Monday September 14, 2015 0 comments
BOULDER -- Dr. Theresa Szczurek, co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, recalls a conversation she had with a Verizon representative at a recent conference that revealed the number of personal calls to businesses is continuing to go up rather than down.
“People get started on the website and get stuck and need help, so they call,” she said. “And when they call, well, that’s when the trouble really starts.”
Probably no one reading this has escaped being caught in a seemingly endless IVR (Interactive Voice Response) loop of automated telephone prompts that seem to emanate from somewhere in Dante’s Inferno and only circle deeper into its depths the more buttons the caller pushes.
And no reader is likely to have been spared the thrill of fighting their way through all those prompts, inputting all sorts of information along the way, only to finally reach a live person who has no idea who s/he is talking to or why – with all that information recently given floating straight into cyberspace, never to be seen again.
Radish Systems is the second company Szczurek and Dr. Richard A. Davis, co-founder, chairman and chief technical officer, started together. They met while working at AT&T Bell Laboratories, which they left in 1990 to create Radish Communications Systems (now known as Radish 1.0), a company that was sold in 1996 and is not the focus of this article.
Davis said it was “the advent of the smartphone in 2009” that inspired him and Szczurek, to “reassemble the team to deal with the need of smartphone users to share voice and data.” So they created Radish Systems 2.0 and developed a software product called ChoiceView, which they describe as “true visual IVR” and for which they recently received a patent.
“Smartphones are now ubiquitous,” says Davis. “People use Skype and other software in their personal lives, but when the call is for business, it’s voice-only because that’s the technology call centers have. But with ChoiceView, you begin with a regular phone call and then – magically -- it has a visual data session associated with it.”
“There are no barriers imposed on the user,” adds Szczurek. By which she means that people can initiate a phone call from their smartphone, tablet, PC, VOIP (Voice Over IP), or even an old-fashioned land line and still easily access all the features of a combined voice and visual data session.
She said one of the impetuses for the development of this product -- and thus the creation of Radish Systems 2.0 itself -- was the fact that “there are millions of voice-only systems out there to which ChoiceView can be added easily, allowing the businesses who own them to add data to their calls, instantly improving attendant productivity, customer service and customer satisfaction.”
It is widely noted that one of the most important keys to entrepreneurial success is to find a problem that’s common across many companies and solve it. In this case, Szczurek asked, “What’s the pain?” The answer: “Loss of customers due to poor IVR, chat, or live support/customer service experiences.”
That’s when she and Davis created a way to make the pain go away.
“There are so many millions of voice-only systems out there whose owners would love to add visual data to their calls to improve the customer experience,” says Davis, noting that it was prohibitively expensive and/or just too difficult to make all those different voice-only systems work with one system that allowed them to offer data.
“But ChoiceView is cloud-based, so it sits on top of whatever system a call center is currently using, requiring no complex or expensive integration. It’s an after-market product that is compatible with whatever software a call center is already using, so there is no need to scrap the investment a company has already made in the hardware and software in their call center.”
Because ChoiceView doesn’t communicate with anything until after a call is “completed” -- that is, after the caller has reached the company they are calling -- there is no interaction between it and the routing of the phone call, eliminating the need for complex systems requiring time-consuming and expensive integration.
“ChoiceView simply adds a data session to a call that’s already in place,” Davis said. “This allows call center attendants to take the images and text they have always had on their screens – but previously were able only to read to their customers – and send it directly to their customers’ screens so they are both looking at the same images simultaneously.”
This allows the customer to ask specific questions and receive accurate answers, with accompanying clarifying illustrations. This combination so often produces the phrase, “Oh! Now I see what you’re talking about,” that Radish has adopted it as their tagline.
One of the other areas of pain ChoiceView anesthetizes refers back to the scenario noted earlier in which callers spend time in purgatory only to reach a live attendant who knows nothing about all the information that has already been shared.
Szczurek says when a caller reaches a live attendant and that attendant already has the information given by the caller, it’s called “delivery of payload” and it’s essential to the type of customer service most companies want to give, but often cannot without some way to connect data visually to incoming calls.
According to Szczurek, ChoiceView officiates at this “marriage of data session and voice call.” This is the innovation that she and Davis say separates their product from everything else out there.
As they explain it, ChoiceView sits quietly in the cloud waiting for calls, then uses caller ID to join a data session. ChoiceView allows the call center’s own IVR to visually interact with the caller as well, providing visual menus and responses. ChoiceView keeps track of the call history and, if the call is transferred to a live attendant, delivers the “payload.”
Then, when the caller and the live attendant are actually connected, the attendant already knows everything the caller has done so far and can move on to the next step intelligently. “No one else can provide the platform, capabilities, and ease of integration that ChoiceView offers, and Radish has the intellectual property to back it up.” says Davis.
To see how it works go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTQb0mNhgPw.
And just in case anyone is wondering, the name Radish was derived from Davis’s initials (R.A.D.) plus the addition of a few extra letters to create an actual word.
“I’m the ‘ish’,” says Szczurek with a smile.