Interview with Nicholas Piël, Founder of Surfly

What is your mission?

My mission is to make the web personal again. With Surfly, we enable companies to connect remotely with their website visitors in a personal way. We strive to offer our solution with the highest quality which works in a simple, fast and safe way.
We do not allow technological hurdles to hamper our efforts; we overcome them.

What is your vision?

I believe that the web should be a much more social place to do business. Companies should guide their website visitors in real time and help their clients understand the benefits of their products or services in a way that is personalized and not just general company speak.
The web has allowed people to work much more efficiently. Things that took a lot of time a decade ago can now be done much more easily. For example, you can research a vacation online instead of spending a lot of time with a travel agent. If you want to sell your car or buy a house, you can do so online, all by yourself. Recent technological developments have given us the idea that, no matter what the issue is, we can solve it ourselves.

Many companies optimize their website with the same mindset. These companies believe that people should be able to make decisions independently, directly on their website. They take a pure statistical approach to the design of their website, but this reduces the company to one that is purely focused on squeezing website visitors through the conversion funnel. It is a goal-centred approach where the goal is to make a visitor buy the product as fast as possible.

But this approach misses the most important aspect of communication: personal contact. Website visitors are not interested in the general marketing copy on a website; they are looking for those bits of information that suit their personal needs and requirements.
This is where we can help. With Surfly, companies can bring their website visitors into contact with real representatives, who not only tailor the information so it resonates with the client but who can guide the client during the sales or support journey.

Who are your customers?

Surfly’s first customers were banks and insurance companies whose financial advisors help potential clients select the right insurance or mortgage product. Due to the complexity of these products, people prefer receiving advice from an expert, rather than being left to choose by themselves. We helped the advisors to work much more efficiently and offer an increased level of service as they could advise their clients from the comfort of their own home.

Surfly is also being used by clients whose products require a lot of configuration or customization. These include car dealers who help clients during the buying process, travel agencies who help clients select their dream vacation, and support desks of online web applications.

What do your customers value?

All of our customers value the personal communication with their clients, which they feel is an important factor in differentiating themselves from others. They are not only selling a product but they understand the importance of the entire process.
This aspect, I strongly believe, will become more and more important. Buying through webshop A rather than webshop B doesn’t influence the quality of product X itself. But giving customized advice that helps online shoppers select the right product is a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and a way to deliver added value.

It is naive to believe that in each category there is a simple ranking of products based on quality and that selecting the best is as easy as picking the product that ranks number one. The ranking has to be based on who is actually buying the product. Our customers understand that. They see Surfly as a way not only to increase sales, but also as a way of connecting with their clients through understanding their drive and motivation.

Can you say something about the new features?

To date, Surfly has been pretty basic. In the new version, we have focused a lot on the quality of our co-browsing, so that the end experience is smooth. It just works. The new version is much more convenient to use in a practical setting, and it can be immediately implemented as there is no need for any development by our customers.

The new version offers the following additional features:

  • Text chat and video chat for up to four participants
  • The ability to switch and change control between participants
  • Possible integration with your own website through a simple JavaScript widget
  • Management of multiple agents through a single account
  • Significantly increased functionality for our API, which enables powerful integration with your own product

What are your plans?

We’re just getting started! We have some exciting ideas for improving the quality and the functionality.

How does Surfly compare with other products?

At the moment, there isn’t any other product like Surfly. If you compare Surfly with other screen-sharing solutions, Surfly is not only much more practical to use, it also surpasses the others in terms of performance and quality.

When you compare it with pure browser-based video-chat-based applications, we have one big important extra: our fluent co-browsing. Instead of just having a conversation, Surfly offers the possibility of giving a remote presentation or even collaborate using a certain web application—and all this without installing or configuring anything.