For business leaders negotiating the needs of employees, investors, the press, public and customers, Michael Sinoway feels your pain. And, he wants to help.
At the end of November, Sinoway was tapped by Lehi, Utah-based MaritzCX to serve as CEO, replacing Carine Clark, who had resigned. Previously, Sinoway was CEO of Avatar Solutions, an integrated software as a service company that focuses on patient experience. Avatar, acquired in 2016 by Press Ganey, helped improve the patient experience for healthcare clients using a modern data platform.
Sinoway also had significant experience in research, service and technology. He has led research services for Disney and other market research firms, and deployed customer relationship management technology for Fortune 500 companies at Deloitte Consulting.
After Avatar sold, Sinoway returned to his family farm in "a little tiny town called Barnesville, Georgia, an hour south of Atlanta," he said in an interview with Crain’s Utah. "I was back on the farm for about six months, and then this opportunity came along."
Having been a CEO, Sinoway wasn't lured so much by the title as "purely the excitement of this sector of the marketplace." Whether it's the U.S. Postal Service or a national retailer, helping executives understand their constituencies has captivated his interest.
"I think this is it," Sinoway said. "I think customer experience measurement, and more importantly, application, is the next big thing. We’re seeing it in the wave of startups that are entering the space. We’re seeing it in the adoption, rapid adoption, by various industry sectors. So I wanted to be in this space, and this is the perfect company to join to do that."
With Yelp!, Facebook and Twitter offering so much traffic in the way of customer/user/employee feedback, it would seem all one might have to do is just log on and watch the comments zoom along.
Not so, Sinoway said, noting that "even social (media) is going to be a biased sample" of what a public is thinking.
"This is about ongoing, systematic gathering of data on a continuous basis from a representative sample of the customer base — happy, neutral, negative — and using that information in the company to really understand where you are. It’s not easy," he added. "Not every person’s going to respond to a survey request or a phone survey call. But if you get a statistically valid sample of all those segments through multiple channels of feedback, then you start to get a representative look at your marketplace. And that’s where the market’s going to."
Because MaritzCX traces its roots back 40 years and encompasses a wide range of data collection methods — including what used to be called "mystery shoppers" who go out and measure the customer experience in person — Sinoway saw promise there as well.
"We’re uniquely positioned as a firm to be able to have all those data points that give you a truly holistic perspective of the customer interaction,” he said. “That’s the other thing about MaritzCX that got me excited to join. There are startups in the space that do the online surveys. There are dozens of old-line market research firms who’ll do the phone surveys and the mail surveys. We are the only one right now that truly does the full breadth of services across the entire customer experience."
Measuring that "full breadth" is important to Dennis Bromley, senior vice president, member development & engagement at Mountain America Credit Union in Salt Lake City. The 83-year-old institution has more than $5.6 billion in assets and serves more than 600,000 members in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.
"We use MaritzCX for our member loyalty, member engagement, survey/feedback, voice of customer, [and] voice of employee" data, Bromley said. "They also do some business analytics, suggesting best practices from the feedback we’re getting.
"We’re very satisfied,” Bromley added. “We were one of their first customers, when the company started as Allegiance. … They’ve been a great partner with us, share some of the same ideals that we have, as it relates to building a relationship. It’s been a really good partnership."
Sinoway wants to exponentially grow such partnerships — and he enthusiastically asserts that MaritzCX can do just that.
"I think we’re just wetting our toes in the water about what this space really is," Sinoway said. "The frontier of this industry is using it in marketing and understanding competitive information. … When I talk about it being the next big thing, it’s because of that. It’s going to explode in terms of not just how it’s used or gathered, but how it’s used in companies. So, that gets me really excited. And I think everybody in this industry’s in for an exciting ride over the next decade or so."
He added, "I think everybody will get religion around how this data can be used and applied, so you’ll see a lot of change and repositioning and deals and acquisitions over the next three to five years."