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Kathleen Benson
CEO

ORI

”Keep your goals and core competencies top of mind, but be willing to pivot when necessary. Listen to what your customers are telling you, and use this information to make decisions about why you may need to pivot and when.”

About ORI

ORI is a research and data analytics firm specializing in customer experience. By offering quick and efficient data collection, agile research and analysis, and systematic listening to mine all types of structured and unstructured customer feedback for insights, ORI translates data into decisions and decisions into stronger customer engagement. ORI began 30 years ago as a data collection company focused on data entry and customer satisfaction analysis and, through organic growth and acquisition, is now a full-service customer experience firm. From managing paper and online surveys to orchestrating complex call center operations, ORI combines decades of experience in research, data collection, and analysis to help clients gain a full understanding of customer expectations.

Headquartered: Herndon, Virginia

Founded:  1988 

Company Website: www.ORIresults.com


When and how did you start your business?

In 1988, I was working for a gentleman who didn’t appreciate the work I was doing to keep his very profitable company running smoothly. Right after I had my first child, I told him I was quitting and he begged me to stay. I told him I was starting my own data entry business and would stay with several conditions: same pay, four-day work week, my own phone line to answer with my company name, and flexibility to leave for meetings. I hired women to work from home doing data entry—teleworking before it was even a word!  We have grown to be a research and data analytics firm specializing in customer experience.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

My WBENC Certification has enabled me to meet with companies that I would have never had the opportunity to connect with otherwise. It has also been a conversation starter with companies outside of the WBENC network. It has taught me the importance of messaging, clarity, and focus because when meeting with supplier diversity folks, you need to get their attention and get to the next step. 

What is your business philosophy and how has it impacted your success as a business?

My philosophy has been to never expect an employee to do something that I would not do. That involves the actual work, moral and ethical decisions, professionalism, and courtesy. Also, do not treat anybody any differently than you would like to be treated. When this happens, all of the work takes care of itself and enables us to attract and keep very talented employees.   

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

Keep your goals and core competencies top of mind, but be willing to pivot when necessary. Listen to what your customers are telling you, and use this information to make decisions about why you may need to pivot and when. Some of the best advice has come from our customers.  

What advice would you share with a newly certified WBE looking to make the most out of her certification?

Be present and active with WBENC.  It is important to be active and attend as many events as possible because as they say, you never know who you might meet and where! We met a prospect in a shuttle bus going to the airport and were picked up from different hotels.     

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

You can’t do everything. Hire employees or consultants as soon as you can. It’s a chicken-and-egg game, but do the best you can with getting help. Barter, pay a lower rate and offer commission or incentives, or start with just a few hours that you can afford. Also, you can’t be everything to everybody. Laser focus on what you do best, sell, and deliver it. 

What do you do to prepare for the National Conference & Business Fair?

Our team focuses on our core message and produces information that can be shared with the supplier diversity folks either on paper or electronically. We also practice our pitch with our key differentiator so that will stay top of mind with the supplier diversity folks. Additionally, we research the top 20 companies that we’d like to meet, understand what they buy, and develop questions that we’d like to ask so that we can qualify them as well.