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Zingly.ai Executive Interview

Gaurav Passi, CEO, Zingly.ai

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During their conversation, Gaurav Passi, CEO of Zingly, shares how their innovative technology is reshaping customer engagement. Speaking with Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner at CrmXchange, Gaurav discusses Zingly's mission to revolutionize customer experience by building meaningful relationships beyond transactions. He highlights the power of their Collaborative Customer Experience (CCX) platform, and its impact on reducing friction in customer interactions. Join them as they delve into the future of customer experience and the evolving role of technology.

Sheri Greenhaus: Please give me a background on the company and yourself.

Gaura: We started Zingly in 2021. Prior to that, I was the president at Avaya and before that, I was the EVP at Five9. During my time at Five9, we were continuously moving people to the cloud, helping businesses and customers migrate from Cisco and the non-cloud versions of Genesys. This transition helped with IT cost savings because it eliminated the need to manage on-premise infrastructure. However, what struck me was that, while we were saving IT costs, we weren't significantly changing service operations.

As an end customer calling a call center's 800 number, it didn't matter whether the system was on-premise or in the cloud; the experience remained the same. Customers still faced long hold times and the increasing scale made this even worse. Despite the new technology, the fundamental equation of having more customers than agents never changed.

The more we thought about it, the more we realized that while the cloud had many benefits, the biggest impact was on a CFO moving from CapEx to OpEx. But for the end customer and the service reps, nothing had really improved. We found that there were 16.5 million agents worldwide but billions of consumers. The sheer scale disparity meant service operations couldn't keep up, leading to the introduction of technologies like IVR and chatbots to manage the queue. However, the reality is that digital traffic—through web and apps—is ten times that of call centers.

One of our clients receives 1.9 to 2 million calls a year in their call center but has 2.5 million visitors to their web and app every month. This showed us that focusing solely on the call center was missing the larger picture. Many customers weren't getting what they needed from the digital channels and ended up calling the call center or worse, abandoning their efforts altogether, which had significant financial implications for the company.

Thus, Zingly was born out of the need to handle digital traffic more effectively and engage customers where they prefer to interact.

Sheri: How does Zingly help?

Gaurav: First, let's talk about the term "omni-channel." It's often touted as the ideal, but it's more of a marketing myth than a reality. The idea is great: you can engage customers through any channel they choose and maintain context across those channels. However, this has not been the case. In reality, most systems are multi-channel rather than omni-channel, meaning that while multiple channels exist, they do not communicate effectively with each other.

Traditional cloud companies primarily focused on voice calls, and their infrastructures were not designed to maintain contextual data across channels. Data would typically reside in CRM systems as a system of record, but the real-time context would often be lost.

For instance, in a typical call center scenario, an agent helps a customer for 20-30 minutes. After the call, the agent spends 90-120 seconds logging the call details in a CRM like Salesforce. During this time, other customers are waiting in the queue. This system is inefficient and often leads to lost context and reduced customer satisfaction.

Zingly addresses this by providing a seamless, persistent customer experience across all digital channels, ensuring that context is maintained, and service is efficient and effective.

Sheri: What do you mean by "real-time context"?

Gaurav: In traditional systems, the real-time data from customer interactions isn't stored in the contact center but in the CRM, leading to a disconnect. Zingly ensures that this data is captured and accessible in real-time, enabling agents to provide informed and contextual service to customers across any channel.

When I'm talking to you for 30 minutes, that interaction is recorded, but it's not in the CRM system. The CRM only captures what the agent decides to input at the end of the call. They add some notes and move on. The CRM may handle transcriptions, but what about chat, text, video, images, or emails? That's where things fall apart. Different technologies handle different communication modes—one might record chats, another texts, and another video. Established companies are acquiring these technologies, but integrating them is challenging, as we all know.

With Zingly, we had the opportunity to think differently from the start. We wanted to combine the functionalities of a CRM system with a system of engagement, all in one place. This led us to create a patented technology called Zingly Rooms. Zingly Rooms integrates everything—voice, video, texting, messaging, chats, calendaring, payments—into a single platform. This creates a single source of truth, visible and accessible to both the representative and the customer. This approach addresses the imbalance of millions of agents versus billions of customers.

Sheri: And what exactly is a Zingly Room? Is it a physical space?

Gaurav: Think of it as a persistent collaborative space. When a customer has a service need, they visit the website or app and find their own permanent space. For example, if you need a loan, a loan processing room starts for you. Everything related to the loan—documents, phone calls, video calls, messages—happens in that room. Even if you think of something in the middle of the night, you can text it, and the conversation remains there. You always know where you are in the process, similar to a shopping cart, providing a clear view at all times. This approach empowers end customers.

Sheri: So, as a customer in my room, if I'm applying for a loan, is the agent in the room with me?

Gaurav: The interaction can be both asynchronous and synchronous, like messaging. It's similar to WhatsApp or group messaging, or Slack, where conversations continue seamlessly. Each room has a specific purpose, like loan applications, service requests, new account creation, etc.. The agent and customer are brought together to meet that purpose, with workflows designed for it.

Sheri: If I have different conversations about different topics, do I get a new room for each? And do all these rooms get tagged to me as a customer?

Gaurav: Yes, you will see the entire journey of your rooms.

Sheri: So as a customer, I can see all my interactions. Is my whole database open to me?

Gaurav: Absolutely.

Sheri: Where do all these rooms go in the company's database?

Gaurav: They are stored inside Zingly, but they are also bi-directionally integrated with your CRM system.

Sheri: So, everything that happens in Zingly is also stored in the CRM?

Gaurav: Yes, if this was a trouble ticket, a corresponding Salesforce case would be created. If it was a sales opportunity, the room would be linked to that opportunity. You wouldn't know behind the scenes that an opportunity was created in Salesforce, but it's all bi-directionally integrated. It could be a lead or anything else. That's why Zingly Rooms is essentially a system of record.

But it's also a container for communication, making it very powerful because now you, as a customer, have your data in your hands. One of our customers started using Rooms for 401K rollovers, which is a lengthy process with a lot of documentation. Their typical processing time used to be about 60 days. With Zingly, it came down to 18 days within two quarters. The friction is gone. Previously, customers would call, face wait times, or miss callbacks, creating friction. Emails might go unread. With Rooms, the process became very simple and easy for them.

Sheri: But if you're sending documents, you have to let them know the documents are there.

Gaurav: We send text messages saying, "Check your room." You'll see notifications on your phone, like when someone sends you a message on WhatsApp. Your watch or phone alerts you.

Sheri: It's a different way of looking at things. It's like a record.

Gaurav: Exactly. Imagine if I'm a rep and I want to bring an advisor into the call. I can do that. If I'm processing a loan and need to talk to your wife or involve a third party, they can join the room seamlessly.

Sheri: How did you come up with the name "Zingly"?

Gaurav: It comes from "Amazingly." Imagine you're trying to do something like warranty registration. Typically, you'd use an app or website. With Zingly, inside your app, you click on "Contact Us" and see many ways to communicate. But when you click on the space, you get a collaborative room.

As an end customer, you get a space immediately. Our AI technology also rates the brand, showing you how you feel about it based on past interactions. You can see your existing room, closed rooms, products you own, and your entire journey with the company. This transparency changes the relationship from transactional to long-term.

For example, if you have a broken washer, you can report it in your space. The app knows what washer you have based on past data. You can upload pictures or videos of the issue. Our GenAI can analyze it and mark it urgent if necessary. Visually, the color of the banner in the room provides intelligence based on conversations and SLAs, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

The customer sees the flow and understands the context because they shared the picture. They can also call via video if needed. Once the issue is marked urgent, a rep will handle it. You'll get a notification when the rep is in your room and provides a solution.

Our GenAI product answers 80% of questions immediately. For the remaining 15-20% of more complex issues, a human will assist. Our technology knows when to involve a human, especially for high-value or compliance-related scenarios.

As progress is made, you'll see updates in the media library, which includes all exchanged media and documents. You can make payments, schedule technician visits, and see solutions. You can close the case and mark preferred agents for future interactions. If the issue reoccurs, you can always reopen the room.

There is intelligence behind it. When the banner turns red, the room's urgency was clear. This is the time for live conversations, possibly even video chats, for immediate understanding.

On the website, you have the same setup. Unlike in traditional call centers, you don't see this kind of persistent banner. Persistence is not only with the customer but also with the brand and the rep. All the rooms I've touched as a rep, I have access to until they're closed.

When a new situation arises, it pops up as urgent. You click on it and see every detail, exactly what the customer was seeing. You can start responding to it with assistance, empathy, or follow the process. If a technician is needed, they can join the room too. This multi-party conversation is hidden from the end customer but can be opened up if necessary.

Sheri: So, is this your brainchild?

Gaurav: One person can't do it alone. Initially, it was my thought, but it takes a team. I've been fortunate in my career to have made good friends with diverse expertise. We've been in large businesses, had good ideas, and our experiences led us here.

The core team has a strong background in service and technology, working together for years. I'm more of a vision thinker, while there are smarter people than me in the company who know how to execute.

Most startups target small companies, but we're aiming big. Our solution is for both big and small companies, especially those who need faster connections with their customers.

Sheri: Any final thoughts?

Gaurav: I believe great companies need a clear understanding of their mission and vision. People often question the difference between the two. We see vision as something foreseeable in the near future, maybe two, three, or five years down the line. However, the mission is much larger. It's timeless and relentless, unaffected by events like pandemics, financial crises, or technological disruptions.

Our vision, looking ahead to 2030, is to eliminate the concept of waiting on hold with 1-800 numbers and destroy customers’ fear of reaching out to businesses. While voice communication will still be important, the frustrating wait times will disappear. Now, our mission is to build relationships bigger than just business transactions. We want to use our technology to help companies create long-lasting connections with their customers. In today's subscription-based economy, it's not just about selling a product; it's about providing a memorable experience. Customer patience is at an all-time low, with attention spans shrinking by the day. Therefore, delivering the right experience is crucial in today's attention economy.