Episode #45: Creating Transparency In Customer Conversations With Richard White

Transparency across the organization – it’s something every business strives for, but few master. Customer conversations or feedback is often diluted from the point it enters the organization to when (or should we say, IF) it reaches the impacted department. Fathom, a #1-rated Zoom app, is working to change that.  

The CEO of FathomRichard White joins Betsy and Tony to talk about the business value his company is bringing to a remote-first environment. Customer conversations that take place virtually can now be captured and shared across the organization in a way that increases productivity for everyone involved, improves internal alignment and ultimately, yields a better customer experience.  

Richard gives the REALLY Know Your Customer listeners a special Fathom offer! Tune in for more information. 

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the Podcast here:

About Richard White

Richard White is founder and CEO of Fathom.video, a free app that records, transcribes & highlights your calls so you can focus on the conversation instead of taking notes.

Fathom was a part of the Y-Combinator W21 batch, is one of only 50 Zoom App Launch Partners, and is one of a small handful of companies Zoom has invested in directly via their Zoom Apps Fund.

Prior to Fathom, Richard founded UserVoice, one of the leading platforms that technology companies, from startups to the Fortune 500, use for managing customer feedback and making strategic product decisions. UserVoice was notable for being the company that originally invented the Feedback tabs shown on the side of millions of websites around the world today.

Richard previously worked on Kiko, a company in the first batch of Y-Combinator, with Justin Kan and Emmett Shear who subsequently went on to found Twitch. Richard is passionate about designing intuitive productivity tools with delightful user experiences.

Creating Transparency In Customer Conversations With Richard White

How To Get Your Organization On The Same Page Faster

We’re so happy to have you here and we’re excited about this episode.

We’ve got Richard White. Betsy, there was a lot of good stuff in this episode, but the one phrase that stands out to me is, “Let the humans do what they’re good at and let’s let the machines do what they’re good at.” You might be wondering what that means. I’m going to let you get into the show and know where we’re going with this.

What I love in this interview and it is also reflected in several of the most recent interviews that we’ve been doing are these entrepreneurs, leaders and CEOs that we’re interviewing recognize that AI and the machines we have around us can help us live better and more fulfilling lives at work. This falls into that category.

We’re speaking with Richard White, who is the CEO of Fathom. Fathom is an awesome tool to integrate into Zoom calls that can take notes for you but at a super high level. It has all kinds of integrations. Richard speaks far more eloquently about it than I do but one of the things that was really cool as he was telling us the story was that it started as a note-taking integration for Zoom.

What they’re evolving to is how do we make meetings in general, how do we make these Zoom meetings higher value, less friction, gaining these insights? How do you share those insights throughout your organization and build a ton of value and business value into this tool rather than it being a “note-taking tool?” With that, let’s go ahead and jump into our conversation with Richard White.

Richard White, we are happy to have you on the show. Thanks for being here.

I’m happy to be here. Thank you.

Richard, so our audience can get a chance to know you, tell us a little bit about your journey, your background, how you got to the place you are and about Fathom.

Transparency In Customer Conversations: One of the most challenging things about running the sales team was getting them to write good notes.

I’m originally a programmer by trade. I started programming probably when I was about 11, 12 years old. After college, I found a love for building operational systems workflows and got deep into product design. For most of my career, I ran a company called UserVoice. If you’ve ever seen the little feedback tabs on the side of websites, we invented that. You can’t patent that, so you’re welcome world. I worked on that for twelve years and got deep working with hundreds, if not thousands of companies, helping them figure out how to set up a high-quality feedback program.

More recently, in the process of doing a lot of customer research myself, it was probably right before the pandemic, early in 2020, I was doing a lot of customer calls. I think I did 300 customer calls in the first month of 2020. I was taking notes on every call and cleaning up those notes. I was sharing the notes to my team. I was like, “Here’s what I’m hearing from our customers. Here are some interesting feedback and insights.”

There are two things that I realized. One is that process is terrible. It’s exhausting to try to talk to someone and you’ve got a short amount of time. You’ve got to try to talk, quickly type stuff out and clean up your notes. The worst part of it is after I’m done two weeks later, I don’t understand what those notes mean. My team, even more, doesn’t understand what those notes mean.

That kicked off the wheels turning in my head, which led to Fathom. It’s a free app for Zoom that we record in real-time. It records, transcribes and allows you to highlight the interesting moments in your Zoom calls, which may be customer pain points, insights and product feedback. Instead of passing around notes, we can pass around short little video clips of our customers.

Tell us who the customers are that are gravitating to what you’ve built, some use cases, some of the feedback that you’re getting from them. We’ve had the opportunity to see it and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to dive in and start using it. Tell us about your customers and how they’re going about using it.

There are two big use cases and users. One is anyone who’s on a lot of Zoom calls, especially on customer-facing Zoom calls. It’s one thing we do internal meetings, taking notes, but you can always follow up with them if you miss something. If you have 30 minutes with a customer, you can’t get that 30 minutes back. If you miss something, it’s gone. The majority of our folks are salespeople, customer success, client success, consultants and anyone who does a lot of Zoom customers calls every week. A lot of what we do is make your life living on Zoom a little less stressful.

It’s funny when I’m not using my product or when I have an in-person meeting, I find it very stressful because I’m like, “I’ve got to pay attention here.” That’s one side of it. The other side are founders and team leaders who want to see what’s happening on these calls. At UserVoice, my previous company, I had a stint where I ran our sales team. One of the things I found the most challenging about running the sales team was getting them to write good notes. They have all these interesting calls. Some of them wrote three words per hour. Some of them almost was a full transcript, but no matter how good or bad their notes were, I constantly found myself saying, “How did they object to our pricing? What did they say about that competitor?” For founders and team leads, that’s the other side of the equation. Our killer feature is you can double click in, but you can still get those notes in your CRM.

Each of us has a great coalition machine. If everyone in your company got the same input, we would generally come to the same conclusions.CLICK TO TWEET

Now when the rep says, “We’re not buying based on price,” you can click the link, go into Fathom and watch that 30 seconds of the call. Creating that transparency across organizations is killer because there’s something about hearing a customer firsthand that doesn’t translate into a couple of bullet points. It’s their tone and inflection. There is something human about being like, “This human has a problem. I wanted to solve the problem for this human with my product.” You can’t easily ignore as much as you can when it’s a few bullet points in your CRM.

That is amazing because there’s so much more than the words on paper – context, facial expressions and all of those things. On the other side, who doesn’t want less stress in a Zoom call? Everybody I’ve talked to is pretty fatigued by it but if that’s a way to make that better, that’s awesome. How are you going about finding your customers?

We got involved with Zoom. Zoom has a new app store. There’s this new plugin for Zoom called Zoom Apps. We were fortunate to get early into that program. We were one of the first 50 launch partners. The last time I checked, we were the number one app in this app store. A lot of people are finding us through that. I’m happy to say that very quickly becoming our number two channel is word-of-mouth referrals and invites from other users.

You use this on a call. You announce it like, “I’m recording.” “What’s that app you’re using?” We see a lot of organic word-of-mouth referral. Word-of-mouth is back. I feel like we went through the last years of SAAS where there was a new, hot demand gen channel every couple of years, so every company built on that. With social media and all this good stuff, word-of-mouth is back to being the best channel that you could ask for. Those are the two big ways we’re getting folks.

We talked about your customers a little bit here but I want to dive in deeper and look at what are the ways that you see the software helping your customer get to know their customers? It’s a perfect fit for our show because it’s all about getting to know your customers. I heard you say a couple of things. It’s like a founder or a CEO wanting to know what’s the exact language that’s being used. Let me see that segment of the call. What does it mean when they get to know that about the customer? How does that help them?

There are several different dimensions. One dimension, we have a channel called Boom in our Slack. A lot of us are using Slack. Boom is for anything great that happens. It’s generally a list of exciting email messages but it’s also when someone’s on a Zoom call, we do interviews with all of our users after their first call with Fathom. We pay them to take that interview with us, even though we’re a free product, to give us feedback. We and a bunch of other firms I’ve talked to will set it up. There’s a button in Fathom that’s a positive moment. Clicking that, it automatically will send that highlight in real-time within twenty seconds.

In Slack, I’ve heard they call it golden nuggets or wins. We call it Boom. That’s one thing that drives morale like, “It’s working. People like what we’re doing.” It’s hard to put your finger on the value of that. Another one would be simply product feedback. We have another button and it’s one of the standard buttons we provision or tags we provision in Fathom. You can click and say, “This is product feedback.” We use UserVoice, my last company’s product, along with Fathom.

We will log that feedback, “Here’s what they said. Here’s our paraphrasing of what they said and the clip.” All of that goes into a different Slack channel. Another common thing I’ve seen is having a shared company Slack channel where all the most common pieces of feedback come in. It’s hard at times to be super diligent so that you’ve got this perfect view of, “Here’s all the feedback.” UserVoice helps a lot with it but it’s still hard.

Transparency In Customer Conversations: We’re focused on finding ways to compress down communication and make it automated and asynchronous.

It’s also good to have an ambient stream of all the things that are coming in, especially if it’s not all texts. It’s like, “Here’s a fifteen-second clip this customer’s asking for. They need this setting, integration or something like that.” Each of us has a great coalition machine. If everybody in your company got the same input, we would generally come to some of the same conclusions or we at least have the same context to have good discussions. That’s a great hack, having an ambient stream. Not everyone’s going to monitor it but enough people will monitor that you’ve got 15%, 25% of your company that has a good mental model of what we’re hearing on the front lines.

That’s a cool concept because it can build the culture in your organization. One, to be that customer-centric culture because they’re hearing that feedback. It gets a little viral when people put something out there it starts spinning and then someone’s like, “I want to go share what I’m hearing.” They start sharing. It’s that behavior-boosting element to it. The other piece that I’m hearing is something I was talking about with a client who said, “We’ve got to make sure we understand, the product engineers need to know what’s being said in your session and interviews.” That’s so valuable. It gets lost, especially if you can’t have the engineers in the room with you because you’re trying to conduct a limited interview.

I often always think of companies having two hemispheres of the corporate brain. There’s one side of your brain that is your core brain. It’s on the front lines of the customer hearing the things then there’s this chokepoint between the two halves of your brain. A lot of this stuff gets lost in translation. It’s a shame because when you do allow engineers and product people that visibility into what you see on the front lines, you get better outcomes because it’s far more credible to them too. They’re inherently skeptical, especially with salespeople like, “I don’t know if I believe that there’s a bunch of people that need this thing.” You can’t argue with a Slack room full of people saying, “We need this thing.”

Tony, this reminds me of what we talked about in our book about unfiltered listening. Playing that game of telephone where by the time it reaches the person that it needs to reach, it’s been filtered through somebody else’s lens and the message gets muted, distorted or lost on the way up or down the chain.

At some point, there are certain people in the org that felt like the job was to paraphrase this stuff. By paraphrasing it generally, it was like, “We lost too much signal.” It doesn’t have the same impact.

One of the stories we tell in the book is we had a client that asked us to present to their sales team about the launch of the customer advisory board. We were looking to the sales team for nominations of people to serve on the board. Most of the salespeople were gunning to get their people on the board. They wanted that visibility and to have a relationship with the C-Suite. They were all about it. This one sales rep is like, “No, my clients are too busy. I talked to them all the time. You don’t need to talk to them. They wouldn’t be interested in serving.”

She protested too much and they started diving into it. They invited this one customer of hers onto the board. They came to find out what the C-Suite was hearing about this customer relationship from the salesperson was completely different than reality. It exposed that. I’m not saying all salespeople are like that. This was an outlier that wasn’t playing the game right. If they had a tool like Fathom where you can’t hide behind your filter when you’re talking to your C-Suite, that would be impactful.

I ran our sales team for a while. Salespeople get a bad rap. In general, they have a great signal. We surveyed product managers. This was years ago. One thing we did at UserVoice was trying to figure out how we set up a nice channel for customer success, support, implementation specialists and salespeople to all have a good way to share the feedback they’re hearing and all get collated into one system. We can allow the PMs to dial down like, “I want to hear more from this department or less from this one.”

It’s a shame because you get better outcomes when you allow product engineers visibility to see what’s on the front lines (with your customers).CLICK TO TWEET

We asked a survey like, “Whose feedback do you trust the most?” They’re all bunched together, success, support. Then there was 50 feet of crap and then it was the credibility of the sales team. That’s unfortunate. I don’t think that’s reflective but if you’re in sales, it’s something you have to be aware of. You almost have to over-correct, showing clips from the call and be like, “You don’t have to take my word for it.” It’s important because there is this implicit bias amongst almost all product people against what you’re hearing.

It would be a great tool for great salespeople to say, “Let me share this with you.” It could be a real asset for the salespeople.

We’ve got so many remote-first companies. How do you see this playing out in that space? Especially with Omicron happening, we’re getting into that spike. It’s been an interesting shift to a remote-first economy. You started this because of that.

My last company was remote-first and then we went to an office. With Fathom, we’re committed to being always remote-first. It’s interesting because one of the key things you have to do as a remote-first company is you’ve got to build good asynchronous communication channels that are automated. You can’t rely as much on like, “We’re going to have a daily stand-up or a bunch of meetings.” They’re not as effective as an in-person meeting to a certain degree. If you build out the right processes, which looks like to us, we’ve got a Slack room for every little operational thing. We use a lot of HubSpot automation.

As a remote-first company, you have to do a lot of work to build this asynchronous communication that doesn’t require any human intervention. That was one of the first things that we built, probably one of the first integrations we built was, “Let’s send these clips to certain Slack channels in real-time.” We know that’s where they need to end up. We don’t want you to have to do the legwork to get it that last mile.

For these remote-first companies what we’re trying to do, especially as we focus on sales and success teams, is it replicates the good parts of the sales floor that you don’t have anymore. It is nice as a sales leader or a successful leader to have that ambient awareness. You walk through and overhear how people are talking about it, which is good because no one wants to rewatch all of your direct report’s calls.

I feel like watching your calls is like eating your vegetables. Everyone says, “I’m watching a lot of these calls.” You’re not. If we can give you bite-size pieces or, “Here’s this call your rep had and here’s the 15% of it that was noteworthy and interesting.” Instead of having to review 30 minutes of calls, you can review 4 minutes of the call and feel like you’re on top of it. We have to find ways to compress down communication and make it automated and asynchronous. That’s a lot of what we’re focused on.

I love the expression you used about last mile. Getting that message last mile delivery to where it needs to reside is so huge. Plus, the ability and the time savings of being able to put your fingers on it versus going through pages of notebooks and old notebooks, that notebook’s at the office and all of that. I’m guilty of this. I was traveling one time using my notebook while I was waiting for a plane.

Transparency In Customer Conversations: We make sure everyone sees all the initial incoming support messages.

I left the notebook at the airport and I’ve got nothing. Taking the time to recreate all your notes is painful and doesn’t happen. The increase to the bottom line based on productivity seems significant. When you are talking to companies, what are some of your talking points when you are like, “This is why you need to use our product and here’s the business value for it such as increased productivity?”

Everyone also in a remote-first environment is focused on, one how we reduce some Zoom fatigue and increase productivity. We’ve expanded our scope a little bit. Our goal was to replace note-taking. We still will auto-generate notes for you in the same way that Netflix used to send you DVDs. It’s a bridge to a better world where you’re going like, “Here’s the two-minute highlight reel from this call.” We expanded out not only from that stream to anything we can do to help you run a meeting better. We will tell you if you start monologuing for two minutes, we give you a little warning.

We will tell you your talk time and how much time is left in the meeting. We’re beta testing when you get on the call, it’s like, “Here’s who you’re talking to. Here’s the related op. Here’s the last time you spoke with them. Here are their job titles. Here’s where they’re based.” Things that all of us who are on back-to-back calls, we’re like, “Who is this person again? What am I supposed to do with this meeting?” Anything we do to help with cutting down the pre-call prep and automating post-call data entry. That is the piece that both the ICs on the front lines and managers love. I was complaining about how hard it is to get salespeople to enter notes. That takes second place to get everyone to put their data into our CRM and diligently log everything.

One of the things we do is we’ll connect it to their CRMs and say, “The sales rep had a call. We immediately looked up all the contacts, associated accounts and opportunities. We auto-generate a summary of the call based upon the moments they highlighted while they were on the call. Automatically filled it in, put all the right contacts and did all that data entry stuff that managers hate browbeating people about but they have to.” That’s also a big part of it. It’s like, “Let’s let humans do to things that humans are good at.” It’s the conversations and detective work on the call to uncover the insights and, “Let’s let the machines do what they’re good at,” which is syndicating these things all out to the right places in the org.

Being an entrepreneur, you are probably wired to look for opportunities but the timing of what you’re doing must have you pinching yourself with what’s going on, the number of Zoom calls and the fatigue that people are feeling. The reality is it’s never going to go back to 100% the way it used to be. It must feel pretty exciting for you to be doing this work at this time, especially when it’s so critical to supporting businesses.

It’s pretty serendipitous. I always feel bad about it but it is interesting because sales were the last group. We had teams, people working from home, a couple of days a week or IT teams that were remote. There were mostly engineering teams before the pandemic. Sales managers especially were the most reticent to let their teams work from home. Everyone’s done it long enough that you’re never going to put that genie back in the bottle. We have been pretty fortunate with our timing here.

I would challenge you on the piece about feeling bad about it. It’s a tremendous support to companies as they’re trying to navigate this, making these meetings more productive, increasing productivity and making it easier for the sales team and the other users to do what they do best. It’s a wonderful service that you’re offering at a critical time.

That’s fair. The remote-first work from home lifestyle is amazing. Personally, it’s one of the most impactful things in my life. If we can make that a better experience, not only, “This is a fallback because we can’t do the in-person one.” I don’t like in-person meetings anymore because I am garbage at taking notes in them. I have this crutch I’m used. I’m like, “Oh, crap. I have to pay attention and write stuff on the notepad.” Like you, I remember I had a two-day on-site at Microsoft, which was our biggest customer in my last company. I took two days of notes and left them in the seatback pocket on the plane on the way back.

Let’s let humans do the things they’re good at. The conversations, the detective work; and let’s let the machines do what they’re good at.CLICK TO TWEET

There are many ways and reasons, especially with stuff coming around the corner, tech-wise. We’re in a place where it’s been a bit of thrash for associates of companies that weren’t built for remote-first that had to adopt some processes. Once you do it well and with all the tech coming down the line, which is exciting, around AI, it’s going to be even better. You’re going to say, “I’ll go back to the office occasionally maybe because I like seeing humans.” The tech we’ve got for remote work makes it way better than what we had been before.

I’m going to take a sidebar here because I’m thinking about using this technology in education environments. That would be cool because teachers can go on and on and the students are like, “What was the key and element?” They don’t know how to take notes. It may not be your core market but it was one of those things like, “My kids could use this tool.”

We’re starting with this focus on people talking to customers but we’ve also seen that recruiting is another good place. The recruiting process is super weird too. You have a conversation with a person and then you try to explain to me the interesting parts of that conversation and then I try to dig in further. Recruiting, education, eventually healthcare. There are a lot of areas where having this thing backing you up so if you miss a thing, you could come back to it. There are a lot of compliance reasons too. In the future, we’re going to get to a place where we can add more assistance to the system.

The system will be able to start telling you things that used to be only telling in-person. For example, one of the things we’ve lost to in-person meetings is if I’m in a conference room and demoing something to you, I have a keen awareness of when I’ve lost you. I can glance over at you and tell, “I need to engage and ask a question.” When I share my screen, you’re this little tiny thumbnail in the corner of my screen. I don’t even know if you’re still alive.

We have video screens for all these. One of the things we’ll be working on soon here is we can analyze people’s faces and do the same stuff that humans do, like looking for tells of disengagement and alert you on the call. “It looks like you’re losing Tony. Ask him a question.” There still are places where in-person is superior. The tech is going to get there soon enough that we can replicate some of those things, even remote.

I find it fascinating because I’d been in the customer experience space group for years. We were looking at facial emotion recognition software and things like that. I probably got the name a little bit off. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it but even what was possible then and you mirror that. We wrote some articles talking about Google Glass. What could you do with Google Glass? It was a fad for a while but if customer service people on the front lines in a hotel had the Google Glass and you could tell who was approaching you and all this, obviously privacy and all that stuff.

What you’re talking about is the same thing. How do you make the human being smarter at the moment so they can accomplish more? What’s been going through my head the whole time as you’ve been talking is what’s the speed of innovation going to turn into? You can eliminate it. If I have a meeting with Betsy, we talked for 30-minutes and I came up with an idea that I got to go have another 30-minute meeting and then someone else had another 30-minute meeting, we could say, “Here’s the clip. Watch this.” Within five minutes, everyone’s like, “Got it. This is what we need to do.”

It’s getting pretty cool. With our system, what it does is break up the call. If you’re talking to Betsy and you hear something insightful, you click a button. We figured out when Betsy started and stopped talking. We transcribe that section and turned it into a highlight. We’re using also AI to summarize the transcripts so that we’ll even have a paraphrase short version of it too, which is also helpful. Soon, we’ll be able to do an audio analysis of Betsy’s tone when she says this. Not only text-based sentiment but audio-based sentiment, facial-based sentiment and all fun stuff. I feel like a lot of the science fiction books from my youth were very prescient and I’m starting to live in them more.

Transparency In Customer Conversations: Comments like “this makes my workday so much easier” give us our life purpose.

You’re making them happen.

I feel like we should have called it Jetsonware like George Jetson. I was thinking of another use case. There is so much gold in these shows. We published our 39th episode. There’s so much great content from all of the people that we’ve talked to. Tony and I are in the process of writing another book and we’re pulling out some of those pieces of feedback from these episodes. If we had Fathom when we started the show, this task would be so much easier, especially if we were filing them in Slack channels around all the different topics that we generally talk about.

What I want for us, Betsy, is I want a link directly to our LinkedIn account. As we’re having this live conversation, we hit that two weeks before it goes live. Everyone’s getting the preview of like, “Here’s a snapshot.” That would be cool, I’m getting excited.

From a marketing standpoint, that’s huge.

Videos tend to be a thing that requires a lot of effort to manipulate historically. Our goal here is, “How do we make this super lightweight?” “You should be able to cue up. Here are five highlights. We should tease out and send out a highlight to LinkedIn.” It’d be awesome if you can go back and say, “What are every remote-first comment insight we’ve had over the last 39 episodes? What’s the twenty-minute highlight reel look like?”

Richard, what are some of the things you do with your team to keep that focus on customers, the customer-centricity culture? Talk to us about what you intentionally do to make sure that you know your customers and you’re engaged with them.

I mentioned the Boom channel and our feedback channel, which is the UserVoice duration. We also make sure that all incoming support messages, not the entire back and forth, but the initial message, are seen by everyone, including engineers. It’s good for them also to see here’s what people are struggling with. We have separate processes for escalating to engineering if we need their help. One of the things that is probably the most impactful is our initial user interviews.

It happens after you first have a call with Fathom. Someone will reach out to you and say, “How’d it go? Can I get fifteen minutes of your time? I’ll send your names on a gift card.” I was inspired by folks. Superhuman has this very notable onboarding process where even for a $30 a month product, they do handholding onboarding. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to give you the keys to the car and a little self-service tutorial.

The next significant evolution happens when we don’t need to have the human in the middle of training.CLICK TO TWEET

We wanted to find a way to like, “After you’ve taken the car up the first time, let’s go fifteen minutes with you. What questions do you still have? Let’s feed that back into the team.” That workflow has been tremendously valuable for us. Also, from that workflow, it helps us highlight people that we think are going to be awesome advocates and early adopters for us.

Depending on their volume of calls, their excitement for the product and their role of the company, we put them into an advocacy group and give them VIP support, VIP feedback and send them bi-weekly updates on the roadmap. That also helps to have this curated group with smaller folks that are engaged. In consideration for that engagement, we send them a swag box but we’re also giving them a nominal stake in the company itself, we’re actually giving them a share of equity in the company. It creates this awesome advocacy group that gives us very honest feedback about the product and what we’re working on because they feel like they are actually invested in it more than the average product.

A quick question for you, if you were overhearing someone either in a coffee shop or on the street talking about Fathom, what would you most want to hear them say?

Honestly, I most want to hear them say things they don’t like about the product because that teaches me the most. It would have hurt my soul a little bit but that’s what I’ve learned to lean in on. We see this a little bit organically like what do I hear from friends like, “I’ve got on a call with someone. They’re using Fathom and they were effusive about it.” I like building things. From a personal perspective, what fills up my soul cup is those comments of people being like, “This makes my workday so much easier. This gives me more time to live my life as opposed to keeping me at work longer.”

That more than the usage metrics and revenue numbers, you name it, is the thing that fuels a lot of the folks on our team and me. That was also what’s great about UserVoice. I’ve probably had the same thing walking around San Francisco, often hearing like, “Have you heard this cool product?” That stuff, to me, is what gives me purpose in life.

I love that. That’s the type of answer that we hear from true entrepreneurs. It’s like, “I want to hear the bad stuff first, so I know what to go fix but I do want to hear the good stuff because that does fill me up.” It’s exciting. This has been a phenomenal. There are so many ways that people are going to find uses for this beyond what we’ve talked about and you’re obviously going to keep growing the capabilities in that. What do you see 3-5 years from now? You’re 18 months into this journey. You’re very early in but you’ve been in this space for a while. You’re familiar with it.

There were a lot of head fakes or false starts on the AI front. Starting about 2-3 years ago where people started claiming like, “If-then logic was AI.” Everyone got turned off to the whole concept, rightfully so. Your timeframe is probably right where we can do a ton of automated assistance. We’re further away from the generalized AI that’s going to do the call for you. We’re still a decent ways away from all salespeople being out of a job because there’s some AI that can talk to a customer for you.

I do think there’s a lot we can do assistance-wise because even when we started, a lot of stuff was still very nascent. With audio analysis, we thought we were going to do it 18 months ago. It turns out there are no good data sets out there for audio analysis. The only data set we could find is when someone watched thousand hours of the TV sitcom Friends and labeled it with various emotions. “This is sad. This is happy.” You can imagine what happens when you try to take that dataset, train an agent and apply it to a business meeting. If your business meetings are as over the top as a Friends episode, you’ve got different problems.

Transparency In Customer Conversations: We’re using AI to summarize transcripts, so we’ll have a paraphrased short version.

We’re generating that data. Other people are generating that data to allow us to start figuring out some of these things. You’ll even have more of a lean back experience in the future. There were a lot of companies that tried to detect action items in your meeting automatically. They got about 85% accurate, which in AI means it’s useless because if I can’t trust it, I’m not going to use it. We’re not that far away from it being there are no false negatives in this analysis. You can truly lean back and have a conversation an it’ll pick out, “Here are all the actions. Here’s the feedback. Here’s this.” That would be the next big evolution where we don’t have to have the human in the middle training us, telling us this is what this thing is.

This has been an awesome conversation. I can talk about this all day long. Richard, one of the things we like to ask our guests is if there is a nonprofit, charity or some great organization that you’re familiar with that we can give a shout-out to. Is there any organization that you would want to shine a spotlight on?

This organization has been a while, the EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation. There are a lot of things always going on on the web in terms of privacy and big companies doing things maybe they shouldn’t and more so governments doing things they shouldn’t. EFF is a fantastic organization.

Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure. We are going to be using Fathom, I can guarantee you that, and spread the word. Maybe we can rise to the level of being in that community of advocates that gets a swag box.

Play your cards right. I’m sure you folks will. If any of your audience wants to try Fathom, we’re a free app. Go to Fathom.Video. They should go to Fathom.Video/pod. There is a waitlist of about 70,000 people on it. We’re pulling people off of it regularly but if you go to that link, Fathom.Video/pod, you will bypass that completely.

Thank you so much. We appreciate your time. We know you’re busy. I appreciate you sharing what you’re doing. We will be watching the progress.

This has been a ton of fun. Thank you for having me.

We’ll see you soon.

The very experience of meetings is changing. We’re at the threshold of something brand new here, and it’s radical.CLICK TO TWEET

Betsy, I love this episode. A couple of things that stand out to me as I’m reflecting on what Richard said. Number one, it’s fascinating how they have gotten to know their customer so well that they’re developing the tools to make meetings better. That’s important because so much of what businesses do happens within meetings, whether it’s meetings with your customers or meetings internally, this can help the organization get on one page much faster. You get a little clip of what happened in that meeting, five little highlights or something like that, everyone gets on the same page very quickly. That’s one piece of it.

The other piece that struck me, which we didn’t even get into this because we had so much other stuff to cover, is if you think about this from a customer experience perspective, the very experience of meetings is changing. We’re at the threshold of something brand new here and it is radical. We talked about Zoom when we started our show and how everything was happening on Zoom. You and I wrote ProphetAbility back in 2018 over Zoom. We didn’t meet in person at all to write that book. We did it over Zoom, Google Docs and such. We’ve been living this way for a while. A lot of other people had to adapt and understand what this experience of remote-first was like or school remotely, whatever it may be.

The experience that they’re pulling out here is phenomenal because being able to read the facial expressions gives you clues when your audience may be disengaging. Any of those types of things that they’re building into their future toolset will change how we meet and we might prefer meeting on something like a Zoom app. It helps us to have better meetings and connect more as human beings, which is an irony when you think about we’re doing this over software.

To your point, the idea of internal alignment in sharing not only someone’s filtered version of what happened but the actual clips where it still doesn’t take them an hour and a half to watch a video of a meeting, it’s like, “Here are the highlights straight from the horse’s mouth.” It’s incredibly powerful. I’m very excited about this. My wheels are spinning on how we at Congruity can incorporate this into a lot of the different aspects of our business. With that, Tony, it’s always a pleasure. We have so much fun. Thank you for being here. We appreciate our audience. Please, if you enjoyed this episode, give us a thumbs up. Be sure to hit the subscribe button. We’ll see you next time.

Important Links:

Related Podcast