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.

Around the Cloud: The Future of CCaaS with Erika McDowell from Dialpad

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom


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

Alex McBratney (Host)  0:02  

Hello and Welcome to 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. Well, Aarde tell me a little bit about your plans this afternoon. It's Friday. It's happy Friday for everybody, right? 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  0:22  

Yeah. So Friday before a PTO week. So I'm taking next week off, which is amazing. And the in-laws are here, and I have a special treat for the in-laws. This beer that we get from the Philippines. And we had it shipped and imported in. It's called Red Horse. And the logo is a riddle Red Label with a horseshoe. And then in the middle is a horse with like a red eyeball. And when you drink this thing in the Philippines, there's something in it that gets you a little little wacky, a little crazy. Like it's just, there's more than just alcohol in there. We don't know what if it's like ginseng, or whatever it is. But the reason why I brought it up was that every time we used to go to the Philippines to the BPO workers and meet and greet and talk to them, you only get two options of beer, it's red horse, or this other beer called San Miguel light, which kind of tastes like a, like a highlife. And you get kind of sick of that over time. So you have to switch over to Red Horse. So that's the plan for the afternoon. And hopefully go on an amazing PTO week and then come back and then do another podcast with you.

Alex McBratney (Host)  1:33  

Yes, get right back after it. I love the idea of taking the beer that has the secret ingredient where you just don't quite know what's in it. But it does something good, right. And it's Friday so we can let loose a little bit.

Erika McDowell (Guest)  1:46  

Oh, yeah. Happy, too. Have like a nice whisky at the end of the day, and especially one that's a little unique too and special. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  1:52  

Exactly, exactly. So Erika, I'm so glad that you're joined us. And I'm excited to also just get to know you talk about what's going on at Dialpad, there's been a lot of good changes that we've seen in the channel, and a lot of buzz around Dialpad and what they're doing and I don't want to give away any secrets, I want to let you jump into it. But why don't you if you can take us back? How did you even get started into the into the channel role in the customer service contact center, you know, with Dialpad in your career path to where you're at now. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  2:24  

Well, it's amazing. I tell everybody, it blows my mind that I can't believe I've been in this industry for over 15 years. And I started actually back in the east coast of you know, all places. I'm from Rochester, New York. And I had gotten offered a position over at paytech. Back in the day. So I started in the networking world actually was my first selling frame relay and MPLS and PRI so it's kind of nice that I had a good beginning. You know what I mean? Like learning PBX and all that stuff. So I'm glad I had that experience. But I started cold calling. So I worked my way up the chain as the hardest job I've ever heard of the stuff I've ever had, I'm sure you guys would appreciate it. I ended up moving into the small business team and I worked with our channel, but in the East Coast. So I dealt with Boston, New York City, that market, very different from California. Very different, different culture. Yes, very different culture, you know, so definitely a big change coming to California. But I did a small business for a long time. And then I trained customer service. So I spent a lot of time in call centers, we had a lot of different experiences buying different companies and having to merge call centers together. So I've been very grateful to have technical selling experience with customers and channel experience. And then in turn, we started doing call centers. And back then it was just very different the way that we used to have to do things. So when I look at all these modern tools today, I'm very, very much wish I had them back in the day. It would have made my life a lot easier. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  3:48  

Yes, they always say is like the contact center one dotto, right. Where it's is basically you have voice service coming in and you get this fancy thing called ACD and IVR is like wow, we can do now. And all of a sudden you fast forward 15 years. And it's just mind blowing on, on what's out there, right? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  4:08  

We had this thing called witness. And that was the name we gave it where all the calls were recorded. And it was sounded so intimidating to all these poor call center reps. were witnessing your calls, you know, have no idea why it was called that. It just was it was just such a manual process having to go back and pull all that data because I had no idea of calls were good or not. It was just kind of a guess. So that was kind of fun back in the day to be able to do that. So then I actually transitioned out a training customer service and went back in front of customers and really went the channel but then I ended up moving out here to California. So my husband is like a funny, like little tip that we met on an airplane. So yeah, we did. So he lived here and I lived in New York. And we did a remote for about a year, actually. And he flew to New York to see me. Finally someone said hey, we should probably take the next. And I was so stubborn. I'm like I live in New York, you're going to have to move about here. And then typical New Yorker. Yeah, I'm like, I got my house, I got a great job, and why would I have

Alex McBratney (Host)  5:08  

Strong woman No problem, like, you come to me. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  5:11  

I was like, I got my own house, I have my own dogs, I got my own job, you know. So I ended up coming out to California and actually stayed with the same company, but did channel account management out here. So a lot of my background really is mostly customers, dealing and account management in the channel. And that's how I got to know everybody over the years actually, which I've been so grateful for. Because to me, that's the best way to get to know everybody is I manage your customers, I get to work with you guys. Um, so I worked with customers that were typically about $100,000 and above, was the goal I had. So I did that for some time. And then I ended up making the transition over to TPX, which I'm sure you guys know that company as well, where they had a channel position open. And I thought well take a challenge doing something else. And then at the time, while I was there, great relationship building, learned a lot also over there. But Dialpad had been trying to recruit me for a little while. So I thought, well, do I want to just do UCaaS and CCaaS, because I've been doing everything for so many years, you know, could do UCaaS, CCaaS you could sell infrastructure, you could sell virtualized services, if that security. But when they demo the product, and I actually met with Mike Kane, who's our global VP. I was very impressed. And I thought, you know what, this is definitely something different in the market. And for me to make that kind of jumps, I'm also very dedicated person, as you guys will learn about me over the years, but very dedicated to people that I love and respect and work with. So it was hard for me to continue kind of making that change. But it was the best change I could have made. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  6:41  

And how long ago, how long ago was the change when you went from TPX over to Dell?

Erika McDowell (Guest)  6:46  

And I've been with Dell now for about five, five to six months or so. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  6:50  

Okay, yeah. So you went through the whole transition of telepacific becoming TPX and their whole you know, how they transform their company away from dialtone and away from PRIs and TDM all that stuff and moving more into the cloud and things like that. I believe on the contact center side, they have a partnership with another carrier, we will that we won't talk about today for the CCaaS side, so you're able to see the CCaaS on one end from a from a carrier. And then now moving over to Dialpad, which I got the bus from Dialpad about two years, maybe three years ago, this company that has great connectivity internationally, because they're the Google data centers. Can you touch on touch on that a little bit on like, why Dialpad that is so great, internationally beyond just being in Google, but how that all works in that ecosystem? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  7:43  

That's a really good question, actually. So you know, for Dialpad, I mean, they are obviously using GCP, which is the Google Cloud Platform stores all the logic, the company was also born post iPhone. So it's a pure software company, which I think is very special in this market, because we've got so many UCaaS players out there that were not born in the cloud. And you guys know this, and they weren't software. But now they're trying to take an infrastructure and put a bunch of band aids on it and make it a software now. And that's just my opinion, right? versus Dialpad where that happened. So from a global perspective, we've actually got a bunch of different Equinox data centers that we're using, with GCP that allows us to provide that service worldwide and globally. And we had the record recognition and recognize that that was something that was very important. So all these other countries like Japan, and China, you've got call centers all over the globe. And our executive leadership recognized that being something important. So that's where the investment really started to happen. At the beginning was okay, well, we're gonna do this, to expand the telephony network, we're gonna have to have Equinox data centers in different places, right, still store at over GCP. And we've got a very close relationship with Google, as you guys are aware of as well, too. But we'll probably touch on that at some point in this conversation. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  8:55  

Yeah. And let's drill into it a little bit more. So we talked about you touched on a while ago, you touched on 10 years ago, maybe 15 years ago. It was UCaaS, and CCaaS and now with cloud and open API, and all of these microservices and all of these clouds that you guys as suppliers, and vendors can use like Google. Now you have this convergence, where it really isn't a UCaaS it's both or it can be multiple things. So where are you guys headed in the future? What is the next kind of area that you're expanding to what's on the roadmap and on the horizon? And next year, a couple of years? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  9:33  

I love that you asked that question, because we just had a sales kickoff not that long ago where they just kind of announced a lot of this stuff. So I can't share everything necessarily. But Dialpad is really going to become a major disrupter in this space for sure. With kind of, obviously recognizing and you guys know, it's very much what are the key software's out there then key systems that people are using where we can integrate with, right that's something that's also really important. How do we efficiently effectively help customers with call centers or contact centers or just overall service like agent efficiency, because I think that's the next wave I, I listened to a podcast, by the way, the last one you guys did or might have been the one of the first ones you did. And you'd brought up already that there were three different buckets that you'd seen for UCaaS and CCaaS and Dialpads very much falling into that second in that third bucket, you know, we're looking very much to be that next generation cloud offering for people, you know, and that's really, to me that direction that we're starting to go in, we're very much dabbling a lot more in that mid market and enterprise space, because companies are starting to look more for consolidated products. You know, they don't want to have to go to five different software's to log into something. And yeah, we can talk about paying, you know, having one bill and a customer account manager, but you just get all those things anyway, like everybody's a trusted adviser and provides, you know, white glove service. Like that's kind of a joke I have with some of my friends, like everybody does that. But at the end of the day, and we're investing so much into the software itself, to be able to expand a lot more with these bigger companies, because everybody's got fast, evolving changes. Like constantly, there's the next thing that they've got to look for. So be on the lookout for a lot of that. We did also publicly announced recently with a partnership with T Mobile. And just to prove the product in the pudding, out of all the suppliers that they could choose from to partner with on the UCaaS CCaaS platform they chose Dialpad so that also to me very much speaks a huge amount of volumes as to where our products starting to go.

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  11:30  

Yeah, that's pretty amazing. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  11:32  

Partnerships is critical, right? And when a big company like T Mobile comes in, it's like we want to, you know, choose you because of the different background different features and benefits that you guys offer. But I like how Dialpad and you can maybe go on this a little bit more though has its unique, unique customer, right? Like some carriers will say we can do it. All right, what's your ICP? What's your individual, ideal customer profile knows, like, Oh, well, we can sell to anyone like that just drives me nuts because it's like, well, you have to have a differentiator. And that's what was interesting about Dialpad is like there is that differentiator, beyond just like the Google and international presence, like what would you say is like, the sweet spot or a couple sweet spots that Dialpad really fits into. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  12:16  

So I mean, obviously, I would love to sit here and say we fit with everybody. But I'm very much honest. Like when we meet with customers, we do discovery meetings, sometimes there's a time and place for everybody. You know, it doesn't always mean that it's gonna be Dialpad that's a fit. But, you know, I see a lot of fit for us where you've got a lot of customers that are looking for mobile first, right? where people are starting to live on the computers, they're starting to live on the mobile device and on their computer on their phones as well, like we all do. That's a very solid fit for us. And yes, we still do hard phones, like everybody else does. I think hard phones are a necessary thing out there. That's just what you're seeing. But we're starting to see like one of our largest customers is over 20,000 seats that we have. So we're starting to really dabble a lot in that that enterprise space when it comes to what we're offering. But something that's very special about us. I'm sure you guys have heard about it, but the AI and BI technology that we have. So it does the real time transcribing. And we acquired that company back in 2019. It's called Talk IQ. And that right there is amazing. Because we can use that kind of data. And in a phone conversation, there's just so much information in a date, like just in a call that you can equate to so many other things. So again, companies that are looking at it going, God my call center is really performing poorly. I'm losing customers and turning customers, I have no idea what's happening and why? Well, yeah, it's like the AI technology and watch what's happening in real time with the call, and then fix it or do whatever. So but sorry, Alex, you were gonna say something. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  13:49  

I was just gonna agree. Because that BI technology, that's where you really see it being played in with mid-market and enterprise companies, right, the SMB market, they're barely scratching into getting into ERPs, and different systems like to manage their business. But when you get up to that bigger level of BI technology, and it's interesting how you're able to merge the AI, so your real time transcribing, you know, conversations, but then it's like, well, how do you take all that data? And that's where the BI comes in and say, Okay, now what can we learn from this? Where these trends hitting or people saying no, yes, I'm unhappy, like cancel, you know, certain to take those those moments in those calls. And I'd imagine with all your experience, and you know, with customer experience in the contact center, like having that critical information, as this guy is a goldmine for a team lead or for a manager of a contact center.

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  14:48  

Alex, you and I have been consulting a lot together. And we've been trying to help people through this transition from on-premise to the cloud. And sometimes they get stuck with while do I start with UCaaS, do I start with CCaaS? And thankfully, there's tools like Dialpad, where they can do either first  do both at the same time, we call that the Big Bang implementation. The interesting thing, though, is when we have these conversations, and Alex's questions a little bit more for you, usually they're asking about the more advanced features first, like chatbots, and BI tools and speech analytics and sentiment analysis. But we have to kind of start them back in the beginning and say, Okay, before you get there, that's maybe the second or third step, let's start talking about UCaaS and CCaaS, let's migrate to the cloud, let's make sure that everyone is comfortable with that toolset, then let's turn on all the cool bells and whistles, of course, in your, in your RFP, or as you're going through your your purchasing decision, you want to decide two or three years out that this partner is going to be the best a long term partner versus a short term partner. But I guess the question really is to Alex, what, how do you realign with the person you're consulting? And let them take a step back and reframe the conversation around let's just get you into the cloud. Let's migrate UCaaS and CCaaS first, like how do you do that? How do you manage those expectations, as opposed to just letting it go way too wild and start talking about chatbots on the first day? 

Alex McBratney (Host)  16:24  

Yeah, it's easy to jump three years ahead five years, or five years ahead of where they can be as exciting, right. As far as the AI, all these things that you can do, that's going to improve the contact center. But like you said, we're walking back and say, let's start with the foundation, right? So which one which carrier is gonna be the best foundation for your organization. And then I my three favorite words this year, and through one of my partner, my business partners, crawl, walk, run, I'm a dreamer, I love to like just look big, like into the future on what's going on. He's always like, crawl, walk, run, like, let's just start here, then we can walk them to, you know, go faster and faster. It's the same thing when implementing a contact center. It's like, let's get First, let's just take the features and functionalities you love about short tail or you love about Cisco, make sure those all work with the cloud platform. Once you have that as running, there's user adoption, everyone's humming along nicely, then it's a really good customer success manager or part of our team helping Okay, now what's the next step? Let's look at bots, let's look at AI, let's look at all these the bells and whistles of what's going to improve. And it's taking it one project at a time because you want to be able to AB test, you want to be able to, you know, make sure that you're getting the results you want, before just throwing it all on top. So then you can say, Okay, well chatbot improved efficiency by 10%. But maybe the AI over here, or maybe some sort of integration with, you know, ServiceNow gave us 20%, but you're doing it all at once, you're not gonna be how do you get to how you're going to track how each one is doing individually, if you just throw them all in there, you're not going to know. So you want to really segregate them out and piecemeal it slowly together to build that full solution with the roadmap of getting to that AI and getting to the BI portion of it. And then it's just a matter of how fast the company or the organization wants to go to get there, right? Because there's a lot of change management that's involved. And it's a heavy lift, but it's it's worth it. If the leadership sees the vision has a vision for it, then it's just executing. And I'm sure you've been through it many times, Aarde. But Erica, I'm curious about so I can I can go deeper into that that whole topic about how to like go from the get crawl, walk run. But I'm also curious about what do you see in your times of being part of a contact center as what makes a good experience? How did you, you know, shape organizations to have a good experience? What does that look like? What steps did they take to get to those improved metrics that they're tracking? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  18:57  

That is such a good question, because we were acquiring companies left and right. And it was okay, great. We've got this call center now merged, says call center and great get these reps trained. Now let's get them rolling on this product. I can remember and I always share the story. Because it was such it just clearly has always stuck with me. But we had bought a bunch of companies that had call centers in the Philippines. And our role was to take the Philippines call center and educate them on all our processes and talking to customers. And you know, obviously people loved having you as support at the time like this is done about 10 years ago or so loved having you as support. So we had to introduce in the Philippines. So we did all this training, we showed him how to do things, gave them metrics as to how to maybe get around in escalation, all this information, and then we made them go live. The amount of escalations our management team took was astronomical. And I just remember what is going on. Like we trained these reps. This isn't you know, we can't figure it out. All we had at the time was this brand new software and I brought up witness.

Alex McBratney (Host)  20:02  

Witness protection.

Erika McDowell (Guest)  20:02  

Yeah. When this protection, witness you in the act of a bad call, right? Yeah, oh my gosh, we're digging in witness, which was also used for scoring, because we had a QA department that would manually go into witness and pick a call and just score it in the manual scoring, you know, they would just kind of like listen to it and say, Okay, well, this, this went well. And here's why check the box kind of thing. But I just remember having to dig and dig for calls, what's happening and have to find one, and I didn't even know if it was going well, or not going well. So it was basically, hey, we're gonna send some people to the Philippines. That's how we had to try to address it with some people in the Philippines and be there for a month at a time to try to work with the reps on handling these calls. And obviously, not very efficient use of people's time, very, very costly and expensive, you know, versus today, I look at a lot of tech that, you know, and again, I have to really real quick go back to crawl walk run. I could not agree more with that. I'm actually going to totally take that statement. If you guys don't mind. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  20:08  

It's free, I didn't coin it so all yours...

Erika McDowell (Guest)  20:21  

We'll copyright after today under you guys for sure. But it just um, you know, for us, like the tech wasn't really there at the time, but it was just basically very fast paced environment, buying companies left and right getting these people trained and before I knew it, we ended up selling to another company like we sold to another company. And then they sent me to that company to learn all their processes and do the same thing over and over again, you know, just basically sending people everywhere to migrate all this. So there was no, no way that we were very efficient. But today, you can take technology. And just using the AI and BI we're talking about and just a lot of what Dialpad is doing. And Aarde you'd mentioned like real time sentiment as well, too, we can actually take the call and see if it's going positive or negative today. So back then I could have had this call from the Philippines coming in and read what's happening in real time, if it's going well or not. And then as the trainer, I could have jumped in to help, or I could have just messaged them. Or you can even create coaching cards, like there's a lot of amazing things that you can do where it could have been, hey, you know, Mr. Rep, if this word comes up, boom, here's a card, here's how you can get around it. Here's some talk track around it, or here's some links to pricing, or here's this so that you can just take care of the escalation. And then that equates to happier customers, right? Because then your customers are calling in and they're happy. So I reflect back on just a very manual process very manual having to be in front of people, no real systems in place other than our recording recording tool we had, that was it. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  22:43  

So I mean, it seems like it just relies so much on intuition. How do you train intuition and try to take someone that's been in the contact center management for 20, 30 years? Now I know what I'm doing, like I've heard these calls a million times like, and they've got this great experience with them. But as they Well, how do you scale that? How do you scale that intuition experience? You can't. So I'm sure as you saw, you know, you're at this, you know, contact center in the Philippines. And it's like you're scraping through these recordings, but it's still variable. Seems like it maybe it's going sideways here. Maybe that's the case for everybody else, you make a little iteration. That doesn't work. Oh, crap. Now I gotta go over here and try this. And that doesn't work. I imagine. Like, did you ever? Like, how did you get it? Did you find a solution that worked. And I'm curious in that, in that call center. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  23:33  

At that time, at that time, we really did not, we ended up basically just shifting it where they just took the residential calls. And then the business calls, were going into the New York call center, and then we had another call center in Iowa. So we just kind of shifted that where the business was going there. But you know, same thing, we had two different call centers, handling two different types of calls, and then having to merge those as well. So it was a very convoluted process, but it was just very manual, they really had no actual solution other than, hey, we're just going to make them residential. Here's how that's gonna work, you know, and then we'll have a management team in the Philippines that'll handle that. And we'll keep that separate from the United States division. And that's what we did. Yeah, just you move the white flag, like I give up, let's just do this, do that. And just stop this experiment, because it's not working. No. critical part of the business though, too. And that's the thing that we had no resolution, there was no software, there was no product to really be able to fix it at the time. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  24:28  

So  I was on a call earlier today with a consultant and we were talking a little bit about what their contact center needs are. They've got multiple BPOs across the world. And one of the requirements were we're going to use MS Teams for collaborate. But that's only going to be for the US base offices. All the team members in the Philippines and in Europe. They're not going to get MS Teams licenses. So they had this huge problem. This collaboration problem where they couldn't communicate directly from one site to the other. So you've got, you know, two contact centers, let's say one in the Philippines, one in Europe, and there's no way for them to talk to each other. There's no way for them to go on Meams meeting, they don't have Zoom. So let's talk a little bit about Dialpad and your internal collaboration tool. I know you guys have a video conferencing internal collaboration tool that can be used externally as well. Let's talk a little bit about those features and how you guys came to market with that. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  25:32  

Well, actually Dialpad This is why I love the kind of the history and story of Dialpad, because our executives did come from Google, right? So they have that innovative mindset already, they understand the way the big I always say Google is the biggest company in the world. And they are like they understand the inner workings of it. The first product they started was a product called Uber conference, which was a collaboration tool. And it's a video tool, they ended up winning a lot of different awards, I think TechCrunch a couple other things based on that. But obviously, the goal was eventually to make your work from anywhere a solid solution to make calls simple, right. And obviously, video is a part of calls, especially today, right? So we've really added a lot more onto those collaboration tools over time, because it's become mission critical today, we bought a company called Highfive recently, as of last year, and HighFive gives us the ability to, you know, obviously we can record everything, it gives Full HD quality, which it is amazing when all of a sudden you see HD quality on a camera, and you're like, Whoa, cuz you can just see the difference from someone else's video. Yeah, exactly. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  26:33  

Like, that's how I got a lot of money to get this. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  26:36  

You're like, see, it doesn't normally look this good. I'm just saying, 

Alex McBratney (Host)  26:38  

Yeah, it's not just me, it's the camera. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  26:40  

Exactly the camera. And so we have the whole HD quality that comes along with it. Obviously, we need the ability to have a bunch of different people on there. But what I love with our collaboration tool, and it's just rolling out now is that BI and AI tech now also works with it in real time. So even though you're now having this collaboration, and we're meeting, and you can do it worldwide as well to like if we have someone in, you know, a certain country, we could also still do that with the US. It's all done via link, but it's all transcribed. So we could be having this conversation now on a Dialpad collaboration tool. And I could actually see what was happening in real time and then go back and look at it later and have all the notes of our meeting. So I could have had our entire podcast actually transcribed and recorded. It's pretty cool. Like that just came out. I was like.. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  26:52  

That's pretty cool. Hopefully the sentiment for this podcast is positive, positive, positive, not negative, negative, but that that is pretty cool. Neutral.

Alex McBratney (Host)  27:38  

It's gonna blow the lid off. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  27:39  

Yeah, I'm gonna get my supervisors gonna call me and tell me that this podcast was not high enough sentiment score. I know it. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  27:47  

They're gonna do old school whisper into the call. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  27:49  

Yeah, exactly. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  27:51  

Witness Protection, though. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  27:52  

Exactly. Witness Protection whisper in the call. I love it. That was a really good question. So I have a question actually, for you guys, specifically, because obviously, you guys are doing more of the consulting role. I've got my own opinions of just the industry and what's happening and where we're kind of seeing things. But where are you guys seeing artificial intelligence as an example in the industry growing today? Do you see that being something very massive, or something very small, with your customers? 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  28:21  

Oh, I'll start on this one. This is this is my wheelhouse actually, right. I wrote a book and I'm reading a second book, I'm not going to actually plug the book because I've played it on every podcast, people are sick of it. But the second book is, it's almost complete, it's halfway through, I haven't completed it because I'm waiting to write about the pandemic post pandemic and this migration to work from home and how AI affects that. But my impression is that there are people out there who know that AI and machine learning and all these technologies in that realm are going to help their business. It's going to help their business not only with understanding their KPIs, understanding what's happening, getting a good pulse of what's happening with their customers and with their agents and with their business and their ROI, but also help them potentially forecast into the future. So using AI not only for forecasting of headcount, like how many people do I need, you know, the third Wednesday in November this year, or using it to say, okay, this is how my sentiment is trending? Is it going to trend to lower, lower, lower? If I change something, will it you know, go higher? So, predictive analytics and AI and machine learning on those types of kind of metadata. Um, so that's why I think it's going it's not quite there yet. I think one of the the problems that we have is, everyone knows they want AI everyone wants to get there. It's hard enough for them just to get a chatbot in place. And that is almost one of the simplest because now there's so many vendors out there. There's so many tools you can build your own. It's like, almost turnkey, but it's still extremely hard for someone at a company to be able to research implement, deliver a chatbot. So we have to make that a little bit easier needs to be a little checkbox for them to enable some sort of chatbot. And then we can get to the more advanced stuff. But yeah, when you when you pull a focus group together and ask them, How many of you have a chatbot? Today, it's usually about 10%. How many of you want a chatbot? Today, it's the other 90%. And we always ask them after that, why don't you have it, and it's always, we don't have enough resources, we don't know what the actual ROI is going to be. And we don't have the talent, we don't have the people who can build it for us. It's just not possible with the resources we have today.

Erika McDowell (Guest)  30:46  

And that's where you guys are amazing, critical part of all all of this, just everything you know, it's like really helping customers source that out, because they just don't even know. And again, serve Alex the crawl, walk and run, right? It's almost like in the run a little bit in like the walking phase, right? We're just kind of helping them figure it out. So I think that's pretty, pretty important. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  31:04  

Yeah, I mean, I see we're, we're the cloud was 10 years ago, where else is big thing. The cloud wasn't even mean, half the time you talk to people that aren't in technology, like they don't even know what it is what it is. And it's just such a servers at a data center hosted by somebody else. And I saw it, you know, with UCaaS when I started getting adopted very slowly, right? Because it's this new big thing. And just like any technology, I think, with AI, where I'm seeing it is enterprises, no problem. They have resources, they can pull people, developers, they have their Salesforce developers, they have all sorts of people running, you know, six sigma, anything, you name it, like they're all over it, and they can go out and test this out, and it fails. million dollar tests, and you just throw it in the bucket, say, Oh, that was a good shot, we're not ready for it yet, right? The mid market, SMB, I feel like it's like, forget about it. And let's just out of the box cookie cutter, plug it in and go, like a chatbot, right Aarde, like, that's not even there yet, AI is a whole nother level on top of that shot chatbot. So it's really gonna be that same thing as the enterprise adoption. And then it trickles down all the way down to SMB, eventually, it's all dependent on then by industry and the resources that industries have. I used to work with a lot of construction companies and is zero IT resources, when you compare it to, you know, medical, or you compare it to financial, where they have tons of resources, and that's where it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen in those industries that have all the resources, have tons of IT staff, and they're gonna be able to test it out and get it working. And Amazon's a perfect example. I mean, they built their own their own system, because they had the resources. So they didn't have to go out and buy a contact center, they just created their own platform. So that's AI is gonna trickle down have that same effect. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  32:51  

Yeah, I'll give you an example of a customer I've been consulting recently. And they don't have AI today, they know they want it. I'm not gonna say the company name, but they're a equipment rental company for contractors. So they will rent you chainsaws and you know, those the crane boom cranes that will get you up into a tree and all these all these different tools and things for construction workers. 80% of their calls, and they go to a live agent, you know, it's press one for this, press two for that, goes to a live agent, they have to wait, you know, 10 minutes to talk to someone. So it's super annoying. A huge portion of their calls. It's all about, can I rent this product, this chainsaw for another day? Can I return it tomorrow instead of today? That's that's all it really is. Because they're on the job, they're literally doing the job, they don't complete the job, they need to rent the cement mixer, or whatever it is for one more day. I told him, it's like you can create a chatbot or AI or whatever it is to identify those intents that are coming in based off of what they're saying, you know, how may I help you today and says, Oh, I need to rent this, this for another day. And then just look up exactly what they rented, and then do the actions in the bag and say, no problem, drop it off tomorrow, we'll charge your credit your company's credit card, or whatever that is. It's a pretty simple process. It's not complex. And literally, it would save tons of 1000s of dollars a day in his contact center. So those are just some of the simple things that we can think of. But once we get everyone to that level, then we could start really talking about the fun stuff.  

Alex McBratney (Host)

Interesting part that I'm curious about? Sorry, interrupt, Erika, on that is, okay, so you can implement this AI to fix that one piece of customers, right? That is how do you train the customer to either go through a bot or train them or really be okay with going through the phone and having a self service menu? Will they be able to handle that and will it be adopted by the customer? That's another little tricky, like nuance or a monkey wrench that gets thrown into these great ideas. But how do we get it to where there's adoption and when

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

What he was thinking of, was the second iteration was don't even force them to call in to rent it for another day, if it's the end of day outbound text message them saying, we noticed you still have this do you want to rent it for another day and drop it off tomorrow? And they could just say yes or, or just don't reply, and then they'd just rent it to the next day.

Erika McDowell (Guest)  35:20  

Yeah, exactly. And it's amazing cuz everyone's gonna respond to a chat like in their tech, like a text on their phone, like a simple yes or no. And from a customer adoption perspective, I think it takes it takes time. But I think it's it's possible it takes training, it takes time, but whatever you can do to make it easier for them where they don't have to think about it. I think it's how it would be adopted, I guess. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  35:41  

Yeah. And Erika, let's talk about Dialpad and omni channel. So what channels do you guys support? I know it's such a long list, you probably won't miss one or two of them. But favorite. What do you guys support? I know traditional channels. But beyond just the phone chat email, what can you guys support? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  35:59  

Well, I mean, we're obviously doing a little bit, we're not a full omni channel, UCaaS, CCaaS provider today. But we are working with a lot of third party applications that will do it. So Salesforce, obviously is one of them, where almost everybody and their mother is in Salesforce right now. But being in Salesforce, the kind of omni channel integration we have with that is very direct and unique, where you can still live and breathe in Salesforce use all those same applications. People use also send us today they're using Slack. A lot of those applications we can integrate very natively with very soap a very native natively native integration. We also obviously have an open API. So if there's like some kind of third party omni channel application that they want to be using or chat, we do have that ability to work with them via open API. But I would just say yeah, like we had our little little kickoff. Can't say much, but you know, keep the ears off. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  36:53  

Orders coming. Yeah, I like it. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  36:56  

We'll keep a pulse poll signed out. Let us see what you're announcing soon. When are you gonna announce this, this little nugget that you're hiding from us?

Erika McDowell (Guest)  37:05  

When they say okay, or you can say that now. But there's a lot of really good stuff coming down the pipe for us, too, you know, in general on the omni channel side, because omni channel really is one of those things that is important. People want chat, you know, chat bots, they want to be able to send out certain kinds of messaging. And we've been able to at least, if we've got a customer, where are you brought up, being able to send out a specific chat. We have ways that we can at least work through that for now. And that's, again, the uniqueness of Dialpad, I think, where we can get very custom and unique because again, being a software also gives us that capability to also really work around anything that customers looking for. So just being like up front, that's where we are today. But it's definitely coming way down the future. But Salesforce, all those things were very, very open to all those applications that people use today. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)  37:54  

And what makes your product different than a lot of the non built in the cloud is that you guys have open API, and you guys can configure third party integrations or integrations into you know, bring your own whatever, you know, carrier bot, whatever it is. Whereas some of the more monolithic tools that came from on prem to kind of hybrid cloud. And then now they're, they're totally cloud, but not really cloud, they can only do specific integrations, because they don't have a full open API for everyone, they have to have a partner ecosystem that is grab what you need. But you can only choose the ones that we work directly with experience. So it's, it's very good to know that you guys are a part of I would like to call it the internet, internet of things where you can plug and play whatever you want, just like on your phone, we could download any app you want, as opposed to having to physically type out all the credentials and things for your API. So that's, that's something to note. Well, even just partnerships, too in general, I think a lot of companies are also doing a lot of kinds of partnerships. And if there's something that Dialpad can do, I'm also very upfront about that. But we also do have other partnerships that we'll utilize, and we're very open about what it is, but most of all of our stuff that we're doing today is 100% Dialpad owned and proprietary to us. So if we did have to bring in something third, we tell you most of the time, 99% of the time, we're not having to, but it's something that's also there as well, like everybody else is also having to do that as well too. But we're not mandating anything which is kind of nice. 

Alex McBratney (Host)  39:29  

Yeah. You see a lot of companies that are taking okay, we're this, this is what we do. But now let's go purchase a company and then you try to do this integration to make this other system try to work. I've seen that a million times just with CenturyLink which is now Lumen. They gobble up all these companies and take these great, smaller carriers gobble them up and they say oh, like we loved we love PayTech you know, and they love TW Telecom before like they all got absorbed into these big companies and then it kind of ruins that experience, right? And that's what's nice about being able to, hey, you want to work with that? Great, we'll just do an API, bring it in. No problem. We just you pay them you pay us like, it's all good, right? What does Dialpad do on like workforce management, workforce optimization? Do you have key partners that you have great integrations with, you have your own? What does that look like on your end? 

Erika McDowell (Guest)  40:23  

So we're working eventually, to do a little bit of workforce management. We're not necessarily in that space right now. But we are utilizing partnerships to be able to do that. And again, like if there was a certain, you know, scenario that came across our plate, we would absolutely work our way around that. So I would say with Dialpad, where we are an all in one single platform, right? You know, we're modern born in the cloud. If we have omni-channel needs, we'll make it work, right. We'll kind of use different types of parties and we'll be honest as to the ways that we can do it. Um, workforce management is also very similar for us as well, to where we'll keep open API for any kind of platforms they need or software they need.We'll try to get very boutique in the software to work through it, but again, it's, that's why I say peek your ears for the next quarter or so. Because there's a lot of that, all stupid.

Alex McBratney (Host) 

What's your favorite experience or, or brand where you're like, man, these guys just hit it out of the park. When it comes to customer experience, we're kind of digressing away from the tech and just more high level, great brand great experiences story you have, like, I'm like, wow, they blew my socks off.

Erika McDowell (Guest)

I'm gonna totally put myself in the East coast, but Tim Horton's coffee by far is my favorite place ever. Uh, every time I go back to New York, I always go to Tim Horton's, I'd go to the same one. Um, they always blew my socks off because they always remembered me. My face. They knew my order every single time, which could be a curse or a good thing. I don't know it could be that. Um, but I just remember always going through, they were very solid when it came to service. Um, I'm also so picky about coffee. I'm like, please don't put sugar in there. And if they did, they were so sweet about always fixing it. I never had to get, you know, aggressive to get, get it fixed or done or take care of it. They were just so like apologetic and great. So I would say. Tim Hortons is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Cause they always were so wonderful and nice, uh, when I went through and, uh, I would say Nordstrom's is always the best experience too. So I'm like Tim Horton's Nordstrom, but you know, Nordstrom take them back.

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

You could hit both of those, both of those in the same day, you know, you get your coffee, then you go shopping or you're drinking your coffee. Yeah, you touched on, uh, you touched on the coffee thing. That's, that's exactly what we talked about with Graham on the last call as well, too coffee. It's one of those things where if you don't get it right, as a, as a company and with customer service, you can tank like loyalty with coffee industry is through the roof. If you're, if you love, um, a specific brand, you're going to be loyal to them the day you die. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)

Oh, a hundred percent is the commodity market, right?

Alex McBratney (Host) 

So it's like, if you're a commodity, you have to, it has to be something else. Right. And the Tim, Horton's a great example, right? Where it's like amazing customer experience, amazing customer service, and they treat you well, you get the woman fuzzies and you want to keep coming back. And I think the hard part that these businesses are B2B or B2C like bigger organizations have is how do you balance that great customer service? With the finance department on, well, what's it going to cost to have that great experience? Right? I know it might be easier for coffee companies or, you know, retailers and coffee to do it than it is for other companies. Right. Maybe the margins aren't as big and things like that. And I think that's where I think everyone deep down knows like, Hey, give a great experience for your customers. You'll make, you'll keep them and you'll get more, but it's that? Well, how come, why doesn't everybody do it right? Is that is the hard one. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

So my wife loves coffee and she is a diehard. It was this tiny little shop in this old, in old town Tustin. Um, it's called Morning Lavender and I don't drink coffee. I know yell at me if you want, but I don't drink coffee, but we go there all the time. Tea tea and alcohol. Those are my teammates. Sometimes we'll go, we'll go there and she'll get a coffee. And it will be in the most basic, like, I don't know, you buy it at like a smart and final, like just a basic cup. And there's some very cute boutiquey, like beautiful inside the coffee's supposed to be amazing. And I asked her, I was like, why, why don't they spend some money on their cups? Like, you know, that's their marketing, you're holding that cup. Everyone's going to ask you, where'd you get that coffee? And she turned to me and she said, the coffee's so good that they don't need to spend the money on that stuff. Like it does. It's it sells itself. It'll sell itself off the stuff. And that's kind of the interesting thing to think about, um, Alex, to your point. It's like, yeah. You can create a, an amazing experience in a be extremely cost-effective, um, and still retain customers. Um, you don't have to have the like custom, like Starbucks logo and all that stuff and on your straw and all the things like that, it's it doesn't have, you don't have to spend that extra money to buy your customers. The loyalty comes from customer experience. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)

Oh my gosh. You guys are really heading so much like here for me because, you know, obviously you can tell from my background account management, Uh, customer service training, like to me at the end of the day, it was always about the customer and that's actually, and I know people probably always hit on this with our podcast. And like I said earlier, everybody is a white glove service person. Right. But that's what I like with Dao. Has they actually recognize that the customers are important to, you know, our, our partnerships are important. Our customers are important if something's wrong, how do you address it? And that's what people pay attention to. It's like, how quickly did you fix something? How quickly did you respond to it? Did you take my escalation where you at least nice to me when you took my escalation, um, first call resolution. When you talk about call centers, like did the call get resolved on the first call kind of thing. People really care about that. And whenever you think about just all those other experiences, you have, people have so many more bad experiences. I think sometimes when they do good experiences and if you can at least stand out in that market with that better experience. That's going to make you successful, but it is taking care of your customers. It just, it comes down to that. So anyway, that was like.

Alex McBratney (Host) 

Yeah, that's where, I mean, that's where word of mouth comes in. That's where it, we're talking about it here. You're talking about your favorite brands. Right. And we don't, I don't try. I try and we try not to go into like, what's your worst experience? Cause I don't want to slam any brands, but they're definitely there. And we have, I've got some on my back pocket where it's like offline, like, Oh, we can just go days on the bad experiences. It's almost like you remember those more than the good ones. It's like when you were growing up, this might, you know, you, you remember the bad times when your parents got mad at you or you did something wrong and like not all the times they hugged you and gave you loves and kisses and stuff like that. Right. Bad experiences that really shine a light. Cause it hurt like deep down. It's about the justice of it. You shall be treated this way. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

You know, when we're talking to people and helping them pick a new vendor, that's usually the first thing they say is the pain points of the current product. And it doesn't, it's not necessarily features. It's like they don't pick up the phone when I call them. And. It doesn't really have 99.9, 99% uptime. And I was like, not 99.8 or whatever, which is okay. But like not good enough for me. Like they always dwell on the negative and then that's. You know, why they want to migrate, which is always interesting because the product that they have sometimes is still an amazing product. I may have one or two areas that can get better, but, you know, sometimes it's just as good as the next thing that they want to purchase. So it's, to your point, Alex, like people will always shine on the negative stuff before they go to the positives. 

Erika McDowell (Guest)

Yeah. A hundred percent agree with that, for sure. That's why everyone's I just always remember asking what's the best part of your day. And I asked my family that every day and I'm like, wait, Oh my gosh, let's not talk about the day something that had to happen. Like one good thing. Just tell me I do that every night at our house.  

Alex McBratney (Host) 

The positive, right. That attitude of gratitude. That's always good. 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

Every morning, my wife and I, we, you know, we, we joke cause we're like, Oh, I got to drive to work, which we're all working from home. So it's like just walking from the kitchen to the office. But, uh, we always say to each other, it's going to be a good day. It's going to be a good day. If you always start with like something positive, then when you're going through your day, you're going to remember the things like, Oh, I told myself it's going to be a good day and this thing happened and it is a good day, you know, as opposed to the negatives and doing it ahead of time is better than doing an after. When you're like reflecting, like, Oh, what happened today? All you're going to think about it's like three or four things that were not as positive. So always, always frame your yourself in the positive. And we try to do that with, uh, not only our podcasts, but with our guests,too. And that's why we love having you on here on the podcast and trying to wrap it up in a clean way.

Alex McBratney (Host) 

Good job, Aarde. I was going to do it, but you just took over. I love it.

Erika McDowell (Guest)

...let me say something else. 

Alex McBratney (Host) 

Do you have one last comment, Erica, because you can jump in and say your final piece. If you have one.

Erika McDowell (Guest)

Well, I just wanted to thank you guys so much for a sock for having me because it is amazing. I said to Aarde just being able to talk about what a small world, this whole industry is. Just this whole small world thing. And I very honored to be here because just the way that connecting universe was, that's all I'm going to say. Just knowing people and everything else. I'm very grateful for his friendship and everything in the industry. But, um, the other part too is just really grateful that you guys interviewed me on, on Dialpad. I think it's, for me very much a company that's emerging in the market. We're competing with a lot of those bigger players out there, but what's really nice about that is we're talking about customer experience. You're working with a company that's a little smaller than the competition, but the customers get better attention in my opinion, when you're dealing in that space. Cause I've been there, you know, many, many years ago. So that's something else too that I think is amazing. It's a great product, great service. I'm really happy I joined, but I'm also very honored to be here guys. So thank you so very much. 

Alex McBratney (Host) 

Absolutely welcome. And it's been a pleasure chatting with you and I love it. I wish we could go on for hours. More of that Aarde has got a horse with that weird eye on a beer and a red, a red... 

Aarde Cosseboom (Co-Host)

Red Horse. I got to have a drink before the weekend. And thank you guys all for joining the podcast. 

Alex McBratney (Host) 

You got it. Well, that wraps they'll 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, LinkedIn or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on Another Cloud Podcast.