The Stevie Awards Blog

Last Chance to Enter 2020 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service is January 9

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 @ 01:12 PM

Top Sales Awards and Customer Service Awards Winners to Be Recognized in Las Vegas

SASCS2019_newsletter_12-19-2019

The final entry deadline is rapidly approaching for the 14th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service on January 9, 2020. These are the world’s premier awards for sales and customer service professionals, teams, and organizations.

Entry kits and complete details on the competition are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

Review the Entry Kit Here

After all nominations have been submitted, finalists will be notified on January 15 and winners will be announced at a gala awards banquet at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 28.

Eligible nominees include departments, teams, and professionals from around the world who work in customer service, contact center, business development, and sales. New products and services and solution providers used by those professionals are also eligible. The 2020 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2018.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 150 sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, new product awards, and solution provider awards categories. Entrants may submit any number of nominations to any number of categories.

New this year, nominees may submit a video of up to five minutes in length instead of the 650-word essay describing their achievements since July 1, 2018.

New categories for 2020 include Customer Service Training Professional of the Year, Customer Service Training Team of the Year – External, Customer Service Training Team of the Year – Internal, Best Customer Engagement Initiative, Customer Service Training or Coaching Program of the Year, Sales Enablement Program of the Year, Sales Incentive Program of the Year, and White Paper or Research Paper of the Year.

2020 will see the return of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service, a popular feature of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in which the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service, from among all finalist nominations in the Customer Service Department of the Year categories.

Winners of the 2019 edition of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service included Allstate, American Airlines, Birevim, Cvent, DP DHL, Deliveroo, Dubai Police, HomeServe USA, IBM, iHeartMedia, Inc., Michael Kors, Oi, Salary.com, Sales Partnerships, Inc., SolarWinds, Texas Instruments, VIZIO, Zappos, and more.

The 2020 competition will be judged by more than 150 professionals around the world.

Topics: stevie awards for sales and customer service, The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, 2020 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

HCL Technologies to Sponsor Stevie® Award for Leadership in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 @ 11:01 AM

Nominations for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 9 at StevieAwards.com/Sales. Late fees will apply for nominations, but no entry fees or late fees will apply for nominations to a new category to recognize leadership in transforming consumer engagement models, sponsored by HCL Technologies.

The Leader in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models category will recognize outstanding examples of individual leadership and innovation in the field since July 1, 2018. As in all other categories in the competition, nominees may submit a written essay or case study of up to 650 words describing their ethical sales practices and achievements or a video of up to five minutes in length, illustrating the same.

Only those with a promotion code supplied by HCL Technologies may submit nominations to the category. To inquire about getting the promotion code, email mohit_si@hcl.com.

HCL_logo_resizedHCL Technologies is a next-generation global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Their technology products, services, and engineering are built on four decades of innovation, with a world-renowned management philosophy, a strong culture of invention and risk-taking, and a relentless focus on customer relationships.

HCL Technologies is a long-time sponsor of two other Stevie Awards programs, The American Business Awards® and the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, but this is only the second time that the firm will sponsor the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards, is looking forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award. “We are gratified that HCL Technologies has decided to use this Stevie Awards platform to recognize those individual executives who excel in using technology to transform how organizations delight their customers.”

Finalists in this and all other categories, based on the ratings of more than 150 professionals around the world in the judging process, will be announced on January 16. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the finalists will be revealed at a gala event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Friday, February 28.

The final entry deadline for the awards is January 9.  GET YOUR ENTRY KIT NOW!

Request the entry kit

Topics: customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, HCL

HCL Technologies to Sponsor Award for Leadership in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 10:18 AM

Nominations for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 9 at StevieAwards.com/Sales. Late fees will apply for nominations, but no entry fees or late fees will apply for nominations to a new category to recognize leadership in transforming consumer engagement models, sponsored by HCL Technologies.

HCL_logo_resizedThe Leader in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models category will recognize outstanding examples of individual leadership and innovation in the field since July 1, 2018. As in all other categories in the competition, nominees may submit a written essay or case study of up to 650 words describing their ethical sales practices and achievements or a video of up to five minutes in length, illustrating the same.

Only those with a promotion code supplied by HCL Technologies may submit nominations to the category.  To inquire about getting the promotion code, email mohit_si@hcl.com.

HCL Technologies is a next-generation global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Their technology products, services, and engineering are built on four decades of innovation, with a world-renowned management philosophy, a strong culture of invention and risk-taking, and a relentless focus on customer relationships. 

HCL Technologies is a long-time sponsor of two other Stevie Awards programs, The American Business Awards® and the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, but this is only the second time that the firm will sponsor the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards, is looking forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award. “We are gratified that HCL Technologies has decided to use this Stevie Awards platform to recognize those individual executives who excel in using technology to transform how organizations delight their customers.”

Finalists in this and all other categories, based on the ratings of more than 150 professionals around the world in the judging process, will be announced on January 16. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the finalists will be revealed at a gala event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Friday, February 28.

The final entry deadline for the awards is January 9.

Request the entry kit

Topics: customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

Entry Deadline for 14th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service Approaching

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Top Sales Awards and Customer Service Awards Deadline November 13

The Stevie Awards, organizer of the world’s premier business awards programs, is accepting entries for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Entry kits and complete details on the competition are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

SASCS2020_entry deadline

All customer service, contact center, business development and sales departments, teams and professionals worldwide are eligible to be nominated, in addition to new products and services and solution providers used by those professionals. The 2020 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2018.

The entry deadline is November 13, but late entries will be accepted through January 10, 2019 with payment of a late fee. Finalists will be announced in mid-January, and the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements revealed during a gala awards banquet on February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Interested in entering the 2020 Stevie Award for Sales & Customer Service?

Request the entry kit

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 150 sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, new product awards and solution provider awards categories. Entrants may submit any number of nominations to any number of categories.

New categories for the 2020 competition include Sales Enablement Program of the Year, Sales Incentive Program of the Year, White Paper or Research Report of the Year, Customer Service Training Professional of the Year, Customer Service Training Team of the Year – External or Internal, Best Customer Engagement Initiative, and Customer Service Training or Coaching Program of the Year.

2020 will see the return of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service, a popular feature of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in which the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service, from among all finalist nominations in the Customer Service Department of the Year categories.

Winners of the 2019 edition of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service included 1-800-Flowers.com, Bank of America, Birevim, BNY Mellon's Albridge, ClassicCars.com, Comcast, Dell Technologies, GoDaddy, HomeServe USA, SolarWinds, Southwest Airlines, Vivint Solar, VIZIO, Inc., and Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions.

The 2020 competition will be judged by more than 150 professionals around the world.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Values Decide Sales Success, Not Knowledge

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Sep 11, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Many studies show that sales success is not predicated on arming salespeople with product knowledge and basic selling skills; it’s based, instead, on the salesperson’s values, beliefs, and attitudes.

That’s what Stevie-winner Integrity Solutions, a highly sought-after sales training company, believes.

Integrity Solutions_2

Ron Willingham founded the company, which develops sales and customer service teams, in 1968.  He asserts that “selling success is more an issue of who you are than what you know. While knowledge is necessary, sustained success comes to the person who’s driven by strong values and ethics.”

He spent decades creating and improving a unique learning process that translates knowledge and skills into real-world behaviors.

Embrace Your Team

Integrity Solutions_logoIntegrity Solutions was at the forefront of the customer needs–focused selling philosophy, which was radical at the time.

If you’re interested in creating customer-centric, value-driven leaders and sales teams, Integrity Solutions offers the perfect example of how changing leadership habits and cultural values can drive success in your organization.

“This is a critical yet often overlooked differentiator for organizations,” says Will Milano, vice president of marketing at Integrity Solutions. “We believe that transitioning your sales culture to create greater transparency and working overtly in the customers' interests are no longer options; they’re mandatory.”

Integrity Solutions sees embracing sales coaching as the number one driver that allows sales leaders to reach the best results. A critical component, however, is effectively equipping the sales organization.

This involves ensuring you have the necessary skills and mind-set to meet aggressive growth goals. Managers need to coach and empower their people with product trainings and materials that are aligned with the sales messaging.

“Successful sales training is not simply a one-time 'event’, but a behavior change process that requires the involvement and sponsorship of senior leadership,” says Milano. “Ongoing reinforcement, sales manager coaching, and a focus on unlocking people's beliefs and attitudes about themselves are also integral.”

What Does Your Philosophy Say About Your Team?

Lots of seminars today sing the praises of ethics, values, and integrity in business, but those gems of wisdom don’t always translate into actual workplace success.

Integrity Solutions operates according to their core values. If you’re interested in developing your team’s selling skills, compare your values with the following:

  • Integrity: acting ethically at all times
  • Accountability: taking proactive responsibility for results
  • Excellence: performing at the highest level
  • Abundance: sharing the wealth of opportunity with others
  • Innovation: seeking new and better solutions to problems
  • Customer focus: keeping the customer at the center of the business

For Integrity Solutions, these guidelines have led to the development of first-in-class innovations, such as Integrity Selling®, Integrity Service, Integrity Coaching, and many others. Each solution is designed to impact not only skills but also attitudes, values, and achievement drive.

Do you agree? If sales success is largely based on the salesperson’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and motivation, as the track record of Integrity Solutions demonstrates, isn’t it worth asking if your team would benefit from these methods?

“While the sales training industry has been relatively flat for several years, Integrity Solutions has grown almost 37 percent over the past two years.”

Feel free to learn more about their services and methods to compare your organization’s strategies.

Integrity Solutions recently won two Stevie® Awards: a Silver for Sales Consulting Practice of the Year and a Bronze for Sales Training Practice of the Year, both in the category of Solution Provider, at the 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in Las Vegas.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, stevie awards for sales and customer service, sales training

Real Estate Offers within One Day? Tech-Oriented Firms Hope to Upend the Home-Selling Process

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 @ 09:12 PM

For a lot of consumers, owning a home is the ultimate symbol of freedom, affording you the opportunity to customize to your heart’s content.

When it’s time to sell, though, real estate ownership can start to feel like the exact opposite of freedom. Suddenly, many find themselves preparing for countless showings while waiting for offers and potentially making last-minute renovations to lure buyers.

Offerpad is among a crop of U.S. companies trying to fundamentally change that process. The firm, which is based in Chandler, Arizona, USA, allows home sellers to upload information about their properties, including optional photos. Home sellers then get their purchase offers within 24 hours. The company bases its pricing on a custom algorithm, which compares the home against similar properties that recently changed hands in the area.

offerpad (2)

After the customer signs the necessary documents online and Offerpad conducts a home inspection, the seller is ready to set a closing date. According to the company, it can close in as little as 10 days or as many as 90 days. Clients don’t have to worry about showings or open houses, and they don’t have to make any headache-inducing concessions to buyers.

“Traditionally, selling or buying real estate is wrapped up in so much hassle that people often avoid it altogether,” says Offerpad spokesperson David Stephan. “By making it easy, Offerpad hopes to eliminate the stress from people’s milestone moves.”

Support from Venture Capital

Offerpad, which real estate veterans Brian Bair and Jerry Coleman started in 2015, is part of a growing group of companies trying to use technology to reshape the market. So-called “iBuyers,” such as Opendoor and Zillow, are using proprietary pricing algorithms to purchase and to resell homes, and the national brokerage firm Keller Williams is set to launch its own home-buying operative in May.

In the case of Offerpad, Stephan says the company is trying to appeal to people who are disillusioned with the more conventional home-selling approach.

“Real estate doesn’t need to be the frustrating, messy ordeal it’s been for decades,” says Stephan. “With our service, home sellers and buyers now have the better option of closing and moving at their convenience, without the hassle.”

Unlike older companies that paid cut-rate prices for mostly dilapidated housing, iBuyers serve a more mainstream client base. There is a flip side to the convenience they offer their customers, though. With Offerpad, for example, home sellers pay a service fee between 6 and 10 percent, which is higher than what traditional agents charge. However, once the home is sold, the company pays for any concessions to the buyer, as well as maintenance and other associated fees.

To date, iBuyers represent a small part of the residential real estate industry. Opendoor purchased just over 11,000 homes in 2018, and MarketWatch estimates Offerpad bought roughly 3,600 properties last year. The firm hasn’t officially confirmed that number, but whatever the actual amount, it could soar soon, especially with an influx of cash from venture capital and other funding sources. As of March, Offerpad, which garnered five Stevie® Awards this year for customer service and sales, brought in a staggering $975 million in equity and debt financing. The company doubled its home purchases in each of the past two years and is looking to expand on the 12 cities it currently serves.

For Stephan, the sky’s the limit when it comes to algorithm-based home purchasing.

“The world of real estate is rapidly changing,” he says. “Offerpad is at the forefront of its transformation, defining the modern approach to buying and selling a home. In the future, we’ll likely see this approach adapted in markets throughout the world.”

Topics: tech awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, real estate awards

Take Care of Your Payment Blues with BluePay

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 @ 10:31 AM

The payment environment is becoming more diverse as many vendors are able to offer different methods for payment solutions. BluePay, a provider of technology-enabled payment processing for merchants and suppliers of any size, offers fast and secure payment processing solutions to fit every business’s needs. The leading single-source payment technology from BluePay has been helping businesses for over 15 years by streamlining functions, reducing operating costs, and increasing revenue. This is why they’ve won the Gold Stevie in the Best Product or Service of the Year category, a Silver Stevie for Company of the Year, and a Bronze Stevie in the Customer Service Team of the Year category.

Pleasant Paying

Being a payments technology company means staying ahead of the curve by developing solutions for new ways to pay like Apple Pay, PayPal, and wearable technology to purchase goods and services with ease. Jennifer Seebock, Marketing Coordinator at BluePay, says their merchants grow their businesses by offering the services they need to attract new customers.

"Through point-of-sale, online, mobile, and software integration, we proudly serve over 47,000 merchants and process $14 billion in transactions annually.” BluePay is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, with offices in Chicago, Maryland, New York, and Toronto.

bluepay

Recognition

Receiving payments online can be risky business as technology advances and electronic theft becomes more complex. Seebock relays why BluePay takes this seriously and considers winning awards as a way to celebrate hard work and genuine innovation.

"Winning Stevie Awards benefits our entire organization and provides opportunities to tell the world BluePay is a great company and offers leading products and services."

She goes on to say prospects are more inclined to choose their company for payment processing knowing they are recipients of such prestigious awards. The awards provide a sense of confidence for their merchants, partners, and financial institutions.  They also increase brand awareness.

"We have a goal to increase our brand awareness through award recognition, and the Stevies were on top of our list."

Charitable Culture

BluePay believes one of their differentiators is their company culture. They recently raised funds for U.S. servicemen and women through the Wounded Warrior Project. The president of the Canadian division is doing the Race Across America (RAM) with Team True Patriot Love to raise funds for the Canadian Armed Forces. Seebock details how they donate time and efforts to important causes.

"We recently implemented a program for charitable time off and corporate donation matching to encourage our team to give more to their communities. For over eight years, we have contributed a percentage of our profits to the Chicagoland Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and have "pink" parties in October."

Frictionless Service

BluePay also engages in fun activities like Blackhawks games, Bulls games, golf outings, summer picnics, and off-site meetings to encourage creativity. With a common goal to be the leader in payments technology, all their teams work closely with "Voice of the Customer" surveys and formulate teams to address concerns or bridge the gaps in their processes to make working with BluePay frictionless.

"We’re proud to have a high-performing workforce delivering outstanding services and solutions."

_________________________________________________________________

Interested in winning a Stevie Award for Best New Product or Service? Or maybe for Customer Service?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: customer service awards, new product awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

A Fresh Approach to Workplace Communications

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, May 21, 2019 @ 01:06 PM

For many employees in the corporate world, checking email is the most time-consuming activity of each workday. Despite this, innovation in email has been, arguably, lacking as compared to other forms of productivity software.

That’s where the app Front comes into the picture. The company offers a tool that lets workers combine their multitude of communication platforms, from internal messaging to email, into a single interface.

“By working on the most critical tool people use to get work done, we felt we could improve things on a large scale,” says Front spokeswoman Heather MacKinnon.

front app pic

The firm, which is based in San Francisco, California, United States, believes it can help users save time by allowing them to access multiple communication channels—including social, SMS, chat, and calls—in a single app. Want quick feedback from your coworkers? By using mentions and comments instead of email, you can reach teammates instantly.

“There are very few knowledge workers who only communicate internally,” MacKinnon says. “From customers to partners, candidates to vendors, external parties have significant sway over what we work on and when.

“Yet these communications today, which largely take place via email, remain in a silo. They’re cut off from the rest of your team, as well as the other tools you use to do your job,” she says. “It’s part of the reason why email is the universal communication tool for work that is also universally hated.”

While apps geared toward internal communication are getting some buzz—the increasingly popular Slack is a prominent example—MacKinnon notes that workers largely rely on tools that have been around for a long time when they want to reach people outside their companies.

“Email hasn’t been significantly updated since Gmail introduced threading in 2004,” she adds. “Despite being the universal communication tool for work, email has only been incrementally improved over the last 15 years and has never been re-architected for the way people work as a team. Front is changing that.”

One of the ways the company is trying to revolutionize communication is by integrating other data sources, whether it’s CRM tools, such as Salesforce, or project management software, such as Asana and Trello.

All-Hands Approach to Customer Service

The roots of Front go back to Paris, France, where founders Mathilde Collin and Laurent Perrin started the business in 2013. The following year, the start-up made its way into Silicon Valley’s famed Y Combinator.

Packed into a home in the Bay Area of California, United States, the initial team of five employees lived and breathed the product for several months. It was a grueling experience, but one the company’s leadership still views as an integral part of the company’s development. The accelerator not only tested the company’s concept but exposed it to business prospects it wouldn’t have otherwise had. In just six months, Front amassed a staggering 3,000 beta testers.

This momentum hasn’t slowed. In 2016, the company was able to secure $10 million from its initial round of funding, and two years later, it gained $66 million of investments from a team led by Sequoia Capital.

Today, more than 5,000 businesses around the world use Front. MacKinnon suggests it’s not just the features of the app attracting those clients. The company also focuses on providing superior customer support in order to ensure users get the most out of their experiences.

Naturally they’re using their own tool to help do that. The team, now more than 100 strong, has shared inboxes in Front for its customer surveys, feedback emails, and support inquiries. All staff members have access to the inboxes, so they’re able to keep apprised of how users feel about the product.

MacKinnon says the company, which was recently named a StevieⓇ Awards winner for Customer Service Department of the Year, also emphasizes a “low-ego” ethos, which encourages workers to keep striving toward excellence. During its regular all-hands meeting, for example, staffers are encouraged to share their “Stumbles of the Week.”

“By encouraging employees of all levels—even our CEO and other leaders—to openly discuss their mistakes, we create a culture of humility and continuous improvement,” says MacKinnon.

Topics: customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, entrepreneur awards, entrepreneur of the year

Use Fun Surveys to Gather Valuable Customer Feedback

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 12:21 PM

We all get them from time to time: emails from places we’ve shopped promising “quick” surveys in order to assess the buying experience. Most customers, however, soon learn the process is rarely as swift as advertised.

While it’s not hard to see why response rates to these survey requests tend to be abysmally low—often less than 10 percent of consumers to whom they’re sent respond—British entrepreneur Lindsay Willott is trying hard to increase that number.

Her solution is an email survey individuals can complete with just a single click. Rather than making customers navigate a series of questions about various aspects of the business encounter, she’s selling clients on the idea that simple is better.

customer thermometer

When consumers get a survey from her eight-year-old company, Customer Thermometer, they have just four options: gold (very satisfied), green (happy), yellow (mildly concerned), or red (dissatisfied).

Because of the survey’s concise nature, clients can choose any number of delivery options, including emailing the survey to subscribers or embedding the quick poll into their help desks or marketing automation apps. Companies can even place them into the email signatures of their employees, allowing businesses to track how each team member is performing.

A New Level of Response

Prior to launching Customer Thermometer, which is based in Oxford, England, United Kingdom, Willott ran a marketing agency that sent out annual customer satisfaction surveys. She says the firm never had an effective way to link that feedback to a specific customer experience, which limited the value of the response.

“Customers were leaving without warning and often for reasons that could have been fixed, had we known about them in advance,” she says.

Willott came to the realization that a dramatically stripped-down approach to surveys was not only a lot quicker but had the potential for much better response rates. Nine months pregnant with her son, she sold the agency in 2010 and began working on her new customer feedback venture.

It was a bold move—and not simply because she soon had a baby to care for. For one, Willott admits she did not have much in the way of technical experience, a significant hurdle for any software-based business. After extensive research and planning, she partnered with local developers to get her idea off the ground. Four months later, the app was ready for launch.

“Early on, we focused on the UK market. We signed up a few customers, including [the telecom firm] BT Group, which was our chance to really understand how people wanted to use the product,” says Willott.

Eventually, several foreign companies heard about the service and signed on.

“It wasn’t until four years ago we really realized the potential of the overseas market and made a concerted effort to grow our international business,” she says.

Customer Thermometer managed to amass a litany of big-name enterprises to its client list, including Dollar Shave Club, Sonos, and the job-searching website Indeed.com. In total, the company now has nearly 2,000 customers in more than 60 countries.

Companies aren’t left with troves of data for analysis, but they do get a sense of what their customers’ overall experiences are like. Some of Willott’s clients now enjoy survey response rates of 80 percent or higher—a number that is far beyond the norm in the marketing research field.

“Our vision is to create surveys that customers actually love responding to because they use such a light touch and are fun,” says Willott.

It’s not just about having a sound idea, though. Willott says her small team of eight employees also makes sure customers get a high level of service to ensure positive relationships. Recently, Willott and her team became finalists for Customer Service Department of the Year in the Computer Software category at the upcoming 13th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Interested in entering the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service?

Request the entry kit

“Our core values are caring about each other, accountability, and a genuine belief that amazing customer service feels like magic,” the executive adds.

Topics: customer service awards, new product awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

One Canadian Firm Believes the Right Software Can Help Governments Become Smarter Shoppers

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 @ 10:49 AM

MTC, the transit planning entity for the area around San Francisco, California, United States, is responsible for ensuring residents of the bustling California community get to work and back home again efficiently. Until recently, though, “efficient” wasn’t exactly the way to describe the agency’s process for managing vendors.

All submissions were still done on paper, making it hard for the MTC staff to score and to aggregate proposals in a timely manner. As a result, it took around two to three months to complete a typical request for proposal (RFP).

That all changed when the commission turned to the Canadian software firm Bonfire Interactive, which was founded in 2012 and specializes in streamlining the procurement process for public sector clients. By converting its antiquated process to Bonfire, MTC was able to reduce the RFP time to around thirty days while improving its reporting capabilities.

bonfire

MTC certainly isn’t the only public entity hampered by wasteful and inefficient internal processes, but the roughly ninety-employee team at Bonfire is trying to turn that around.

To hear the management team at Bonfire talk about it, the company’s mission isn’t merely about gaining market share but doing good for society in the process.

“The people behind Bonfire aren't just building purchasing software solutions; they're enabling organizations to turn the purchasing function into a powerful lever that can improve the world,” says Meghan Hennessey, the company’s marketing communications manager.

Ultimately, she believes, when public entities get more out of every dollar they spend, the public is better served.

“Increased fiscal efficiency means patients in hospitals can benefit from better equipment and receive better care. Municipal citizens can experience safer means of transportation, and schools can have proper resources for a more enriched learning landscape,” says Hennessey.

There Must Be a Better Way

Born out of an incubator in Silicon Valley, a region in San Francisco, California, United States, Bonfire, which is based in southwest Ontario, Canada, has developed an impressive client list that includes the Chicago Board of Education, the University of Massachusetts, and the city of Dallas, Texas, United States. In the process, its revenue has grown an impressive 225 percent annually.

“Through various experiences in my career, I witnessed the time, energy, and frustration that went into thousands of RFPs,” says Corry Flatt, the cofounder and CEO of Bonfire. “Every time I thought, There must be a better way, it turns out there wasn’t. Eventually, in order to address that problem, Bonfire was born.”

By initially focusing on governments, the company bucked a trend within the tech industry, which often tailors products to private businesses. According to Hennessey, however, that’s why it made sense to move in the other direction.

“There’s an entire blue ocean of opportunity when you step away from the commercial sector,” she says.

Through it all, the Bonfire management team emphasizes client satisfaction, helping the company become a Silver Stevie-winner for Customer Service Department of the Year in the Computer Software category at this year’s Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Today, the company’s software as a service (SaaS) solution handles more than $20 billion of procurement activities, and Bonfire expanded its portfolio to include private-sector users, such as the global accounting firm BDO.

In 2018, US-headquartered GTY Technology Holdings purchased Bonfire for $108 million. In an effort to provide a full cadre of services to public-sector organizations, including everything from budgeting and permitting to grants management and procurement, GTY Technology Holdings also acquired five other firms in the government technology field.

“Legally, what’s happening is an acquisition and a merger, but it’s more like they’ve assembled a team of stallions, and they’re letting them all run,” Flatt said in a statement after the deal. “For us, our employees, and our clients, it’s just a really good news story.”

The purchase will ultimately allow the firm to boost its marketing efforts to both public and commercial clients and to develop additional product capabilities, including predictive analytics. It also expects to substantially increase hiring at its offices, which are about a mile west of Toronto, Canada.

For Hennessey, the deal means the ability for organizations to make better use of their financial resources, which she reaffirms is most rewarding part.

“To paraphrase a famous quote, the smartest minds of our generation have spent the last decade figuring out how to get you to click on ads,” she says. “Today, though, that's not good enough. People want their creativity and energy poured into something that matters.”

Topics: best customer service, customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service