The most recent addition to our portfolio is zenloop, a Berlin-based experience management (XM) platform that just closed their latest € 6.1 million funding round, led by signals VC. Thanks for making us part of your journey, zenloop!
I’ll be sharing some insights on why customer centricity matters to us as investors, but also my personal interest and experience with putting customers and their feedback first in order to grow a business. Achieving true customer centricity is much harder than it looks — it’s not simply replying to a customer complaint or monitoring Twitter. To find out how I learned this lesson myself and what packing gifts in a distribution center in Delaware has got to do with it, read on.
Ever since Amazon redefined the global standards for customer satisfaction, companies have realized that in a digitized world customer centricity is key. Amazon blazed the trail that everyone else is simply trying to hitch their wagon to. Countless methods have been invented to measure and track customer satisfaction, with an endless supply of customer care staff doing their best every day to make sure the clients’ needs are taken care of. There are a host of different tools designed to facilitate customer care on the market, catering to modern firms that all follow a customer-first approach. But here is the thing: Achieving true customer centricity is challenging. It might seem trivial, but implementing and maintaining a consequent customer-first attitude is a never-ending endeavour — and it takes more than just adding any digital tool. The good news is, though: A good tool can make all the difference when in the right hands.
Amazoned: Learnings from the earth’s most customer-centric company
A good 20 years ago, I was one of Amazon Germany’s first employees. Amazon Germany originated in 1998 through the integration of an online book shop which had been operating since 1995 — at that time a digital pioneer. It has never ceased to inspire me how consistently Amazon has been implementing their core mission from the very beginning: to become the earth’s most customer-centric company. As an employee, I learned that lesson quickly: Once during the Christmas season, Amazon flew us from Munich to their distribution center in Wilmington, Delaware, to gift wrap presents for two weeks — because that was what the customer needed then, not a product manager sitting at his desk. Another time, they sent us to a call center for a while to get a real feel for the customers’ problems. Every manager, up to the C-level ranks, underwent this same procedure from time to time. Instead of only talking the talk, everybody at Amazon had to walk the walk as well. Since then, I believe that first-hand experience is priceless, if companies want to embody and maintain true customer-centricity.
zenloop — customer centricity for the rest of us
In the early 2000s, there was no way to constantly measure how customers were feeling and reacting to a product. With almost no competition, Amazon could excel on sheer will by putting the customer front and center. Come 2020, competition is fierce, price is not a good differentiator anymore and your competitor is still only a mouse click away. To outperform in online and multichannel environments alike, companies need to know the sentiment of their customers in every moment: What did they like? What went wrong? It is not enough to measure this at singular touchpoints — the whole customer journey has to be monitored holistically, but nonetheless managed touchpoint by touchpoint. zenloop offers an integrated customer experience management tool which allows its clients to measure customer feedback on a most granular level in real time. Additionally, zenloop integrates with their clients’ full software stack seamlessly. Think of it like the central nervous system for large enterprises that collects customer feedback and translates it into actionable steps for improvement.
Product-wise, three aspects make zenloop stand out: Firstly, their platform is extremely flexible. Secondly, the excellent, easy API integration into existing systems. And thirdly, the possibility for automation that saves time when reacting to feedback and implementing actions.
Although there are many well-established incumbents out there, most of them lack true interoperatibility across the whole enterprise. During our extensive Due Diligence, zenloop convinced us that their outstanding technology has what it takes to rejuvenate an industry dominated by siloed software and isolated solutions addressing only part of the problem.
Last but not least, Björn Kolbmüller, Paul Schwarzenholz, and Lukasz Lazewski are a stellar founding team. Björn and Paul have experienced the challenges of customer centricity first-hand with their previous company, Flaconi. Using the condensed learnings that led to Flaconi becoming the leading German perfume and beauty e-commerce startup, they launched zenloop and signed leading multinational corporations such as Deichmann, Tom Tailor, ATU, Globetrotter and Penta as customers. zenloop is remarkably authentic in their mission because the team is trying as hard as they can to make possible what all their clients want to achieve: a laser-sharp and constant customer focus. And for such an attitude to become deeply rooted in an organization, it must not only be embodied by the people at the top, but also be documented and followed through in even the smallest interaction.
How this investment fits into the signals VC strategy
signals Venture Capital is an early-stage, industry-agnostic B2B investor. We believe in businesses that want to fundamentally change the way in which enterprises interact with their clients and that excel in helping them redefine their businesses. Finding novel ways to gather and use enterprise data is a core aspect for companies in their transformation to the intelligent enterprise of the future. Needless to say that an investment in zenloop aligns with the core of our mission. We are excited to support this team on their journey to fundamentally transform the status quo of customer experience management.
If you are a founder in EnterpriseTech with a compelling product, I’d love to hear from you!