Jonathan Shroyer – A Leader with the vision of a Better Future.
Jonathan Shroyer is always looking to the future. “When I imagine the future of service, I see brands focusing on emotional affinity,” says Shroyer, a veteran of the customer experience industry and our Person of the Year. “Is the service you provide as relevant and needed as a person’s morning cup of joe? If not, you are not essential yet, and have work to do.”
Furthermore, he states,” this concept applies to all parts of your life. Your family, community, and other passions. You need to have great emotional affinity with your partner, children, neighbors, and other friends. A 360 view of the world that is balanced in harmony and that brings value to you and your network is key.”
The Future of Service
Shroyer is CEO of Officium Labs and Chief Customer Experience Innovation Officer at Arise Virtual Solutions, which purchased Officium in November 2021. Before co-founding Officium, he led teams at established companies such as Microsoft, Monster, and Autodesk and then built customer service operations for the on-demand delivery startup Postmates and mobile gaming provider Kabam. CIO Journal, a publication of The Wall Street Journal,recently named Shroyer among its “Top CX Professionals of 2022.”
In the spring of 2019, Shroyer teamed up with former Kabam colleague Scott McCabe to co-found Officium Labs. Their vision then was to help brands harness the power of customer service to maximize revenue and customer outcomes.
“Too many companies mistakenly consider customer service a cost center,” Shroyer says. “Offering customers great service and an amazing over-all experience increases customer retention and loyalty, and that increases revenue. When it’s done right, CX is not a cost center—it’s a profit center.”
Starting with just a $150,000 loan, Shroyer and McCabe quickly built up Officium’s team and client base. Within two years, Officium—headquartered in California but employing talent from around the world—had won more than 30 clients and exceeded $12 million in revenues.
Officium’s business is built around three pillars: Connect Frontline Service Partners, CX Transformation consultants, and technologies that optimizes the customer experience. Its consulting services began with a CX maturity audit that focuses on crucial aspects of CX management (strategy and leadership, employee experience, voice of the customer, analytics, and technology). Officium works with clients to review the results of this assessment and then create a roadmap for future success. The company’s Connect frontline service partners provide a global network of on-demand customer service talent that clients can tap into to handle spikes in volume and avoid backlogs—or to staff their entire customer service operation. Through their technology services, Officium helps clients identify and make use of a range of CX technologies to simplify, harmonize, and improve service.
Shroyer chose Officium as the name of his company because it’s Latin for “to serve” or “to help.” The name reminds him of his original motivation for entering the services industry: the drive to be helpful to others.
“I had a tough childhood,” Shroyer says, “but at the bleakest times, I always found a helper—a kind-hearted person to protect me, to remind me of the goodness in the world. From a young age, I understood that my purpose in life would be to serve and help.”
Shroyer was also a very analytical child. The network model on which Officium is built—the concept of nodes and hubs providing bi-lateral value—has intrigued him since elementary school.
“As a kid, I was fascinated by geography. I used to spend hours drawing maps, looking at the ways rivers and highways connected towns and cities into one massive network,” he says. “Later I got interested in information networks. I read books about inventors like Nikola Tesla and Vannevar Bush and early computer scientists like JCR Licklider.”
Shroyer never lost interest in the topic of networks. When he first envisioned Officium, he saw in his mind a decentralized network of hubs (clients) and nodes (CX talent) delivering value to one another. Such value that could bring great purpose and economy to areas of the world that were not tech hubs.
When Shroyer and McCabe launched Officium in 2019, they were confident their decentralized, work-from-home model was the way of the future. They had no idea the future would arrive so quickly.
“Most customer service centers around the world are in physical locations. When the pandemic hit in 2020, companies were scrambling to set up their customer service agents to work from home,” Shroyer says. “Ours were already there.”
Using remote CX talent to provide flexible, on-demand service is a hallmark of Officium’s business. It’s also a strength for Florida-based Arise, making the two companies a natural fit. Acquiring Officium adds talent to Arise’s network and also gives Arise access to Officium’s unique CX consulting model and its strengths in workforce management, quality assurance, fraud, social engagement, and content moderation.
Shroyer’s role in the combined company is to lead Arise’s gaming and consulting divisions. He’ll also contribute his enthusiasm and vision for the future of customer experience, helping Arise imagine and create new service offerings.
This spring, he’ll launch a CX Lab in the San Francisco Bay area, where he and his team will help clients imagine their CX future and then help them build it—with a focus on creating emotional affinity. The lab will also serve as a CX think tank and a location for Officium and Arise’s distributed teams to collaborate together.
Building a Supportive Company Culture
When Officium provided a CX workshop for Sun Basket, a San Francisco-based meal delivery company, the client’s team came away not only with great customer service strategies but also with stronger bonds and relationship among its team members.
“One of the things about Officium is they truly understand that great customer experiences start with amazing employee experiences,” says Sun Basket Vice President of Customer Service Brett Fraser.
The importance of happy, engaged employees is something Shroyer emphasizes with clients and within his own organization. Employees who believe in their company and enjoy their jobs naturally offer the best service and make the most sales, says Shroyer, which means company leaders need to actively monitor and manage employee satisfaction.
“A lot of companies conduct employee surveys once or twice a year,” he says. “As we were building Officium, we knew that wouldn’t be good enough. With a decentralized team spread around the globe, we need to know how our people are feeling and what they’re thinking all the time, not just twice a year.”
Officium uses a tool called Office Vibe to conduct brief employee surveys once a week. If employee satisfaction dips even slightly, leadership immediately seeks out the cause and makes course corrections.
Shroyer and his leadership team also work hard to creative a supportive company culture. Officium’s motto—“win or learn”—creates an environment in which employee accomplishments are roundly rewarded and failures are seen as growth opportunities.
“At a startup, you’re constantly making changes,” Shroyer says. “When a change is needed, we don’t want employees to feel it was a failure on anybody’s part. We want them to experiment and take risks without being afraid they’re going to break the company.”
Seeing Solutions Nobody Else Sees
Shroyer has a talent for creating novel solutions to problems. Earlier in his career, his creative solution to a staffing problem led to dramatically improved inquiry response times, customer satisfaction, courier satisfaction, delivery quality, and overall operational performance.
“In a traditional customer/BPO relationship,” Shroyer says, “you hire a customer service vendor, tell them what volume to expect, and they provide support for that volume. And generally speaking, that model works well.”
Working in logistics, however, volume was never predictable. Some days, volume spiked by 100 percent or more—but not every day.
“Every BPO that we brought in just broke. They just couldn’t do it,” Shroyer says, “because they couldn’t scale up and scale down.” Shroyer then looked at other companies for inspiration, companies like Uber and Doordash, and decided to apply their model to his problem.
“All these companies were using on-demand staffing for a simplified workflow, which is ‘go get me food’ or ‘get me a taxi.’ I figured, there’s no reason we can’t use that for mid-level skills workflow,” he says. “And so, I launched basically the Uber of customer service. I onboarded hundreds of service partners in less than six weeks and essentially solved the problem. Thanks to that decentralized workforce, we never had a service-level issue again.”
Later in his career while working at many different video game publishers, Shroyer introduced a new support model aimed at retaining the gaming company’s most lucrative customers and maximizing their lifetime customer value.
In freemium gaming, players naturally fall into three categories: those who simply play the free game without spending any money, those who make moderate in-game purchases, and a small percentage of high rolling player who annually spend $100,000 or more in a game. Looking at this player stratification reminded Shroyer of the pricing models of most enterprise services, with silver, gold, and platinum service packages.
“I realized we had players already paying for better service, but nobody was giving it to them” he says. “So, we revolutionized the video game support model. We adopted an enterprise-offerings model with higher levels of service for players who were already paying for it.”
“It’s so easy for players to get bored or frustrated and simply delete a game from their phone,” he adds. “When a player is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in your game each year, you can’t simply hope they keep playing. You need to offer them a premium level of service to reward and encourage their loyalty.”
Adapting to Succeed
In addition to his talents for building company culture and for creative problem solving, Shroyer—like many successful entrepreneurs—embraces necessary change. He follows Nelson Mandela’s creed “win or learn.”
“I don’t get tied into thinking, ‘This is the way it’s always been done, so we should always do it this way,’ or ‘This the way I think it should be done, so surely this is the right way to do it.’” If an approach isn’t working, he says, he immediately examines the situation to understand the reason for the failure and then adapts his approach.
“As we were building Officium,” he says, “there were a number of times when I realized, ‘Hey, this isn’t working because I’m in the way, or because I’m not focused on the right things, or because I’m moving too fast, or because something I’m doing is having an impact I didn’t expect.” That self-awareness and ability to adapt, he says, are essential to moving a business forward.
As Officium moves forward as part of a new parent company, Shroyer looks ahead with optimism. “The future of service looks very bright,” he says. “And I’m excited about the amazing partnership with Arise. Together, our mission is to be aware, be there, and be essential. We look forward to helping brands create emotional affinity with their customers, generating value for all involved. At the end of the day, our goal is to help someone out. If we are truly helping people, our lives and the world will be better for it.”
In the same vein he is even more excited as a new father. Every day he learns something new about fatherhood and how to help mentor and guide a young human in and through life. Additionally, I am a big believer in work life harmony and having a great support network. He shares, “My wife, my community, and my faith help life support and guide my ethos, core values, and the work I do every day to help and service customers!”