I recently had the privilege of engaging with Olga Gomonova, the founder and CEO of Aimiable. In our conversation, she provides a glimpse into her remarkable background and shares her vision for the future of contact centers.
With over 15 years of experience in diverse customer-centric roles, spanning Fortune 500 companies to dynamic startups, Olga’s journey has been extraordinary. As the mastermind behind the customer enablement function at a thriving startup, she was pivotal in propelling the company to double unicorn status. Now, armed with a profound passion for customer support, Olga introduces us to her latest venture, Aimiable, and reveals the driving force behind her unwavering dedication to this domain.
As we delve deeper into Olga’s journey, I couldn’t help but inquire about the valuable lessons she learned while spearheading the customer enablement program at the startup.
Formative Lessons Learned: People and Technology
Justin Robbins: Olga, could you share one of the most formative lessons you encountered during those transformative four years?
Olga Gomonova: Certainly, Justin. There were two critical elements that stood out to me: the people you bring on board and the technology you choose. These two factors played an instrumental role in our success. When it came to hiring, I quickly realized that the right individuals could make all the difference in supporting and delighting our customers. Selecting individuals with the appropriate personality traits and skill sets became a constant challenge I embraced wholeheartedly.
Furthermore, the constant need for progress pushed me to consistently evaluate and upgrade our technology stack. During our development, our enablement function migrated across four or five learning management systems (LMS) and other customer management systems. I was relentless in the pursuit of finding better solutions. My key lesson was the importance of selecting the right technology tailored to our specific needs. Making an ill-informed choice in this regard could be a costly mistake, considering the complexities of onboarding and offboarding processes.
JR: Indeed, the costs associated with reversing such decisions can accumulate rapidly in terms of personnel and technology. As you reached a pivotal juncture where you knew you wanted to embark on a new endeavor dedicated to supporting customers, what was the next step in your journey?
OG: Absolutely, Justin. With the conviction that my future lay in customer support, I faced the challenge of determining the exact direction for my entrepreneurial pursuit. It was an introspective phase where I sought to identify the unique value I could bring to the industry. The question of “what’s next?” became the catalyst for the birth of Aimiable.
The Birth of Aimiable: Revolutionizing Workforce Engagement Management
JR: Olga, your journey to Aimiable has been filled with intriguing experiences. Can you shed some light on what led you to develop the specific product and the significance behind the name?
OG: Absolutely, Justin. Let me take you back to a pivotal moment when my team was still relatively small, consisting of about five or ten members. At that time, we primarily focused on customer education due to the highly technical nature of the platform I supported in my previous role. Being a no-code application development platform for enterprises, we encountered various requests from multiple channels, including the sales team, customers experiencing login issues, internal senior leadership seeking expedited onboarding, and the professional services team.
It was during this period that I experienced a crucial realization. I vividly recall reaching a breaking point when we hired our fifth trainer, and I found myself losing control over the scheduling process. I spent the majority of my day meticulously examining people’s schedules, pondering over who was available and suitable for each request. Essentially, I had become the sole scheduler in my customer enablement role.
This revelation hit me hard as it became apparent that my time and energy should be dedicated to strategic thinking and shaping the future direction of our function. Consequently, I sought a scheduling tool, hoping to find a solution that aligned with my requirements—something straightforward, user-friendly, and cost-effective. Unfortunately, my search yielded less than satisfactory results, and I settled for a rudimentary option. However, the struggle with scheduling lingered in my mind.
When the opportunity arose to embark on my own venture, I reflected on the pain points I encountered in customer support. It was then that I gravitated toward the realm of workforce engagement management, encompassing scheduling, forecasting, and reporting. This became the foundation of the product we set out to develop at Aimiable.
Now, let’s talk about the name. I delved into extensive research, exploring every word in the dictionary in search of a remarkable name for our company. Eventually, I stumbled upon “Amiable,” a word that resonated deeply with the cooperative, helpful, and supportive essence of the customer support function I envisioned. However, I wanted a name that possessed an extra spark—a touch of pizzazz.
Considering the age we live in and our inclination toward artificial intelligence, I thought, why not make it “Aimiable”? It not only encapsulated the friendly and approachable nature we aimed to embody but also contained “AI” within it, signifying our involvement in the exciting world of artificial intelligence. Moreover, “Aimiable” playfully merged “I am” and “able,” offering numerous captivating connotations. I often find myself daydreaming about future marketing campaigns, envisioning messages like “I am, I am able, aimiable.”
Addressing the Challenges in Workforce Optimization
JR: Olga, your approach to entrepreneurship and product development is refreshing, focusing not on disruption but on understanding and improving the existing landscape. Can you elaborate on the common challenges you’ve discovered during your extensive conversations with customer support leaders and how Aimiable aims to address them?
OG: Absolutely, Justin. Thank you for that question. Our journey began by engaging in meaningful conversations with numerous customer support leaders, totaling several hundred insightful discussions. These conversations allowed us to truly grasp the use cases, pain points, and evaluations of the current technology landscape in the industry. From these interactions, several prominent themes emerged.
Firstly, we identified a significant gap in technology tailored specifically for smaller customer support teams and contact centers. By smaller, I refer to teams similar to my own experience, where the tipping point occurred around the five-member mark and remained a pain point well into double digits. There is a lack of suitable solutions for these teams that play a differentiating role within their organizations beyond just being a cost center. This gap became a focal point for Aimiable’s development.
Additionally, we recognized considerable UI/UX challenges within the existing workforce management solutions. While there are robust options available, many are the result of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in complex and unintuitive interfaces. Some solutions offer comprehensive features, but they can be challenging to learn, sometimes necessitating the role of a workforce management administrator.
For smaller teams, who lack the budget and inclination for such a role, a straightforward, advanced, and user-friendly tool is paramount. Our aim is to provide a platform that is intuitive and doesn’t require a PhD in WFM to navigate effectively.
Another crucial aspect we seek to address is the involvement and empowerment of agents in the workforce management process. Currently, agents tend to be passive recipients rather than equal participants or partners. We envision a system that takes into account their preferred hours, individual comfort levels, and facilitates a sense of ownership. By surfacing the right metrics and providing insightful coaching, we aim to create an environment that empowers agents and leverages their strengths. This area remains largely unaddressed by current WFM solutions.
Moreover, given the advancements of our era, it is impossible to overlook the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). While we don’t label ourselves solely as an AI company, we recognize the value AI brings to our platform. Many of our potential customers express the desire for an AI assistant that supports them without the need for additional costs. Aimiable’s AI component will serve as that assistant, providing recommendations, highlighting insights, and augmenting decision-making processes. Ultimately, our customers will retain control over the solution while benefiting from the assistance and intelligence AI brings to the table.
In summary, Aimiable offers a simple, AI-supported solution that caters to the unique needs of smaller customer support teams. With a focus on intuitive usability, agent-centric design, and the integration of advanced technology, we aim to revolutionize the landscape of workforce optimization.
Building the Future: Aimiable’s Journey and Vision
JR: The challenges you’re addressing resonate deeply with my experiences, Olga. In smaller teams, we often resorted to manual and error-prone methods like spreadsheets or just winging it. It’s far from optimal and takes valuable time away from strategic endeavors. I also appreciate how you emphasized the role of frontline employees, as their engagement is crucial to the success of workforce management. In my research and interactions, I’ve encountered numerous instances where scheduling and time management create anxiety and frustration among agents. The impact extends not only to those responsible for the scheduling but also to the recipients of those plans. Your focus on tackling these issues is both timely and significant.
Now, let’s shift our attention to the current state of Aimiable. As we record this in mid-July 2023, could you share an update on the company’s progress and your vision for the coming months?
OG: Certainly, Justin. We are relatively new to the scene, currently in our fifth month of operation. However, despite our early stage, my team is already poised to release what we refer to as “Release Zero,” our first fundamental feature, which centers around scheduling—specifically, the Aimiable Scheduling system. In the next few weeks, we anticipate the launch of “Release One,” which will focus on forecasting, followed by “Release Two,” dedicated to reporting. By September, we will have a fully functional minimum viable product (MVP) encompassing the highest priority feature set.
Following the initial release, our roadmap is ambitious, with plans to rapidly expand and enhance our product. We are engaged in ongoing conversations with potential customers and have already secured some early commitments, which is incredibly exciting for us. Additionally, we maintain an active presence in the community, constantly seeking feedback and advice. Our advisory board is expanding, and we value the insights and strategic direction provided by industry professionals. These interactions significantly inform our roadmap and guide our decision-making process.
As we navigate the next five to six months, we will continue to iterate and refine our product based on market needs and customer feedback. The journey ahead involves further development, strategic discussions, and forging new partnerships. Ultimately, our aim is to secure the necessary funding to support our growth trajectory.
Identifying the Ideal Partners for Aimiable
JR: Thank you for sharing, Olga. Based on the challenges you’re addressing and the value you aim to bring, who is the ideal fit for Aimiable? What pain points or circumstances would make those leading or actively participating in customer support teams or managing small contact centers the perfect candidate for engaging in a conversation with you right now?
OG: Absolutely, Justin. The ideal candidates for engaging with Aimiable are managers or directors who are responsible for customer support teams or small contact centers that currently rely on manual processes, specifically those operating on spreadsheets and struggling with recurring pain points. Whether it’s the constant need to redo schedules, imprecise forecasting due to infrequent data updates, or the frustration of repetitive tasks that hinder strategic focus, these individuals are likely experiencing moments of exasperation.
By partnering with Aimiable, they can offload the mundane and repetitive aspects of their role and shift their focus toward more strategic initiatives. Our platform automates tasks that offer minimal value-add, enabling leaders to invest their time in developing their people, leveraging next-generation technology, and enhancing their team’s visibility within the organization. Visibility is a crucial factor, as customer support teams often face the challenge of proving their value to senior leadership. By freeing up time from scheduling and forecasting struggles, leaders can foster strategic connections, advocate for their team’s accomplishments, and pursue initiatives that contribute to overall success.
If you find yourself caught up in the daily grind of schedules and forecasts, yearning for the opportunity to be more strategic and proactive, while enhancing the visibility and recognition of your team’s contributions, I encourage you to reach out and have a conversation with us. We are dedicated to developing a product that addresses these pain points and helps customer support teams thrive.
Embrace the Future with Aimiable
As we conclude this insightful conversation with Olga Gomonova, the founder and CEO of Aimiable, we are left with a sense of optimism and anticipation for the future of workforce optimization (WFO) in the customer support realm. If you resonate with the challenges discussed, yearning for a solution that frees you from repetitive tasks, empowers your agents, and allows you to focus on strategic initiatives, then Amiable is here to assist you.
Connecting with the Amiable team is just an email away. Whether you’re seeking a casual conversation, interested in joining the advisory board, or eager to explore Aimiable’s possibilities, Olga invites you to contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team is always open to engaging with passionate individuals and industry professionals who are as enthusiastic about transforming WFO as they are.
In contemplating the future of WFO and the growth of your business, keep hope. Aimiable is on the horizon, poised to revolutionize how customer support teams operate and excel. Olga extends her heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the journey thus far, and she eagerly looks forward to the continued support and collaboration from the community.
As we wrap up this conversation, we’re excited for the coming months and years, where Aimiable will undoubtedly make significant strides in reshaping the workforce management landscape.