Cloud-based content management system for virtual and augmented reality

This time we spoke with Jernej Mirt, CEO, and co-founder at  VIAR. Already during parallel studies of engineering and entrepreneurship, he participated in developing the entrepreneurship platform Cofinder.eu. We worked together a couple of months on small startup project in the region but after failing our he cofounded VIAR, which is developing virtual reality for the purposes of marketing.

Virtual Reality and 360 are coming and like any medium out there you will need to find a way to measure its performance. Analytics are important in every Industry. VR is not going to be an exception! There are more VR headsets being distributed – from high-end (HTC Vive, Rift), Medium (GearVR) and low-end (Google Cardboard, ViarBox). With the arrival of fun new content which is arriving steadily on all VR platforms, marketing agencies and creators themselves will need to find a way to measure and analyze customer behavior. Headset distribution is correlated with the amount of good content. Luckily, there are more and more ways to create VR content than ever before. You can use 360 spherical cameras for live footage or create your own using Unity, Unreal Engine, or other digital world building software. There are only handful of experts when it comes to VR/360 staging and “cinematography”. Most of the film producers – amateurs and professionals – are taking the plunge and are starting to provide services in 360/VR stories.

Jernej Mirt

Jernej Mirt, CEO at VIAR

By the summer of 2015, VIAR was nearly bankrupt. The product — virtual reality tours to help architects show clients future construction — just wasn’t gaining traction due to the economic crisis in the region. The end seemed near for CEO Jernej Mirt and his team but then an unexpected request changed everything. As once said for the GeekWire Interview:

“We went out to look for a client that would buy a custom VR app and custom VR headsets. It took us 10 days to find and close the first customer.”

As VIAR moved in a new direction, the team realized there was yet another pain point to be solved. Many clients found it difficult to distribute the apps VIAR had built for them. They began work on a content management system that automated the process and eventually launched Viar360, a publishing platform for VR apps.

How Do You Get Your First Customers to Trust You?

Our goal is to establish a personal relationship with them. We do this through Skype or some other medium that allows us to see their face. You need to be honest about what you’re doing, what you’re offering, and how this will help them. We focus a lot on our customer’s gains.

What does good customer service mean to you?

It means that you’re available for when problems occur. What everybody wants is basically to be heard and know that you’re going to do whatever you can to help them resolve the issue.

How does the support function looks like at your organization?

Because we are still a small company we share the support role. We basically have the business part of the company be the first initial contact. If we can’t resolve the issue ourselves we include the technical part of the team. When we can see it’s a technical issue from the start we connect the customer to our technical team right away.

When hiring customer support employees, a resume doesn’t tell you much about whether or not someone is going to make your customer happy. What are these essential customer service skills you are searching for?

It definitely needs to be somebody who can be empathic towards the customer. They need to understand how they would feel in their shoes. They also need to have a lot of patience and be very clear when communicating with the customer.

There are many things you can measure customer support employees on, but ultimately, there’s one metric that matters most. How do you measure the success of your support efforts?

We currently don’t measure our support efforts success. Most of the evaluation of our support is done through qualitative approaches.

What have been the biggest roadblocks you had to overcome to provide great support?

It’s always hard to find a balance between personal support and the level of support that should be offered online.

What role does support play on your product roadmap, if any?

For one of our products, it plays a crucial part of the roadmap. Our support products allow us to see where exactly the customer is and what problems are they dealing with even if they don’t want to tell us. This allows us to make sure that they are successful using our product.

What’s the role of self-help support in your support framework?

Self-help support is something that we have to add to our roadmap. For now, we use in-house build a support system, that doesn’t give us insights on which content is working and which not.

What tools do you use?

Mostly open source software and standard communication tools like Skype.

How do you or your boss empower everyone with internal support documentation?

We have an internal wiki that people are able to use.

What would be number one advice you will give to junior support manager before starting his or her position?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

One of the best ways to connect with prospects is by using stories from existing customers. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as saying “could you please provide a testimonial?”Sure, that’ll get you a testimonial, but it’ll probably be a weak, generic and canned-sounding blurb that won’t help you any more than not having testimonials. What Makes a Good Testimonial?

As you said it’s better if it’s personal and if it’s concrete in how you helped that specific customer.

Where is customer support heading? How would you like it to change in the future?

I think we will see a lot more AI being used in support. At least in the initial contact phase.

About the Author: Jernej Mirt is the CEO and co-founder of VIAR, a Ljubljana and Seattle startup developing a cloud-based content management system for virtual and augmented reality that will empower publishers, educators, brands, and businesses.

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