Mila CEO Christian Viatte on the three questions he gets the most

Today we’ve decided to do something a little different for the Mila blog. We sat down with our CEO, Chris Viatte, for a quick discussion. Last time we checked in with Chris, he had just taken over as Mila’s CEO. This time, we talked to him about the different questions and concerns our business partners have before they join the Mila family. 

Let’s get right into it. When it comes to crowdsourced service, what are companies looking for?

Well, first thing is that it’s not really about crowdservice for them, but about reducing costs and increasing net promoter score at the same time. Net promoter score describes how likely a customer is to recommend a company or a company’s service to a peer, and companies are always looking for how to improve it.

Now, the word “crowd” isn’t prominent in the mind of our business partners. It’s a bit of a trendy word. They’re interested in good, fast service, however you call it. For them, it’s important how they can benefit from a model, not specifically what the model is.

What are potential partners most concerned about before they start working with Mila?

Their concerns can be mainly divided into three major problem areas. These are costs, quality assurance and security, and legal concerns. In my opinion, we’ve done a very good job of providing assurances to all of the possible concern areas.

Let’s start at the top then. How can Mila help a partner keep costs down?

Well, anytime you offer a service that you weren’t offering before, your costs go up, so it’s always good to talk about net costs. And what Mila can offer at such a low net cost is really quite remarkable. Ten years ago, offering onsite service for customers required having a team of dozens of technicians, training them, and paying them whether or not they were working. That’s a huge amount of overhead, and they aren’t even available all the time. What Mila offers is a very low overhead, low onboarding, and extremely available workforce, one that you only pay when they’re actually working. That’s a tiny net cost compared to the alternatives available, and when compared to the huge benefits that you get from offering such a service.

I just want to emphasize this: to have an on-demand service crew is something special. With Mila, companies have the opportunity to disrupt their own service model. Today service is completely jammed, and customers have to wait days or weeks to get a technician to their house. Not many companies can say they have a qualified service crew available onsite within the hour. That’s a huge benefit.

So how can you promise that the technician will do a good job? How do you address their concerns about quality assurance?

There are several ways that we vet Mila Friends and Pros. First, the distinction between Friends and Pros itself makes things easier. Anyone who has helped their grandmother with her email can tell you that many computer problems do not require a huge amount of expertise or special training.

We have an intelligent marketplace that coordinates who we send to the job. Certain partners require only professional levels of expertise (a Pro), while others may only need a qualified individual (a Friend).

But basically when someone signs up to be a friend, we ask some questions to determine their level of expertise and where we should place them in our program. This is our quality assurance step.

And about security?

Well to be frank about it, they want to be sure that the technicians are not criminals. Luckily, this requirement is aligned with our goals at Mila [laughs]. They want to know if we have a good background check, things like that. It’s one of the most asked questions, really, how do we really make sure these are friendly, good people. How will the customers react to these strangers.

What we learned is that customers are really open. For them it’s important that the service is recommended by a trustworthy brand. If they trust the brand, they will trust the technician. In Switzerland, Swisscom is a very trustworthy brand, and so if Swisscom recommends “Swisscom Friends powered by Mila,” the customer will trust that. Mila isn’t a famous brand, but we’ve positioned ourselves to grow alongside a big, trustworthy brand.

Crowdsourcing companies like Uber and Airbnb have historically had frequent run-ins with the law. How does Mila address the legal concerns partners may have?

Mila isn’t trying to be Uber. Our model is B2B2C, so we understand that our main customers, the partners, are very concerned with being legally compliant. Every time Mila expands into a new country, we learn the ins and outs of the local legal environment and make sure we can operate totally in the clear. We always set up an ecosystem to work with several business partners, not just one. We try to generate a huge crowd of techs, so we need to set up a whole ecosystem based on the employment law. We always work with local experts of employment law and adapt our model to the legal environment in the country.

Anything to wrap us up?

I think it’s important to mention that companies are not coming to us because they’re afraid. They’re coming to us because they have pressure to change their business model, that they feel the market changing dramatically and understand they need to keep up. Mila is a way for them to update their service model for the 21st century and focus on improving their net promoter score and reducing costs at the same time. Customers today want to have service at a touch of a button.

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