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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2017

Keep your finger on the pulse of your customers: Benchmark Intelligence

thesiliconreview-eric-santos-ceo-co-founder-benchmark-intelligence-2017The world is changing; it’s becoming exponentially more difficult to run a brick & mortar chain. With online shopping stores delivering products straight to customer’s doors, customers now have options versus going to traditional brick & mortar stores. Even groceries and food can be delivered to customer’s door instead of going to traditional brick & mortar restaurants. The one thing that brick & mortar chains can provide that an online store can’t, is an exceptional customer experience.

Currently, the industry standards for collecting feedback at the location level are those surveys we see printed on the bottom of receipts. These surveys are long, boring and yield terrible response rates. When chains are only collecting limited data points, they aren’t able to accurately gauge the customer experience of their locations or make operational decisions with real data behind them. Many retail chains are suffering from data problems in general.

To cope with this real time issue, in 2015, Eric Santos, Ken Koontz and Brandon Reid founded Benchmark Intelligence. Benchmark Intelligence is a SaaS that helps restaurant & retail chains to measure and improve the customer experience of their locations. It collect location-based data from various channels including SMS customer comments, field visits, social listening and more, and also analyzes this data to understand why certain locations perform better than others. Benchmark Intelligence’s has an SMS customer comments product; it collects customer feedback via text messaging with a little help from Artificial Intelligence. Now, clients hear from 5x - 10x more customers each month and see a reduction in negative reviews by up to 40%.

How this amazing software suit works

Benchmark Intelligence sets up each location in a chain with a unique SMS line. It can be displayed inside a location through signage which asks customers to “How was your experience? Send in a text to (555) 555-5555”. The customer will send a text with their feedback on the food or the service. The customer will then receive an automated text back based on keywords or sentiments. From there the clients can have a real-time conversation with the customers through the app. Although SMS customer comment is the flagship product; it collects location based data from a variety of different channels. The field survey tool allows chains to digitize their paper field audits into a digital survey so that their reps can now administer their field audits on their mobile device or tablet.

Benchmark Intelligence has a customer experience data warehouse where all the data is stored under one room. It utilizes IBM Watson’s Cognitive Computing to help analyze the data and find trends and themes at the location level as well as at the brand level. It also provides actionable insights that one can use to improve the customer experience of under-performing stores.

Helping retail chains in improving experience

Benchmark works for any multi-unit chain which has brick & mortar locations where customers come to purchase a product or a service. Chains like Restaurant, retail, banking and automotive dealerships are the key verticals focus of Benchmark right now. All companies in those verticals are looking for ways to improve the customer experience of their stores and Benchmark can help them with that. It allows chains to have real-time conversations with their customers. 75% of customers who text in feedback does it within 10 minutes of being at the store, therefore you can text them back right away. Benchmark helps retail chains to collect customer feedback from missed customers and eventually uses its tool to bring them back in.

Benchmark Intelligence has been so popular because of its ease of use to collect feedback from the end customer. Instead of chains having to offer two free tacos for their customers to take a 10 minute survey, the customers can send in feedback in just 20 seconds.

The organization has raised $500k in pre-seed funding about a year ago. Benchmark have been able to grow revenue 500% since then and currently raising a $1M seed round to help double the team. Earlier this year Benchmark was recently listed as a 2017 top 10 analytics provider by Industry Leading publication RETAIL CIO.

Future Milestones of Benchmark Intelligence

Benchmark Intelligence has recently started building custom chatbots using our SMS technology. They’ve had customers before who have been using their product to supplement their call centers and allow their customers to text in their questions or comments. Working with some of the key customers like MANN + HUMMEL, Benchmark has been able to build AI that can answer the customers’ questions and comments with no human interaction.

One of the main benefits of Benchmark’s product is something called the Benchmark score, which is a 0-100 score that it assigns each location in a chain that measures the performance of that location. The score is holistic in nature and doesn’t just look at one data point but many such as customer comments, surveys, field audits, secret shops, social data and more. The organization truly believes that the Benchmark Score will become the industry standard of how multi-unit chains measure the performance of their locations.

Knowing the personality behind Benchmark Intelligence

Eric Santos is the CEO, and co-founder of Benchmark Intelligence. His responsibilities include managing sales, recruiting talent, fundraising, and maintaining the vision of the company. Eric previously worked at Decipher for 4 years and held various positions including project management, sales and account management. He has worked with global brands such as eBay, PayPal, EA, and LinkedIn. His experience also entails selling into and managing SaaS subscriptions for fortune 500 companies.

Eric studied entrepreneurship in California State University, Fresno. Eric began his first startup, Soshowise, in college, won money from PayPal, @HapiHack, raised a seed round, built a phenomenal team, and launched Benchmark Intelligence.

“Surveys on receipts don’t work. Get up to 5x the amount of customer feedback by using Benchmark Intelligence.”