Welcome to ‘Interview with an entrepreneur’, a series where we talk to entrepreneurs, industrialists & businessman and delve into their business mind. Today we interview Jeff Fishel who is the Chief Executive Officer of Ark Consultancy Solutions. Ark Consultancy Solutions is a Business Consultancy concentrating on Customer Experience. Enabling Client’s customers to drive service requests using the device of choice today, the Smartphone! Successfully driving up revenue opportunities whilst keeping costs down by innovative use of resources within the organisation.

What does your average workday consist of?

Start my workday at around 7.00am as some of my customers are based in mainland Europe.  I first read my emails and catch up on events which may have happened in the USA overnight.  I meet with my co-directors and discuss any burning issues followed by a very large cup of coffee!  I try and always have a list of important things to do which I attempt to work through during the day, depending on how many other issues arise that is. I spend a lot of time on the telephone/Skype video conference calls.  I much prefer to speak with my customers/prospects rather than mail them as I find email very cold and impersonal.

How do you believe businesses can use effective customer service to combat the effects of the recession?

This is a very good question.  The ‘share of the wallet’ is now an urgent criteria for all retailers and retail banks.  Choice is so large that brand loyalty is fast becoming a thing of the past. A customer can buy the same goods cheaper around the corner, or off the web so one has to ask why go into retailers at all.  The reason is simple really.  It is part of our natural sense and desire to ‘touch and feel’ what we are buying. So customers will make the effort and go shopping – apart from the social aspect of shopping.  So the retailer must make the experience one to remember.  The retailer needs to ensure that the customer feels valued and is greeted and thanked correctly.  It is the little things which stand out, and thereby differentiate one shop from another.  Do this well enough and customers will pay for a better experience ensuring margins are maintained, even on a lower revenue base.

Do you believe that young people who wish to start a business should go through the traditional route of attending university?

No not necessarily.  If a young person creates a need and fulfils this with a product or service at the age of 16 why should they give this up just to go to university to show they have good powers of retention and can remember facts and figures for their exams?  Don’t get me wrong, i firmly believe that university is a valued experience, but nowadays if the opportunity arises to start your own business then grasp it firmly.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting out today?

Research the market and assess the competition is the first piece of advice.  Compare your product/service against this in terms of price, quality and market niche is second.  Finally ensure you have access to finance.

How do you see your industry developing in the next 3-5 years?

I see a greater demand for increased customer satisfaction. The amount of choice is getter larger every day. I also see the need for data analysis to be placed firmly at the centre of customer satisfaction.  Data is what drives the business forward, real time data on customer experience is becoming a ‘must have’ rather than just a simple value-add.  Lastly the use of technology alone is not the answer.  Yes, it may be nice to say you can use your smartphone to do this or that, but people will always want to talk to people.  That’s what makes shopping such a large social activity.