Thrio Executive Interview
Namir Yedid, VP Product Strategy, Thrio
Sheri Greenhaus recently met online with Namir Yedid, VP Product Strategy, Thrio. Below is their discussion on Thrio's product advancements and call center solutions.
The advancements we’ve made fall into a few broad categories. The first one is what we’re calling “Hypercloud Freedom,” deploying our solution to meet differing customer needs; it also takes into consideration how we worked around some of the limitations of public cloud providers.
The other area is “transformation enablement,” in which we can offer our customers capabilities that we believe our competitors have not been able to provide. We offer businesses that need to shift to a certain type of digital platform, one that delivers key functionalities for them.
We have also increased security. We’re just wrapping up some pretty intensive 3rd party audits that respond to customer needs. This is not just Thrio doing self-testing, but an intrusive, deep-dive audit that an external company is doing to verify we’re in compliance with regulatory frameworks. This will verify us as a trusted provider for any company working with sensitive financial data.
In my opinion, the most interesting customer with which we’ve developed a relationship is an exceptional healthcare BPO. They contract with insurance companies - their business is built around running predictive analytics on insurance data and then reaching out to people to offer them behavioral health coaching programs run by nurse practitioners. They work with people who have chronic health issues that require some level of proactive management by the patients themselves. By helping them manage their health better, it enables the insurers to see cost decreases while increasing patient satisfaction. What’s particularly interesting is that all front-line personnel are at-home agents, with a geographic distribution that stretches from South Florida to Alaska. It should be noted that they are not typical contact center agents, but qualified nurse practitioners who provide health services from their home. They migrated to Thrio early last summer. We’re doing some advanced work with them on building out their outreach capabilities.
We are also working with a marketing BPO. They’re in a unique situation because their business is all about transfers. They capitalize by grabbing lists from their partners that’s fed to them by Thrio and then dial out to potential buyers; any of these leads who have interest are directed to a wide network of transfer partners. The rates that these companies get paid on vary in real time; they have access to an arbitrage engine that keeps them informed as the rates for different types of transfers change every few minutes.
Thrio has a unique native process automation tool. With one click of a button by the agent, the arbitrage engine transfers the call to the optimal destination. By having the agents use this super-simple process, the customer gets paid at the best possible rate. It helps the businesses we work with make more money while delivering a superior agent experience. They can run as many as 75 different campaigns simultaneously, covering areas such as healthcare, medical or life insurance. With perhaps seven different transfer partners for each campaign, there are hundreds of different places to which these agents can transfer customers. We replaced the clunky Asterisk-based system that they were using before with Thrio in the cloud. Instead of having to upload their leads from their transfer partners, the leads are now coming in via APIs.
The last of our new customers I’d like to talk about is an online learning company based in Hong Kong. They have 50 agents with us. This organization is quite appreciative of our Hypercloud Freedom piece. Amazon, Google and Microsoft don’t make the services that they need available on the mainland. They want their data residing in China. While we’re not there with them yet—we are already operational in Hong Kong—we expect to have it done later this year when we move our platform for them to Ali Baba Cloud. One common thread of the companies we are partnering with is that they were either on-prem or on a private cloud and they needed the flexibility of a more modern platform to take their business to the next level.
Perhaps our most significant partnership was just announced. It is with Telus International of Canada. They will be reselling Thrio as a white label solution. We maintain the Google infrastructure of our products that we update in real time when we update our other customers. We get all the multitenant benefits while they are the infrastructure provider. They give first-line support. It’s a true channel partnership…the first of its kind that we are going with.
One of the reasons we’re able to get off to a strong start with Telus is the introduction of our ThrioRemote, a product designed to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. It enables enterprises to maintain business continuity while transitioning to remote work. This allows for deployments of distributed users of all types within hours, including those who are not traditional contact center agents. Many of the big platforms were caught flat-footed by the sudden transition to remote work that this crisis had necessitated.
We also have some very interesting developments with channel partners all over the globe. We’ve got one in the Philippines, and one in South Africa which has been a collections agency for decades. They told us ‘we’ve got to move our business into the 21st century in a big way,’ and they are retooling around the possibility of reselling our platform to both help other companies in their space as well as in regulated industries such as banking and finance. We expect to soon have additional partnerships in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Channel partnerships are where we see our future going.
While Thrio Voice is still the dominant component of our platform in terms of usage, our customers are now intensively using workflow and automation as well. We’re seeing multi-step automations with voice such as the arbitrage engine I described.
We also help our health care client’s nurse practitioners establish one-to-one relationship and employ skills-based routing to determine how many cases each NP has at any given moment. For these agents, they don’t know the duration of each call. We use skills-based routing to figure out how many cases each nurse has at the moment, and then use that to route the next calls to the individual with the lowest case count. We are load-balancing using our system to ensure that each case is a clinical match. We integrate with their HIPAA compliant database while we remain HIPAA compliant as well. Through the platform, we encrypt the data flow that pulls the data into the contact center without exposing sensitive information. It’s a seamless experience for the agents who don’t see everything that is happening when the systems communicate cloud-to-cloud.
We’re seeing growing activity with virtual agents. Companies now can set up agentless outbound campaigns with voice, chat, email or SMS. One Canadian client is using us to pinpoint only customers affected in cases of outages and notify them on their channel of choice. Knowing who was previously contacted prevents live agents from having to ask repetitive questions if the customers make follow up calls.
The other area we’ve made significant progress is with routing models. A simple example is going from a last-in, first-out model to a first-in, first-out, depending upon how companies want to prioritize their agents. We also now offer many new enhancements and improved skills-based routing.
The final piece is in workforce management integration. Our deal with Telus was predicated on us having Verint integrated with Thrio. We’re also working on being integrated with Calabrio. But over the coming months, we are exploring building our own WFO solution.
We’re hearing more demand for AI-driven performance monitoring. Companies want it so they don’t have to listen to individual calls and be able to go beyond simple scorecards by having something that can help them better understand what is happening. We’re working with a new strategic partner whose product we’re exploring to see if we can adapt the engine that they’ve built for call mapping. It goes beyond sentiment to look into the full call in all its different phases. This allows companies to see which agents are most efficient and be able to track what happens in calls and how it can be compared with other agents. We don’t want to build just a scheduling platform but one that that helps our customers understand what its agents are doing and help them work more efficiently.
Native Process Automation
One of the pillars of Native Process Automation is the workflow engine, which operates independently of the agent. In the example of the arbitrage engine and the routing model, the workflow is driving the process on a variety of different channels. It is built with no code so our customers can tune these on their own once they understand how to configure them. They can cut and paste workflows from one campaign and adapt them to another. Once a company builds it, it can then open a dialogue and decide which campaigns to assign it. Once the automation is working, the organization can replicate it easily across the whole business.
There are 75 different automation actions that go into the workflow and they can be combined in an almost infinite number of ways. We estimate that there are 14 billion separate capabilities. Another unique aspect is the agent-facing part of the matrix. An agent is able to pull CRM data into their screen, in context. There might be 10 different scripts they can work from which will be customized with merged data.
With the marketing BPO, agents can see examples of how to handle a specific interaction from a drop-down menu. By clicking a single button, a customized email can then be sent, signed by the specific agent who spoke to the customer with collateral materials attached. This can be customer-facing as well. It can be built to be embedded into the website to interact directly with the platform.
These are also omnichannel. The action matrix can also apply to chat. For example, a company can configure the chat window to remain open while the agent accesses custom scripting with suggested questions that are feeding out to the workflow. All this happens without the agent leaving the screen. There 120 distinct action options. It’s easy to change a workflow that needs adjustment with simple drag and drop actions from a menu. Businesses don’t have to learn a new language to work with it and once it’s live, it doesn’t require professional services to make changes.
A few weeks ago, a well-known international aid agency called us to say they were creating new workflows related to coronavirus issues and asked to check them out to make sure they had done them in the best way they could. They were able to build new IVR trees that employed either speech recognition or standard prompts to implement a specific symptom checker. They can do this all on their own, quickly and easily.
Our platform is not ported from a premise platform but built in the cloud which makes provisioning quite simple. We have also set up some of the basic functions on provisioning. When we were told on Friday night that a new customer had a thousand users and sent us their Excel spreadsheet, we made sure that the were configured correctly, did some light training, and they were off and running. We’re able to turn customers around quickly because our system is built to go live as fast as possible.
With the oncoming coronavirus, we decided to enable two different methods of accessing the platform. We needed to get agents who are not traditional contact center employees working remotely. The thousand agents I previously mentioned needed a lightweight ability to make calls on their cell phones. The queue for home networks wasn’t working well. They needed a simpler way to be able to record calls because they are in a regulated industry. The company needed to send these recordings to the quality management team. They were not able to do that with cloud PBX options as they could not be sure the remote agents would record every call.
We created a completely phone-based interface. Remote agents called into a control number, entered their employee numbers and were logged into the system. They were then able to make and take calls with no interface required. The admin system configures everything normally in the platform and the agents have a simplified experience. You can open it as a mobile browser and run it there. Most home networks are not equipped to handle the traffic. Because we’re able to set the end point to ring someone’s cell phone or home phone, an agent can work from a hard phone in their house.
ThrioRemote functions without the need for a standard user interface. It delivers the power of an integrated voice and digital platform on the devices the users are already familiar with. Call flows and routing rules still occur. The user simply picks up their phone. The system handles all the routing, queuing, IVR interactions… with 100% recording invisibly in the background.
Users can be running with ThrioRemote’s no-UI agent experience with little to no training required. Software doesn’t have to be installed, there’s nothing needed to be done in a browser. The customer is still calling into the same number because we can forward calls to the system. With the agent working from a completely different phone system, we’re able to push data into diverse third party systems and send recordings to an FTP location for quality measurement.
The solution provides a stable option in case of internet connectivity issues. Additionally, ThrioRemote can reduce the demand on IT teams during these transitions, as they do not need to secure PCs en masse before initiating remote work. While ThrioRemote adds the option of a no-UI user experience, enterprises can still elect to employ the full Thrio user interface with some, or even all, of their distributed workforce.
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