Intelepeer Executive Interview
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In her continuing series of live interviews with CX/contact
center technology providers at Enterprise Connect, CrmXchange Managing Partner,
Sheri Greenhaus, sat down with IntelePeer CMO, Brian Gilman to discuss their
low-code, no-code CPaaS platform.
Let's first talk about IntelePeer in general.
IntelePeer is a low-code, no-code communication workflow
platform Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) by definition, but not CPaaS
by execution in terms of how we go to market building our solutions.
Please explain CPaaS, for those who aren't that aware of it.
CPaaS is a platform that provides communication APIs. SMS,
voice API is a messaging API that sits over the top of other communication
systems within your network, your contact center.
Do you provide the hooks for different applications?
Originally, we all would simply pick up the phone and call.
That was the only option. Then came Amazon. We got used to Amazon providing us
with a different customer experience. Originally Amazon was an outlier. Then the
pandemic hit, and people stayed in their homes. Now people are given different
ways to interact with businesses.
We've gotten comfortable with different ways of
communicating. Most of us use our phones for everything but calling. We don't
want to pick up the phone and sit on hold for 45 minutes. We now have
expectations around SMS, chat or social media integration and communications. APIs
are what provide all those omni-channel capabilities to businesses.
What do you see as some of the biggest changes in customer
I think one of the most significant changes is how people
want to consume. They're no longer holding brand loyalty. If the consumer does
not get the experience they want, the way they want to consume, they're going
to go somewhere. The ability for companies to be agile and to meet the customer
and the channel of their choice is what has fundamentally changed. It's not
just offering channels; it's offering the appropriate channel for the type of
business that they do.
For companies to keep their loyalty, what are the best
practices to meet them with whatever channel that they need?
I think this is extremely crucial for companies to provide
the best channels to communicate quickly and effectively, resolving issues
promptly. If it can't do that, customers will go elsewhere.
For instance, I had to refinance my house a year ago. I
needed to get someone on the phone immediately. I could be placed on hold for
45 minutes or, my favorite one, "due to high call volumes, we can't take
your call right now," and a prompt click with a dead connection—an
absolutely horrible experience. I needed immediacy. I wanted to go to live chat
with someone because chat is synchronous. They didn't offer chat. They offered
email with a 48-hour SLA. Companies need to understand that it's more than providing
a channel; it's having a complete understanding of how people need to interact
with you and providing the channels that will allow them the immediacy they
At the end of the day, there are two types of interactions.
There are transactional interactions such as checking a bank account balance. I
can do that on my phone. I don't need to talk to an agent, and as a consumer, I
am provided with an easy way to self-serve. The second type of transaction is
more personal, a larger transaction such as buying a home. I'm probably going
to need to speak to somebody. If I can't physically speak to someone, I better
be able to interact with them via messaging or chat. Providing me an email
doesn't do any good because it's an asynchronous channel when I need to be
It seems like many companies are not providing the channel
This gets back to what I was saying about loyalty. Before
the pandemic, people can lean on their brand. Big global multinational
companies were providing the experience they wanted to provide; they were not
necessarily thinking it through because they didn't have to. During the
pandemic, many employees worked from home. Companies were in survival mode. They
needed to figure out how to get calls that were going to the contact center. With
a limited number of agents and spiking call volumes, it was a scramble to keep
the lights on.
Some companies evolved out of this to adopt a 'How do we
make a better customer experience now because we can't have all these calls
coming into the contact center' mentality. We know the world's reopening. Call
center volumes are not going to be at those peak volumes forever, but eCommerce
is now part of our norm.
Some companies evolved. They thought about issues like 1) How
do we get better with self-service? 2) How do we get that volume out of the contact
center and 3)How do we keep our agents happy? Historically, the brand was the
brand. Now the brand is the customer's experience.
It's interesting; if you go into retail stores, they don't
have the inventory they used to have and tell you to go online.
Yes. That's just it. Many astute retailers are now
leveraging their brick-and-mortar as demo centers and not keeping inventory. A
lot of the employees in retail stores now are almost hybrid contacts. So, when
you have big call spikes, they're not working in the shop; they pick up the
phones. Companies have had to rethink the model because of this fundamental
shift in customer behavior.
Everyone always looks at Amazon and turns to their
distribution models as being their primary advantage. Walmart, for example, has
stores all over the world; that would be their distribution centers. Now you
can purchase something and have it delivered to your door in an hour. That's a
fundamental shift for even a company like Walmart, which still has heavy foot
traffic. They're having people ship out from the stores.
For the companies that don't make this change, is it just too
heavy a lift because of their legacy systems and the undertaking is daunting?
Yes. Some companies have fundamental technology issues that
prevent them from modernizing effectively. We've been talking all week with
analysts. There are over 12 million on-premises contact center seats in the world
today, the old legacy contact centers. They're stuck saying, "how can I
modernize the legacy infrastructure?"
With IntelePeer, they don't have to rip and replace
No, we're not a platform, we're not a PBX, we're not the contact
center. We're enabling a lot of the self-service capabilities that sit adjacent
to our contact center or over the top and the PBX environment.
So IntelePeer can work with most systems that they already
If a company is going to engage you, how do they find you?
Most of the time, there is a primary need. If it's a
doctor's office, they want to minimize the missed appointments. So they're
thinking about SMS reminders. Often, they'll find us either digitally or be at
an event and you'll hear me speak on stage or something like that.
We always talk about how not to categorize ourselves; we are
CPaaS by definition, not execution. Our customers often hear CPaaS and think,
'we can't develop something like that,' and walk away. We built a low-code, no-code
capability on what was a very complex case of APIs. When you look at some of
the competition that's in the market, they provide the code, but it's on the
customer to build it. I'm not technical, but I can build out a lot of the
applications that a doctor's office would need in five minutes. I can deploy a
workload that fits my needs with a few clicks, answering a couple of questions
and dragging and dropping the features I need.
If I'm a doctor's
office, what do I look for? Do they know low-code/no-code?
No, they don't. But many times, they will look for
appointment scheduling. We understand what they're searching for, workflow in
vertical markets and their pain points. It's been good for us because we don't
have to worry about trying to find people who were looking for something that
they don't know how to find.
In some cases, it's better for you if they know less about
It certainly allows us to have a less technical conversation.
We can very easily solve needs without paying someone to build it or come to us
to build these workflows. We've evolved to something that it opens up solutions
and capabilities many companies wouldn't have access to previously.
Your conversation revolves around solving their problem.
And fast! Take a
traditional contact center IVR where the customer calls in and checks for the
automated response, which gets you to the right place or the right person. If
you were to build that leveraging a competitive platform, it would probably
take you several hundred hours, several hundred thousand dollars in either
development resource hours or paying someone to build it. With our low-code
environment, you can do that same thing in a matter of days and with our no-code
environment, have it done in five minutes. We have customers who are running
hundreds of smart flows, which is what we call a low-code environment. We work
with a company where a single person is managing it across multitudes of contact
centers. He tweaks it weekly, if not daily due to the complexity of their
What industry is this?
It's a healthcare group administrator, a rather complex
business. You constantly have new people coming in and out of programs. You
have massive call spikes within the contact center, coming in from many
different benefit places go across various organizations. One person manages
all of those flows. And if you were going to go and do that with a traditional,
you're going to pay a ton of professional services to get it done.
So he can tweak what's happening in the IVR through your
Yes. They built the IVR with our CPaaS. He's managing it
through a low-code drag and drop capability. He's a citizen developer, so he's
not a developer by training but has a basic coding capability. Though basic, he
can handle some of the complexities and the workloads.
In most cases, let's talk like a couple of levels above,
maybe a law firm or a doctor. What are the steps? Does somebody from IntelePeer
consult with them and determine their needs, or do you say here it is, you can
figure it out?
Most of the time, they have a need around a certain pain point.
They will engage with one of our sales reps or one of our channel partners, and
they will walk them through the process. They can build on their own. We have
professional services for customers who need help building. They're not on
their own if they don't have the capability or they want to work with us to
help them build out that application.
For something more complicated, how long does something like
It depends on the level of sophistication. It could take
several days to a week or two, but it's not months. And once it's built, it's
easily replicated. You can build templates within the system. So, you have your
IVR you've built out; you can copy that, paste it and start your second flow
off the base you've just built. The first build may be the longest, then it's
just hours after that.
It's pretty easy to reproduce?
Absolutely. And in this environment where you have similar
flows across different groups of people with different benefits, you may be
taking a single template, replicating it and making tweaks. That first build,
maybe a couple of days, the second and third builds take a few hours to
complete the nuance of what they're trying to do in that flow.
What are some of the key things they should know about using
digital platforms or digital automation?
I think the biggest challenge they have is fully
understanding their customer journey and where a platform like ours can help
impact the business. At the end of the day, they're coming to you for a
singular thing. But when you think about all of the areas from admission,
leveraging health care post-care treatment, where our workflows can impact that
business, whether it be two factor authentication that when a patient calls in
for the first time, they can authenticate who they are, different components of
the appointment reminder, payments etc. These are all really big pain points
that the doctor may not know we can solve for them. They came to us because
they had a real big gap around the appointment reminder.
Is healthcare a big area for you?
I find that healthcare, finance, retail are the ones that
getting very specific and helping customers understand. I can market you SMS; but
it may not make any sense to you because it's a generic horizontal application.
If I can talk about payment reminders within healthcare organization, it's the
same thing, but I'm making it applicable to that doctor so he understands I'm
speaking in his language.
Hospitals are getting dinged by the insurers for re-admission.
There's a whole level of complexity trying to keep patients from coming back.
They need to think through what they do in a post-care environment, such as a
message to refill a prescription. The ability to educate in a post-care
environment where the doctor doesn't necessarily have face time with that
patient but is actively engaging with that patient.
Where do you see customer service going and where would we
be five years from now?
I think we've seen probably seven or eight years of change
in the past year. I think we're going to see companies getting much more
sophisticated about their approach to customer service. They're going to start
to get smarter around data. I think that is one of the biggest issues with
businesses today is they understand the need for interactions in channels, but
they don't have the data because all the communication channels are not pulling
from a common database.
Aligning the data, the analytics, the AI, the machine
learning… all of those things that we always talk about in line with the
communications channels, provide better intelligence to the agent or employee.
So that way, when the customer comes in, they're getting a more tailored
customer experience. And it doesn't feel like my chat channel is independent
from my voice channel. I think that's where we're going to start to get better
coordination. That world of the three-legged stool of UC contact center and
APIs are now starting to meld. That convergence of singularity across all of
those pools and the intelligence behind it is what will drive tomorrow's
Is there anything we haven't talked about you want our
audience to know?
You need to understand your audience's needs and really map
out the entire journey. Many companies today get stuck in an issue around a
singular solution. They get stuck in that mold and they're not thinking through
their journey well enough.
When we talk about the best-in-class businesses, they've
really tailored a customer experience. They've thought through every portion of
the customer journey. Not only from the time that they're first interacting,
but through the entire customer engagement. People have a choice now; they
can't think about individual interactions. They have to think about their
journey. If they don't, each interaction becomes very isolated. It's a journey,
understanding everything from a single touch to all the customer's potential