Podium has come a long way from our days above the bike shop.

In four short years, we’ve made enormous strides—we’ve grown from one product to an entire suite that offers local businesses an opportunity to step into the limelight and win leads, earn repeat customers, and do more as a team.

Podium’s work started with my Dad’s tire shop. He owned and ran an incredible business that had plenty of happy customers. But he was frustrated. His online presence simply didn’t accurately reflect his customers’ in-person experience. As a millennial, it was easy for me to see what was going on and the deficit he was dealing with to compete in the modern world. And he wasn’t alone. There were hundreds of thousands of other business owners dealing with these same challenges.

When I co-founded Podium with Dennis, we started our efforts by creating an effective, efficient way to gather reviews for local businesses. We’ve since used that success to build out an entire platform of solutions designed specifically for doing business with customers—in the moment. And while our platform has expanded exponentially, our founding mission remains the same: to modernize the way business happens locally.

A Square Peg in a Round Hole

The in-store and in-person experience is not dying or dead.

Most consumers (about 90% of them) actually prefer brick-and-mortar locations to online distributors. Local businesses offer something online competitors can’t match—a friendly and helpful go-to resource who can help them address pain points or provide solutions when customers need them the most. And not only that, there are some services or purchases, like going to the dentist or having a plumber visit your home, that quite simply will never be done online.

But, there’s still a disconnect.

These local businesses are trying to put a square peg in a round hole by using platforms and marketing strategies that aren’t built for the in-person experience. And because local businesses don’t have the ‘right’ technology and infrastructures that cater to the ever-changing customer journey and type of convenience customers have grown to expect, the gap between online and offline customer experiences is only amplified.

We set out to change all that.

A Toolkit for the Convenience Economy

Reviews were the initial puzzle piece. But we quickly discovered that Reviews were symptomatic of an even bigger issue. Most local businesses lacked tools that could enable frictionless customer interactions—they just couldn’t compete with the overall online experience. So, we worked to equip local businesses with long overdue solutions.

In the same spirit that we built Reviews, we created more products that would be easy-to-use and practical. One by one, each product eased customer pain points and enabled local businesses to become more convenient, modern, and efficient.

More importantly, we saw that combining the use of these products was generating a powerful flywheel effect; with Reviews and Webchat helping businesses get chosen more often, and Messaging and Feedback helping create five-star customer experiences, businesses were winning more leads, retaining more customers, and then easily leveraging those customers into even more growth.

Creating a Category with Interaction Management

We soon found ourselves in a predicament—there were no existing product categories that fit the impact and capabilities of our product suite. Like our customers, we wound up trying to shoehorn ourselves into outdated solution categories that wouldn’t give our products the justice they deserve. We too were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

For that reason, we are defining a brand new category: Interaction Management.  

Interaction Management is a categorical umbrella for products that facilitate modern interactions—an all-in-one platform that helps you win more leads, earn repeat customers, and do more as a team.

Within Podium, two-way messaging allows businesses to provide the type of efficiency and convenience today’s customers have come to expect from businesses, while an easy-to-use dashboard offers fast-acting insight into every interaction. By using Podium, local businesses are finally able to make every aspect of the customer journey convenient and effective, regardless of what channel the customer chooses.

Messaging is how consumers expect business to happen. It improves all kinds of internal and customer-facing interactions. With Podium, businesses are able to:

  • Be the obvious choice with customers because of a positive, personable first impression and interaction.
  • Gain customers for life due to the ease with which they can communicate back and forth, schedule appointments, gather feedback and reviews, and more.
  • Collaborate as a team and gain in-context customer insights.

So, long gone are the days of lost leads, disjointed customer journeys, and disillusioned teams. For the first time ever, local businesses have a modern way to interact at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

The Future of Local Business

We get the pain points and the juggling act that defines the customer journey in a clicks-to-bricks world. And we get that it can be really tough when it doesn’t need to be for both businesses and their customers. Businesses, like their customers, need a straight-forward, easy to manage platform that caters to every single touchpoint of the customer journey.

Podium’s Interaction Management platform speaks to modern customer expectations and allows local businesses to do it efficiently.

At Podium, we’re beyond excited to see what the future holds as interaction Management transforms, enhances, empowers, and connects the dots for local businesses and their customers.

-Eric Rea