On this episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Doug Marinaro, the CEO and co-founder of Riptide, a three-way text platform for issue resolution.
Doug shared the story of how Riptide came to be and how it's being used today in roadside service, delivery, field service, and home services. He explained how Riptide is different from consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram and how it allows businesses to have control over who's in the conversation, where the information about the conversation goes, and the conversation workflow.
Doug also discussed Riptide's expansion plans, and how the solution can be used to ensure a positive end-to-end customer experience. He also highlighted the real-time dashboards, analytics and the use of Machine learning models that Riptide offers.
As always, I learned loads. I hope you do too.
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And if you don't involve that customer in the conversation then the likelihood that your service is gonna be successful, and all these organizations that talk about being customer-centric, if you don't give the customer the opportunity to be a part of that conversation, then that service won't be successfulTom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone. Welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and with me on the show today, I have my special guest, Doug. Doug, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?Doug Marinaro:
Sure Tom, thanks a lot for having me. I'm Doug Marinaro. I'm CEO and co-founder of Riptide, the three-way text platform for issue resolution.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And before we get into what exactly Riptide is, let me take a step back and tell me the story of Riptide, or how did it come about?Doug Marinaro:
Yeah, our, our business was started with the simple idea. That a lot of problems could be solved before they become failures if you get the right people together in a conversation. My history, I've been helping people apply technology in different ways to collaborate and make their jobs easier, and throughout my career in a whole variety of different larger companies and startups. Most recently before Riptide, I was a co-founder of a marketplace for office space. And one of the challenges we had was helping people be able to rent a space for an hour or for a day or for a month, and be able to do that on demand. And we found that when we could bring people together to figure out exactly what space they wanted and be able to get into the office faster we were able to be much more successful. And we did that through messaging. And it was coming out of there. It was like this idea of messaging could be applied, you know, so much more broadly. And I partnered up with a small businessman in, in San Francisco who was applying and, and we started applying messaging to his auto repair and, and towing businesses. And as a result of that, we just saw, we saw dramatic improvements in his ability to, to satisfy his customers. And, and we looked at ways we could expand it from there.Tom Raftery:
Oh, okay. And when you say three-way messaging, I mean, We can do that today on the, any of the messaging apps. We have the likes of messages, or WhatsApp or Telegram or any of the others. You know, you can create these little group chats. Is that what we're talking about?Doug Marinaro:
It's a little bit different than that. Those are consumer driven applications and you as a business, we're doing this in the context of a business and a transaction. Don't really have control over who's in the conversation where the information about the conversation goes and the conversation workflow, and you don't have any ability to automate how that conversation is going to happen. What we do is we take that concept of a group chat, which is a great way to resolve a problem among a, bunch of friends, and take it into the context of business and allow you to not only plug it into the automation of what's happening whether you're dispatching a delivery or roadside service, or a field service or any other kind of activity, but also give the people who are responsible for the success of that service, the ability to control the conversation and the participants.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Now the example that you talked about is a towing company and this, this is where it all kicked off, but what kind of organizations are using your solution today and for what?Doug Marinaro:
Yeah, today we're being used in in roadside service. We're being used in delivery. We're being used in field service. We're being used in, in uh, home services as well. And I, I think the example of delivery is probably the one that's gonna be most interesting to, to your audience. The particular domain is last mile delivery. And really I think at the highest at the highest level, if you want to think about where Riptide applies, it's where there's this intersection of instant gratification with, with complexity. And so the, the consumer has this expectation of being able to get an answer immediately being able to get their delivery instantly. but the process of actually accomplishing that delivery or any other of these other services can be very complex and involve multiple participants can cross company boundaries. But again, all in the context of being able to solve something fairly quickly. So last mile delivery is a great example. I think everybody has experienced the the challenge of of, of expecting maybe it's a, a case of wine and you're not home, but you need to be there to sign off and the delivery service ends up doing a series of re attempts or you're getting an appliance installed, and the person who comes to install the appliance doesn't understand the the environment that they're installing the appliance into. And, and if we could just have a conversation in advance, or while that service is in the process of being delivered, not just between support and the customer, but between support the customer, the driver, the technician who's supposed to be providing the service. If we could bring all those parties together in an instant conversation, a lot of these issues that today cause a service to fail could instead. Simply be resolved in the moment, or allow the customer at least to participate in a way that helps get to a solution that keeps everybody happy.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And how is it delivered? If I'm the customer, does it come to me through my WhatsApp app? Does it come to me through my messages app? Does it come to me through Facebook, Google a proprietary app? How do I get it?Doug Marinaro:
You know, that's, that was one of the big aha moments for us. The idea is that what we saw was there were a lot of solutions that relied upon consumers to have downloaded some app or to have been in some other environment. And the challenge is, is when you're in the moment the likelihood that the consumer and all the other participants will have your app is low. And what you're looking for is a high reliability solution, something that's gonna work more universally. So we started with something that everybody, at least here in the United States and North America has, which is SMS text. So from the consumer's point of view, all they need is, and all they are interacting with you on is simple text that everybody has. As we're now expanding internationally we're starting to do integrations into WhatsApp and other applications that are more commonly used for the basic messaging layer that everybody has outside of the US.Tom Raftery:
Okay, great. And o ne of the examples on your website, you have, for example, a car. I think it's a woman if I remember correctly, at a roadside. And she takes a picture of, of her location so the tow truck driver can find out where she actually is. That goes beyond sms. So, that's, called MMS in, in Old World in Old World Technology I think. Multimedia messaging or something like that. Dredging that up from my, from my recollection from 15 years ago, probably. Is that what you're using, or when you talk about the integrations with the likes of WhatsApp, are you just using their layer of data for that, or how does that work?.Doug Marinaro:
Yeah. What we're really relying upon a a very robust telecom layer that is already exists out there. I think the key difference between what we do and using a, for example, a dedicated application of some sort is really this idea of, of the readiness at hand. You know what, if you look at your phone and say, you know, at that and, and you look at everybody's phone, the the one app that you can almost guarantee that everybody has universally on their phone is their messaging app. And we're, we're relying on that common messaging layer that everybody has. Now, that messaging layer, as you pointed out, has become increasingly sophist. I mean, it was years ago that we started supporting mms. But we, we basically make sure that we're relying upon only the lowest common denominator that everybody has so that we're, where, where the objective is making sure that we have almost universal coverage and, and the universal coverage doesn't on only apply to the, question of, the access on, the device, but also the likelihood of a robust telecom connection. So you may be in areas where you can't get wifi, but you can get a cell connection. We have an example again, in the context of roadside service in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian where we had a woman on the side of the road. She was waiting for her roadside service, but, but the roadside service in this context, her, car battery had been drained because she had been stuck next to her home in, in the midst of devastation, using, draining her car battery to keep her phone alive so she could take pictures or you know, solve her problem there. And she was getting desperate as it was, getting darker and darker and wondering when the tow service was going to arrive. The phone connection broke down, but the cell connection for text messaging was still reliable and she was still able to communicate with the dispatcher to be able to get the service. That also brings up another point, which is that when we go think about delivering services, whether it's a roadside service, it's a package delivery, it's a field service, the business that's delivering the service is thinking about how they're going to, to provide that service to the customer. And everybody talks about being customer centric. But if you're really customer-centric, you put yourself in the shoes of that customer, that customer is in some much larger life scenario. If it's, it's this woman, dealing with her with the tragedy of the hurricane and her home it be a person who is, you know, waiting for a package because they need it for a party or a repair for something else that's gonna happen. It could be a very complex field service that's happening. We we're working with companies that are in the area of aerospace, for example, that are trying to do aerospace to do repairs on aircraft. And they're, they're waiting for parts and they're trying to get the right part that has to happen. It's all in the larger context. And all too often we treat our communications with people as just telling them what's gonna happen. We're, we're notifying them. It's just, it's a one way communication. And un unless you involve the customer in that scenario to explain what they're going through, to explain what's happening in this larger context you're really only getting half the story and it's unlikely your service is gonna be successful if something goes a little bit awry, which happens all the time unless you have that two-way communication that's possible. And more importantly, that the person you're communicating with, the people that are communicating are the right people. and that's really the essence of Riptide. It's about bringing all the right people together in on the conversation. And that could be two-way, it can be three-way, it can be four or five way. But the idea is how do we get all those people together reliably at that moment to resolve that issue?Tom Raftery:
Okay. Okay. You actually anticipated my next question because you initially said three-way, but now you've said it can be four way, five way more than three way. So is there an upper limit on that?Doug Marinaro:
No, we can keep adding more people into that. I mean, it really becomes the question of of can you make sense in the context of the transaction how the conversation is going. And, and one of the things that we've learned, we, we've, we've done Millions of these conversations now we do about 200,000 a month. And, and one of the things that, that we're, we're learning as we work with these businesses is the businesses want more than anything else control. And that's, what Riptide brings as versus as you mentioned before, just the WhatsApp or Telegram group chat that's happening. And they want control over who's in the conversation and what are they saying? Because they, they want to ensure that that end-to-end customer experience is a, is a positive experience. And when we talk about, you know, is it two way or three way or four or five or six way, it really is about who are the participants that the business in mapping out its customer journey want to have, participate in that conversation at the right moment. And what we've found is when we walk into these businesses they all start with the assumption that first off, it may only be a notification. I'm only gonna tell you what's gonna happen. Then they may actually go a little bit further than that and say, oh no, we have a customer support organization that's over here, and they're the ones who talk to the customer. And its two way between those people. What about the delivery driver who's stuck outside the gate and waiting for the gate code or, the customer who's, who's not home and great, now they know the driver's on the way. They can see it on their wonderful map. They can see where that person is. They can see that the delivery's gonna happen. They can see in the notes that they're supposed to be home, but they're not. So, so, so what did they do and who did they communicate to? Do they end up in some kind of call tree hell trying to go through and, and try to get ahold of somebody? One of our business clients used the expression, they said, if you, if you have to create a ticket, it's already too late.Tom Raftery:
Fair enough. Fair enough. And you mentioned you're in North America. Do you have customers across Europe? Across Asia? LATAM, Africa, you know, where? Whereabouts are you operating now?Doug Marinaro:
Right now we're the United States and Canada.Tom Raftery:
North AmericaDoug Marinaro:
okay. And do you have plans to go beyond that?.Doug Marinaro:
Absolutely. We're, we're talking to customers all around the world who have you know, heard about what we're doing. We really just launched this summer with the, with the three-way texting going outside of, the context of, a few small domains and some large customers we've been working with. And we've gotten a lot of attention. We are literally talking to people all around the planet. And what, what that's really highlighted for us is the universality of this problem. The thing that, differs as you go from geography to geography really is the underlying communication layer. And the good news is that the telecom services that we work with. We have great relationships with really very robust and global telecom service organizations uh, will give us the ability to rapidly expand into those other countries.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And if I'm a business that I want to deploy Riptide is it a web-based app? Is it an application that I have to install on my servers, on my client computers, my endpoints, or how? How does that work?Doug Marinaro:
Yeah, Riptide is a web based app. So there's nothing you have to install on your, computers. and I think that that goes to the heart of what we're trying to do for, everybody that's involved. We wanna make sure that from the standpoint of the consumer, they're able to use the messaging app that's already on their phones. So you're not asking them to install anything. From the point of view of all of the, we call the providers. So when, when we think of our, our customers, the clients that we're selling to are oftentimes the anchors in a business ecosystem. So if you think about a delivery service that themselves are delivering for a merchant, so now you're a large merchant. Let's say you're a large home improvement store and you sell, you know, among other things, you sell barbecues and paint and all sorts of things, and you probably rely upon one or more or many different third party logistics providers and, and delivery service providers to deliver the goods that you are now increasingly being asked by your customers to deliver today after I've ordered it. And then that delivery service provider themselves may be reliant upon a whole host of gig workers that are not even their employees, that are just doing those deliveries on behalf of that, that community. So if you, if you start from the idea that I have to now provide everybody a piece of software and everybody has to install that, well, you're dead from day one. So what we do instead is we start with the idea that, the consumer only needs SMS. The endpoint, the different drivers, the providers that are out there themselves only need SMS. When a conversation, when a three-way conversation or multi-way conversation starts, we send them a text message to invite them into the conversation. And in that text message we include this link that allows them to join the conversation and now participate. And we can spread that link around and control who gets it under the control of the business. Now the business, the dispatch operator or the support organization that's now in the hub of what's going on, that's, that's helping to manage these conversations. They have a web portal that allows them to see all the conversations that are going on and be able to control what's happening. So that's, that's how Riptide is deployed at in its own right. We also recognize that, that, that we're not the center of the universe here. We're we're, we're a piece of the solution. So we have to be a part of the solution stack that's out there. And there's really two components that we need to integrate with. There's two worlds that are coming together. There, there's the world of the supply chain and managing that supply chain, which is, you can think of dispatch and routing and management systems that are kind of kicking off the processes as kicking off the perfect flow, the happy path as being one side of the, of the equation. On the other side of the equation, you have the customer support organization, which is meant to be increasingly omnichannel. They want to basically be able to service their customer no matter where they come from. And so what Riptide does now is we, fit in, we plug right into those solutions. We just actually yesterday announced an integration with On Fleet, which is the fastest growing last mile delivery service. And so that every On Fleet delivery can also kick off a three-way conversation between the recipient, the end-customer, the delivery driver, and the dispatcher to be able to resolve any issues that come up during the delivery service, for example.Tom Raftery:
Nice. Nice, nice. Fascinating. Do you have any customer wins that you can speak to? Any use cases that you can talk about? Well, not use cases, any case studies?Doug Marinaro:
Yeah, I think I can talk generically about them. The, the two big case studies that we've, been successful with first has been in in roadside service where We started off being successful with a few small towing businesses that were part of a larger network, and the success that we had in improving customer satisfaction in reducing what they call no service rendered or gone on arrival. You imagine the truck shows up and the persons, I got my car started and I already left. Before riptide, you're depending upon that person to call in, back into the towing service, work their way through the call tree and get the message. They don't have time for that. Their need for the service was in the context of a very busy day. They're often doing something else. When they added Riptide, now, It's very simple for the customer to say, Hey, oh no problem. I got my car started, I'm gone. They just send that text on back and we significantly reduced that. We gave a a 40% lift in, in customer satisfaction for this particular roadside service. And we ended up deploying across their entire network and across many, many states. And, and we're starting to do this in, for, for other similar associations across the United States right now. And, and in Canada. The other case study, the other example that we've had has been in the area of, of delivery and on-demand delivery using last mile with a series of gig workers. And one of the challenges that this particular organization had was that when the surge would start every day in the morning of all their deliveries as people were doing on demand. And remember, the whole point of on demand is, the person just says I want this delivery now. And it's not a necessarily a planful exercise except for statistically you, you know, when you cer your surges are and, and quite, quickly as people would call in, cuz they were doing big and bulky deliveries as people would be calling in with issues, the wait times. Now they, they may pick up the phone instantly. They may say, Hey, my wait time is no more than a minute. But, but the issue resolution time to be able to solve this problem, to be actually, to be able to have that customer support person communicate with the customer and then reach out to the driver. And in a lot of organizations we see it as we call four point. So it's it's the customer communicating to customer support, customer support, communicating to the dispatch organization, which is separate, and the dispatch organization now communicating to the driver to resolve an issue. The driver may say, well, I can't find that address. That's a common problem. The driver now communicates back at the dispatch dispatch and as they're trying to communicate, all their phone lines are busy cuz everyone's talking to everybody else. So it just became this complete, you know, mess. Average resolution time was an hour when Riptide was inserted, the average resolution time was sub two minutes. And, and what we saw happen was that as soon as the customer said that they had an issue the driver may be driving, so they can't answer cuz they can't do text. But the customer support people could, could say, oh, I'll, we'll make sure we're working on it or, let me see what we can address with you there. Every time the customer sent in a message, the driver would get a little nudge. The driver pulled over or, or had a question, the driver would start to participate in the conversation too. And so what we saw was we saw that the two parties would begin to tag team now on the question. And between the combination of having text and having the multiple parties all be able to communicate consistently, issue resolution, time went from, like I said, an hour down to sub two minutes.Tom Raftery:
Wow. Impressive. What about things like analytics for the, customers who, who have deployed Riptide? Do you give them analytics dashboards and are you examining the data that's coming out of it?Doug Marinaro:
You know, that's, that's really the the hidden secret in the gem in all this. All of these conversations are captured. So, today a lot of organizations they'll give the driver the customer's phone number or vice versa. And now you have this conversation that occurs between a driver and a customer, maybe with their own private phones, that you have no visibility, no record of, or the dispute occurs. You have no idea what's happening. In Riptide, you have complete transparency because all this information is in text. It's all captured and recorded. It's all visible in real time. And when we say visible in real time it's not just for the dispatcher and the customer. To your point, what we can do is what we, what we've developed now are realtime dashboards of the conversations that you can share with other interested parties. So let's imagine you're doing delivery for. A network of paint stores across Canada.Tom Raftery:
a real situation. And every one of these paint stores are collecting orders from their customers. The orders end up getting for delivery, end up getting placed at some central location where they're having gig workers who are coming over to your paint store to do pickup and then doing deliveries. And of course what's interesting with paint is you may go through and say, all right, we're going to be doing this house today and I need all the paint delivered through the gate into the house, that where the paint is gonna happen, and ithas to be there by 8:
00 AM so that all the workers can get the job done in one day. And if it goes to two days, you blow my budget. So it's really important that this delivery happens and everything happens seamlessly. And if any issues occur, there's a problem. What we can do now is we can actually for this delivery service, not only does the dispatcher have the board with all the different conversations for all the different deliveries going on, we also allow that organization to provide a separate dashboard directly to each store so that they can see the conversations that are relevant to their store that are happening. So if the customer calls in and say, Hey, what's going on with my paint?Tom Raftery:
Then they can go look at that conversation and say, well, you know, your driver has been sending you a text message about trying to get the gate code. Oh, oh, yes, I can. And what we've done now is, now, now you're, you're, you're getting everybody visibility into what's happening. And it may be, again, this is under the control of the business and maybe you want the people to participate and maybe you just want the people to be aware. So the first step we have is this idea of real time visibility on every conversation that's happening and making it available not only for the people who are participating, but for any other interested parties that need to be aware of what's occurring, then all this data is collected and is mineable. And one of the things we do is we, we generate dashboards on usage by different parties, on response rates. How long does it take a person to just even read a message when the message comes in? Because if a customer sends in a text message and you don't look at it for a day, well, might not as well texted you, but if you, and that's a coaching moment. It can be used for dispute resolution. And now what we're doing is now we're taking that conversational data and we're starting to apply machine learning models that will allow us to say, all right, when can we now start to insert chatbots into here to be able to handle some of the responses? When can we identify when the conversation needs to be escalated to a different party. So there's just a whole bunch of, useful things you can start to do with that data that we're looking to do in the future. Right now, we're providing those real-time dashboards and we're providing the analytics that help people understand their responsiveness and the performance of their teams.Tom Raftery:
Fascinating. Fascinating. And where to from here? What's, what's next on your agenda and where do you see yourself in kind of like five to 10 years from now?Doug Marinaro:
Well, we see this um, intersection of instant gratification and, and complexity. I I wouldn't say it's, narrow right now, but there's, there's a set of domains where there's definitely a heightened interest. Roadside service. If you can think of it as, the penultimate combination of complexity. You're, you're basically doing a pickup and delivery at a different location every time where the customer doesn't even know where they are and you don't know what the situation is. On demand delivery is another example of that. We're increasingly seeing field service as being an area where there's this expectation of, of a much more instant response. And there's this natural complexity that occurs. We're rolling out into new markets both in terms of geographies, as you mentioned earlier. We have interest in, in Australia and in India and in France and so forth, and we're looking at ways to make sure that our product is applicable, in those locations, but also other, other domains. As we said we're starting at last mile delivery. We see the opportunity to apply what we're doing all the way through the entire three pl. We see our, our component Riptide this new channel for a, a multi-party communication for the context of issue resolution as being something that can be embedded into other applications. So we're, right now, today we're integrating with applications like like OnFleet, like I just mentioned, and other delivery applications. We'll be rolling out an integration later this month with Salesforce, so we can be used in the field service context. As well, we'll be part of the app exchange there. And then we increasingly see ourselves as being embedded in other people's applications as being a part of the solution that they already have, so they can continue to retain their, their single screen type of view when they, work on that. We think that there's literally billions and billions of conversations that need to happen because there's billions and billions of transactions and services that people are getting every day where we can be applied.Tom Raftery:
Okay, fantastic. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Doug, is there any question that I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?Doug Marinaro:
Well, I, I think it really comes down to the idea of, of how conversations can improve the resiliency of your operation. In the end, as you provide a service to a customer, there there's two things that people miss, two blind spots that people have. First is the idea that the, customer is simply a, destination for what you're doing. And all I need to do is, is inform the customer about what's happening, instead of recognizing that the very definition of service is a value that gets delivered collaboratively between the recipient of the service and the delivery of the service. This is the core of service science today. And if you don't involve that customer in the conversation then the likelihood that your service is gonna be successful, and all these organizations that talk about being customer-centric, if you don't give the customer the opportunity to be a part of that conversation, then that service won't be successful. The second key element that people miss is they, think of the support as being an an after, the fact resolution of a problem. I can't tell you how many people we've talked to in the context of delivery when we say, well, what do you do when something goes wrong? Well, we allow up to three reattempts and then it goes back to the warehouse. I said, well, you know, wow. I mean that must be really costly for you. Oh no, it's not costly for us at all. Our customers, you know, the clients, they pay for those reattempts, . And I go, well, that must be courageous. You know, , you goTom Raftery:
They, they must love thatDoug Marinaro:
off on other people. Someone's paying. In the end, the customer is dissatisfied. They don't want the reattempts. It's costing you a lot of money. If instead of accepting failure and thinking of, your support operation as adding a bandage after the fact. If instead you said, I don't want my process to break. What if I could make it bend instead? What if I could take this variability and instead of causing a failure, I think the statistics today are that the number of exceptions in a typical delivery environment is around an order of 10%. Five to 10% depending on what you're talking about. Like parcel failures I think is in the 5%. These are parcels. The cost of a parcel failure is maybe$16 per failure, depending on, you know, the statistics, what you're doing. When you get to big and bulky and more complex, the costs go way up. The percentages of failures go way up. These are all because your, process is breaking instead of bending. And with riptide, if you could just get everyone in on the conversation. At the moment when it's happening, you can take that issue and turn it into a positive experience for everybody, a success,Tom Raftery:
Nice. Cool. Doug, that's been really interesting. If people would like to know more about yourself or Riptide or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?Doug Marinaro:
Go to riptide hq.com. R I P T I D e HQ dot c o m.Tom Raftery:
Fair enough. Very easy. Great. Doug, that's been fascinating. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.Doug Marinaro:
Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it. Enjoyed the conversation.Tom Raftery:
Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, simply drop me an email to TomRaftery@outlook.com If you like the show, please don't forget to click Follow on it in your podcast application of choice to be sure to get new episodes as soon as they're published Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find a show. Thanks, catch you all next time.