In a few short years, Balto has excelled in its mission to redefine the way people and machines work together. Though we leverage the power of artificial intelligence to provide an experience that’s better than humanly possible, it’s the humans that truly make our mission possible — more specifically, our founders and the entire Balto team.

Founder and CEO, Marc Bernstein, recently sat down with Joel Goldberg of the Rounding the Bases podcast to chat about all things culture and leadership. In an episode titled, “Making Conversations Count,” Marc recounts the trials and tribulations of building (and bootstrapping) Balto from three dreamers in a 75-square foot office to a revolutionary, human-centric company.

Check out the highlights of the conversation between Marc and Joel below.

Built via Customer Collaboration

Today, Balto is a partnership between reps, agents, collectors, and technology. But a few years ago, Balto was a collaboration between our founders and our first-round customers. We strove to put the power in the buyer’s hands and used real product feedback to craft the ultimate contact center solution.

“I think that one of the most underused types of sales interactions is a hypothetical sale,” explained Marc. “If you’re coming into a sales interaction telling the person, ‘This is perfect for you. This is going to solve your problems. I want you to buy it. Will you say yes?’ People push back.

But if you say, ‘Is there a world where you would buy this?’  Then usually people will say yes. And then you say, ‘Perfect! Well, let’s work together to see if we can make that world happen.’”

And that’s just what we did — we worked together.

“We weren’t having our friends and family try it and tell us how great it was or tell us how good of a job we were doing. It was people we were trying to sell this thing to who said, ‘What you’re making sucks!’ And then we said, ‘All right, how could it be better?’ And they would give us very specific feedback that we would then incorporate and make better over time.”

Designed to Ditch the Script

A contact center script is either a floor manager’s dream or their worst nightmare. In theory, the script should make reps more efficient; but in reality, it’s too rigid to encourage a truly effective conversation. How can you answer a customer’s question when you’re constrained to a decades-old dialogue?

Well, that’s why we call Balto the anti-script.

“I say take your script, rip it up, throw it away! It’s now about guide points. It’s about talking points, and having just a couple of key things that you know you need to hit,” Marc continues.

“Or when a customer asks about pricing, not having to say, ‘Well, let me go find that, one second, hold on.’ But instead, have your pricing table pop up automatically right there for you. That’s the power we’re giving the sales and customer service professionals.”

Fueled by a Lack of Fear

If the thought of no script sends shivers down your spine, you might be surprised to learn that one of the founding principles of Balto is to proceed with a lack of fear. We recognize that fear is the leading culprit behind why people are slow to make decisions or to fix that decades-old dialogue.

“They’re afraid of encountering that uncomfortable situation. They’re afraid of taking a risk that might not work out,” confirms Marc. “But people appreciate when you’re authentic, they appreciate when you’re yourself, and they appreciate when you’re confident.”

With Balto, contact centers can enable each person on the floor to be the most confident version of themselves, each and every day — “one of the most important things that you can do to advance yourself personally and professionally.”

Can’t-Miss Quotes from “Making Conversations Count”

On Why Contact Centers Need a Change

“When we call a company, we expect them to take care of us. We say, ‘We are your customer. We have given you money or planned to give you money.’ There’s some basic contract of decency that you expect that they’re going to take care of you. It’s frustrating on a human level.” — Marc Bernstein

On How Artificial Intelligence Can Advance Operations

“We’re living in an AI world, and I sit there and think what will that look like a year from now, two years from now, five years from now? It’s such an exciting time, especially as certain companies truly learn how to use this and figure it out.” — Joel Goldberg

On Why Real Product Feedback Shaped Balto Solutions

“I think one of the things that is most important in starting a company is that you’re not validating the product with vanity metrics. You’re not validating the product with how flashy the technology looks, or who you know, or the different people who are beta testing it.

You’re validating it with the market who is actually saying, ‘I am giving you money for this product because it is solving a real need for me.’” — Marc Bernstein

On How to Establish a Successful Startup

“Figure out how building a business works. Be the person who has to set up the accounting, be the person who has to do the invoicing, be the person who has to talk to frustrated customers, be the person who has to go sell new customers, who has to develop the marketing.

Be the person who has done all that. So that by the time you’re ready to build something big and build something incredibly meaningful, you’ve run the bases a couple of times and you have that experience.” — Marc Bernstein

Want to Keep the Conversation Going?

If you enjoyed this recap of the Rounding the Bases podcast with Joel Goldberg, you’ll be happy to know that Balto is the home base for quality conversations. If you’d like to hear more from Marc, check out our Reimagining the Contact Center podcast, where he sits down with experts that are pioneering new and promising strategies to improve contact center operations.