As the founder and CEO of LivePerson, Rob LoCascio is the guiding force behind the company’s vision of creating meaningful connections between businesses and their customers through real-time engagement and data intelligence.
Beyond his business, Rob is deeply committed to connecting with his local community. He is the founder of Feeding NYC, a hunger-relief project that feeds thousands of families – virtually every shelter in New York City every Thanksgiving. He was recognized as “Person of the Day” by Huffington Post in 2010 for his efforts, and today, Rob writes regularly for the Huffington Post’s “Good News” column.
LivePerson, Inc. (Nasdaq: LPSN) offers a cloud-based platform that enables businesses to proactively connect in real-time with their customers via chat, voice, and content delivery at the right time, through the right channel, including websites, social media, and mobile devices. This “intelligent engagement” is driven by real-time behavioral analytics, producing connections based on a true understanding of business objectives and customer needs.
MO: What are some of the ways that you fulfill your mission of “creating meaningful connections” in the world?
Rob: Our mission of “creating meaningful connections” is the thread we weave through everything we do. We believe our technology brings unique value to the world because it helps drive meaningful connections between our customers and their customers. To us, a connection is meaningful when it is made in real-time (at the precise moment of need), when a connection is engaging and personal, and can happen through any device or channel.
We also strive to “practice what we preach,” and make an effort to personally engage with our local communities. Twelve years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt a strong urge to connect with fellow New Yorkers in their time of need, and decided to start the Feeding NYC project—where friends, family, and employees gather to package and hand-deliver Thanksgiving meals to thousands of sheltered families in New York. After the initial success of Feeding NYC, we started LivePerson Cares, our global corporate outreach program that supports individual and group initiatives across all of our office locations. In fact, each of our offices participates in a local community project that is special to them and will drive forward our mission. For example, our office in Ra’anana, Israel sponsors multiple projects, including tutoring children and packing meals for families in need during Passover. Our office in the United Kingdom recently completed a 100-mile charity challenge to support a hospice for terminally ill children, and a food kitchen for impoverished families.
I hope that our Feeding NYC and LivePerson Cares initiatives inspire others to connect with their local community in any way, large or small, because I think they’ll really understand how valuable that connection can be.
MO: How does LivePerson’s platform help to increase conversions and improve customer experience for your clients?
Rob: We provide a platform that accesses the broadest set of data and leverages proprietary intelligence to help businesses connect with the right customer at the right time through the right engagement channel on the device of choice. Enabling businesses to intelligently engage customers in real-time through multiple channels has produced up to 20% lift in conversions, 35% higher average order values, and up to 25% reduction in support costs. Our growing base of customers continue to discover new ways to improve their brand experience and boost revenue by leveraging our intelligent engagement platform.
MO: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Rob: I come from a family of entrepreneurs and realized very early on in my professional career that I wasn’t in my element working for other people. I sold my first company IKON in 1995 and went on to start LivePerson a few years later. I think truly successful entrepreneurs are those who tie their core strengths to a greater mission. I started LivePerson after one of my first experiences on the Internet– I had a product question on a site, but there was no one online that I could connect with. I had to dial a number, wait, and explain my whole dilemma—it was a very disconnected and disruptive experience. , I thought the Internet was created so that we could “connect” with human beings, but what I experienced was the opposite. This created that “light bulb” moment for me and helped set into motion what is now LivePerson.
MO: What inspired you to revamp your entire company culture?
Rob: About two years ago, I looked around at what was a seemingly successful public company and saw things evolving in a way that I thought could potentially hurt us in the long term– stunt our growth rates and success. Naturally, with expansion comes bureaucracy, silos, and disjointedness between functional groups. People became more focused on structures and titles than they were on the overall mission and vision of our company. I knew that this model was not the ticket to a long-term, sustainable organization.
I began spending a lot of time with other companies who were doing it “right” and realized that we needed to completely change the direction we were heading. I brought the entire Company together – all 300+ of us, at the time – for a “cultural evaluation,” and a unique opportunity to connect face to face. It was a turning point for the Company and the most valuable outcome was the creation of our core values. We initially had 40 core values and left that meeting with two that really resonated with the entire group (we actually held a vote): Be an Owner and Help Others.
That meeting and the months following brought other changes, including the removal of offices and cubicles, including my own. Our core values are a mantra that shape our interactions with eachother, our conversations with our customers, and inform leaders what to look for in the next hire. They are what define LivePerson.
MO: If you could sit down and have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Rob: I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Vaclav Havel before he died last year. Havel was a renowned writer and playwright who later became the last President of the Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. He was a fearless dissident and went to jail for many years during the communist rule of Czechoslovakia, but when it all collapsed, he stepped up to guide the country as its leader to defend and champion a democratic nation. I find it incredibly inspiring when a person, whether you’re an artist, teacher, politician, and so forth, can have the vision, will, and desire to effect change through political movement. More importantly, he created change without any bloodshed. He’s won numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts, and was the Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation at the time of his death.
MO: What are some things that a company should look for when it comes to searching for a mobile chat solution? Is there anything that they should avoid?
Rob: Over the past two years, the mobile channel has seen tremendous growth and innovation.
Companies should look for a mobile chat solution that is consistent with their brand and customer service philosophy, and should offer the same rich experience of a desktop chat. The interface should be optimized for the mobile screen and intuitive to navigate. Even today, many businesses simply replicate their desktop sites for mobile devices—not realizing that a poor mobile or tablet experience is one of the easiest ways to lose a customer. Another important factor– mobile customers have a greater sense of urgency since they are connecting on-the-go, so agents need to respond to these customers with priority, using concise responses.
Finally, mobile chat offers agents the opportunity to provide a personalized customer experience, wherever the customer might be, creating a strong brand experience regardless of channel and touch-point. Using a tool that gathers location data, behavioral data and analytics, agents can deliver a more personalized and relevant conversation—for example, an agent can offer directions to the nearest store that carries the product that the customer is looking to buy, or offer info on local promotions and deals, relevant to what the customer is looking for.