Meet Gal Oron. Gal is a self-described normal person who got to where he is with a lot of hard work and constant improvement. Whether it’s on the basketball court or in the office, Gal strives to keep three key things in mind: 1. Have humility 2. Exhibit strong work ethic 3. Be dedicated.
At Zoomin, Gal and his team are replicating the successes they’ve seen in B2C, and bringing them into the B2B world of enterprise companies. Today, every company is a tech company. That means companies need to understand how their end users interact with content and how they can use this data to their benefit. That’s where Zoomin comes into play. Zoomin will reveal the blind spots in your customer experience.
Listen in as Gal humbly shares his expertise in this can’t-miss episode.
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About Gal Oron
Gal Oron is the CEO and co-founder of leading knowledge orchestration company Zoomin. Along with Joe Gelb and Hannan Saltzman, Gal founded Zoomin in 2016, bringing with him an extensive background in entrepreneurship. Gal accrued over a decade of experience in the investment and SaaS sectors, serving as a partner at Trigger Partners and a mergers and acquisitions specialist at Verint. Prior to that, he rose from a software engineer to President at Orsus (acquired by NICE Systems), where he worked for nearly a decade. A former fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, Gal also holds a BA in Economics and Computer Science from Tel Aviv University.
Revealing Blind Spots In Customer Experience With Gal Oron
The Data Is Telling You A Story – Listen Up
Betsy, I am excited to have this conversation with Gal because as we went through this conversation, it opened my eyes to some areas that we have not talked about extensively on this show. I know you have some that you want to share here. The one that sticks in my mind is when we talk about the strategic blind spot. That blind spot CEOs have and do not recognize.
I do not want to spill all of the beans here but what it comes down to is that companies have no idea that they are missing about 70% of the customer engagement that is coming through their website. I’m not going to share any more than that. I want to leave that as a little teaser here, a little hook. Gal and his team, through Zoomin, do an amazing job of impacting the customer experience in a way that we have never talked with a CEO doing this type of thing before. They are out there doing this with some major companies, brand names that we’d all recognize, and they are doing an amazing job of it.
We are speaking with Gal Oron, and he is the CEO of Zoomin, which is a company that helps enterprise organizations. There is so much to it, it is hard to even put in a nutshell. They help their customers have a better experience when it comes to knowledge and gaining the insights they are looking for when they go to someone’s website.
It is a fascinating conversation and fascinating CEO. One of the things that struck me in the conversation was how he looks at things differently. How many times have we all heard, “We need to break down the silos?” He said, “We are embracing the silos. Here is the positive side of having silos.” I thought that was such a paradigm shift that was intriguing. The other thing that I loved because this is always something that I think a lot about is the conversation we had about culture and how he approaches that. I do not want to spill all the beans so let’s jump right in with our conversation with Gal Oron.
Gal, we are happy to have you here. Welcome to the show.
It is very nice to be with you here.
We know you have a phenomenal company that is so customer-focused and that is what we are all about here on the show. Can you give us your career background and how you got to where you are now? Tell us about your company and get our readers up to speed on who you are and the work you are doing?
I got here pretty much by coincidence, to be honest. I grew up in Israel, mostly playing basketball. I did military service. I flew jets in the Air Force. After my service, like any Israeli, I was looking for my first job. Israel is a very tech country. My first job was doing QA in an enterprise software company. I started by doing QA and then presales. My core is in presales.
I knew that I was going to be a leader of something and everyone knew that I was going to be a CEO of something, but I did not know what. What brought me to this place is I really felt comfortable with customers. I love meeting customers, prep, listening and creating value. That is why that is what kept me in the enterprise software world. I did all positions in senior roles in different companies, mostly customer-facing roles and executive management.
We established Zoomin in 2016. That is how I got to this and the company transforms the way users interact with product information, with manual guides, training materials, knowledge articles, community discussions and support tickets. We changed that. We provided end-users of B2B companies a Netflix-like experience when it related to engaging with technical content because we understand that if Betsy is a customer or a prospect of McAfee, Avaya, DocuSign or any of our other customers. If we are going to provide you with that stellar end-user experience, Avaya and McAfee are going to improve important KPIs around experience, support costs, sales service and revenue.
We are delivering that experience to those enterprise companies. We’re always thinking about the Betsys of the world and on top of our head, this is who we are trying to make happy. What we realized is by doing and delivering that amazing experience, we learned a lot of important things about what led people to which outcome. What led Betsy to open a ticket to call the call center, which piece of content she is happy with and which piece of content does not provide any help.
We are able to provide our customers with very important insights, all based on how there are people who consume technical content, how they consume and what we learn about these insights about term prediction, upselling, cross-selling, lead prospecting and where their customers get stuck in the journey. That is in a nutshell what Zoomin does.
Talk to us a little bit about your customers. I know you said enterprise, but tell us a little bit more specifically about the people that either you find or that find you.
We are mostly working with enterprise B2B companies. What is common to all of our customers are companies with products, end-users, more than one product, and more complex products. What we see out there in the market right now is a very important trend that increased a lot of our total addressable market and the number of companies we are targeting.
Now, every company is a tech company. Whether you are a pure software company, a hardware company, a franchise, a financial institution or a healthcare institution, they are all tech companies. A lot of them have developers. A lot of them develop a product and when they develop a product, they need to develop content around this product so people will know how to use the product to the greatest potential.
We target almost every product company in the world. Now, the focus is mostly on large and mid-size companies, but SMEs and maybe even SMBs, that is in general who we target. The areas within those companies are usually around experience people, customer success, support and the core tech people, CTOs and CIOs who want to improve and change this whole data infrastructure around content. That is the key people we are targeting.
I want to take us a little bit off to the left-field here. You made a comment here about how you get in. Your company gets in and works with the content that the user is going to engage with. You understand how, what they engage with and their outcomes. Taking all of that in context, one of the things and the trend that I have noticed in B2B companies is that they are owning less of their experience.
You guys are providing that end-user experience, maybe under the guidance of your clients. They approve this is what we want to do. What I’m seeing more in the B2B world is that the company and the brand itself no longer deliver the experience. They are outsourcing a lot of the experience, the call centers, the help tickets and all of this. What is your take on that? This seems to be a growing trend. What is your take on why they are doing that and how that affects their brand positively or negatively?
I think that brand is not going to help large enterprises a lot. You lose a lot of your consistency, a lot of your team and your brand, while you are outsourcing everything. I do not see Zoomin as an outsource. We are fully embedded into the company’s brand. We are fully white labeled. You, as an end-user, if your customer or user of Avaya, DocuSign or McAfee, you do not even know the Zoomin exists.
We are completely embedded as part of the brand and that is what we believe the way it should be done. End-users nowadays are sensitive to this. You would realize in a second if they were delivered to someone else that is not part of the brand or not. Companies who will miss that will miss their customers.
The issue is a little bit broader than this. It starts with the overall customer experience and how important it is. It is pretty obvious, but I’m still going to repeat this. It used to be all about features and pricing. Now, we realize it is about the heart of the customer and it is about the experience. That is what allows you to win or lose the heart of the customer because I’m using here a Verizon or Time Warner switching between one to the other. In five minutes, I’m going to get the same channel. It is all the same. It is all about the experience.
I feel that what B2B companies are missing a little bit is not looking at the end-user like the B2C companies are looking at them. Eventually, Tony, you are a consumer at home when you watch Netflix, buy on Amazon, order an Uber or listen to Spotify. You go to work and you are still a consumer. Why is there a gap between Tony at home and Tony at work? You are not going to live well with that gap for too long.
I think that gap between Tony at home and Tony at work, as I call it the consumerization gap, is something that some of the B2B companies realize. They are eager to close this gap, and some are very slow. The ones that are slower are going to lose the market and the ones that are faster are going to win the market.
For us, as a company that sells to enterprises but always has Tony as the end-user, life is in some ways pretty easy because we are trying to replicate everything that is happening in the B2C world and bringing it to the B2B world. It is not as simple as I’m describing it, but that is what we are trying to do in many ways.
Can you talk to us about, and this is piggybacking on that, the perceptions of the CEO and that gap that you were talking about. What are you seeing there? We talked about it being a little bit of a blind spot when we had our prep calls. Can you expand on that a little bit?
The two things that I see that are very interesting as a blind spot is, one, there is a big gap between CEOs and executives. How easy do they think that it is for their customers to find what they need and what it is in a practical way? The numbers are 2/3 of the CEOs think that it is easy to find everything and there is no issue there around technical content. If you talk about B2B end-users or customers, the number is closer to 30%. Seventy percent of them suffer in finding their information.
Another interesting blind spot is how important the content is for buying decisions. Including myself, I must say, how many people are looking at the content before they buy? In enterprise companies, the number is 99%. Ninety-nine percent of people look at technical content and content before they make any buying decisions.
If you ask any C-level person, my guess would be in the 30% to 40%, but it is practically 100%. That leads me to the bigger thing. The bigger thing and the bigger blind spot that we identified is overall product information, the technical content, and its impact on customers. We found an interesting figure, and that is an average for all of our customers. That product information, on average, takes 70% of the traffic of almost every B2B company. The rest of the 30% is your dot-com site and all other sites.
Most of what your customers are looking for is product information. Initially, it is a little bit shocking but it is not because onboarding and support are all technical when you think about it. When you buy an Avaya or MacAfee, it is all technical. I have nothing against the marketing people, but you do not care about marketing fluff. It is technical.
The big blind spot is that you have an asset that you already have. You already invested millions of dollars and tons of hours in getting it. An asset that has a huge strategic impact on your customers and your business, but it is still not perceived as strategic. Many companies do not even have an owner for all this world of product information. That is the big blind spot because if you do not have it, the big thing that you also are missing is data. It means that you are blindly spotted to 70% of what is happening with your customers.
You are not aware of what is happening. You are not capturing that moment that Betsy engaged with a piece of content. Is she happy? Is she not happy? What is the outcome of it? That is a big blind spot. Everything that is happening to Betsy when she engages with the product information, no one knows anything about this. We are changing that.
We are getting a lot of this data in front of C-level people and showing them, “This is what you do not know about Tony. That is where Tony got stuck. That is the right time to upsell or cross-sell to Tony something. Betsy is now is the new lead or she is about to churn.” To me, that is the big thing. The assets you already have, have a huge impact on your customers, and you do not know anything about it.
I love this so much because it is right in line with what we talk about on the show is really getting to know your customer. I’m curious about when this data is presented to the C-suite, and they did not know what they were missing out on. What are some of their typical reaction when they get this? I’m picturing these CEOs mind-blown over the data that you are able to present to them. The first part of the question is how did they respond or how did they react? Two, what do they do next when they do know all this?
I like the reaction that I hear. You are telling me that I was flying blind and the answer is yes. The thing is that with technical content, it is so obvious. It is not like we are inventing. It is a very authentic and real issue that everyone understands. You do not need to be techy to understand. You need to be a reasonable person with common sense and you understand this. Their immediate reaction is, “How come no one did this before? Why did we not think about this before?”
Usually, those projects immediately get strategic attention from C-level people and they try to find who is going to be responsible for this in their company. If a company has an experienced organization, in many cases, it is going to go there. In many cases, it is going to go under support, marketing or revenue organization.
I’m not surprised by this anymore. Initially, I was surprised by how strategic this becomes very quickly. Especially nowadays, people want to make more of what they have. How can you do more with less? We are not asking them to develop anything. It is all there. That is the reaction that we get. C-level people do not want to fly blind, especially when it relates to their customers. The other part is employees, but customers are something that they never want to fly blind with their customers.
I can imagine you went through a bunch of different possible departments that this could land under. I would think once one department is tasked with handling it, you have got a lot of silos there, which is why it has not been handled before. It probably fell between those silos. Someone has got to write it, but no one is going to use it for marketing purposes or data tracking purposes. I would expect your company has got to come in and be that consultative support of like, “How do we break down those silos? How do we break down those walls between departments?” The second part of that is who owns the data within the company and how do they leverage that?
I’m going to disappoint you a little bit. We are not breaking down the silos. We are embracing the silos and I will explain. In our ecosystem, companies have silos on the two sides of the ecosystem. One is the side of how they create and manage all of their product information. They have many groups in every company. They have the training group, documentation, support and knowledge. Everyone is creating their own technical information in many groups. That is one side of the silo.
The other siloed side is the consuming side, where customers are engaging with all that content. Some of those silos are your documentation portal, partner portal, support sites, community, product or call center. That is a lot of silos. We tell customers and our approaches, “We are not going to change that. You are always going to have silos.”
You can also look at it in a positive way because it adds a variety of content, which makes it more interesting. The only thing we are telling them is this, “The mess that you have behind the scenes with all of your groups creating content. We are going to make it seamless for your customer. Your customer is going to get it in one place.”
On the side of where customers are consuming it, our approach is, “We, as McAfee have zero control over where Tony’s coming from.” Tony can come from the product, from Google, the support side, the community or wherever he wants. He can come from all those different places. Wherever Tony is coming from, we want him to have a consistent experience. It does not matter. If you go from the product, from Google or from the community, you are going to get the same experience and consistent information.
I do not believe in the approach of saying, “From now on, one place. Tony is going to come only from one place.” I do not think it works in general because these are the dynamics of the market that people want more places. In general, I believe that change control is tough, especially in enterprise companies. Those silos are created inherently because that is how companies are built. You have a training group, support group and documentation group. Those silos are with us, and we are embracing those silos. We want to make sure that wherever customers are, it is not going to matter for them because they are going to have the same experience wherever they go.
Shifting gears a little bit, I want to talk about your company’s culture and how you build a culture around customers. When we talked before, you mentioned that you think of it as a sports team and we know you have a sports background. Talk to us a little bit internally about how things work at Zoomin, especially as it relates to your customers.
Culture is a big thing for us and for me personally. We started as a bootstrap company. For those who do not know bootstrap companies, you do not raise money, you sell and you grow from the revenues that you make. That is how you grow. Initially, you start and you do not know if it is going to work or not. You hope that it is going to work. Fortunately for us, it did work fast.
We realized that this was going to become a big company and was going to build a big category. It was obvious to me that when you build a company, it is going to live and die on the culture. The product will get better, and you will have issues. Everything is going to go up. Culture is what is going to make or break the company. We are building something that will keep growing forever. We start thinking, “What are we? What do we want to be?”
First of all, we came to the conclusion that you cannot go too far from what you are. You are who you are. It can go a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left, but you are who you are. We are three things in this company. One, we are a very humble group that believes that humility is a very nice thing as individuals, but it is crucial for business.
For us, it is not about being shy to say we are the best in the world at what we do. It is about almost working with the assumption that we do not know and we need to figure it out. Figuring out is going to come from asking a lot of questions and listening. Usually, it means that people are more confident. People who are confident are okay speaking with question marks. People who lack usually speak with exclamation marks. They know everything. All the answers are clear and simple. Humility is the first thing.
The second thing, which relates a little bit to the sport is work ethic and purpose. We have been growing fast over the last few years. I believe it is an unbelievable and exciting journey with tons of impact and is very dynamic. I do not think it is for everyone. It is for those who enjoy this ride, making an impact and who see the purpose in what they do.
Those who do not see the purpose have easier places to work than a hyper-growth company. Hypergrowth companies run fast. Every six months, you have a different company and you have to see the purpose. The purpose can be the culture, challenges or whatever the purpose is for you. It cannot be another job because I do not think it is another job of a hyper-growth company.
The third thing for us is customer obsession. We truly believe that our customers know better than us where we should go. All we need to do is listen to them. We work hard to keep the trust of our customers. It is not always easy. We work hard on this. We do not like those who mess with our customers. It is a big thing in our company and our customers respect it.
Quite a few of our employees are ex-customers who joined us. I would say that this humility, purpose, work ethic and customer obsession are the key fundamentals of our culture. It also relates to your question about a sports team because you are supposed to say that we are a family. In reality, when you grow in a company, you start like a family. I believe that over time, you become more similar to being on a sports team.
In a sports team, you have a coach. A coach is supposed to coach everyone but also help players become a better version of themselves every day. The other group of people understands that they have to play together otherwise they will not win. In a sports team, you play to win. In a family, it is not about winning. There are many other core things that are very important in a family. If you look at business in a sports team, you are about winning. You are about adding great talent all the time because you want to improve the team. It might sound a bit cold, but that is how you think about this over time. Great people want to think about things that way. There is a lot of analogy.
My son plays for a great basketball team in Harlem in New York. They had a tournament in Washington, DC, that I went to with him. I did play a lot of basketball and did coach. I came back from the tournament and I told my wife, “I have to go back to practicing basketball.” There is so much similarity between what I do now and basketball coaching.
I saw the parents yelling at players, and these are kids. They are yelling at them. You see the kids are frozen. So much is about how to drive people and how to make people improve. One day, I will surely get back to coaching. I see it more similar to what I do now. I love sports in general, but coaching is similar to what I do every day.
I love that analogy. As an aside, I grew up in Indiana. There was a lot of basketball going on in my house. I appreciate that analogy.
Do you know that Larry Bird was from Indiana? One of his best sentences is, “It is funny. The more I practice, the more I win.” There are so many good sentences and terms coming from sports. I have two favorites. One is what I mentioned about Larry Bird. The other one is about Wayne Gretzky, which is, “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.” That is also something that you see here as running a company. You need to take a lot of risks.
When you were talking about coaching, the one thing that sticks in my mind is Bobby Knight would say, “You can teach him how to play basketball. You can’t teach him to how to be tall.” You can teach them certain skills, but you got to have the right people. You were saying, “You can’t shift too far from who you are.”
I want to play with this analogy a little bit further because I’m curious where you will go with this. Sports teams spend most of their time off the court or off the field practicing. The game is a very short period of time. When you look at business, we are in business all the time. There is no practice. At least from my perspective, we are live all the time. How do you work with your team so that when they do make a mistake in the field or are not necessarily up to that skill level, but they have got to be in front of the customer, how do you work with them so they develop those skills fast?
If it is okay with you, I will elaborate a little bit on my Air Force background because a lot of what I think about your question comes from there. The Israeli Air Force is considered to be a pretty good Air Force. The secret sauce of flight school in Israel is the learning curve. They do not care what level you are. When you start, all they care is about the learning curve.
From day one, you are not flying anything. You are swiping the floor. You always have to talk about the three things that you need to improve. They do not care if you do twenty other mistakes. You are not allowed to repeat the same mistakes. When you do the next one, you are going to debrief yourself and say, “These are the three things I was supposed to improve. Did I meet those improvements or not?”
All they care about is the learning curve because they say, “Everyone can be a pilot.” Some people can do it in five years and some people can do it in two years. It is all going to be about the learning curve. That is what we apply here also, in Zoomin. It comes a little bit from my personality and who I am. I have done some successful things in life and I failed a lot, but I’m a normal person. Some of my partners are geniuses. I’m not a genius. I’m a normal person who got to where I am through a lot of hard work and constant improvement.
A lot of the improvement is coming from simulations of things. It is going back to the Air Force thing. When you fly a jet in the Air Force, you simulate the whole thing on the ground. You are talking to yourself, so when you fly you almost feel like you have done this before. That prep and simulation are key. I agree with you that eventually is that meeting with the customer, “How many of them do you have?” “It is not a lot.” You are supposed to be in a place where you almost feel like, “That is not the first time I’m having this meeting. I already did it before.”
Everyone in the room feels it because you sound more confident. You are more confident. Prep is big, and it is a sports analogy or an Air Force analogy. You do not fly a lot. It is not a long flight, but a lot of work has been put into prepping for this when you fly. That is one of the areas we’re putting a lot of effort into the sales organization, customer success and everyone. Prep and simulation are very big in our company.
I can’t believe how fast this time has gone. I can sit and have this conversation all day long. Tony, do you have any final questions before we wrap?
I wanted to reflect on the last point there. It is powerful to talk about prep, especially in the customer success world in that they get on the phones, they are out there in front all the time. If we do not pause and have that prep time, not just as their onboarding as a new employee, but throughout the course of their career is important. I’m glad you brought it up and the way you described it makes a lot of sense. Thank you. That is the last thing I had, Betsy.
I’m going to piggyback a little bit on that because what strikes me is when we do our Strategic Customer Advisory Boards, we do a complete dry run of the meeting with the executive team. We are all in the room together to make sure that everybody is well prepared. I’m sure you see this too in your prep. Sometimes you are asking somebody to do something that is different or maybe not natural for them.
When we have executives in a room, we are telling them, rather than being the leader, you need to listen 80% of the time instead of being the one doing all the talking. It is a different shift for them. That takes prep and practice because that is not their natural instinct. If they are the CEO of the company, they are not used to sitting back and listening. I would imagine that you have seen that scenario as well in the prep sessions that you do.
The fact that they are not used to listening 80% of the time is another problem. Most of what we need to do are listen and be able to say the right things in a very short way.
One final question for you. We like to give our guests the opportunity to give a shout-out to a nonprofit organization, a charitable organization or somebody that is doing something good in the world. Is there somebody that you would like us to shine the spotlight on?
We are very much involved in this. There are two organizations that we work with. One of them is an organization in Israel. It is called SheCodes. The other one is a global organization called Girls Who Code. These are two organizations that take girls and women and bring them to the development and tech world. It is great and empowering. It does very well for the girls themselves and is good for the company that is lucky to work with them. We like those two organizations and we work with them closely.
The other thing is that we used to send presents to customers and employees. During the pandemic we changed our approach a little bit. We are going to donate money on their behalf to different charity organizations. We give them an option of a few organizations. The organization that got most of that fraction is one called Feeding America, which talks about food security in different areas of the world. That is another organization that we found ourselves knowing about, learning about and liking.
Thank you so much for your time. This has been such a great conversation. We could continue this for quite some time. It is important work that you are doing. We appreciate you taking the time out to be on the show.
I enjoyed the time and the questions. It was very interesting.
We will talk with you soon.
I’m sitting here looking at my notes. There is so much value in this. The one quote that I want to focus on here as we wrap this up is, “It’s about the heart of the customer.” He said, “We look at the B2B customer and in most cases do not treat them as consumers.” He was like, “Why not?” That piece stands out to me.
It is something you and I talked about several years ago when we wrote ProphetAbility. We talk about it in our new book as well. It is one of those things that I think we can’t say enough. Business to business is person to person. The way Gal and his team are recreating both the presale experience because people are looking for this information before making a purchase and contact an agent to sell them the product.
Afterward, when they are trying to do self-service, onboarding, or anything else, they do not have to reach out to someone. The work they do is impressive that it gets to the heart of the customer and understands who this customer is. What works for them? What do they want to know? What do they love? They helped the company, that is their client, achieve that.
I also loved when he was talking about humility. Humility does not mean you are not telling people you are the greatest out there. Humility is, “We do not know everything. We are figuring this out. We need to listen to you to help us figure it out.” That speaks to everything you do in your work and our work at Congruity is being humble enough to know that you do not know everything. You need to listen to the people who can help guide you in the right direction. With that, everyone, thank you so much for joining us again for another episode. We will see you next time.