At Beem, we celebrate the customer every single day and on Know Your Customer Day, we try and make it all the more special for all the active working professionals we serve. We’d love to take this moment to thank you and connect with you so we can serve you better. After all, at Beem, we believe in having a lasting relationship with our customers.
Here’s our founder and CEO, Akshay Krishnaiah, sharing his thoughts on the day and answering questions on why customers are the most important part of Beem.
How is Beem celebrating Know Your Customer Day?
Beem is celebrating Know Your Customer Day by contacting its active customers across all channels – email, customer support, phone, social media, thanking them for giving us an opportunity to serve them and learning from them what is working and what is not working for them at Beem. As much as we’d like to “celebrate” Know Your Customer Day, our goal is to learn how we can “know” our customers better and strive to do right by them all the time.
From your experience as an Uber driver, what customer support lessons did you learn that you’ve applied to Beem?
Empathy! You never know what kind of day someone is having, it is absolutely important to take your feelings out of the equation including the day you are having and completely be in the moment without any judgement whatsoever of any kind in the service of your customer. This is the foundation, you are now ready to take on anything and empathize with your user because you are not making any assumptions while willing to accept anything and turn every interaction into one that is comforting and satisfactory to your user. This is how I got to a 4.9/5 rating as an Uber Driver. We are working hard to implement this at Beem, it is not easy because we are trying and believe eventually we will prevail. When people talk about Beem as though it completes them.
“The customer is always right”. What is your take on this statement?
This is more about the spirit of this statement than the statement itself. As a public benefit corporation, we are here to serve our customers and create a positive social impact while doing so. In light of this we are always striving to understand where the customer is coming from when they have a question or concern and diligently working towards doing right by them rather than introspecting if the customer is right or wrong. It does not matter if the customer is right or wrong, what matters is working to understand their situation and addressing their needs when they reach out to us in any way or form.
How does Beem ensure customers get exemplary service?
Exemplary service can be a broad brush stroke and can mean different things for different people. Our goal is to address our customers as best as we can within the confines of our capabilities as a business and always strive to leave them comfortable and satisfied at the end of any interaction – digital or otherwise.
Ultimately we want to reach a point where anyone can reach out to us for anything and we will try to help them as best as we can, even if they accidentally reached out to us with a question unrelated to our product and may be even questions related to our competition, we want to leave them comfortable, satisfied and happy when they are done interacting with us. This is the holy grail of customer service as exemplified by Zappos and Tony Hsieh. I grew up watching and reading about Tony Hsieh bringing Zappos to life, in fact I have myself reached out to Zappos many times to test if the folklore is true and have always left with a smile. We also love Lemonade insurance, SuperHuman email and Nordstrom.
What are some of Beem’s customer-centric programs?
Everything we do at Beem is customer-centric! We are in service of customers, period. Beem does many things to thank our customers for choosing us, here are a few:
- We provide free tickets to our weekly raffle to every new customer that gives them a chance to win up to $100,000 every single week.
- For customers who refer other customers, we provide them with referral bonuses that can add up to $20 per referral over time.
- For being thoughtful and saving for a rainy day, we provide additional raffle tickets. It’s one ticket for every $5 that renews every single week they continue to maintain their savings. Each ticket could win your $100,000 every single week.
In addition to this we continue to add more features to our “Beem Up” to keep our pole position when it comes to Convenience, Choice and Price such as instant disbursement of funds to any debit card, ability to receive their Beem via Gift Cards that they can use at their favorite retailers or receive cash back up to 20% irrespective of which card they use or where they spend their money.
There’s more brewing at Beem, stay tuned for more…
How does Beem incorporate customer feedback into its operations?
We review every single customer interaction, the most pressing ones bubble to the top based on the severity of the problem or sometimes our desire to put the issue to rest no matter what. These get discussed across product, engineering, design, content, customer experience and even finance to see how we can work together to address the feedback we have received. This happens 6 days a week at Beem.
What is Beem’s approach to unhappy customers and negative feedback?
We are a deeply reflective company! What I mean by that is we are always trying to look inwards as to why things are happening the way they are happening and looking to uncover new ways to improve ourselves. So when we get unhappy customers or negative feedback our approach is to see what we can change and how we can turn a corner all the time. We deeply care about every single feedback and try to work on every one of them as much as we can. The entire team and all leaders are aware of customer feedback and customer issues every single day. I myself spend at least 1 hour every single day doing customer support and reviewing our customer interactions across channels. In fact, I have an hour blocked on my calendar just for this and wish I could do more.
What are Beem’s future plans for customer support? What new features are you planning to introduce?
We do not have customer support. Beem has a Customer Experience team. We want Beem to be the best financial experience you have, period. In light of this, we have moved to 24/7 customer support and will double down on this over the coming months. We will be deeply integrating the product, engineering and data science team with the custom support teams to ensure our customers get results every time, all the time.
This is a very non-traditional approach and we expect a learning curve. By doing this we are essentially saying Customer Experience is a feature and not an afterthought. As someone who hates bad customer service and gets extremely frustrated with modern apps like Lyft that make it extremely difficult for the customer to get answers, we want to ensure we don’t do this, ever. You should be able to reach Beem anytime, ask anything and get an answer even if it is about our competitor. You reach Beem, you leave one step ahead of where you were before.
How have you structured Beem to optimally help customers overcome financial barriers?
First and foremost, Beem is the world’s first Public Benefit Fintech. We didn’t have to do this but we are a purpose driven company and everything we do has a purpose behind it. We incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation and raised funds from the likes of Avesta – a spin off of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – who we work closely with to develop our Social Impact framework that is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals because we wanted to create this company to generate outsized social impact and not just financial returns.
Next we have actively pursued markets where we have a deep understanding and can create positive social impact. A result of this approach is that we are the only Fintech company where the majority of our users are under-represented women of color and many of them are women.
The median age of our customer is 33 years and our customers are typically between 22-37 years of age. This is not by accident, it is by design that has been carefully crafted.
As millennials and young parents ourselves who came from humble beginnings (my parents came from extreme poverty – my dad came from a village that got electricity in 1997 and my mom grew up using coconut shells to heat water while use the soot that was left after burning as toothpaste and dishwashing detergent).
I spent over 5000 hours living and serving with the working class (I worked full time as a Uber and Lyft Driver for over a year, sleeping on my couch in the living room while renting out my house on Airbnb and doubling up as the cleaner as well. Most of my guests were working class Americans as well who worked in Oil rigs, set up telco towers, were travelling nurses, construction workers, contractors, teachers and more).
We had a front row seat to the everyday challenges and needs of the everyday american. This is our secret sauce and this is what will allow us to serve our customers better than anyone else.
We are using these experiences, these data points and merging this with talented individuals who spent time in the weeds of financial technology to truly build something special for the working class.
Even though our talent acquisition is purposeful, we actively hire moms and women of color with a mission to ensure the makeup of our team reflects that of our users, so we are taking decisions at every level to advance the lives of our users.
What prompted you to launch Beem? What were some of the financial barriers you faced as an individual growing up?
Coming from a working class family, I found myself left on the sidelines because my parents sometimes couldn’t even afford simple things like proper footwear. I know very well what even a little financial help can do and how lack of such help can impact the working class and their families.
However, I did well for myself and reached a point where I had gotten far from the realities I came from. But when I was given an opportunity to tap into it while at PayPal to help make it usable by everyone for everyday things I started digging into the challenges faced by the underbanked and underserved communities.
As I dug deeper, it became clear that the reason current solutions from incumbents as well as newcomers lacked relevance was because people building these solutions never experienced the challenges they were solving for and hence these solutions were mostly built from an outsider’s perspective with focus on engineering, economics, design or product unlike great companies like Nike that was built by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman who were athletes themselves and had an insiders perspective or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who as members of the HomeBrew Computer Club had an insider’s perspective on personal computers.
Empowered by this insight but crippled by the lack of deeper understanding of the working class here in the US, I embarked on a journey to revisit my working class here in the US as an Uber and Lyft driver. After spending over 5000 hours working full time with the working class community and having previously spent over 10000 hours in the weeds of fintech at PayPal Research Labs and eBay/PayPal Retail Labs I was able to seed what eventually became Beem.