Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

$$$ Back, Data and Beer with Ric and Murph at Sharpen

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.

Alex  00:00

Hello, and welcome to another cloud podcast podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in it, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience.


Aarde  00:17

Welcome to another cloud podcast. I'm joined here today with my co host, Alex. Alex. Great to have you on.


Alex  00:28

Yeah, absolutely. It's Friday. I love doing podcasts on Friday. I'm so happy, you know, spin at the end of the week, it's getting closer to the afternoon, as we shouldn't be tapping into some of those Beer taps that you have and having a cold one on this one. But we didn't coordinate well enough. So here we are. Hot in my little office ready to go talk talking about AI and what's going on in the contact center world. But yeah, happy to be here.


Aarde  00:55

Yeah, absolutely. And we're also joined here by two people, not just one, just a special for this episode here too. And sort of one, two, for the price of one it should say two people from Sharpen. We've got Ric and Murph. I'll let you guys kind of say hi, and give a little intro about who you are and what you guys do at sharpen.


Ric  01:18

 Since you're not used to having two folks over here. I'm Ric Kosiba. I'm the chief data scientist. I'm gonna let Murph talk about agent first and sharpen all that stuff. I'm gonna run over and get a beer and I'll be right back.


Alex  01:30

Oh, you smart man.


Aarde  01:32

You are in your office?


Murph  01:33

Yeah. So I know how far away the CAG is from his office. So I know, really. I'm Murph krajewski, I'm the CMO at sharpen. We've been, we call ourselves the agent first contact center platform, we do omni channel, we're all up in the cloud. The I will kind of get into the weeds of it a little bit. But the summary is everything that we do. Everything that we create, is focused around creating a better experience for frontline customer service workers. The people that are on the phone, when you call an 800 number or on the other end, when you get a human on the other end of a web chat or a text message or whatever. Our I will say theory but it's not theory, we're finding that when you improve the experience of the frontline agents that numerically, customers have a better experience as well. And I'm sure Rick's got all kinds of data and all that good stuff. But we're finding a real like obvious close tie to if you improve certain agent stats, then like cset numbers go up as well. And we bring all of that home for businesses by guaranteeing some ROI metrics. And we're seeing just some really cool stuff come out of that.  So see, I knew how long it was gonna take him to get back with a beer.


Alex  02:53

Yeah, I thought I thought he was filling up a Growler. At first it was taking so long. Well, Rick, he didn't say too many bad things about you. So you can, you can say good things about yourself. 


Ric  03:05

Nice, nice, nice I caught the tail end of what Murph was talking about. It's, he's he's right, we've started measuring ROI. And we've got some really cool stories.


Alex  03:16

Yeah, we're looking forward to definitely hearing some of those stories and, and learning more about about sharpen and what you guys are doing. I just love like, you know, data scientists, you know, cmo and I love bringing smart people on because I am not that smart. I bring the smart people on here to talk about all the things going on and technology, with AI and all the things that are that are happening to improve customer experience to improve agent experience. So I'd love to just start just driving down that road on agent experience and what you how you've seen it change over the last five to 10 years and and how that kind of landed sharp and where it's at today.


Murph  03:53

Yeah, I mean, there's been a lot happening. So sharpen is about we, I know we rebranded our original company name back to sharpen around five years ago. And we've gone through a couple of iterations. But we've always been focused on solving the problem of agent experience. And there's actually a third part of Rick and I we've got a chief experience officer whose name is Adam settle who is he's finishing up some vacation in Panama City right now. I'm sure he would be on here and we could title this one too many chiefs. But so we kind of did a deep dive on what exactly the agent experience entails. And we're finding that you know, part of it is the tools that agents use day in and day out the the windows and applications that they have to point and click to. And we did some research and found that you know, a lot of agents are suffering with, you know, up to like eight different screens that they have to navigate to help a customer out. So you're basically plunging an agent into chaos, saying help somebody else solve their problem. PS, they're going to be mad by the time they get to you already. So good luck with that. So, you know, we consolidate all of our communications channels into one place, we give them one window to have to navigate all of those things. And, you know, just very seamless interaction between channels, you can, you know, start with a web chat and easily click a button and turn it into a phone call if if text isn't working, or send pictures back and forth, you know, all of that stuff. And then we layer in the like Salesforce, or Zendesk or, you know, whatever your CRM or ticketing stuff is, so that you know something about your customer, and you have access to actually make decisions and solve their problems right there while you're concentrating on helping them solve their problems. So then, you know, outside of just the agent's day to day thing, there has to be support for the agents, they have to have good coaching, they have to have good processes, and the managers that are overseeing those agents have to have data. And that was important. You know, it's always been important, but it became like, front and center important when COVID hit and everybody had to scatter and go home. data was all these managers had to live by, right. It's like, I like to call it celestial navigation. They, they have to try to navigate these things by watching the stars and the numbers, and making good decisions. And so we do a lot of good work with that. I'll let Rick kind of talk more about that stuff. But then the last part of it that we do is we help executives in these companies understand what the contact center is doing day to day, because I, you know, not a lot of executives know or care to get in the weeds, what they care about is, how much is that costing me? Or how much is that saving me. And so that's what Rick's team does is he takes all those numbers, and he works with our customers to come back to them and say, Here's the money that we're saving you just by using sharpen, and our efficiency tools, and all that kind of stuff. So I'll bring all that back around and say in the last five years, you know, we've been, we've been solving the problem of agent experience. And we've been telling the story of how we're doing that. And as a marketer, I'll say it's gratifying, though secretly, I would be lying if it didn't make me a little mad that some of our larger competitors have started to co OPT agent experiences kind of a buzzword. You know, it's becoming a thing now that people say and do. But it's, it's thin. And so we're glad number one, that the awareness is getting out there, and that the story is getting told. And we welcome those people who are interested in it to come and like, you know, find out for yourselves what that means in your business and solving your problems.


Aarde  07:53

Yeah, you touched on a lot of really good points. And then I'm gonna throw this over to Rick, because I know this is kind of his world. But I'll start off by saying a little bit of backstory. So a lot of the people listening, myself included, all the people in the contact center kind of directors, senior director, and up, we we started in the contact center, you know, we were probably one of the first couple agents answering calls, you know, writing down phone numbers on sticky notes and put them on the board and remembering to call them back, you know, back before there was really technology to help us there. And it's really hard for agents to know how they're doing. You know, did I take enough calls today? Did I not? Was the handle time good? Was it not? Did I do all the wrap up codes? Did I? You know, did I have great sentiment or not sentiment called like all of these questions are not only happening while they're on the call, and distracting them from actually helping the member the customer because they're thinking like, Oh my God, is this want to be? Is this going to be QA later, am I going to get scored negatively? So transitioning into where we are today and where your product is today? You guys recognize that. And I know the buzzword today is gamification. But in reality, it's just giving the agent the information that they need, so that they know feedback wise, whether or not they're performing to a certain level. So talk to us a little bit about why that's important to you guys what you guys do, but also what you have found and I think this more, Rick, this might be your world what you have found as a proven successful business metric, you know, by designing this ecosystem where agents feel informed.


Ric  09:40

Yeah, hey, that's thanks for teeing that up the the whole funny I've been here at sharpen for I'm now starting to push two years. Murph, doesn't that sound like some crazy time is real man. I'm telling you. Wow. And When he first first came on board, I'll talk a little bit about the pre the time, right before I came on board. But when I first came on board, we we started started thinking about, you know, there's performance management out there. I know, there's a whole bunch of tools, there's gamification companies out there and such. And we went on a little tour, we went around talking to some customers, and, you know, learning about how they're using our system. But we also went around and started talking to some gamification companies. And, you know, we're talking about partnering with them, you know, what is it that we can do, you know, do with them and see what you and and whether we can offer their product as part of our suite. And one of the things that they said was, you know, I asked them, where did companies get value from you. And the act got the same answer at four different places. And they all said, if you just show agents, their performance, just show them their numbers, you'll see an improvement. And then they you get 90 90% 95%. And the other 5% is, you know, you can give them points, or that they can buy something from the company store, or you can let them do challenges or, or you can give them what is an avatar, right, an avatar on their screen. And if you get enough points, maybe you can buy a puppy for the Avatar and things like shorts, right? cargo shorts, right, or a surfboard or something like that, you know, and, and it's, but I think there's, there's a detriment to doing that extra stuff. And that extra stuff, you know, being you basically make make the job, juvenile or something, you you're not treating them like adults, right, you're treating them as though they're their folks, you know, playing a computer game or something. And, and I think that probably isn't, that isn't wise, it doesn't feel right. It's sort of it, it there's a bias that I think people my age have to the kids that that they don't want to work right now, you know, that's probably biased throughout the ages, right. But kids don't want to work. And so what we're gonna do is make it a game and then the work right now, that's just that's not treating them as professionals and such. So either way, what we decided to do is, let's, let's take the get the 95% solution here. And I think we're the only platform around that, that offers a little small, but very effective performance management piece. And it's something very simple, we give the the managers can put three metrics in front of the agent. And at the end of every contact, contact, they get off the contact, and they can see what their stats are. And they're going to show what their their ranking is amongst their peers, when to show where they are relative to their goal. There's a little message that says, great job, you know, thumbs up. And that's it. And that's it. And the fun thing about it is, we as soon as we turn it on, we started measuring it, and we're seeing results that are just fantastic off the charts, you know, really kind of cool, and all we're doing is is is giving the agents a reminder of what's important to management. And when you think about it, at a time when we're a lot of the agents are working from home, managers aren't walking around talking to them, they can't they don't have a in person meeting they don't need at the at the you know, vending machine or you know, or, you know, it, there's just no human contact, you know, everything has to be sort of on purpose. You know, they're human contact, you have to call somebody up to try to talk to them or set up a meeting, you know, everything's purposeful now. Just seeing what's important to the management in front of you all the time really will have an effect and think about it if we knew that management was watching us on something that we do you know, how many articles Murph writes, or whatever it is, you'd write more articles, right? So it works. And I've got a whole bunch of data around it, that shows that it works. So it's, it's really cool. We can talk about that, too.


Aarde  13:39

Yeah, I absolutely love that. And I remember back in the day, when I was a team lead, and I had a team of I think it was 16 people there answering calls, tech support, inbound support, eight hours a day, and of the eight hours a day, I probably only got about 15 minutes on their calendar per day, as as their managers or team lead. And this was before there's really technology to give them feedback on what their handle time was how many calls they took that that type of stuff, it was just phone rang, you picked up, you answer it, you put some notes in, you hang up, you do the next one. And I was using that time to tell them what their their stats were their metrics were like and to have it, you know, at the tip of your finger or you know, for an agent to be able to look at that themselves. Now, that frees up the time for them when they only have 15 minutes to talk to their supervisor anyways to talk about things that are really important, like how am I doing? or How can I evolve or, you know, what, what are the learning points? So, it's all about automating that so that you can have real conversations and valuable conversations versus just meaningless conversations where you're just reviewing numbers. So I absolutely love that.


Ric  14:55

Yeah, it's it's it's really cool. I mean, let me tell you a story. So So So we turn on performance, we call them performance styles, sharpen performance styles. And, you know, we put it out there in beta, we find custom customers who are, you know, who want to try it. And it's shocking how many folks want to try, everybody wants to try it, right, everyone wants to do it. And we turned it on our first customers a kind of a friend of sharpen somebody who's who's kind of a forward thinking manager. He's the he was a VP of customer care at a credit union. And so we decided, we decided to turn it on. And he chooses three metrics. One is I think, handled time and other one was number of transfers maybe. And then the third one was something called active contact resolution, which I do want to talk about at some point. And he chooses those, it's akin to first call resolution. And so my job was to start looking at their data. So they turn this thing on, agents are seeing it. And I'm watching their handle time because I'm really smart. And I know that agents can affect their handle time, right? And first call resolution not so much, they can't affect that so much. And I'm watching it in the first day, I look at it, and I don't see much of a change. I'm like, Okay, these things are going to take time, maybe it'll take a month or so to, you know, for ages to kind of react to it. Second day, don't see anything through day, I don't see after the third week, I call this guy up, I say, hey, Matt, could you light a fire under these ages, their handle times aren't improving at all, there's just sort of bouncing around. And he said he started laughing. And he says, dude, we're a credit union. We don't care about handled time, we do care about first read call resolution, and it's never been better. And our C SAT scores are through the roof. I'm like, What? He goes, Yeah, do you should don't you look at the data. I'm like, Oh, so let me go back and look at the day. So I went and looked at the data, and I'll be damned, if it's bouncing around, the first call resolution is bouncing around and all sudden, the day we turn it on, it goes being through the roof five, six points. Immediate. It's not it's not nothing gradual, just complete, you know, you got a kink in the kink in the curve. And I started looking at it. And sure enough, this is all of his group's all of them improved in that. And what he told him is don't worry about handle time, worry only about first call resolution, it was never better. And so we started measuring it every time we turn one of these things on still today, we track when when they do it, what metrics they choose. And then we look at it. And it's astonishing. They every day, you know, the day they turn it on, you see a kink in Indore in the right direction for almost all metrics, including, and this is neat is, you know, how everybody sort of thinks, in order to get first call resolution, you know, the agents who spend a little bit more time with the customer and stuff, right? That That makes sense, right? But how many of us when we call somebody, do you want to talk to the agent, right? I don't care if it's longer or shorter. So if you look at it was a lot of our customers, you'll see an improvement if you show them both. And you tell them that both arms are important, like handle time and first call resolution, you'll see both improve. And it's completely counterintuitive to what we've been told as call center people for years and years. So you can actually improve both and it's really kind of cool. It's kind of cool. The other thing that I think is kind of cool is it sort of gives you back to my my philosophy on treating, you know, folks early in their careers as though they're, you know, juveniles is everybody wants to do well, everybody wants to do well, you don't have to, you know, give them a free t shirt after you know, winning a contest or something, you can just let them you know, show them what it takes to do well, and they do. It's kind of cool.


Alex  18:44

I love the psychology behind it. Right? And you're gonna make a lot of gamification companies pretty upset by by realizing that they don't need it. But I love you know, in what Murphy said earlier about this data, right, and how everyone's work from home, please. managers don't have the visibility of seeing how Joe or Sally is doing in the booth next to them, you know, the cubicle, but now they just have to look at the data. How have you seen that change on how they look at their at their contact center their call center? by just having a look at data, are they are there other things that they're doing to supplement that? while they're all worked from home?


Murph  19:21

Yeah, there absolutely are. I just had a conversation with another of our customers actually down in Tennessee. There you go. Becky's Becky in Nashville. I think she is.



So you'll, you'll be it's gonna be my neighbor.


Murph  19:37

Anyways, she and I were talking and we were we were kind of talking about like managing remotely and how things went for them. And they saw they sell pet products. And so of course when everybody's staying home, they're spending time with their pets. They're buying stuff for their pets, so their sales like skyrocketed while all their agents were at home. So they were managing by the data and they were trying to figure hear all that stuff out and what they were doing. And the reason I think this is so impactful is they were using the data to connect the humans of their team with each other. So they were doing more like, you know, daily Stand Up Calls, and the managers were doing more purposeful check ins, like Rick was saying, right, like being intentional about that. But it wasn't about, like the old boiler room, make more calls make more sales, it was about how can I use the data to watch these trends, and know who needs help or who's doing well or you know, who's struggling with a particular thing, and maybe needs a specific coaching conversation. And so what they're doing is they're, they're increasing their amount of connectedness to each other as a team. And that's like, one of the biggest things that sharpen has always been about is, you know, realizing the humanity of being a frontline customer service worker, and how either empowering or disempowering that job can be. So it's not just about ones and zeros. It's not just about, you know, seconds and dollar signs, it's about, you know, how are we connecting one human with an answer to one human with a question, and getting everything else out of the way so that the two of them can just work it out? Right? And then like Rick said, the agents just want to do they just want to do their job? Well, they don't need cargo shorts for their avatar, they just need to end the day feeling like they help somebody genuinely, and that someone else noticed it. And so yeah, I mean, that's kind of what we're finding, like, through technology, and through data, we're able to actually kind of help the human experience be better.


Ric  21:46

It's kind of funny, I, when I, prior to prior to taking the job here at sharpen, I start, I went on a little mini tour and talk to some customers who are in my local area. And that whole agent, first thing, I was like, okay, you know, people have been talking about workforce engagement, management and things like that for a long time. Not that any of us really knew what it meant, you know, we all just sort of talk about it is how it's important, and you want your workers to be happy, so that your customers are happy and all that. So that was just all sort of noise, right? I didn't know what it meant. And then I went and started talking to some of our customers, some of our customers before I was working with sharp and just trying to get a feel. And they, you know, talking to an agent who was actually using chalk, and they're like, Yeah, I was here before, and oh, my gosh, things were so complicated. I had to go from here to here to here to here to here. And it's, it's frustrating. And, and they said, with sharpen, everything's right there super easy, which means your handle times are naturally going to be lower, it means your learning curves are going to be shorter, it means there's so much less frustration. My interestingly enough, my wife, who was a school teacher, when we ended up moving during COVID. So this last summer, I moved my family to Indiana, from Baltimore, where I where I live before, and, and so we came out here getting a job in the summertime during COVID. If your school teacher, not not not really easy. So she ended up taking a call center job doing COVID tracking, and the amount of frustration associated with bouncing around to different things and learning a new system remotely. All of that was really, really hard. And then I would go and talk to our customers, it'd be like, No, no, it's actually pretty easy. And after I took the job, I did do it another tour. This is when I was talking to the folks with the board's shorts and stuff. But I also was talking to customers. And one of the places that we went and visited was a company that was implementing that day was the first day of implementation. And so I you know, I show up two hours into the, into the meeting, or into the implementation to meet with management, just see how things are going and introduce myself, I'm new to sharpen and all this. And I go well, How'd you know? You know, when do you think the ages are going to be up up to speed and ready to go? And they said, Oh, no, no, everyone's up to speed already. We're ready. We're going, they're actually working. We thought it'd be at the you know, on Friday and today's Monday. But hey, it's all working. So just because it's easy, right? If you build things for a human being that's easy not build it for you know, you're not we're not building it off of old platforms or old ways of doing things. Turns out to be, you know, have real repercussions real benefits, which is cool. And then one of the things that I've been doing lately is running around and showing people what their ROI is when they when they turn it on. We're approaching this a little backwards. But one of the things that happened when we started showing people the better or when we started seeing the benefit of both the performance management piece and and noticing the differences between performance before and after sharpen is the CEO and Murph. I don't know One of those things, one of those things where they throw out an idea in the middle of a meeting, and you go, now that's not something that's around the idea was, hey, look, we're seeing all this benefit, why don't we just don't just offer everybody their money back if they don't see, you know, a huge ROI. And the rest of the way, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no, no, no, no, no, that's not something that we're going to do. Right. And so they, you know, our CEOs, just a great guy, real smart guy. Yeah, he's, hey, hey, if we're not doing a good job with them, if we're not getting them benefit, why should they use our product? I mean, they shouldn't, they should walk away from it, we'll give them every dollar back. Our implementation costs, you know, everything. You know, I guess, if they're not seeing value, we shouldn't, you know, we shouldn't be charging them for it. And so they says, but you got to start measuring it wreck. And so I went and started measuring it. And we're seeing two real bumps in ROI from going from old platforms to ours, including other folks who who are cloud cloud based, you know, call center software, is they see a bump in handle time, just because the system is easy to use, and, you know, dropping learning curve. And then the second one is when we turn on performance tiles, we usually see another one, and I've got great stories around it, I got great graphs that show show, it's, it's really kind of impressive.


Alex  26:15

I think one of the things about keeping a customer long term is being able to show them the ROI, because there's a CFO and all these companies that, well, we just spent a gob of money implementing this contact center solution, and it's costing us a gob of money, is this truly gonna, you know, give us the ROI that the salespeople claim that claim I can give, I just love that aspect of just putting your money where your mouth is?


Ric  26:40

Yeah, it's kind of cool. I was I was a little nervous about it. But now I'm doing all the math, it's like, oh, well, we're getting it every time. And each time a new story, which is makes it really great.


Murph  26:48

And it gets even better, because we're more commonly now when we're taking this ROI back to the customers. It's, it's not rare, it's not unusual that we're showing savings that are greater than what they're paying us. So they're like, their annual savings, you know, more than make up for what they're using, or what they're paying to use sharpen. Now, the last one was three times. Yeah.


Aarde  27:16

And it puts your your money where your mouth is, but long term too, you know, it's a it's a partnership, you know, hopefully forever. But it's one of those things like if you implement it, and like maybe you get a little bump in ROI for like, a month, but then and then it returns back to normal. But in your case, when you're giving a money back guarantee, you're investing in the partnership long term, which is really, really amazing. I haven't seen anything similar or close to that in the, with your competitors, or in the marketplace. It's truly truly amazing. Also, it really arms, the person who wants the change, you know, wants to go to sharpen with something that they can deliver to a CFO or CEO and say, Look, we're gonna try this new thing out, it doesn't work, it's gonna be free, we're gonna get our money back, we go back to our old way of doing things, or we've tried another product or another toolset. And it removes that barrier of, you know, is it going to be the right product for us? Is there going to be an ROI? It just removes all those barriers and drives executive by an absolutely loving?


Murph  28:25

Yeah, well, and it does highlight one thing that's, that's really important to us as a company is that partnership aspects that you were talking about. Because it you know, nothing is an easy button, we're not here saying that sharpen is this switch that you flip, and everything's magical. It takes real work. But what we do is, you know, from the moment a deal is signed, and a new customer is brought it into the family, we give them a dedicated, we call them csms customer success manager, and that person is with them as a partner all the way through implementation all the way through the life of their contract. So we take a lot of time in the discovery and implementation process, to really uncover the goals and the priorities that every one of our clients has. And they can be different, right? Because no business is exactly like another. Yeah. And so then we ask questions, you know, have you considered doing it this way? Have you thought about this, whatever, and we kind of work our way to that, that set. And then when they're implementing, we make sure that because our software's really configurable, we make sure that it's aimed squarely at that shared target. And that aspect of it like the partnership aspect, we've had many customers come back and tell us that, you know, they appreciate that we're watching the numbers as well on the back end, and then we're bringing ROI to them. They're like, you know, every vendor promised to do some kind of ROI. But, you know, no one ever comes back and just shows it to us. You know, here's the dollar figure. You're saving. So that's the part I think, you know, we don't we don't see it like a 3x ROI and get greedy and be like, well, let's raise our prices, we want more of that money, right? We still think like, how can we use that story to grow our family of companies? Right? And how can we help more agents? And how can we help improve customer service for all of us? And so it is, I mean, it's as much a passion project as it is a business. I mean, we have revenue goals like everybody else, but it's, it's nice to think about it differently than just is a spreadsheet.


Aarde  30:33

Absolutely shameless plug on my book, a better service on Amazon. But here, shameless plug, of course, one of the chapters in there, I talked about choose a partner, not a vendor. I hate the term vendor. I hate how, you know, it's been used suppliers. Another one, that's kind of not so great. Yeah, but the term vendors, like it's like a vending machine, you know, you put your money in, the thing comes out, hopefully it comes out doesn't get stuck in a little curlicue thing, but right, you know, hopefully, you get what you pay for. And that's, that's truly what a vendor is. But a partner is someone who's gonna, you know, sell you that same thing, maybe it's candy bar, or whatever it is, and they're gonna ask you about it, you're gonna get a human interaction, you're going to be able to do more than just give the money and get the thing. So love that methodology. Love that terminology. And also, shameless, plug in the book, happy agents equal happy customers. And Ricky said that earlier, and it's absolutely true. Yeah. Now, there's some amazing like gardener reports that are out there, Forrester reports as well that survey the customer health, in comparison to the agent health, doing internal agent surveys, how do you like your job? Are you likely to stay at this company for five years? Those types of questions? Yep. To the comparable customer questions like, are you likely to recommend this product to someone else? Did you get your solution solved within the first try things like that. And you'll see a direct correlation that the happier your agents are, the happier your customers are, because if they're happy, they're they're literally the voice in the ears of your company.  They're not only going to listen to your customers, and then report back to the rest of the organization when there's problems, because they're invested in the company. But also, they're going to be seeing things in a way that highlight the benefits of your company versus it just being a nine to five job where all I do is answer phone calls all day. So big, big kudos to you guys. I think you guys are changing the way that we think of technology partnerships. And you guys are absolutely in the right spot right time. Tell us a little bit about your technology and its platform. Is it in the cloud is an open API. Is it an all in one solution? Do you partner with third party ecosystems? Tell us a little bit about that so that our viewers can understand a little bit more about how they could potentially partner with the eyes?


Murph  33:00

Yeah, I'll nutshell it and just say yes to all of those things. We are we are built and deployed in AWS. So you know, all of the security and stability afforded there. And we've got that we do have an open API architecture. So we've got a lot of, you know, in integrations that we've got with Salesforce, and Zendesk, I mentioned a couple already. We've got some partnerships with workforce management vendors as well. You know, so basically, for us, we try to make sure that we have integrations that our customers want and need. And so we take a look, when we expand those things, if someone comes to us, and they're like, Hey, can you integrate with Facebook, we're like, yep, we can handle that. And so we, you know, make sure that we can route that. And so we like to, I mentioned that because we like to find customers who want to do things that we haven't thought of yet, right? Because it helps us to sort of stretch in different directions and see what other cool stuff we can we can make our platform do. We are omni channel, I've mentioned that our our channels are seamless between each other. What we did when we wrote our platform was instead of writing a phone channel, and an email channel and a chat channel and all that, we wrote four types of communication. And those are voice, video, text and data. And so because we did that the channels are essentially together in one like pipeline of communication. So a good way to think of that is if if someone comes to a company's website, and there's a little chat now, you know, box in the bottom corner, they could pop that up, we can supply that web chat forum. If web chat isn't cutting it and the person's like I got a I got a broken thing that I want to get returned under warranty. The agent can just click a little switch, flip it over to being a text message the customer can take take a picture texted to them. And then if they want to switch back to a web chat, they can, or they can click a button and take it to a phone call, or spawn an email right off of that. And that's all one interaction. we're capturing all the recordings, all the transcripts, all of that stuff for review later, which, again, makes for a really good agent experience and a user or a customer experience. I like to describe what I do, we don't really build our software with this philosophy, this is just my weird brain. But I always like to think of good software is like a lens, like, I'm the only one wearing glasses, but you know, I don't look at the lens, I look through the lens. And so it should be invisible by itself. But it should make everything else easier to deal with, right. And so when my lenses get dirty, and things get messed up, and I'm looking at the lenses, it distracts from other stuff that I'm trying to do. And so we try to make software that just sort of disappears in the process, and lets one human connect with another human and solve that problem. and move on. So let's see AWS API's integrations, omni channel, our reporting is, is this is a crucible podcast, you know, for our reporting is kick ass. To say it out loud, Rick, you want to talk a little bit about


Ric  36:23

Oh, it's just it's, it's one of the reasons I came to sharpen, you know, a year and a half ago is because it is so easy to get data out of it's so easy to get data out of it's so easy to build reports within the system, it's easy to take it and build models with it, if you want whatever you want to do. It's It's It's so easy. I do know, there's so many systems that that, you know, the the complexity of just getting stuff out. And understanding what it is is such a barrier that people just don't do analytics, I can't tell you how often I talk to somebody who's like, No, I've never seen that, or I can't get data, you know, like when we're doing the ROI, the first thing that we do is we take data from their old system. And a service kind of hit and miss from the point of view of the customer doesn't believe that they can get basic call center data out of their system, let alone getting, you know, six months worth. And so it's a real real problem for most, most companies, including some of the more modern ones, but it's so easy to get our stuff out of there, we can, you know, building dashboards, they're if they're a freaking dream, they're just really easy, you can knock things off in 10 minutes, you suddenly have a new dashboard. It's really it's fun as as a data person because we can, we can get it and manipulate it and play it, play with it the you can come up with custom metrics all the time. I remember back in my old days, where we I remember one time having to pay somebody $50,000 for a report a report. And because it's like we got to do a customer data, you have to pay to get your own data. Right now. That's crazy. Now with with us, they can come up with their own metrics, and you know, you know, custom metrics that you know, we define things a different way, let's go ahead and define it that way. Or we'll do it with you, our CSM will do it for you. So it's a it's a neat, neat way of of operating in terms of numbers. And we come up with some really great analytics and we share them amongst the customers too. That's another fun thing is a lot of the lot of the best practices really do get shared. Somebody comes up with a good idea boom, where you know, we'll have a user group meeting or Well, next time I talk to them, we'll say hey, you want to see something that somebody else did? That's really neat. And they go that is really neat. Can we do it too? Yes, we can. And here's your graph, you know, that kind of


Murph  38:41

Yeah, shameless plug on our side it like we've done a couple of webinars this week. I think this is our third broadcast that we've done this week. But a couple of them got really in the weeds with metrics and we got really great response from people who call themselves data nerds. So if you're out there listening to this and you are a data nerd, your home is with us. We are your people coach. Come see us at sharpen cx Comm. We got you covered.


Aarde  39:09

We're obviously not very cool as human beings but we got a grip man I got earrings I'm kind of cool.


Alex  39:15

Yeah, your hip sir. We got a keg that's great. No, yeah, absolutely wonderful. And absolutely plug it because that's why we like to have our partners come on to this podcast and be able to highlight I'm learning new things every day about you know, contact center and just learn more about sharpen and you guys are dealing and I think what's unique is that you have your you have a good niche that really fills a lot of gaps that are in the market. And you know, you're not the Goliath you're the day this is like taking down all these all these contact centers on helping them like bolster their, their performance and showing and proving it which is just amazing.


Ric  39:59

Now The proof is something that's actually I'm finding interesting. I just sat through a webinar of a, of a big company that that does what we do. And they they hired an analyst to do the ROI for them. And so they what they did is they ran over it. So I got on the webinar, because I was curious what methodology they used and how they went and figured it out. What they did is they did a survey, they asked how much money do you think you saved and that's how they came up we're doing is we're actually we're actually plugging things in, we've got ourselves a What is it a I always forget the word, an ensemble Erling a model that we're that we use, so that we can do an apples to apples comparison of before and after, and that kind of stuff. And so it's ours is ours is as real as I think you can do. Where other folks, I think pay lip service to it, they talk about it all the time. And if you want to, you can talk to somebody, and maybe they'll tell you what they think they got, but we present it back. And most of the time they present it back up to their senior senior managers to show that they see money, and that it was a good investment, which is kind of cool.


Murph  41:05

Well, and I like the flip. It didn't really occur to me until I heard you tell that story just now. But you know, rather than sending someone around and say, How much money do you think you save, right? We'll show them their own data and say, do you think this is true? We does. Do these numbers reflect your experience in real life? And if they don't, we dig back in? But you know, most of the time people will look at that and be like, Oh, yeah, there's there's Bob right there. I know how Bob works, you know, like that. That's an accurate representation. And then we get it down to $1. Figure and lives change. It's awesome.


Alex  41:41

Do you do you send it with a recommendation for promotion? For whoever bought the solution? We let them handle internal politics.


Aarde  41:51

You just give you give their avatar a little cargo shorts on their on their site for the person who implemented it, right?


Alex  41:58



Aarde  41:59

Well, uh, absolute pleasure talking to you guys know, we could talk for another three or four hours on this topic. And I'm sure we'll, we'll pull in from a you know, a episode number two to this, but absolute pleasure. I noted that there's three you know, podcast firsts. The first time that we've ever heard a company do a money back guarantee. That's amazing. Hey, oh, we lost one of the guests within the first five minutes to go get a pair probieren The last one is first swear word on an episode. So what?


Murph  42:36

That's a dubious honor. And I'll take it. 


Alex  42:39

I mean, you're pretty, pretty badass. You got the earrings. I mean.


Murph  42:43

 I didn't ask for permission. So maybe it's not quite as YouTube's gonna shut us down now not child friendly anymore.


Aarde  42:53

You know, it's either a good party or a good song. If it's got some curse words in it. You know, we're right about that was good. Well, absolute pleasure. Thank you guys so much for joining us today. Alex, thank you again for co hosting us. And for anyone who wants to know more about sharpen. Feel free to reach out to anyone on this podcast. And also feel free to reach out to Alex and myself and find the right person for you.


Alex  43:17

Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at Adler,, LinkedIn, for your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on another cloud podcast.