Rama Sreenivasan is a co-founder and CEO at Blitzz, a live remote video support and inspection platform. Rama has led the company through its initial inception launch and subsequent growth to several million video support minutes per month. Major customers include BMW, Sealy, FedEx, and Rogers Telecommunications.
Before founding Blitzz in 2017, Rama spent several years working as a Scientist and Educator. His biggest joy comes from helping others solve their problems and he is passionate about finding effective ways to disseminate knowledge. Rama has a PhD and MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park. He also did his Postdoctoral research at MIT in Cambridge, Boston.
- We always like to give them an opportunity to share in your own words, how you got to where you are today and why you ended up on this journey that you are on?
- So, could you share with our listeners a little bit about Blitzz? What does Blitzz do? Is Blitzz an acronym for something and may I ask? I’m not sure if you actually have a reason for it. But like, what inspired you to name the company Blitzz?
- The whole method of augmented reality enabled Smart Glasses that your company is using to enable hands free support, making it even easier to fix a car stereo appliance and more. Could you share a little bit about how that works? And what the process is? And how easy has it been for customers to transition using this new method of resolution?
- What are some trends that you see emerging in 2023 and beyond as it relates to technology, maybe one or two that you have observed, or you see that are emerging that you’d be willing to share with our audience?
- Could you also share with our audience what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
- Could you also share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read very recently, or even one you read a very long time ago, but it really has had a great impact on your life, and you just believe it would be a good value to share with our audience.
- Could you also share with our listeners, maybe one or two things that you do personally to stay motivated every day, despite any challenges or adversities that you may face?
- Could you also share with our audience, what’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about, either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
- Where can listeners find you online?
- Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track if for any reason you got derailed.
Me: So, even though we read the bio of our guests, the formal constructed background of where our guests history is, and how they got to where they are today, we always like to give them an opportunity to share in your own words, how you got to where you are today and why you ended up on this journey that you are on?
Rama stated that that’s a pretty deep question. Start with a little bit about his background, he grew up in India and Indonesia, so two countries far away from here. And always been guided by a lot of the values from his parents, his dad was an engineer. He’s retired right now and back in India, and his mom was a teacher as well. So, a lot of great values growing up and the fundamental thing was always trying to care for people, to help them. And his strength in math and science naturally led him to be an engineer, just like his dad.
And he always looks for opportunities to help people out with technology. And that’s been his journey so far. But one thing led to another and here he is, running a software company, although, all his education was in chemical engineering, he did my Master’s, his PhD post-doc, worked for a couple of semiconductor companies. But it was during that journey that he saw the need to help people with technology, as they struggled to troubleshoot equipment.
And so, the equipment came in through his engineering, the desire to help came through his value system. And then he started looking for technologies, he stumbled across technologies and he puts all these together and that’s how Blitzz was born when he met his co-founder, KR, who used to work at Google before he joined him in starting Blitzz.
What Does Blitzz Do?
Me: So, could you share with our listeners a little bit about Blitzz? What does Blitzz do? Is Blitzz an acronym for something and may I ask? I’m not sure if you actually have a reason for it. But like, what inspired you to name the company Blitzz?
Rama shared that he’ll start with the name Blitzz. Blitzz with one Z actually means getting something done fast and efficiently. There’s also another meaning, which refers to the Blitzkrieg during World War. But the second meaning is what they’re referring to here. The reason why they went with two Z’s was honestly because one Z the website was already taken, so they went with two Z, that it was also a little cooler with two Z’s. So, that’s what Blitzz means to get something done fast and efficiently.
And regarding what it does, so they provide a way to have an app free live video call with anyone on the planet. As most people know today, in the video calls are pretty rapid, especially the pandemic got people started on video calling, especially in not just personally but at work as well. But many people don’t know that it can be done without an app download.
And there are specific reasons why you want to do it without an app download especially when you’re helping out a customer who’s calling in into a contact centre, as you very well know, in customer service, you get a call in from someone that you’ve hardly met, you probably talking for the first time, they’re probably frustrated with a piece of equipment, or perhaps their internet router, right? And to get on a video call with that person by asking them to download an app only frustrates them even more. So, there’s got to be an easier way and that’s what Blitzz is. He hopes that explained clearly what Blitzz is.
Smart Glasses – How it Works and the Process
Me: So, what intrigued me Rama, about interviewing you was this whole method of augmented reality enabled Smart Glasses that your company is using to enable hands free support, making it even easier to fix a car stereo appliance and more. So, I am all into customer experience, as you know, because that’s the podcast Navigating the Customer Experience.
But I thought this was so cool that you could literally work with a client to not physically be in the same space but be using that technology to help them get their issue resolved. Could you share a little bit about how that works? And what the process is? And how easy has it been for customers to transition using this new method of resolution?
Rama shared that let him clarify that the Smart Glass hands free use case is, it’s a different use case when it comes to someone, a consumer calling a contact centre. So, the Smart Glasses doesn’t apply to that. That applies to technicians out in the field who are probably climbing up a windmill or cell phone tower or need their hands free to hold them to the study as they climb a piece of equipment or hold tools in their hands to follow instructions from a remote expert. So, that’s the Smart Glass site.
But with consumers calling and say, if you’ve got a problem with your charger, as you charge your car in your ED vehicle, and you’re not able to charge it, and you call the one 1800 number in the US, for example, that’s what do you typically call for customer support. Somebody at a contact centre picks up the call and today they want to help you out, the whole idea is to get you going on your way.
But today, most of them operate blind meaning that they can’t see your problem. And when they operate blind, they tend to ask a bunch of questions, which is typically aggravating because you’re thinking to yourself in front of the car, if only you could see this. Well, that’s what Blitzz is. At that point in time, the way it works is as a contact centre agent, you would simply send them a text link, they would get it on their phone.
So, while they had the phone to the air, now they will get a link to look at the phone take it away from their ear and look at the screen, they would click on the link, immediately the back camera turns on and within a few seconds without an app download, the contact centre agent is actually looking at the charging port of the car. So, just cuts down all those extra questions and they could point to things, they can mark images up, they can communicate very clearly as if they were standing right next to the person in front of the car just through remote video.
Me: All right, amazing. And how do you find technology helping customers because a lot of organizations are using technology and I do believe that it really should be used to enhance the experience to make things frictionless or effortless for the customer. But I also believe that the human element is still very critical to the experience that the customer has, because technology can fail. And so, how do you think as we transition and we move forward because I’m sure there’s more opportunities for technology to be infusioned into the experience that we have, that we blended in such a way that they complement each other rather than create further frustration and pain and discomfort for customers.
Rama shared that he couldn’t have said it any better. But right on point. The blending of technology and the human empathy is very important and that’s what they focus on when they take Blitzz to the contact centres. So, the ability to get the customer agent eyes on the problem brings in that technology piece. And because of being able to see the problem and connect with the consumer who’s calling in a pain free, frictionless manner, like you just mentioned, make sure that they’re in sync, they understand each other. And then as they see the problem, now they can solve it better and perhaps, most of the cases, what happens is they’re able to solve the problem and avoid sending out a technician or avoid sending the product back to the manufacturer and saving a ton of trouble by just being able to see it and solve it within a few minutes.
Trends Emerging in 2023 as it Relates to Technology
Me: Have you seen, you’re in the whole technology space, I would say trends that you see emerging in 2023 and beyond as it relates to technology, maybe one or two that you have observed, or you see that are emerging that you’d be willing to share with our audience?
Rama shared that yes, absolutely. There are lots of tools that are AI related, even in the case of video, as video’s getting more rampant in businesses, not just in personal communication, technologies like Blitzz come in almost every other month and capture more data and that data is fed into machine learning. And you can use that data very effectively to make downstream processes more efficient.
For example, even during a Blitzz call, how do we empower the agent to provide the right solution to the caller? Imagine the agent is able to immediately get access to an instruction manual based on the make and model of the equipment that the agent is supporting to troubleshoot, being able to pull that resolution step or the answer to the problem and giving the agent immediate access so that they can help the customer and have them go about their day, very, very quickly, is very powerful.
So, AI, augmented reality video are all the tools that are coming out with great efficiencies, much like 10 years ago, chat came about for customer experience. So, he would like to say that video is like the new chat, because now your eyes are on the problem.
App, Website or Tool that Rama Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business
When asked about an online resource that he can’t live without in his business, Rama shared that that’s a good one. He’s been thinking about it for a bit. He would say, for him, the biggest value is just the cloud, even if he loses his laptop today, and there are lots of tools, but all those are cloud based tools. Even if his laptop is lost, he can go get another one and just seamlessly continue working as if nothing was missing. Because all the data, be it Gmail, be it tools, collaborative tools like Slack, or be it a CRM like HubSpot for his business. All these tools are on the cloud and he could just go get another laptop and continue working.
So, he would say, connectivity to the cloud is what he would need absolutely for the business. And they’re all cloud-based tools important to migrate. It’s really important to migrate to the cloud for businesses who are looking to the future because of the ease of working in the cloud is just incredible.
Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Rama
When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Rama shared that the book that comes to him was The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. That’s more of a personal journey of being very mindfully aware of his strengths and weaknesses, it’s kind of a metaphysical book, but it really made him aware of his own thinking process, and who he is as a person. And what does he want to do with his life.
There’s also another book, he’s actually looking for around as he speaks. It’s a more recent book, it’s by the author Dan Bapani and he has written a very good book on the ability to concentrate or the power of concentration. And he’s really enjoyed reading that book because it again, helps him be very mindfully aware of everything he does on a daily basis and be the best he can be. Both these things have really helped him be very present and live consciously.
How Rama Stay Motivated
When asked about how he stays motivated, Rama shared that he would say that would be definitely some yoga and meditation, that really puts him centre and it makes sure that things that really keep him keep me on track, he doesn’t give up on those habits.
The funny thing about great habits is they get you to a spot where you’re really enjoying life and that paradoxically also makes you not pursue those habits. So, you have to keep doing what you did to get there in order to be able to stay there. For him that is yoga and meditation.
What Rama is Really Excited About Now!
When asked about something that’s going on right now that he’s really excited about, Rama shared that he would say being a father of two small kids, 5 and 7. And running a company, trying to scale it. He’s always trying to find more balance and one of the other things he’s added in his life that he’s actually gotten back to because he couldn’t do it when the kids were younger, was climbing. So, he loves climbing and what he’s really excited about is to get back to Yosemite, which is really close by in the valley and do some multi pitch climbing, which means climbing several pitches of rock. And that is pretty, pretty adventurous and exhilarating for him.
Me: Yes, that sounds very exciting and dangerous. But I suppose it depends on your perspective.
Rama shared that it’s actually surprisingly, if you do it well, a joke to people, what typically is more dangerous is driving to Yosemite, rather than climbing because it’s easier to get into trouble driving a car too fast than doing something very slow, like climbing, which is actually very controlled, provided you’re very mindful.
Me: Yeah, and I do imagine there’s some amount of skill involved in climbing as well.
Rama agreed, yes, there is but it does take some time and definitely getting trained with a good teacher is important, but again, what he’s realized is being very conscious about everything you do, being very hyper aware of what you do, really helps to be safe.
Where Can We Find Rama Online
LinkedIn – Rama Sreenivasan
Website – www.blitzz.com
Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Rama Uses
When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Rama shared that he thinks of Bill Watterson, he’s the author of Calvin and Hobbes, and he tries and bring in a little bit of humour in the face of adversity, and he said it through Calvin, his quote was, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I’m so far behind that I am certain that I shall never die.”
Me: Okay. And would you like to expound on that for our audience and explain what that means?
Rama shared that he just thought it was really funny, he was kind of a self-deprecating humour. I’m here to accomplish a certain number of things. And we all get stuck in the rat race, right, trying to do so much but what when you stop back and think, right now, it’s nice to laugh at yourself and say, “Hey, we’re so far behind and all the list of things that I have to do that if I have to get all of them done, according to God, I should never die because I’m so far behind.”
Me: Oh, my goodness. Yes, it’s quite comical. If only that were true, we all do have an expiry date, we just don’t know when.
Rama agreed yes. But sometimes he feels at least his personality, he tends to take himself too seriously. So, he has to remind himself to also lighten up, let go and we’re all here to help each other out and have a good time and take care of other people.
Me: Indeed. Well, thank you so much Rama for taking time out of your very busy schedule, to hop on our podcast, Navigating the Customer Experience and just share with us some of the trends that you see emerging in the technology space, why technology needs to still be fused in with the human interaction, the human experience, because at the end of the day, neither of them can function on their own and blended together that will definitely create a better experience for customers. And so, we appreciate you sharing all of the great nuggets and insights in our conversation today and so we just want to express our gratitude to you for that.
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