As part of his series for Authority Magazine, Jason Hartman interviewed Ubiquity co-founder and CEO Matt Nyren about “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance”.
Matt founded Ubiquity in 2012 and served as its president during the company’s first four years of expansion before assuming CEO responsibilities in January 2017. Matt has more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in the contact center and business process outsourcing space. Before starting Ubiquity, he was the senior vice president for managed services at TxVia, a pioneering emerging payments technology company that was acquired by Google in 2012. At TxVia, Matt led a multinational team to deliver data-driven customer service solutions for many emerging payments leaders. Previously, Matt established and successfully grew contact center delivery solutions in the United States, Europe, Latin America, India and the Philippines.
Authority Magazine: Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Matt Nyren: The story of my career and of Ubiquity is really rooted in the part-time job I had at university. I started working in a contact center and almost accidentally found myself managing small teams at first. By the time I graduated, I was managing larger groups, and eventually I was running large contact center operations in my 20s. Most of the work was related to financial services—big banks, traditional banking groups
I worked with two of the first organizations pioneering prepaid processing, which would become the backbone of a lot of fintech and challenger banking we see today. My job was about building contact center solutions to ensure that those first prepaid card programs were able to thrive. Part of that was delivering customer experience solutions that had the right combination of customer-centricity with increased efficiencies. The other aspect was delivering compliance solutions in a highly regulated market—Know Your Customer, identity verification, fraud, and dispute and chargeback management.
I began working for one of the world’s largest processors, architecting solutions for the U.S., European, and Asia-Pacific regions. In fact, it was at a next-generation processor, TxVia, that the core founders of Ubiquity would decide to build a new type of business process outsourcer (BPO), specifically for fintechs and other fast-growing and highly regulated industries. Following Google’s acquisition of TxVia in 2012, we established Ubiquity to fill a gap in the market. We saw a real need to provide the industry expertise and portfolio management capabilities of a managed services business that’s typically within a processor and combine that with the flexibility, scale, and arbitrage you can achieve with a traditional BPO business.
Authority Magazine: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
MN: It’s not really a funny story, but I distinctly remember working on a new program early in my career, and we had a strict script we were supposed to follow. A customer called in with a problem I had no clue how to solve. It was nowhere in my script or knowledgebase, and back then everything was paper-based. I was scrambling to find an answer. The customer was getting more and more frustrated. I begged her patience, explaining honestly that I was new to the program, but that I wouldn’t stop until I found a solution for her. Eventually, I was able to flag down a manager for help. By the end of the conversation, the customer was not exactly satisfied but she was understanding. I learned a few important lessons that day. First, the importance of comprehensive training and the limitations of a script.
Later when we started Ubiquity, I vowed never to put agents on the production floor without the tools and knowledge necessary to do their jobs well. Today, that means investing in the best technology tools and connectivity. The last thing agents (or customers) need is for technology to be a barrier to resolution. I think most importantly, I learned that being honest with the customer is powerful. It doesn’t necessarily make them happy, but in this case, it changed the tenor of the conversation. Although she wanted her problem to be resolved, we were sort of in it together. When we train our agents, we’re not just looking for them to tick boxes. We want them to relate to the customers as people. Empathy, active listening, and honesty can make all the difference in how the customer feels about the interaction. Brands can’t lose sight of the power of human connection in their customer support.
Authority Magazine: Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
MN: Community. We’ve built Ubiquity to be an environment where you have the freedom to be yourself–you’re not subsumed by the community–but at the same time, we all understand that we’re better together.
Community is built within small teams, within locations, and then it widens. Consistent culture and community across our global footprint helps us achieve our goals, and it’s something we have to work on continually.
Authority Magazine: What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?
MN: Profit and revenue, of course, are important measures. For Ubiquity, employee satisfaction and engagement, and client retention are also paramount. As I mentioned above, employee engagement and satisfaction is directly related to performance, which correlates to client retention. In 2022, we achieved certification as a “Great Place to Work” across all our geographies. That was a meaningful milestone for us because it’s based on employee surveys. Nearly 80% of our employees said we are “a great place to work,” and 86% said they are proud to tell others they work for us. Ultimately, your employee sentiment is a great indicator of your overall success as a company and your future prospects.
Authority Magazine: What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
MN: As a CX provider, we’re big believers in mapping the customer journey and creating robust customer feedback loops, so you can understand what your customers like and don’t like. But most importantly, you have to be able to act on the data you collect. If growth has stalled out, look at what’s changed in your business. Have you lost customers or are you seeing a lot of early churn? What is the customer experience like?
This isn’t something you can do once and forget about it. You have to constantly be evaluating your CX and looking for ways to improve. Listen to your customer support calls, review verbatim survey responses, and talk to your servicing team. CX should not just be a cost center, it can be a value business transformation engine if you tap into and act on the insight you gain from it.
Authority Magazine: What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
MN: Generally speaking, I’d say you can’t learn if you don’t make mistakes. However, I think some fintechs have looked at customer support as an afterthought or something they don’t want to invest in. Oftentimes it’s because they truly believe in their tech and their digital experience—and they should. But, no matter how good your technology is, if you’re dealing with customers’ money, there’s always going to be a time when they’ll want to talk to you. Something will go wrong at some point, and how you treat your customers in those moments can make or break your brand.
Authority Magazine: Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.
MN: From where we sit as the №1 BPO for fintech, here’s what we’ve seen as a recipe for success for our fintech and digital banking clients:
- Know your customer—I’m not just talking about the compliance requirements for KYC; that goes without saying. What I mean is establishing a mechanism to gather valuable data from your customers from each interaction point and then being able to act on it. I mentioned the feedback loop before. There’s a quantitative and qualitative dimension to this. One of the most valuable things we do is sit with our clients and listen to customer interactions in weekly calibration sessions. These are much more than audits or trying to determine our QA variance. All departments come out of those sessions with action items to help us deliver more value for our clients–and we all come out with a clearer picture of how to deliver better CX.
- Lifecycle management—In addition to a robust customer feedback loop, understanding lifecycle management is essential. All customers are important, but you can serve them better if you understand the nuances between new and more mature customers. In the early days, it’s about exciting them and providing an end-to-end seamless experience. For long-term retention, you have to make sure customers don’t feel devalued. Don’t just offer great deals for new customers, for example. All customers need to feel like they matter, or they’ll go elsewhere.
- Compliance rigor—A lot of digital banks and fintechs have great ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit, but lack experience with the compliance regimes they’re bound to either because of their own licensing or because of their banking partnerships. Compliance has to be at the forefront for your business and your customers to be protected. That means hiring internal experts and partnering with the right organizations across the board to ensure full compliance is achieved.
- Product innovation—Fintech is such a crowded space that it’s really important to be thinking about what the customer needs to both choose and stay with your brand. Your innovations have to be rooted in an overall retention strategy that’s fueled by your customer interaction analytics. The coolest features in the world won’t matter if they don’t matter to your customers.
- Finally, transparency—Customers expect you to be honest about your value proposition and what they’re paying to get it. To build sustainable, scalable success, you need to make customers feel like you’ve got their back.