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Blend Executive Interview

Karen Ford, Head of Voice Customer Success, Blend

At the ICMI conference in October 2022, Sheri Greenhaus, Manager of CrmXchange met with Karen Ford, Head of Voice Customer Success, for BLEND, a translation company which helps companies localize their business based on a unique understanding of local context, culture, subtlety, and consumer behavior.

Please tell us a bit about BLEND and their acquisition of GM Voices.

GM Voices is now BLEND.  For a bit of history, GM voices has been around since 1982. It was founded by the original owner, Marcus Graham.  One day he called Rich’s Department Store (a former retail chain in Georgia). Marcus was put on hold…only to listen to dead silence.  It was such a bad experience he called the store and offered, for free, to do a voice recording for them. That was the start of GM Voices.

Originally the majority of the work was on hold messaging. For example, we would do hold messages for cable companies – where you can hear their newest movie promo if you press one. Our voice actors would create a trailer for the movie promo which would be sent out to the cable companies. We were doing a lot of speech recognition.  It then morphed into something greater. The customer could call in, with voice ask for where they wanted, and they would be taken to the correct place.  The customer was talking to a ‘natural voice’ – they were talking to ‘someone’ rather than talking to the phone. We capitalized on our ability to have the natural voices. That's what really set us apart.

And you are able to do this with multiple languages?

Over the years we've done it in over 120 different languages.  We record for large call centers, big technology companies, big insurance companies, etc.  We work monthly with some companies – they send us a script, we translate it, record it and send it back.  They then implement it into their contact center.

We are known for having good quality, good work, and good processes.  With self-service and for additional ways for customers to contact the company, we have started to do other things like eLearning modules. They send us scripts, we record it and send it to them, and then they put it in the learning modules and send it out to their customers.

How did BLEND find you?

BLEND called us to do voiceover translation work for them; we intrigued them. The companies started talking back and forth and GM Voices was acquired.  We are now an end-to-end solution. We can translate documents, medical, legal, anything that would be translated or localized.

Are there any language that you just can't do?

No, we can do all languages and we have contracted talent/translators on a roster.  We also have project managers that specialize in different languages.  If a French project comes in it goes to a French project manager, and they reach out to a French linguist. We always have somebody who translates and then we have someone different who proofreads. It’s a double check.

Do you have machine translation?

Yes. It works very well to translate large quantities of content. The machine will do the initial translation, then a human will review and make any changes needed. We can train the machine to know which words and terminologies to use for different industries. It is very fast and economical.

Who is the ideal customer for your company?

Almost anyone can use us.  It’s not a service people are familiar with.  They are amazed when they find there is a company that can professionally do their IVR prompts.

Who are your competitors?

Our biggest competition is the internal user, the internal voice.  It is free and fast. 

We've developed this operational process where our customer can choose the days they send us the transcripts, and the days that we send it back. With BLEND acquiring us, we have so many resources. Previously we did not have machine translation. We did have a nice group of translators but with BLEND it’s amazing.

So when you work with your partners, do they come to you to help with a translation project?

Yes, a partner will come to us and have us do the translation for their IVRs.  Often, we will do the first project with them, and then they take over. Other partners like to keep their relationship in-house.

Is anybody to small?

No, even if it is a small auto attendant.   For $204 we can do professional, clean, voice prompt of 250 words.  The professionalism can set that company apart from their competition. 

It was challenging going from a small company to a large organization but the acquisition has been a blessing. 

For your audience, if they reference this article, we will let them try a 250-word voice over for free.