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Top10 Dynamic Entrepreneurs: David Fazio on the importance of customer service and staying Aussie

We are all too familiar with the pain of trying to get in touch with telecommunications companies and their lacking customer service.

From endless time spent on hold to ineffective conservations with customer service in general, Australian users are tired and frustrated from trying to find a reliable internet service provider that pays attention to their needs.

With the continued rollout of NBN, MATE seized the opportunity and stepped into the game between service providers. From being family-owned in Sydney’s West to having their Aunty who cooks a ‘family style’ lunch for the team each day, MATE sticks to family values while running a business.

At the beginning of this new year, we talked to one of the co-founders of MATE, David Fazio, about MATE’s business journey so far and its customer-first strategy. 

When times were tough in the early days as a backyard business, what were the things you did or thought in order to keep going with your vision?

I always found a way of supporting the growth. When you are growing and growing fast, you never want to stop it. So, I had to sacrifice a lot to support the growth financially and throwing bodies at problems because we couldn’t fix it quick enough via automation. The hardest part was getting through economically; we have done a lot to support the growth by reducing personal salaries to putting the family home up as collateral.

Why do you think it’s important for MATE to stay grounded here in Australia? 

Being grounded is the only way we survive in a market where margins are squeezed all the time. Personally, I’m not doing this to live in 3 story homes or drive cars costing 500k (though it would be nice!). I’m doing this for passion, financial freedom, and being able to offer/help the people that have supported this business succeed in their futures, and those people are the ones that work in this business every day the staff! Without the people in this business, there isn’t a business.

Can you tell us more about how your approaches to customer service are different from other businesses?

First of all, it needs to be onshore; that’s the one thing I won’t compromise on. Secondly, while every function of the business is essential, you have always to remember that customer service is your marketing, the staff talking to our customers is the most important and best value marketing you can ever have. In regular business, pay in customer service is generally at the lower tier in mate; it is on par with most departments. People always say how or why do you pay so much, and I always say, “What is too much?” Customer service is your front line of this business. Thirdly, I always tell my team to remember what customers do for the company because without them you don’t have a business. Always remember that customers aren’t forced to be with us, they choose to.

Are there any advice for other entrepreneurs about upkeeping the spirits of running a business?

Culture is key! Have a great culture and you will have the best chance to reach the goals you have set out for your business.

What are the future plans for MATE?

Lots, watch this space!

You can read more about the stories of our Top10 Entrepreneurs here.