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Playvox Executive Interview

Alex Bullen, Chief Product Officer, Playvox

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Alex Bullen, Chief Product Officer at Playvox, discusses his background in tech and consulting with Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner, CrmXchange. Playvox differentiates itself by addressing complex problems in a rapidly changing environment. They focus on driving business outcomes, leveraging technology to solve customer experience challenges and optimizing operations. Their workforce engagement suite prioritizes quality and workforce management. Playvox emphasizes personalized agent engagement and empowerment and provides. real-time insights to help customers optimize their operations using AI and predictive analytics.  

Sheri: Tell us a bit about your background.

Alex: My journey is an interesting one. I came from the tech sector, specifically software engineering and consulting in the fintech industry. I started a business focused on optimizing back-office processes through technology and traditional process improvement methodologies.

We looked at the end-to-end customer journey and started AgyleTime, a workforce management product, to address the challenges of transitioning to cloud and incorporating digital channels in customer support. We built AgyleTime as a cloud-native workforce management solution to significantly lessen any deployment challenges. Initially, I oversaw products and engineering, but later focused solely on product development.

In 2020, we sold the company to Playvox, and I joined as the head of the workforce management product line. Since January, I’ve held the role of Chief Product Officer. In this position,. I oversee the entire suite of solutions and I’m able to leverage my passion for solving complex problems using technology to drive business outcomes.

Sheri: Let's discuss what Playvox offers that sets it apart from other vendors claiming to have AI.

Alex: AI is not new in this market and has been around for years. Generative AI, however, has changed the conversation and set a new benchmark, making AI technologies more accessible. At Playvox, we differentiate ourselves by addressing the complex problems faced by our customers in a rapidly changing environment. While many tools focus on agent assistance and supporting various channels, we recognize the need to adapt to dynamic changes and the shifting balance of channels. Our goal is to help customers optimize their operations and understand the impact of different factors. We focus on driving real business value by leveraging technology and making informed decisions.

Sheri: When you mention driving a business outcome, are you referring to workforce and quality management?

Alex: Absolutely. Our core product set revolves around engagement management, particularly in quality management and workforce management. We emphasize understanding the customer's preferred channels, optimizing business operations, and enabling our customers to deliver the best customer service.  Additionally, we prioritize workforce engagement, considering factors like agent sentiment, stress levels, and personalized experiences through scheduling and coaching.

Sheri: How do you achieve personalized agent sentiment analysis?

Alex: Personalization is a key aspect we strive for across all our clients. We establish feedback loops with agents to incorporate their insights into the planning process. Currently, we have sentiment models in place and are in the process of expanding them. We're also exploring stress models to identify these types of indicators in agents. While this is still a work in progress, our aim is to change the feedback loop model and create learning models that deeply understand what works for agents. We balance the needs of agents with the organization's objectives, whether it's optimizing costs or enhancing customer service levels.

Sheri: If a company engages with Playvox and has multiple communication channels, how do you assess their needs and create a program for them?

Alex: For most of our customers, the initial step is gaining visibility and insights into their current operations. Understanding their baseline position and identifying areas of improvement are crucial. Each organization has different goals, though efficiency and cost reduction have been significant focuses recently. We start with historical data, often extracted from spreadsheets, and use it for forecasting and scheduling. Real-time visibility is another important aspect, and we apply machine learning to assist customers in reacting and responding to changing circumstances in their day-to-day operations.

Sheri: Can your solution automate quality assurance scoring?

Alex: We offer features around automated quality assurance (QA) that will be accessible to our customers soon.. Our solution includes sentiment analysis and topic detection to identify interactions that require focus. By providing 100% coverage and selecting specific areas for improvement, we help our customers optimize their quality investment. Sentiment analysis and topic analysis play a crucial role in understanding where to focus efforts.

Sheri: What are Playvox's strengths in workforce engagement?

Alex: Our fundamental strengths lie in quality management, workforce management, and long-term planning solutions. These foundational elements underpin our entire workforce engagement suite. We excel in connecting these components and focus on agent performance and coaching. Our approach is agent-centric, ensuring we support and develop agents to achieve the desired outcomes.

Sheri: Could you elaborate on Playvox's coaching capabilities?

Alex: While there's potential for customization and intelligent coaching, we understand that change management might not be a priority for all our customers yet. However, coaching is an area we're continuously developing. Agent engagement is a significant challenge in the industry, with increasing expectations for workforce development and flexibility from the agent community. Playvox has been committed to agent engagement from the beginning, embedding it into our quality programs and workflow. We strive to optimize customer outcomes while considering the needs and development of the agent workforce.

Sheri: Looking ahead, where do you see Playvox in a couple of years?

Alex: Our goal is to create additional intelligence within our platform, enabling customers to focus on planning and achieving their desired outcomes. We leverage technology to support and automate processes, assisting customers in reacting and responding - without expecting them to possess the in-depth knowledge. Our emphasis is on driving automation into our tools rather than the channels themselves. We've invested time in real-time AI and channel assistance, and we're now driving the same intelligence into capacity planning and long-term planning. Our aim is to help customers identify where to focus and make recommendations based on deep insights.

Sheri: Any final thoughts?

Alex: We now have access to vast amounts of data, so AI and predictive analytics plays a crucial role in our focus. The accessibility of data and the ability to perform root cause analysis across multiple data points are areas we're exploring. We aim to provide supervised and unsupervised learning capabilities that assist customers in understanding complex environments and identifying where to focus their efforts. Predictive analytics and data accessibility empower our customers to optimize their businesses effectively.