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CX Q&A with Patrick Ferrell

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Patrick Ferrell

Vice President of Business Development and Connected Solutions
WallyLABS LLC

WallyLABS (Wally) boosts the ownership experience of its smart home/commercial products with real-time solutions that cut add-on costs for customers and partners. Patrick Ferrell, Vice President of Business Development and Connected Solutions, explains that, in addition to the company’s superior innovation, their level of service is a key differentiator within the market.

Smart home/commercial sensor technology leader Wally takes a solutions-based philosophy to aftermarket service excellence in the connected homes market. In addition to producing leading products that detect water leaks, humidity, and critical temperature changes, Wallynow offers a Rapid Response advice and repair aftermarket service that is unique in the industry, in addition to a best-practice model for the aftermarket space.

Ferrell believes that having service that extends far beyond diagnosis is a key differentiator for them, and investment in back-end support is critical to making this a reality.

“The Rapid Response program we have is really unique and powerful. When you call them, or they reach out because of an incident alert, they'll walk you through the diagnostic process, and we do that partially because it’s a way we can also gain loyalty,” he says. “Right now, it's influenced by our product management team, and we also have a dedicated person to run our Rapid Response program. This way, if the same issue keeps coming up with a product, then you know that there may be a problem that should be fixed within the product itself. It represents the kind of end-to-end solution that is increasingly required in our connected world.”

While many companies treat the aftermarket as an afterthought, or ignore it altogether, Ferrell says that he and his team are directly inspired by the best aftermarket service they experience as ordinary consumers.

“I just leased a BMW, and their service is unbelievable,” he says. “They are so proactive and focused on giving you a good service experience that I can’t imagine going with another car brand when my lease ends. We learn from these types of situations and want to emulate that level of service with our own offerings.”

Ferrell’s approach at Wally reflects his career emphasis on win-win partnerships, innovation and a deep respect for consumer needs. Many of their partnerships involve top tier commercial companies,  so they receive large amounts of feedback and data that can be used to better meet customers’ needs in the future.

While Ferrell seeks to leverage connected digital technologies to benefit customers, he also sees important marketing and service value in effective call centers and in empathetic human interactions with customers.

“The nice thing about getting a human being is that every situation is a little different, so that human interaction provides an above-and-beyond level of service to the consumer that is unmatched in the smart technology industry,” he says. “Also, a lot of consumers don't necessarily know a lot about the smart technologies, so the simpler we make it for them, the more effective the experience is going to be.”

In addition to taking inspiration from customers and their own consumer experiences, Ferrell’s team is also commendably self-critical in seeking better aftermarket outcomes. He explains that a sample product was recently shipped to an important partner without being properly checked, leading to an installation problem—and an important lesson about product processes and service.

“The partner contacted us to tell us that there was a problem that they tried to fix themselves, but there shouldn't have been a problem in the first place, so that led to us having to back-step a bit,” he says. “We need to be able to spell everything out at the onset so people can try to identify and correct the problem themselves before they have to call us."

Ferrell says an important priority is to raise troubleshooting to the same high level where service response already sits. While he says their service response is excellent, they still have some work to do when it comes to helping customers with troubleshooting.

“I think both have to be in sync because it's necessary for the consumer to first be able to go to your website and the manual that's in their box, and hopefully, they find a solution there,” he says. “But if they can't, then they need to be able to interact with your support team right away.”

While some manufacturers cite skills or mature technologies as primary challenges, Ferrell says the chief obstacles to aftermarket service are cost and awareness.

 “In our world today, the challenge is still in being able to rise above the noise and let people know about your product,” he says. “If people get wind of your product and talk about your great service, then the branding really takes care of itself. But the same is true if I have a really bad experience. Word-of-mouth and posting on social media can really make or break your brand.”

Ferrell sees significant profit and sales benefits from aftermarket service for many industries, but he says Wally sensor products are more about competitive technological advantage and brand.

“If we know that aftermarket service and support differentiate us and become a winning factor for us, then we're going to invest in them,” he says. “We’re doing that right now, every day. That additional level of service not only differentiates us, and delivers peace of mind, but we’re also able to use it to drive sales. If your brand has a great reputation and you back it up with great service, you'll win. By contrast, if you treat your customers poorly, eventually you will lose.”

With respect to the company’s next steps in the aftermarket, Ferrell says Wally is working toward service integration and customer-centric solutions, including IoT-enabled solutions for specific customer and partner groups.

“In the IoT space, peace of mind is a big area for the home, as is aging in place, so we're looking to integrate other products that can give broader peace of mind, as well as provide smart solutions for commercial enterprises,” he says. “That will be a greater area of focus for us in the near future.”