Not one of them, All of them.
Truly pioneers in centralized sales BDCs, Strolid’s team realized the endemic business challenges early in their business journey: whereas a dealer had to worry about one automotive CRM, Strolid had to worry about all of them. That is, Strolid did not only have to worry about all of their customers’ CRMS, logging into them remotely, but also had to worry about logging into many different types of CRMs, requiring agent training multiple times larger than would be typical for BDC agents. This distributed nature of Strolid’s business network didn’t end there, as the same issues extended to other network elements used by agents and dealers, such as phone systems and sales teams. After the pandemic in 2019, the Strolid team became a remote team, essentially removing the only centralized thing left about the team: their physical proximity.
Strong Process, Solid Results
Strolid’s process and technology strategy focus on this reality. For instance, instead of providing a platform to solve one process step, Strolid’s technology coordinates several external platforms to solve the entire process. Our CXM coordinates the lifecycle of a lead as it shows into our dealer’s CRMs, matches it to known inventory, and presents that to our in-house agent team for handling. Our partner’s APIs allow us to reduce the number of touch points our agents require in external systems, and reduce the training each agent requires. A sophisticated workflow delegates work between the agents to maximize customer engagement, while assigning complex and rare activities to agent experts. If the entire landscape were a puppet, Strolid supplies the strings for our agents to assist both customers and dealers.
The backbone of our technical approach, that thing which supplies the strings for puppeteer, is based on Slack, the Enterprise messaging platform. Slack allows agents to reduce the touchpoints they need in their daily process, and provides a real time interface to customers, co-workers and systems. The centralization of workflow also maximizes observability and governance, greatly increasing the size and number of agent teams. At the same time, it enables AI and ML components to have a real time connection to the business, coaching agents, routing customers and predicting next steps. Strolid stands for people, and their relationships; our efforts at AI are efforts to support relationships, not the replacement of relationships with a digital asset.
At the heart of Strolid’s work are customer conversations, generated with voice, messaging and email. Due to the distributed nature of our work, there are serious challenges to the proper collection, storage, protection and sharing of customer data; customer conversations arguably the most personal of personal data. This security pressure limits how conversations are shared and leveraged, yet these conversations are also the richest source of insight. vCons are the industry standard, developed and promoted by the Strolid engineering team, to address this core issue. A vCon is a data type that allows for secure sharing of customer data, in a tamper proof package, designed to directly address the issues of customer data protection. As an open data exchange element, vCons decouple the systems that create the conversations from those that process, store, and analyze them. An individual vCon can be independently tested for PII, or a standard tool can search each inbound vCon and de-identify them. In addition, Strolid takes these vCons, and labels them for future analysis using subject matter experts and other automated means. Our partners use the resultant small data set for various data centric activities by all departments in the Enterprise: marketing analysts use them to gauge customer sentiment, manufacturing uses them to predict future parts issues, product owners use them to gain insight into purchasing behavior, dealer process improvement programs use them to assure compliance and flag exceptions.
Today, Strolid’s engineering team is deep in the development of a next generation communication solution, centered around the journey of the customer instead centered around the agent pool servicing them. Like vCon, our future efforts concentrate on the safe collection of customer data, reducing the places where it is stored, yet making it available to the agents and systems that require it.
This distributed approach is also reflected in our people, and the process we use to attract, train, retain and manage them. Slack allows our team to organize around workflows, and to organize our dealer partners around the same. Slack connect allows us to add external parties to any channel, engaging them in real time for customer issues, notifications and monitoring. In the third quarter of 2021, our dealer partners will have dedicated channels in Slack allowing them to communicate with our agents in real time and to observe and control chat conversations. We train our agents using Slack; it becomes our water cooler.
Strolid’s difference is in our bottoms-up approach to the problems our industry faces: a distributed network is required to provide a single great customer experience. The tension between these two realities, like the duck in the pond, drives Strolid innovation.