Stratos Executive Interview
Thiago Olson, CEO and Co-Founder and Craig Sprinkle, CFO and VP, Operations, Stratos
Stratos: A Revolutionary Product Takes a Visionary Approach to Customer Service
Thiago Olson, CEO and Co-Founder • Craig Sprinkle, CFO and VP, Operations
In the series of TV ads for a major credit card supplier, nearly everyone knows the provocative tag line: “What’s in your wallet?” Well, if the developers of the Stratos Bluetooth Connected Card have anything to say about it, pretty soon there’ll be a whole lot less. The Stratos card has the capability to consolidate an unlimited number of credit, debit, loyalty, membership and gift cards into a single smart, dynamic card.
“Just as the iPod and iTunes reinvented and digitized your CD collection, the Stratos card has the power to reinvent your wallet,” said Thiago Olson, CEO and Co-Founder of Stratos. “Its Dual Stripe Technology provides near 100% point-of-sale compatibility, making it the first product of its kind that you can use anywhere-- stores, coffee shops, ATMs, gas pumps, parking meters, kiosks, and many other locations. It has proprietary security features that enable users to lock down their card if it’s lost or stolen and it provides customized insights and suggestions that come up on the lock screen of an individual user’s mobile device.”
Olson became a technology rock star by creating a small nuclear reactor in his basement when still a teenager. This accomplishment was profiled in Popular Science, Discover Magazine, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. He began developing connected card technology while at Vanderbilt, and has rapidly evolved into one of the most promising leaders in the next generation payment space.
Customers purchasing an annual membership includes the Stratos Card itself and
• Stratos Reader which enables users to swipe in all of their existing credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards and select between their three favorite cards using touch sensors
• The Stratos Mobile App which allows them to tap their card twice to bring up suggestions on their device- will remind you of your proximity to a store where you have a gift card.
• Annual upgrade or replacement card
One additional consideration that also comes with the $95 annual membership is personalized “white glove” customer support, which Stratos considers a crucial element of their business model. “We provide high-touch live chat, email, phone and social media support,” said Craig Sprinkle, CFO and VP, Operations for Stratos. “We view customer service as a key pillar in making both the company and brand experience a success for members. As a start-up, we feel we have to do a better job and deliver an elevated level of support.”
Only a relative handful of emerging companies offer the type of support and direct contact given to Stratos customers. The company’s US-based customer care staff is available on all touch points from 9am-9pm Eastern Time, 7 days a week. Since it launched in March and started shipping cards to customers in April, Stratos has maintained a consistent 94% satisfaction rate. “It’s been very high since the beginning…and it’s trending upward,” said Sprinkle. “The vast majority of our interactions are via live chat. We conduct after contact surveys and recently, the satisfaction rate has been approaching 100%.Our agent scoring is also at 95%”.
“From their first contact, the trail of each customer is maintained throughout the omni-channel journey, said Olson.” “We use some standard customer service software for self-service and chat from Zendesk plus internal messaging software. If necessary, the escalation process goes through our engineering department and right up to the executive level.” At this point, Stratos has 15 to 18 agents available through their US-based business process outsourcing partner with 6 internal agents also at the ready and engineers to resolve technical issues, such as battery life for the card’s power source, “It’s supposed to last two years, but we want to be proactive in letting customers know when it needs to be replaced.” Their third party partner also conducts QA, agent evaluation and training with a focus on ensuring that their involvement is completely transparent. The partnership arrangement also accounts for scaling up to 200 or more agents should customer demand require it.
What’s most important to Stratos is the ability to help customers any time, any where customers are using their Stratos. Given the growing popularity of the card and the meticulous process of ensuring that each customer’s information is secure, demand is outpacing the ability to manufacture them off the line, so it can now take several months for the card to be shipped. Many of the inquiries are about timing and establishing realistic expectations.
“It’s not just a universal credit card - it’s a way to facilitate all payments relating to credit and debit transactions.” said Olson. “It’s a loyalty program which members can use to simplify their lives.”