Contact centre startup Observe.AI brings in Jon Heaps to build out channels

Observe.AI has always had a key channel component through alliances with strategic vendor partners, but the company is now building out its trusted advisor channels, starting with a Master Agent channel, and with a VAR channel to come.

San-Francisco-based Observe.AI is beginning to build out its channel. They have hired Jon Heaps, most recently Vice President of Global Cloud Distribution at TalkDesk, as VP of Channel, and Heaps in turn has already begun the first of the senior hires for his channel team.

Observe.AI, which has been selling for two years, just took a $54 million Series B funding round last fall. While all companies in the contact centre space these days use artificial intelligence to some degree, Observe.AI differentiates itself by the scale and scope of the AI in its offering.

“We are really unique in this way,” Heaps told ChannelBuzz. “We are all AI, and it’s at the very core of everything. We are 100% focused on the contact centre space. We don’t replace the contact centre software vendors. We partner with them. We work with Talkdesk, Five9, Genesys, Lifesize, and so on. We come in and can take all the metadata for efficient voice to desk transcription. We developed our own AI tools for this. We didn’t use other ones that were on the market. Accuracy is so important. Lots of words get dropped from most of these tools. Our accuracy is over 80%, and the industry standard is about 65%.”

Heaps emphasized that Observe.AI is able to work with the metadata very granularly.

“We can peel it back to certain periods of time, to look at calls from last year, last month or last week, and can search for key words, dead air space, and emotion,” he said. “Words alone don’t always convey sentiment. This can all be used to immediately go back into a coaching scenario with a supervisor, to help the agent improve. That’s something no one else is doing at the point – using the data to coach the agent to become better. Our use of true AI, and our ability to be used in agent coaching puts us on the tip of the spear in CX.” The company launched their AI-powered Agent Performance & Coaching Suite earlier this month.

Observe.AI’s customers are all over the map, from the very large to the comparatively small.

“We have very large enterprise, and midmarket customers,” he said. “One reason we have such a diverse set of customers is that because we are a single click install with all these contact centre vendors, they bring us in as a third party as part of their solution. So many of our customers have come from those environments.”

These strategic contact centre vendor partners remain a key part of the Go-to-Market model.

“We started with TalkDesk, and then the others and that became a strong pull for us,” Heaps said. “Now we are looking at strategic partners, like Master Agents. We will continue to be partner-first working with these other providers, but we are not just waiting to be introduced now.”

Heaps said that they are starting with the Master Agent channel as the first of the resell partners, because they are the easiest one to start with.

“I want to work with the few to get to the many,” he noted. “The Master Agents  will get me access to as many sub-agents as possible. The sub-agents are the trusted advisors. This has been the largest channel in the U.S., and the fastest to market.” This channel is not as strong in Canada, or EMEA, Heaps acknowledged, but it is growing in both places.

Heaps said that Observe.AI has worked to identify and sign on the largest Master Agents, notably Intelisys, now part of Scansource, and Telarus.

“We are close to signing on some other significant ones,” he added.

While building out the Master Agent channel is moving quickly, the VAR channel is next on the agenda.

“We will branch out into VARs in the future,” Heaps said. “With the reseller channel, we have the advantage of having a relationship with Scansource.”

In addition to Heaps’ own net-new position, he has hired Samantha Nelson as Regional Vice President Channels.

“In our alliances team, we now have about ten people,” Heaps said. “Just focusing on the Master Agent side, as we launch that, I have four. That team will double and triple in size very quickly.”

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