I recently sat down with Dan Engel, CEO of FastSpring E-Commerce, an “e-commerce 2.0″payment processing, merchandising, and fulfillment solution for online merchants, including merchants whose products get downloaded.
I’ve watched his firm’s success start from humble roots back in 2005, and have enjoyed watching his firm find ways to win in such a competitive selling climate. Dan’s sales and marketing background includes stints at Google, Picasa, and Citrix’s GoToMyPC. Disclosure: Dan happens to be my nephew.
Dave Stein: To start things off, how would you describe what FastSpring does?
Dan Engel: FastSpring enables online vendors to accept payment for their products through the custom order page we create for them, enabling their customers to pay using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, check, or money order. Since online vendors already have their own web site, we simply provide the order page that appears after a purchase link is clicked on their site. We take over everything from there, providing detailed sales reports, ad and affiliate tracking, site analytics, product price testing, price discounting, international tax collection, up and cross-selling, chargeback and refund management, product fulfillment, fraud protection, etc. We help grow our clients’ revenue through our product merchandising tools that increase conversion rates and maximize revenue per order.
Dave: I know you have a lot of competition, Dan. Why is FastSpring thriving?
Dan: I’d say above all else, the reason so many online merchants and software publishers are switching to FastSpring is our customer service. We are obsessed with customer service. I’m not kidding. As policy, we always respond to our clients and to their end customers within 24 hours. However, in reality, we generally respond within 1-2 hours, often even on weekends and during off hours.
Each merchant is assigned his or own industry-seasoned, senior-level Dedicated Account Manager. We do as much hand-holding as each client needs, often doing the store and order page setup work for the client to make the switch and the setup process fast and seamless, even when they have the capability of doing that for themselves.
Dave: Is it really just the level of customer service that’s attracting the crowds?
Dan: Well, there’s more to it. While service seems to be the number one reason, our customer surveys reveal to us that our technology, pricing, product add-on capabilities, and automatic currency and language localization provide real customer business value for our clients. Without a very competitive product, we certainly wouldn’t be in this position.
Dave: How do you sell and win against those competitors who have been around for a decade and are billion dollar firms?
Dan: While we’re not as large, we’ve proven to be a more agile innovator. We also leverage their weaknesses as our strengths. The big guys are known for poor customer service. We’ve made that our primary strength. The big e-commerce systems are rigid, often outdated, and hard to use. Our solution is just the opposite. Many large competitors overcharge and underdeliver, and we pride ourselves on doing just the opposite. And we believe there is no substitute for total transparency, honesty, and integrity when you’re managing millions of dollars in payment processing transactions. At the end of the day, it’s the customer service and personalized experience offered to vendors irrespective of their size that truly differentiates us in our clients’ eyes, and we’re pleased to have that distinction. As we see it, clients deserve to be treated like gold, and we treat them that way.
Dave: Is there a way for us to see FastSpring in action without too much effort?
Dan: Sure. We designed a product demo in Flash which you can check out from our homepage. Let folks know that if they don’t find the answer they seek about our service on FastSpring.com, they can email me directly at dan at fastspring.com.
Dave: You’re OK giving out your email address despite being the company CEO?
Dan: Dave, as mentioned, we are obsessed with customer service, and that includes me. Perhaps we go a little far, but our customers have come to love us for it and we want to give them more. We’re having a great time.