Interview with Phil Lodge, Universal Au Pairs founder – a Customer Success Story

March 12th, 2015

“Competition is intense, regulation is high” – Universal Au Pairs founder, Phil Lodge, tells us how he turned a small business into a big business despite fierce competition, with the help of our out-of-the-box inbound call management system.

As the founder of Universal Au Pairs, an online portal for European host families to search and find au pairs and equally for au pairs to search and find a placement with a family, Phil Lodge is well versed in the world of small business and digital marketing.

Having established Universal Au Pairs in 2004 Lodge has successfully scaled the online platform into a firmly established business.

Lodge recognised the great demand for cost-effective childcare solutions to serve the ever-changing needs of working Mums and Dads, and developed a platform that would benefit both those seeking to hire and the au pairs themselves.

Lodge outlines three key requirements that he feels are essential for small businesses, and describes how SwitchboardFREE helped to propel his own business’ growth.

He explains:

1. Outsourcing

“The business world becomes ever more regulated, and compliance with all aspects of rules and regulations is important. Flexible and appropriate solutions are required to enable small businesses to offer cost-effective differentiated services and make a profit.

We outsource key parts of our service, including web design, cash flow and record keeping solutions. These are not core services and outsourcing them allows us to focus on what’s really important to our customers. It’s important to find the right outsourcing partners and always ensure that they offer good support and a first class service.”

2. Advertising

“Make sure your advertising is targeted. Cost-effective advertising, such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), is absolutely critical. Ensure you take the time to review your advertising regularly as the PPC market can change daily.”

3. Customer Service

“This is overlooked by so many companies. It’s hard to find customers, so when you have them, don’t let them go. Retention of existing customers is imperative if you are looking to grow your company.

Make sure you are contactable at all times and offer a first class service. Remember that most customers want to talk to you when they have a problem, don’t put customer contact off.”

How did SwitchboardFREE help?

On his own experience of becoming a well-established, very customer-orientated business, Lodge said:

“Customer service relies on an excellent inbound call management system that handles business telephone numbers and offers call handling tools. Many of our calls come out-of-hours, and are from overseas. We needed a solution to enable us to answer more calls – both within normal office hours and out-of-hours, which meant being able to transfer incoming calls to different landline and mobile telephone numbers depending on the day.”

He added – “The voicemail sent in real time via email and the missed call alerts by email were also a huge benefit to us from a customer service perspective. Receiving these means we can return missed calls and respond to messages very quickly, this really has impressed our callers. SwitchboardFREE ticks all these boxes and provides excellent service tools to our customers”

Lodge believes that there is great potential for small businesses: “Viral growth happens when your customers like your service and like you.”

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