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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2017

Maximizing customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction, and profitability through innovative customer engagement and loyalty products: Exchange Solutions

thesiliconreview-mike-hughes-co-ceo-coo-exchange-solutions-2017Our programs focus on driving customer excitement through individualized offers to drive conversion, average order value, purchase frequency, and category penetration while lowering promotional expense and increasing margin

The retail industry is going through extreme turbulence. Traditional retailers are scrambling to adapt to the shopping preferences of their customers. The rise of e-commerce means that consumers can, and do, easily shop around for better deals, while today’s desire for speed and convenience risks eroding any sense of customer engagement and loyalty. This means marketers need to find ways to both retain their existing customers and attract new ones. Customer engagement is about retailers creating a lasting bond with their customers. Creating that lasting bond through individualized, delightful interactions across all channels is key to delivering the lasting experience customers crave.  Exchange Solutions has invested in three key capabilities to make real time, omni-channel customer engagement a reality. Investing in high response technology, artificial intelligence and compelling customer experience has created a product that is an end-to-end solution for retail marketers.

The company was established in 1996 with the goal of bringing advanced capabilities to interactions between clients and their customers in order to create win-win situations. Its differentiator lies in its strengths in tech and analytics, which are unique in the market for these types of end-to-end solutions. Built on a proprietary platform, Exchange Solutions’ approach is unique and delivers quicker results, better ROI, and deeper customer engagement than traditional programs.

Spread between Boston, MA and Toronto, ON Canada, Exchange Solutions has approximately 110 employees comprising of developers, technical solutions architects, QA experts, product management leaders, experienced analysts, data scientists and a robust account management team of dedicated client solutions experts.

Front and Centre with Mike Hughes, Co-CEO and COO

Brief us about your first retail product. How successful was its launch?

Our first retail-centric product, ES Engage, was launched in 2015. ES Engage is our cloud-based advanced customer engagement solution that delivers robust and comprehensive functionality to drive customer lifetime value at massive scale. We worked with a major Canadian home improvement store to dramatically improve their customer engagement by adding omni-channel engagement, advanced intelligence and compelling customer experience. The new program was easily implemented by the retailer with only a tag and designated banner space.

On what grounds have you expanded the company?

Our core competencies are our 1:1 technology, advanced propensity and machine learning analytics, and compelling customer experience. We base our products, like ES Engage, off of these core features. We have a number of other products within retail and for other segments that leverage these core competencies.

Describe the stumbling blocks experienced during the firm’s initial years.

Our biggest challenge when working with enterprise size retailers is the organizational turbulence. While our solutions are simple to implement, the decision to do so can involve the input of a number of leaders in Marketing and E-commerce, Analytics, and Technology. Moving quickly to engage the key decision makers and influencers was a key learning.

What are the greatest attributes of Exchange Solutions?

  • Employees: Our employees are our single greatest resource. Everyone brings valuable skills and experience to the table, and we value collaboration and teamwork. We thrive on working together to deliver exceptional value to our clients.
  • Culture: We pride ourselves on our entrepreneurial culture, which is driven by a diverse group of employees who are all passionate about what they do.
  • Technology: Our 1:1, real-time technology and proprietary approach are unique in the marketplace – they allow for quick implementation with minimal resources required, while delivering programs completely customized to each client’s brand, user experience and customer economics.
  • Analytics: Our team of analysts and data scientists draw on our vast data sets and utilize propensity and machine learning algorithms in order to continually optimize the programs we run for our clients.
  • Our desire to serve: We have dedicated account management teams that are passionate about client success. We continually optimize our programs to drive the best results possible for our clients.

Discuss the future prospects of Exchange Solutions.

We are excited about two new products in development and we look forward to launching them by end of Q4 2017. We always look optimistically towards the future.  Our ability to be flexible and nimble will allow us to keep responding to the next great advancements in tech and analytics, and continue our trend of upward growth. We are on the cutting edge of using advanced technology and analytics to deliver meaningful, measurable results for our customers.

Panorama of the Persona

Mike Hughes is Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer alongside Bob Jewell, Co-CEO and Chief Revenue Officer. He is responsible for leading the technology, operations, analytics, and administration functions of the company. Hughes is a seasoned executive with a proven track record of success, leading organizations through rapid growth and expansion. As a senior leader, he raised over $800 million in public and private financings, built companies from early stage through large scale growth and managed several highly successful exits. Hughes earned his MBA in Finance from the Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from Bentley University.

“Our platforms uniquely and deeply meet the needs of our customers – we have a laser focus on driving customer lifetime value while reducing marketing spend.”

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