How Regal.io is Turning the $40B CX Industry on Its Head
Join as Jon Heaps, former VP, Channel at Observe.ai, Talkdesk, and inContact interviews Alex Levin, Co-Founder & CEO of Regal.io, about the history of the contact center industry and some of the key challenges teams making outbound calls face as customers demand more online experiences, and legacy Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) providers have failed to build a product suited for outbound customer engagement.
Here are the key takeaways from their conversation:
- Legacy Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) such as Nice, Genesys and Five9 are riding the wave of moving customers from on premise to the cloud. They are also mostly focused on inbound customer service use cases. While these inbound support tools are critical, there is little differentiation. New developments in the industry, particularly in AI, are mostly focused on reducing cost, not improving the customer lifetime revenue.
- As a result, the outbound part of the contact center has been entirely neglected, leaving those with the impression that outbound engagement are simply robo-dialers. However, Regal does so much more.
- This outbound engagement functionality is a huge gap in the market. The teams at the fastest growing online brands have discovered the value of outbound calling to drive higher customer lifetime value by better winning prospects and serving customers. But the outbound tools at the legacy CCaaS players have not seen any innovation, leaving brands to their own devices to build custom software around CCaaS dialers. The value of calling is particularly meaningful in high-consideration products and services like insurance, healthcare, education and local services.
- Regal Co-Founders, Alex & Rebecca, developed a new playbook for phone and sms outreach based on modern performance marketing techniques – including personalizing outreach for each individual customer, A/B testing, and iterating using outcome data.
- Regal can enhance multiple parts of an organization’s engagement capabilities, including marketing, retention, win-back, collections and sales.
- Regal was purpose-built to enable outbound teams to take advantage of these modern performance marketing techniques. So your team can now build the highest-answering, best-converting outbound funnel.
- Regal does not require a customer to rip and replace their existing contact center stack. Customers can start with modules to improve connect rate or on call conversion, and then build from there.
In this episode you will learn:
- Why are some industries moving to real-time voice as a new channel to convert customers?
- Why is the traditional contact center market not suited for handling outbound customer engagement use cases?
- How does Regal work with existing contact center companies?
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J: Welcome everyone, we're excited for the podcast today. I'm John Heaps. I'm with Ascent Business Partners, a managing partner. With me today is Alex Levin, who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Regal.io. Really excited about this - what Regal has done and how they've developed this incredible product - really more for an outbound motion inside of the contact center.
And we're gonna go through how it all developed, where Regal came from, the market which they're penetrating and the phenomenal success they've had just in the last two years. But before we get started, let's talk a little bit about the contact center.
I've been in the contact center space now for 20 years. And I'm aging myself by saying that. But 20 years, when you really look at when Cloud Contact Center started, I had the privilege of being out there in the very beginning with a company that developed the cloud contact center. It was InContact, which is now NICE.
And then working with other companies, we've seen others come along - Five9, then Genesys, then Talkdesk - and the evolution of contact centers is just getting bigger and absolutely phenomenal what we're able to do, from a customer experience perspective.
But what's interesting to me with Regal is how you've come about and made such an impact, literally starting just in the last three years and hitting the ground in 2020, and then the phenomenal success you've had. So tell us a little bit about the Regal, where it came from, what was your background and how'd you get it started?
A: Sure. My Co-Founder Rebecca Greene and I come from the B2C consumer world where we've brought a lot of businesses online. We always had contact centers and were always taught that the contact center was the call center.
We should talk to the customer as little as possible. Lowering the interactions per booking. Lowering the interactions per product sold. This was always the metric we watched. And over time, I was on Genesys, NICE, Talkdesk, Five9, all these different products...
And to your point, for a long time what people talked about was how do we get off on-prem and on the cloud?
That was the conversation within the cloud: how do we reduce costs as much as possible? The last business that I was at before Regal was called Angi and we owned Angi's List and Home Advisor - we were the largest home services provider in the world.
And the playbook from retail really didn't apply.
For retail businesses online, we were taught to put up a product picture, have an affordable price, show a product review - but don’t talk to the customer. And that was fine. But in the home services space, we found that it was critical to actually have a conversation with the customer.
So customers would come in looking for a fence installation, for example, and they wouldn't quite know what they wanted. And if we just let them do it via digital only, they really wouldn’t convert. It was a bad outcome for them. And for us.
But if we just had a simple conversation with them and said: Hey, you own a house. Are you looking for a fence? Tell us more. It led to very good outcomes, much higher revenue for us, and a better project for the customer. We started realizing - there was a new mode and a new playbook that was going to be very important for these high consideration services that were starting to come online - like healthcare, insurance, lending, local service, education consumers. Now that everyone shops online, they expect to do everything else online. However, they didn't want to have the experience be digital only.
Consumers wanted a combination of a digital and personal customer experience, whether it's with a salesperson, retention person, concierge, call 'em what you may.
We tried doing this at Angi using some of the old legacy contact center software, and we very quickly found limitations.
One, there's basically no customer data in those tools. Sure, you can show the agent a record, but there's no customer data that allows you to take action based on what the customer's doing. And that was a real miss because all of our other marketing and sales tools allowed us to trigger action based on real customer profile information. Legacy CCaaS does not.
Two: while they had some outbound tools like the dialer, outbound wasn't their main use case. 90% of the dialer business was support, so every time we'd go and ask for a feature, they'd say: please come back later.
It was clear they were very focused on serving the support use case and reducing costs, not serving this - what we thought - was a fascinating use case, where you're providing service and outreach to a customer as a differentiating factor of building your company. That was eye-opening for us when they didn't want to do it.
And then last we found this like fascinating thing where people who didn't need these teams kept on telling us voice was dead. Voice is going away. No one's gonna talk on the phone anymore. It's dying It's dying. But on the other side, we go talk to a healthcare company that needed to help with diabetes patients.
We talked to insurance company that legally was required to talk to the customer before onboarding. We talked to education companies from admissions was critical 'cause it's such an emotional decision and voice was everything to them. And so we asked ourselves why is there's this just diametric difference between what Legacy C A does and what is clearly the case in these new industries?
And we realized there was just an opportunity for a new business. So we started Regal on the premise that we wanted to treat customers like royalty. Actually engage with 'em, have conversations, have great conversations on phone, on s m s in other channels triggered in real time based on what the customer was doing.
And it's funny, when I first introduced this to the c e o of one of the legacy contact centers that I know well, he said if you can do that, it's the holy grail. That's what we've always been trying to do in customer experience. And I think it's true. I think the legacy C Cs would drag so far into cost cutting.
They never took the opportunity to go and actually figure out how do we build product to drive better customer experiences. What do we do at Regal? We are very, good to what we said at using AI enabled tools to drive outbound SS m s and calls to engage customers In these great conversations our sort of top line goals, how do we treat millions of customers, like one in a million, right?
How even at internet scale, how do we make everybody feel special? In order to drive better customer outcomes, more revenue for the business. So happy to dig in.
J: But that's our sort of our story that I think it's phenomenal. It's fascinating with your background and your co-founder and how you've developed this and then literally seeing a need there because you're, spot on.
I, I think that a lot of times in the call center, we think of the outbound was the negative side of the call center. And 'cause we're thinking about the robo dialers and things like that. But what you're sharing with us here is, that you're really, this is really a customer experience for those customers that are coming in, how to engage with those and take them down that journey even further.
A: Yeah, the example, like I loved early on is I spoke with a friend at Citibank, and when Citibank moved online, they went, oh my goodness, there's so much more distribution. I love this. Very quickly they learned that online only 20 to 30% of people who signed up actually put money in their bank account, and they go, wait a second.
It used to be that 90% of people that signed up with a bank account funded the account. What's happening? So they found out quickly that without that human touch, the rates of actually taking this. More high, like high consequence action or lower, right? And so it's this conundrum that a lot of brands are finding themselves in that they have to go online, but they don't have the right customer experience.
To your point, it's gonna destroy their business to go online. 'cause actually the conversion is worse. And so it's very much to your point, it's not cold calling. This is about creating great service, great customer experience by outbounding to customers who are either prospects or existing customers, and driving outcomes to help 'em get what they need.
J: Fantastic. I love it. And I think that's really, that's filling the gap that has always existed. That's why they've all focused on inbound. When you look at all the c a s providers, the contact center providers, they're all focusing in on that inbound and that customer experience. But this was the gap that's been left wide open.
A:Yeah. 1, 1, 1 idea that like I, I struggled with at the beginning obviously I've come to terms with, is it why did people hate outbound so much? Like, why was it so hated? And like, how do we make it loved? And I think to your point, it was hated because it was cold, because they treated everybody the same, because it was used in the wrong moments.
And we're suggesting you don't have to do that. Instead you could figure out exactly the person who's trying to log into their bank account. In order to move their money from their checking account into their savings account to get more money, and they can't log in. Get 'em on the phone and say I see the problem you have.
I see you're having this issue. You're a really important customer to me. Let me help you do that. Yeah. Or get 'em in a text message conversation to help them. That's what we're talking about is using outreach at the right moment, even if it is an incremental cost to the business because it's such a superior experience for the customer.
J: Wonderful. And you, talk about this literally being the holy grail, and I would agree with you this scenario that's just not been touched. So you founded Regal in 2020. Take us through now what happened after that and how was the product received and where did it go from there? And then maybe we can talk about some case studies, but take us through that journey on how you've started the company and then what's happened from there.
Sure. So we're very lucky to be backed by some great venture capital investors, including emergence who's, been very deep in the space. They were the original investors in Salesforce. They were in ASAP in chorus. They're very deep in this space and they immediately understood it and they said, we get it.
Like you are gonna create an event based system based on what customers are doing. Trigger personalized outreach. Great. Let's fund this. So that's given us a lot of leeway. I think from a customer perspective, the reception has been fantastic. We in under three years now are almost at 200 customers across those industries that I mentioned and almost always they had contact center software, they had c r M software and were struggling to figure out how to.
Mash it up to fit the use case they had. And then when we came along, they go, oh my goodness, finally somebody who's building software exactly for me, for this outreach use case for contact center I'm gonna switch to this. And so I think we, measure ourselves on can we drive more revenue?
Better customer outcomes for our customers. So to date, we've driven about $2 billion in revenue for our customers. And a lot of fantastic customer outcomes. And so that's what we're proudest of. And that's why I think we get so many referrals and organic inbound from both the management teams and actually from the agents, which I love.
Agents will go tell other agents at other companies that they should use Regal. And so I think it's, a testament to the. The fact that we measure ourselves that way. So we don't just say, Hey, here's nice software. We say, can we really drive better outcomes for your business and for your customer?
J: So you founded it in 2020, you raised capital I understand, right? You raised capital in 2021. And then really got the product started in 2022. Is that accurate? We, started right away to be very fair. When we raised capital, actually at the beginning in 2020, raised a little bit of money.
We built a very early version of this and put it in customer's hands and it immediately worked. And so we've definitely been investing in the product since then. So if I think about. What's happened, we always wanted to be an end-to-end solution for these outreach teams. So we do everything from how do you create a unified customer profile?
How do you brand calls? What is the orchestration of Texan calls? We have all kinds of ss m s tools. We have all kinds of dialers. Obviously we have an agent desktop and C R M and reporting. So we do offer all this end, and over time we've been able to continue to invest in it. So we have about a 50 person engineering team today, and all we think about is this question, which means that we can constantly be investing in technology.
I think it's part of what our customers like is. They're not in a situation where they're going nice and saying, Hey, can we have some more features? And they go no, We're only building for support. When customers come to us and say, here's an opportunity that, I have to drive more revenue, will you build a feature in this area?
We go, yes, of course. If it's gonna be good for you, it's good for all of our customers. So the nice part about working as a customer, working with a company for whom you are the core user. Is they're constantly gonna be innovating and building new product. So at this point, yeah, the product has gotten pretty sophisticated compared to what we were doing day one. And that benefits our customers tremendously.
J: This is phenomenal. What a great story. 200 customers and then saving and then increasing $2 billion two year customers just over the last three years. This is a, phenomenal story. Alex, I have to ask the question though, when we're looking at this and and you're looking at the other traditional contact center providers that they may have an outbound, how do you work with those that may like a five nines or a genesis, or even a talk that might have an outbound component?
How do you work with those companies? Or do you work with them? Oh yeah, sure. So when we talk with our customers or potential customers, we talk about a maturity. Matrix and everybody who's doing some kind of outbound has a dialer. They're not starting with nothing or they have some way of dialing outbound.
And we talk about them, we talk with 'em about is what are the different ways we can move you to having better outcomes? One might be how do we start getting smarter about what the customer sees when you're calling them? And that might be, instead of just calling them from one number, it might be moving to local presence.
It might be moving to spam remediation, even call branding. Or when we're talking about the campaign management stop using the campaign management that comes with five nine and switch to the regal campaign management that allows you to do more cross channel orchestration. And there's a level of maturity that you can go on there in each area.
There are things we can do to drive people to more maturity and better outcomes, even if they choose to stay with their current dialing solution today. Of course, we think that ultimately we've built a tool that can completely replace the legacy contact center software, and so that will always be our opinion as we're driving to an all of their business.
But we don't have to do that to start we can definitely start with the customer's core goals and impact those. So maybe they're very interested in how they start engaging leads that have not talked with them and do it in a very cost efficient way. And we can work through automated AI assistance that are using S M Ss to drive those people to engage and actually turn into a conversation.
So I'd say the, question I ask people is, are you using. Outbound calling or is having a B two C sales team critical to your go-to-market motion as a company. If it is, we want to talk to you because I I definitely think we're here to help you. I, feel like this is men's warehouse, we can make you look great, but we can definitely help those companies and over time I think there's, as they get more and more mature, they'll see the value of everything that we offer.
J: Fantastic. I, think the plan is perfect as well because you're really covering that area so well and I was impressed 50 developers just focused 100% just on this one aspect. Yeah. That alone will be hard for any of them to keep up with.
A: Yeah. This is the nice part. When we were at Angie before this we had some tools and we had a few engineers trying to help us, but it wasn't our core product, and so we were never able to do the things we wanted.
I wish Regal had existed in those days because it would've been nice to have all these tools off the shelf without needing my engineering team bogged down by building things that were not poor for our business. But it didn't exist. So I think it's a breath of fresh air for a lot of customers that somebody is thinking only about this area and investing so much in.
J: Fantastic. Alex, tell me it's what other areas or use cases are you using that maybe we haven't touched on that? Yeah, I think the, one that is very obvious to people is around sales, and that might be called admissions and education or concierge or things like that, but there's a lot of other outbound use cases that companies are using us for.
So marketing teams use us on better ways to engage leads. Obviously there's a sales use case I mentioned there's a retention use case. There's a cross sell and upsell use case. There's win back use cases, there's even collections use cases. So these are diff teams across an organization that are using outreach to, drive to outcomes.
And I think like in each of these cases they're desperate for better tools, and it's okay if the customer service team stays on the current contact center software and just the, these outreach teams move. We have a lot of organizations where that happens and we can still pass data back and forth with their customer service tool, so it does not detract from what they've done, but it allows 'em to have best in breed for outbound.
J: And you were just literally coming off the cuff with that. But you mentioned five things that are absolutely mission critical for any organization that most are not even coming close to in their contact center today. When you start talking about marketing, retention, win back, collections, all those things and how you're focused on those, I think that's phenomenal.
Let alone your sales case, what you're doing on sales. So thank you. This is fantastic. Yeah. Back to the beginning, what you were saying. The, for so long, everybody was fixated on, okay, the transition is on-prem to cloud, on-prem to cloud. I'd say it's not enough to take the same features and put them in the cloud.
A: That's not enough. As, end users of these products, we should say we want more. And so what we offer is obviously a cloud product, but one that has a whole new set of features that drive much better outcomes for these customers. You and I were in a conversation earlier with some partners where.
I think they go, this is not my dad's contact center anymore, and it's true. This is a new world of tools and it's, somewhat of an arms race, right? When we go into an industry, and I'm thinking of specifically a funny example recently where we were working with a couple auto loan refinance companies.
But when we go into an industry, soon as 1, 2, 3 of 'em are using us, everybody needs to switch because if they don't, they're behind the times, they're not gonna be able to continue to serve those customers and they're gonna lose to the companies that do move. So it, it moves very quickly industry by industry as soon as a few players are doing it.
J: I would agree with that. Any other case studies you'd like to share with us before we close that? Any really exciting use case you'd like to share? One that I love that I talk about often is SoFi it's a phenomenal business that helps people refinance their student loans and save money, and they.
Were really struggling. They were on a legacy conduct center software, and it was fine for support, but struggling to figure out how to reach their customers. The marketing team would download a C S V, give it to the sales team they'd uploaded a day later, call everyone as soon as you have a C S V.
A day later, obviously half the people or the wrong people to call, and then they'd call 'em very formulaically. And the outcomes weren't great they were convinced as an organization that there were better ways to do this. And it's a case where we've been able to help them drive, I think it's 60 or 70% higher answer rates.
They drive higher on-call conversions. So they use some of our tools to make sure that they're actually converting more of the customers on the call. They drive higher loan value. So the customers that are coming through the funnel, not only are there more of them and they're converting more. But they're actually driving better outcomes.
So I think it's one of these fascinating cases where you can use technology to have even surprising outcomes. I didn't expect all of that to be that case. And so now they still use their legacy contact center software for support, but they use us for their outreach teams to, to great success.
J: Oh, this is fantastic. Alex, you've certainly sparked a lot of interest here and really opened up the, I think in many ways how much more can really be done from an outbound perspective and really what Regal's doing. Thanks And explains why the success that you've had over the past three years and why the phenomenal success you've had.
How do we get in touch? How do partners get in touch with Regal?
A: Sure. Please go to regal.io, take a look at our site. You can email me email@example.com. Like I said if outreach is critical to your business, we'd love to hear from you. It's something we're really passionate about and we think we might be able to help.
J: Alex I, will tell you what, we've been involved with you now for about six months and it has been an absolute joy and it's a thrill to be with such a great company and seeing what the difference you're making, not only as a business, but really in your customers and making such a big effect there as well.
So thank you very much for your time today, Alex, and we look forward to talking more. Thanks.