pieces of advice I ever got business-wise was from my stepdad, and he ran an air conditioning company. And what he said is to focus on your existing customers before you go out and try and get new business. Listen to your customers, get their feedback, spend time with them, get to know them, and make sure you serve them really well before you go out and then bring in a hundred more customers, because if you don’t have your process right, if you’re not able to really serve them well, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re going to bring on those hundred customers and piss them off.

Curtis: So my recommendation would be to really, really make sure you’re focused on… Like, if you had to say your bandwidth is only from zero to 100%, make sure you spend most of your time serving your customers versus getting new customers until you’ve made sure they’re reasonably taken care of. That’s my advice.

JC: I agree with you. In fact, there’s a required reading at my agency, is a book called, Never Lose Another Customer or it’s something like Never Lose Another Customer or Never Lose a Customer Again. It’s one of those two. I’ll find the author for you and I’ll send it to you. But it’s required reading at my company. I’ve read it before. It’s just I read it so long ago. And essentially it talks exactly what you’re talking about.

JC: It’s about kind of that first hundred days of the relationship after the sale, so that you can really cement that and really engrain and get rid of any kind of buyer’s remorse, help with referrals, things like that, to really make sure that you’re… and testimonials, all that things and all the things that you… Those are the reactions to the things that you do for them, customer service-wise, quality-wise, attention-wise, communication-wise. Great book. So I think, yes, Never Lose Another Customer. Fantastic book. You should check that one out. I highly recommend it to what you’re talking about. And of course, anyone listening, check that one out.

JC: So how can people reach you or if they want to reach out to you directly, possibly, or the company, tell us about the website, maybe any information that you feel like giving the audience.

Curtis: Sure. You’re welcome to reach out to me directly if you’d like. It’s Curtis@objection.co. Our website is Objection.Co. Objection Co. So yeah, you guys are welcome to reach out if you have any questions or want us to take a look at reviews, we do provide free audits. We’ll scan businesses, all their listings and let them know which ones are removable. If you want to DIY it yourself, knock yourself out. If you want to hire a professional or that uses software and has a team, basically your review dispute department, sometimes we like to call ourselves, if you want that department on your side, we’d be happy to serve you.

JC: That’s awesome. Curtis, thanks so much for coming on the show, man. I love your software. I love what it does. And I’m really, really excited to see what you’re coming up with here. Especially those two new features you have coming out, and getting your feet wet in the technology to try to vet out the fake reviews too. I think that’s going to be a really big help to the industry and even the platforms, who knows. If you can crack that code, those platforms would do some big deals with you to scrape their entire database. It could be a big deal for you, man. I’m really encouraged by that.

Curtis: Thank you. Thank you so much.

JC: All right. Thanks.

Curtis: Yeah, I appreciate that.

JC: Talk to you soon, Curtis.

Curtis: Yep. Buh-bye.

infinityadminEpi 21: Protecting Your Business’s Reputation Online – Curtis Boyd, CEO of Objection.Co