A Storm in the Redwoods with Martin Taylor of Content Guru
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Dave Michels 0:12
Welcome to talking does Evan and I will be talking with Martin Taylor of content guru but first evon Did you see that on 60 minutes that apparently Facebook prioritizes its own needs over the public.
Evan Kirstel 0:26
You know I tried to watch it on Facebook but Facebook is down. I went to Instagram and Instagram is down and so I tried to WhatsApp you to see what’s going on and WhatsApp is down.
Dave Michels 0:37
But you can’t WhatsApp me you know that I don’t use any of Facebook’s AI but I was watching the 60 minutes thing and you know, I kept on thinking of that scene and Casa Blanca, where the police inspector closes down the blog. I’m shocked. He says I’m shocked to find out that gambling is going on here. And then the guy comes up and says you’re winning, sir. Of course Facebook was a doing what it needed to do to grow. That’s what all companies do. I don’t know. I’m not even sure if there’s a crime there.
Evan Kirstel 1:02
Well, there’s there’s not a crime, but definitely prioritizing engagement interactions and things like interactions. And really any controversial content gets prioritized based on engagement. So hello, that’s their algorithm that is their business model. So unless you fundamentally regulate that out of their system, I’m not sure if anything is going to change,
Dave Michels 1:26
you know, because news always sells and so you’re in the news business, whether it’s television news, or newspapers or whatever, that there’s a big thing going on in the world more people buy your newspaper. We know that but Facebook’s like one of the first news companies that gets to kind of control the amount of news there is and outrage there.
Evan Kirstel 1:47
swats the amplification, I mean, you can only sell so many newspapers that you can amplify a story to a billion people around the world in ways that initiate riots and angsty and hate and all kinds of stuff. So a bad day for Facebook. I really wonder if this is just a coincidence that their entire network goes down the Dave of the senate testimony, we shall see. But we have other stories to focus on doing well,
Dave Michels 2:12
we have a great guest to focus on once we get to the interview.
Let’s do it. Talking. It’s a semi monthly podcast with interviews of the top movers and shakers and enterprise communications and collaboration. Your hosts are Dave Michaels and Evan Kirkstall, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at talking points.com. That’s points with the Z and Devin curse co.com. That’s kr STL.
Dave Michels 2:45
Today, we have with us the co founder and Deputy CEO and global CMO of content guru. Welcome, Martin.
Martin Taylor 2:55
I used to be here.
Dave Michels 2:57
So Martin Taylor, I should say welcome Martin Taylor. First question for you is a tough one. What is a deputy CEO? Do you have a badge?
Martin Taylor 3:07
I do have a badge somewhere, actually. So I think in my time in the business, I’ve held pretty much every position from tech support to CEO. So at the moment, the business has always been run by my brother and myself, I suppose in a kind of biblical style, tussle for supremacy page, one over beauty. So he is a CEO. I’m happy enough with that. It’s a big because it does he call himself
Dave Michels 3:35
a sheriff CEO,
Martin Taylor 3:37
Dave Michels 3:40
Martin Taylor 3:42
I’m not sure if I’m the kind of deputy sheriff analogy. Oh, maybe more or less autonomous. It’s just so we don’t have confusion.
Evan Kirstel 3:51
Dave loves Western analogies being in Colorado, but I
Dave Michels 3:55
don’t know. Have you ever heard of a deputy CEO and that’s new to me. Maybe it’s more common title that I’m aware of? Maybe it’s a British thing.
Evan Kirstel 4:03
It’s a British thing. And I see Martin, you went to King’s College in London. And then you founded a company at 22, which is primarily what company was that?
Martin Taylor 4:13
That’s Redwood technologies, which is a kind of progenitor of content guru. So it’s still going today its r&d arm now. But that was me here. 22 years ago, I’ve only had really one other job in my life.
Evan Kirstel 4:27
It’s fantastic. And you went on to win a Queen’s Innovation Award. King’s College Queen’s award, you know, this confuses us Americans, all these, these kings and queens is nw dentinal.
Martin Taylor 4:40
Yeah, sounds very regal, isn’t it? But yes, the Queen’s award is for a kind of premier prestige award, but a business can when you’re only allowed to apply once every five years. We were fortunate to get it for innovation, which is absolutely the category that we position ourselves in So that’s really of all businesses. It’s not restricted to any single industry sector.
Evan Kirstel 5:05
That’s fantastic. Well, we’ll get into the business in a second. But I was doing my research here before a change, which primarily consists of looking people up on Twitter. I do see you have a Twitter handle, but the last time you tweeted, was 2019. What’s up with that? Have you abandoned Twitter?
Martin Taylor 5:22
Now, I’m not a I’ve never been a big poster of social media. I guess I prefer just to crack on with the work and was always
Evan Kirstel 5:31
working. I get the idea. I used to do that.
Dave Michels 5:34
But you said you’re not a big poster. Are you a lurker? Are you monitoring everything that I do?
Martin Taylor 5:40
I can see what everyone else is saying. Absolutely.
Evan Kirstel 5:44
Well, let’s talk about names. We love the names, but we’re not really seeing a pattern here. Let’s start with content guru. doesn’t quite sound like a seek as business. So what’s the story behind the name content? or? Yeah, sure.
Martin Taylor 6:00
So we’ve had red with technologies going since 1993. To that one, next. Yeah. So red wood was established, we were mainly known for doing television voting at that time. So big platforms in telco networks, doing TV voting for X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, equal Dancing with the Stars, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, that kind of stuff. So in a way, our brand had been slightly pigeon holed. As someone that was in Telecom, it was in telecom networks, when we decided we wanted to set up what would become a cloud business, although it wasn’t called Cloud yet. We wanted a new name that would kind of distance ourselves from that kind of telco past. So Sean, my brother and I, and I sat down, we kicked over various ideas, we knew it was going to be about more channels and voice. So video is going to come into it might have been the next big thing for the last 10 years at that point, and would be for the following 10 years or more, we knew it was going to be about social media a lot more. And that it was going to be many forms that were written rather than spoken. So we had this idea that there would be content and content would come in a number of formats. Some of them would be spoken, some visual, some written. And so we fixed some content. And then the guru idea came about because we always thought that we had a pretty good perspective on things. And we tended to research a lot and know more than most people about the subject areas that interested us. So we kind of put the two together that we would be this kind of content guru organization. And it’s stuck. So many people said at the time now that will never succeed. Because it sounds like some kind of mystics have said, well, like Oracle. So content guru, it was, so we’ve never defined ourselves by exactly what we do. And it was the same when we established Redbird technologies earlier. of that time, everyone was called something voice, there was active voice at voice Connect, it was even Miami voice, but we were doing voice but we didn’t want to be defined by it. So we wanted a general name that would enable us to evolve. And content guru again has enabled us to evolve from the point where we set it up where we opened with TV business, and media handling mass call campaigns, through to the evolution of the contact center as a service line, which has obviously gone on to become a primary occupation.
Dave Michels 8:43
Well, I’m glad to explain that and that then that makes a lot of sense to me. And I like a good story like that. I was looking for, you know, whatever, and said, we can’t see the pattern in your names because you know, Redwood is a tree. And you know, I went to college in California and the dorms were all named after trees. There was a redwood. I lived in the drone and there was a Cypress and there was even a hemlock, but I don’t recall a tree or dorm named content grew and so I was really confused by this.
Martin Taylor 9:11
Evan Kirstel 9:12
we will never have as easily confused. Yes, yeah, we did look
Martin Taylor 9:15
at the arboreal thread, of course, and we kicked over types of tree. Redwood obviously, is a tree that lives potentially for 1000 years forest fire dependent. We like the longevity of it, the fact of its great size, and it had that kind of West Coast feel to it as well. And actually where our original office was looked out onto a big ceremonial avenue of redwoods, which was planted to mark the depth of the depth of the first Duke of Wellington and the 1850s. And so we have this quite inspiring mile long avenue of his great trees. There was our name. Actually many people came to us over the years asking if we were into kind of technologies to do with Would we want to explain that? No, that’s not what we do. And similarly, we don’t write content either.
Evan Kirstel 10:08
Well, everyone knows all the redwoods have been chopped down in the UK. So I think all the trees seem to be gone. And speaking of names, your product is called storm. Is that because the weather so bad in the UK is that? Yeah, well,
Martin Taylor 10:23
stone again, predates a cloud idea. Of course, we’d always drawn clouds in network diagrams. But the idea of storm was, we thought it had this idea of coming from above the idea of power, that it would generate energy, and that it would be kind of exciting and disrupt. And really, that’s the origins of storm. And actually, in our original media days, it also served as an acronym. But now relays it’s simply storm. And it’s been a very good word for us, although very expensive mark to maintain around the world. What was the acronym for services for television online and radio media?
Evan Kirstel 11:04
Martin Taylor 11:05
that’s a good point. No, that was, but it was the largest platform in the UK, which was our home market. We knew that because we had made what was then the largest platform for bt, who were the incumbent telco here. And that was used to do all the big mass calling applications for television here. And so we decided we’re gonna make a platform that’s twice as big, just to put ourselves on the map. And that was storm. And we thought it was bigger than this other platform that was called ride. Or maybe we like the doors, I don’t know. But Riders on the storm and so forth, we thought that storm would kind of Trump ride were twice as big, it would be multi channel is going to be much better a latest tech. That was what we’re going to lead out with?
Dave Michels 11:49
Well, I have to say, I’m really glad we asked about these names, because they’re not intuitive. And when I think of a customer, customer service organization, I don’t think of a storm, I think a calm and serenity storm seems like the wrong thing to name a sea gas company. But I guess that’s just my perspective. But you call because there Yeah,
Martin Taylor 12:08
we launched storm into the kind of gathering clouds of the global financial crisis. And actually, our first strap line was, this is no time for calm, it’s time for storm. Actually, our provisioning site is still called time for storm. Because we always believe it’s time for storm. So you
Dave Michels 12:29
kind of touched on this already. But let me go back to this. LinkedIn says you’ve been with Redwood technology for 28 years. But you’ve only been with content guru for 15 years. And so what did read would do for the first part of your life and does read would do anything else besides manage your own content group?
Martin Taylor 12:50
Well, you have read rich technologies limited was our first company that set out as communication technology provider in that kind of early mid 90s, rush of PC based DSP blade in a backplane, plug into a newly deregulated telephone line. And you start to do things like voicemail Auto Attendant, recording, an IVR. So that’s really where we began. And we created a toolkit so that you could create applications very quickly, using a drag and drop methodology. So that was the beginning of redwood. And then we made ever larger systems over time, until we were mainly known for producing very large systems, that would go into telco networks, comm tier one telco networks, as I say, typically it was supporting the rollout of large TV broadcasts. Was this a hardware company? Yeah, we made our own hardware. Absolutely. So yeah, we’ve been metal factory in Manchester. We even made our own DSP blade for voice was quite advanced for its time. But we were primarily a software company, and always were, and we still are. And so really read was a was about creating software that would be used in communications applications. And what those communications applications have represented has evolved over time, from four ports, eight ports, 24, ports, 30 ports, to things like prepaid billing for telcos. And we had a long run of doing that. Other network services for telcos such as voice mail, and other kind of in network applications. So really, actually, that was the perfect training ground for the cloud. We didn’t come from on premise, we came from the network in the first place, and that really differentiates our heritage really from practically everyone else in our space.
Evan Kirstel 14:52
Yeah, Redwood technology. Almost 30 years ago was a client of mine was a sales engineer at dialogic, so ever Yeah, the logic board.
Martin Taylor 15:03
Absolutely. So again would
you are responsible for a lot of dialogic boards going out and rhetorics boards. Of course, we had a quite a, historically a rhetorics underpinning in our culture. So my brother was at rhetorics. My father was European Managing Director of rhetorics. So we kind of, I suppose I came out of college with dialogic was kind of historically the enemy. But obviously it was a dominant provider of those blades at the time. And so we always positioned ourselves as agnostic as regards for hardware.
Evan Kirstel 15:43
telco dynasty, this is amazing. But yeah, point did you decide to found a C cast provider, it’s not a Yeah, obvious thing to do at the same
Dave Michels 15:54
time that Evans started calling on he was that he did that.
Martin Taylor 15:58
Right. So C cast for us evolved out of doing the work for media, we’ve got very good at dealing with large surges of calls, when that phone number goes up on the screen, and hundreds of 1000s of people millions dial it at the same moment, you have to be pretty robust to not go over and not take the network over. So we thought, okay, we’ve developed something quite special here. We also had this service creation environment. So we could create applications very quickly, that we had a range of specialized services that we’d written primarily for banks, actually, where we were used to connect up the trading floors record, and effectively provide a conference type service for them. And we had a billing system that we’ve created for telcos to do prepaid phone cards and prepaid billing in the networks. So we have many of the elements that we needed, what we’re in search of was something that would exercise our capacity, and all of those components of technology that we put together, but would be more of a kind of 24, seven, used every day type of application rather than Saturday night, big network show. And everyone’s kind of on duty, manning the systems to make sure that the vote went smoothly, and all the texts were counted properly, etc. So we’re almost in search of a quieter life. And we figured, well, we could do a good job, initially in front of contact centers dealing with those rushes of traffic that happened, say for a utility company, when the lights go out, and all the electricity subscribers are calling to find out what’s going on. And in fact, that was our entree into the sea caste market. There was just a UK energy companies is called UK power networks. And some of the engineers who control the communication network were x bt, and they had worked with our Rive system and the BT network. They were familiar with it at work, they’re doing TV votes, and so forth. And so they said to us, we have a similar situation occurs when we have emergencies, suddenly 10 times or 100 times more people want to contact our call center. Could you put your big platform in front of it and take that Shockwave and put some automated processing in there? And said, Yes, of course we could. And then over time, we started to evolve downstream from there. So we started to do the queuing, we started to do skill grouping, we were obviously doing the IVR. We were using voice recognition technologies that we had on the platform. And then eventually, in time, we were connecting together all the call centers, we’re providing our dashboard over the top for real time statistics, just like we used to do for the TV network, guys where they need to see in real time what’s going on. And the time came when the whole contact center was up for grabs. And we want that and in the face of the traditional large on prem incumbents. And we really never looked back from their their cset scores went from the bottom of the league, to a top of the league. And that league in their case means you’re avoiding 10s of millions of dollars of annual fines, and instead you’re receiving money. So that meant that another power company has a six drop to the bottom. They came to us to move up the league table. Then the next one, the next one, the next one. And now all all the five big ones work with us that we’ve raised the whole bar of customer service in that whole industry. That then gave us what we felt was a right to win in large enterprise contact center. So we made that our home is built on our heritage in mass media, it used for large scale of our platform. And it used a robustness and five nines resilience to good effect. And really, that’s how we’ve built up our business now. And we’re pretty much an all C class company by revenue. And all that revenue. 70% is enterprise, what we call enterprise is 150 seats. Above that we’ve got many multi 1000 seat customers.
Dave Michels 20:32
That’s great. They’re really impressive. But I’m still a little confused about content grew versus Redwood. And so when you talk about your revenue, the same revenue for both companies, or is red with kind of a holding company, or is there something else going on here that
Martin Taylor 20:46
we have a holding company over the top, which is Redwood technologies group, so that’s our top code. And everything in there is cloud revenues were 98%. So it was 2%, which is still stuff that we do for telcos primarily, and a little bit of on prem for some of your US federal government clients who don’t quite want to move into the cloud yet. Although that
Dave Michels 21:11
brings me to my next question is interesting. You’re working with the US federal government, because I saw the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant that came out on z cash, and you guys did really well, in fact, particularly well and critical capabilities and scored very well. But they complained as do I that you were not that well known in the US? And so other than those podcasts and your Twitter activity, what are you going to do to improve that us recognition?
Martin Taylor 21:36
Yeah, that’s a very good question. So the US is obviously, an enormous market is at least 60% of our global c caste market by Valley. So that is entirely where our focus is going to be for the next few years in terms of building out. So the UK, you may or may not know is the second largest market for contact center, generally, MC CAS in particular. So we are the dominant player here we have
Dave Michels 22:05
in the US people call to complain. And in the UK, they call it a whinge.
Martin Taylor 22:10
We can turn a whinge into something more constructive,
Evan Kirstel 22:13
or they call them apologize, actually. But
Martin Taylor 22:17
yes, exactly. So obviously, we can’t just go out in the States and the vastness of the market there and just start dominating it, it doesn’t really work that way. So much more important, there is the development of the right partnerships. And actually, that’s a model that isn’t new to us, that is how we’ve expanded in other markets outside of our home market. So the first of those was in the Netherlands, and then in Japan. So we have a model. So we have an initial partner. And we have a platform, we have an office and local people, because you’ve got to be local to kind of be part of the culture. And then we get some landmark clients on board. And then you get some additional reseller partnerships. And then you have some direct activity, which is usually around some of the larger and more complex implementations of your technology. And then you develop a sector specialization in the key verticals. And then from a as a pattern as a roadmap, and you build out. So our US operation is in those early stages of maturity. But we’ve got some great people in there, including, importantly, local marketing, got local business development, we’ve always had locally based tech. And obviously through the acquisition of pick particular integration and consulting, we’ve got some additional specialized capability into a federal government marketplace. We’ve kind of inherited from Redwood and we’re developing as a further jumping off point into that market. Sounds like
Evan Kirstel 23:54
a good strategy. I was just going to suggest tweet more, but you actually have a have a real plan when it comes to seek as I get all my information from Dave Michaels talking points newsletter, but they all seem pretty similar to me seek out solutions. So what makes content Korto different, better than the competition and sort of what’s your superpower as it were?
Martin Taylor 24:16
Yeah, that’s a great point. And of course, we all use similar words. So I suppose the difference with us is that we are a single stack provider. And that goes back to our technology heritage. So we haven’t built technology by acquisition, we’ve built it by development. And that, in turn, leads to a much higher level of reliability. So we’re very happy putting out a standard 99.999% SLA, because that’s what we do. We’ve had 100% uptime on storm since the platform was inaugurated in around 2007. So that’s 14 years of uninterrupted operation. We don’t have kind of hold a day. time we don’t have out one hour downtime or anything like that. So let’s demonstrate it high reliability. And that the UK has made us the only cloud platform to be selected for blue light emergency services use. So what we call 999, what you call what 911. Over there, that has been a very protected large enterprise on premise contact center environment. Until now, when we’ve kind of broken into the Citadel. So there is the reliability. The second part is the scale. And that goes back to heritage in the telco networks, doing these mass call events for big national broadcast media events that millions of people use. So the scale, the single stack, the reliability, those are kind of core strengths. So because we’ve got a single stack, it means that when we talk about omni channel, we really are omni channel is not that the voice part and the web chat part are two different threads. And the email part comes from somewhere else. But WhatsApp, the Twitter, the Facebook are some other audio acquisition, and it tends to go flaky at the edges. This is all one. So for us any kind of event is the same as any other. So we can queue and skill group emails, for example, we can monitor and whisper into a web chat. We can automate p live voice interaction using natural language processing, and analyze it in the same way that we can with a written digital transaction. So it’s really those rich capabilities that everyone can use the words, but we can actually walk the talk and have demonstrably done. So with more large enterprise and central government users, when really anyone else around the seacat space anywhere in the world,
Dave Michels 27:04
whether you explain that blue light thing, because in the US, we have the Kmart is known for their blue light special, not nearly
Evan Kirstel 27:11
as Dave, they did that about 20 years ago. So yeah,
Dave Michels 27:15
that’s where I thought he was going. And I can’t help but you know, but you talk about mergency services. And I know that one of your reference customers is the National Health Service or NHS, I assume they’ve gone through a lot of changes in the past, I don’t know, 18 months or so with this pandemic going on. has that affected your business at all? Yeah, in
Martin Taylor 27:35
a good way, of course. So what pandemic showed was the limitations of an on premise architecture. So when you needed to go and work from home, work in a distributed format, maybe deliver different communication channels to somebody who’s no longer working within a center, but is now somewhere else that really found out a lot of those architectural legacy decisions that have been made to retain and develop old on prem systems. So we came along with our cloud platform, we were already running large parts of what they call integrated urgent and emergency care infrastructure, particularly for the whole of London. So London was the first place to really feel the pandemic, in February into March last year, we were dealing with 500% increase in traffic 14 100% increase in durations, we had to introduce Intelligent Automation, we had to introduce video on demand video consultations in a few weeks, and get that made clinically safe and signed off by NHS processes, which normally would take months and years. So all of that really marked us out as highly competent people. We even stood up one new NHS organisation, which wasn’t even a previous customer in mind days from first discussions to service going live. So we kind of proved I met all the and that has led to us being selected as the national platform now for urgent and emergency care contact center. So over the next two, three years, you’ll see really the whole of NHS, Urgent Care moving on to our cloud. And that is ultra important because it means that as a national level, NHS person, you can see right the way down to an individual clinician, or advisor working anywhere in the country. And you can see in real time what’s going on, you can intelligently load balance, you can introduce Intelligent Automation services wherever you need to. So it has been a massive accelerant in our penetration into NHS, which let’s not forget is Europe’s largest organisation. I think it’s the fourth largest employer in the world. After your allotment of defense, I think the Chinese national army and the Indian railway system after that it’s the National Health Service. Great Britain.
Evan Kirstel 30:08
Amazing. So let’s take a step back and look at the industry. How’s it changing? In your opinion? It’s just more AI new buzzwords, or is something else occurring in the industry?
Martin Taylor 30:21
Yeah, well, obviously there’s the move to cloud. I think that’s beyond question. Now we’ve got acceleration and cloud that doesn’t need restating what we’re also seeing is the rise of more Intelligent Automation. I don’t see AI plays into that. So another example from the pandemic, is what’s called Universal Credit, which is the UK benefit system, if you’re unemployed, or on low income, we went from having a normal queue with 200 people in it to a queue with 10,000 people in it. And that was the ceiling that we placed on that organization’s queue and our storm platform. And when it hit the ceiling, the first question we were asked was, can you make the queue bigger? And of course, Yes, we can. Do you have more people to answer his calls? No, you don’t. So very quickly, we have to move to streaming off some of that traffic and taking it into other groups. So it could be something as simple as we ask a question, we present a text message, they click through that text message. And there’s the information that you need. So Intelligent Automation has been something we’ve always done. Even going back to UK power networks, with the big kind of tsunami of calls, when the lights go out in London, we see call volumes going up at 100% is a kind of normal increase. And so what we do is we go from a situation where every call is answered by a human agent, because that’s their preferred route to 93% of calls are fully automated. So that means we’re asking about the location, we’re able to use the postcode to get quite close there, we’re then getting information from multiple sources of high voltage grid, or low voltage grid, Work in Progress information, we’re pulling that together. And we’re actually telling the caller exactly what’s happened when it’s going to be back online. And we’re taking their mobile number, and we’re sending them SMS messages as the situation evolves. So all of that means 93% automation. And actually, during the time of the pandemic, the cset scores of that customer actually went up. So yeah, I think there are a 93% customer satisfaction rate, whilst automating 93%. So we’ve proven that Intelligent Automation works. And of course, as we now apply more AI technologies, then we’re just going to see more and more of that automation. A great example is something we’re doing in the National Health Service right now, which is to use NLP natural language processing, to interrogate and start to self service callers into the urgent care service. And then we’re starting to populate, open and populate a medical record, which when we pass it down to know, the correct health advisor is already substantially filled. And that means that we’re able to cut out minutes of every call. And that is just a huge game changer in all of these customer situations where the agent population is relatively static, but the demand is continuing to increase. And actually, we’ve taken it even a stage further now into what we call the machine agent. So whilst agent seats are obviously the core of our value, and our revenue stream, I should add, we’ve now got the machine agent sitting alongside. So you might have some number of human agents and a corresponding population of machine agents. And as we add more and more artificial intelligence capabilities through a brain program, then we’re just adding progressively to those Intelligent Automation capabilities. And in the bulk of our large enterprise and government customers, that is delivered using an agile program methodology. So typically, we’re doing every two weeks for our largest customers, or delivery of new capabilities. And a lot of those are AI based and Intelligent Automation delivery systems.
Dave Michels 34:38
So you mentioned UK power networks a couple times now and you’re just talking here about automation and it’s improved customer satisfaction. But I asked you a tougher question here. No, there’s no doubt some of your customers that are using your technology for evil you know, the impossible to get to agents really bad. IVR is that We’ve all dealt with these contact centers that not necessarily yours, but contact centers that are just very, very frustrating. So when you champion customer service and you see some of your customers using your technology in a, let’s just say an inappropriate way, there’s not a whole lot you can do about that, because they’re the customer knows what they want to do. So how do you deal with that? How do you champion great customer service and provide a tool that could be abused?
Martin Taylor 35:27
Yeah, well, firstly, we don’t take on every would be customer. So there is a level of betting. So there are certain types of customer that have always been off limits for us. So we wouldn’t entertain taking on board. But taking the bulk of normal organizations, they tend to have a, historically a desire to cut cost. And I think it goes back to the contact center being seen historically as a cost center. And when you view something as a cost center, your thinking is in terms of cost reduction measures. So many people have looked at automation as a means of getting the cost down. Similarly, people have looked at digital transformation, through the lens of I want to reduce the number of people that I’m employing to deliver my customer service, so I can lay off more of it to machines, then I can have fewer call minutes taken place. We know the reality is that that doesn’t translate into fewer call minutes, you may have fewer calls, those calls will be longer and more detailed. So we don’t have that many customers who just want to automate everything and hide behind IVR. So even in the case of that 93% example I gave from large any energy utility, they are looking for the phone numbers of anybody who’s on a vulnerable list, they’re looking for people with kidney dialysis machine, or somebody who has a blood pump, or on a COPD registered. So that or as a care home with 30, vulnerable old people in it. And then those people are going straight to a trained group of agents. So it’s really rather than about preventing customers reaching people, it’s about appropriate handling. So the bulk of regular inquiries are suitable for automation, the more difficult stuff may be partly automated, or it may be that no automation is the appropriate route. So we sit down with our customers, and we talk about what are the outcomes what they want. And typically, they want a better level of customer service than their rivals, if they’re a commercial organization. If they’re a regulated organization, they want to fulfill standards that are required of them by the regulator, perhaps finish in the upper echelons of a league table. Similarly, if they’re a government organization, they want to be seen delivering at an acceptable level of service. So it’s really about working with the customer, I suppose steering them away from any bad impulses, and the contact center for us now. And it was something a message we started with, probably three, four years ago, isn’t a cost center, it’s a value center. And when customers start to think of it as a value center, then they’re much more likely to invest properly in it, and give it proper C level attention. So now we have C level attention, we can get into much more interesting conversations about desired business outcomes. And that’s really the kind of level we like to be operating with our customers
Evan Kirstel 38:44
really love that a value center, not a cost center. See, Dave, I’m a value center. I’m not a cost. Yeah,
Dave Michels 38:49
yeah, that’s what you
Martin Taylor 38:51
can see that.
Evan Kirstel 38:52
So Martin, do you build backdoors into your system, so you can always reach an operator, and not get caught in the dreaded maze of online interaction.
Martin Taylor 39:02
More than that often with monitoring people’s behavior. So they may be in a queue. That doesn’t mean they’re forgotten about. So we can be watching the pattern of the interaction and actually gauging sentiment not even just when they’re talking though, we can do that. But also the manner in which we’re maybe even just pressing the buttons, how often they’ve called. So we can actually really zero in on the unhappy customer quite accurately and I and elevate them. Also, he may be waiting a long time in a queue or going to wait a long time in a queue. The best option might be to offer that person a callback. And they can have a callback when they get to the front of the queue. Or at some point that’s more convenient to them, perhaps lunchtime or
Dave Michels 39:54
now but I think Adam was asking if there was a Martin Taylor secret menu that allows you to get Right to the operators.
Martin Taylor 40:01
Oh, when I’m using these things myself, yeah, yeah, I’ve called our own services in anger as it were, they’re always really great. I’m usually quite proud of, okay, we run that. It might be the water has gone off or something, or I’m feeling ill. But after services have always been great whenever I’ve used them. And that’s really what’s bringing us more and more success in the market.
Dave Michels 40:26
No Good answer. I don’t need to build backdoors I Okay, that’s good.
Martin Taylor 40:30
frontals. Great for us.
Evan Kirstel 40:33
Nice. So you’re in London? Do you have any petrol for your car?
Martin Taylor 40:38
Yeah, I know, how crazy is it, that we’re into some kind of wartime situation of queueing Back to the Future? I do. So I, funnily enough on the way to the office this morning, I spotted a petrol station with only a very short queue. And I took the decision. Okay, I’ll be 10 minutes late for work. And I’m gonna get some of this. So yeah, we are in this strange situation of having to keep an eye on the fuel gauge. So hopefully that won’t last too long. I,
Evan Kirstel 41:09
I did see that the most Google term in the UK is electric vehicles. So
Martin Taylor 41:16
some of my colleagues you have plug in electric vehicles are feeling very smart.
Dave Michels 41:22
Well, you’re a part of that supply chain, too, with the UK power, I guess. So. Evan mentioned, you went to King’s College, I saw that you are occasionally a guest lecture, strategy and entrepreneurship there. What do you talk about? What do you go back to school,
Martin Taylor 41:36
I really enjoy going back to school, I actually lecture on one of the courses I attended myself as an undergraduate, which is the third year strategy course, which when I was there used to be compulsory. Now it’s optional. But it’s always a one of the most interesting of the courses, I think, because in part of a guest lecturers are getting, perhaps including myself among that number night. But I always used to enjoy these real world stories of how people actually use strategy, because it’s one thing to talk about it in the abstract, but quite another to see, okay, these guys develop a mission statement and really apply it or they do have a vision, and they work towards it, and they update it. So it takes some of these concepts out of a dusty tomes of lecture books, and into something that’s living and more much more exciting. And from my point of view, though, I get to be scared by all these really clever young students who seem to take it all a lot more seriously than I did back in the 90s.
Evan Kirstel 42:46
So you have a lot of European offices. But tell us about your your us plans, I we are opening up again to travel in any short term plans to visit.
Martin Taylor 42:57
Yeah, I was really looking forward to the fall shows, but they all seem to have fallen by the wayside by. So things like CCW icmi, those are great not just to go talk to people, they might want to buy stuff, but actually particularly to go and going undercover as someone operating a contact center. And of course, we have a contact center ourselves in our support group, and just sit among people who are actually using these sorts of services. And you learn an awful lot in a couple of days, kind of set in with the frontline troops there. In terms of getting out to the States, obviously, the development of our operation, there is the primary area of importance for our business. We’ve grown to dominate the second largest market, we must make our impact on the largest market. I liken it to a rock band. Maybe they’re big in Japan or something. And we are quite big in Japan also. But unless you can kind of make it in America, you haven’t really made it as a global player
Dave Michels 44:07
to produce invasion. All right? Well,
Martin Taylor 44:09
I’d say it’s been the death of British ambition since the time of Washington.
Dave Michels 44:15
In 1007, talking about travel, Evan and I are world travelers ourselves, at least we used to be a one time and, and we tended to evaluate every city we go to by the restaurants. We try to eat local food when we’re there. Of course, the best local food in London is Indian food. So let me ask you, what is your standard order at a Indian restaurant or
Unknown Speaker 44:36
a curry house? Yeah,
Martin Taylor 44:38
I’m very boring. So I tend to have a chicken tikka starter, and then a lamb jalfrezi that’s going to kind of a normal regular Indian restaurant.
Evan Kirstel 44:51
Order Indian food right now Dave, thanks. Thanks. But I prefer that the staples the classic English fish and chips. They used to serve them. Newspaper like, yeah, on the side of the road, they still do that, or is that that,
Martin Taylor 45:04
unfortunately that was outlawed by some public health initiative. I would cease to enjoy it actually, in fact, we’re saying was always Today’s News is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper.
Evan Kirstel 45:17
That’s the title for the show date. I think we found a title. Cast. That’s great. Yeah, well,
Martin Taylor 45:23
we have fairly frequently people over from Japanese office and our Japanese partner racket on to come over to headquarters here. And initially, we thought they would like sushi. So we went to great trouble to get the best local sushi, they thought was rubbish. They don’t want to fish and chips. And so now we just need to bring in a big greasy plate of fish and chips. And everyone’s absolutely delighted.
Dave Michels 45:50
That sounds great. Yeah,
Evan Kirstel 45:51
I think we need a road trip, Dave?
Martin Taylor 45:53
Yeah, basically, free fish and chips on market.
Dave Michels 45:57
Well, again, thank you very much mark. It’s been a great learning about content grew and Redwood and storm and all these other silly names that you’ve got fantastic conversation. And I think it’s really exciting what you’re doing.
Martin Taylor 46:08
It’s been an absolute pleasure. Awesome. Take care. You say?
Dave Michels 46:14
Well, I really enjoyed that conversation, I think continent grew is a new discovery for many people in America. And I think it’s an interesting one.
Evan Kirstel 46:21
Yeah. And Martin is a gentleman and a scholar. So great guests to hacking scholar, a kingdom scholar with a Queen’s award, very, very regal. So our next guest is from Yak. Why? You see they’re bringing back voice and video messaging. So we’ll see what that’s all about.
Dave Michels 46:39
Well, until then. You man. I gotta get out of the phone.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai