SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Olivier Pailhes, CEO and Co-founder at Aircall

The importance of having customer-facing teams focus more on real-time customer feedback, so that they can address concerns and queries faster also demands more stronger implementation and adoption of cloud-based communications systems; Olivier Pailhes, CEO and Co-founder at Aircall shares more:


Hi Olivier, welcome to this chat! Tell us about your journey through the years…we’d love to hear about the story behind Aircall.

I began my professional career as a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, focused on European telecommunications. During my time working closely with enterprises, I saw that businesses were struggling to effectively connect with customers over the phone and were hindered by traditional phone systems. To address this challenge, I founded Aircall in 2014 along with my co-founders, Jonathan Anguelov, Pierre-Baptiste Béchu, and Xavier Durand. We developed a cloud-based phone solution that’s easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to scale. Integrations are a crucial part of our solution – Aircall can integrate seamlessly with popular productivity and helpdesk tools like HubSpot, Zendesk, and Salesforce. We’ve come a long way since 2014!

One of the main growth areas this year is the recruitment of 260 new people, mostly in tech & product, to reinforce our infrastructure and our technical solution and customer-facing roles, to ensure our customers a great reactivity and localized approach with their contact at Aircall. Last May, we raised $65 million in Series C funding that’s being put towards enhancing our platform for customers and expanding globally.

Take us through some of Aircall’s latest (and upcoming) capabilities that the team is working on – what can users look forward to in the next few months?

We’ve had some exciting announcements recently! In January, we announced the opening of our first Australian office in Sydney. We now have more than 500 customers based in Australia, so it was a logical next step in order to provide the best customer experience possible. We also announced in February an integration with SugarCRM, the world’s first no-touch, time-aware customer experience platform, and in November, we announced a partnership with Brainsell. We have a few product announcements coming up that I can’t share just yet, but this will include large partnerships and upgrades to product features and integrations.

In March, we announced our new partner program, making it easier and faster for other software companies to build on Aircall’s capabilities. Since 2018, our app ecosystem expanded tenfold and we believe that our customers get tremendous value when they can connect Aircall with all their other tools, data and workflows.

In today’s virtual world of building customer relationships, how are you seeing the need for better and varied direct communication tactics evolve? What can marketing and sales leaders do more of to stand out from the crowd and create better impact with different mediums and solutions today?

To this day, voice remains the most powerful way to communicate, and empathy still stands tall. Businesses that lead with empathy will no doubt stand out from the crowd. Last year, we launched a campaign called “Power of Conversation” based around our belief that good communication has the ability to make a difference. Sales and support teams need a tool that is not only easy to use, but facilitates meaningful conversations to drive exceptional customer experience. Great customer experience also means striking the right balance between reactive and proactive touchpoints, and ensuring customers have options to choose when and how they interact with your brand. In order to achieve this, businesses should have several tools and resources available – such as blogs, social media, customer service chatbots, etc. – to provide customers with as many ways to interact with your brand as possible and to easily find the information they need to make informed decisions. 

A few thoughts on what communication technologies global marketing and sales teams should capitalize more on through 2021?

Remote and hybrid environments will be prominent long past the pandemic, which reinforces the need for long-term, sustainable collaboration tools. The importance of empathy and customer feedback will be ubiquitous. That’s where a cloud-based phone system comes in – to help remote teams stay connected, monitor the productivity, and work together from anywhere. We see a rapid shift from in-person sales to remote sales, over video or phone calls. While this new sales method isn’t as personal as traditional face-to-face meeting, it creates opportunities for the salespeople to engage in conversation with a lot of contextual information at their fingertips, in order to better understand and serve their customers and prospects. In other instances, it also provides more opportunities for managers to supervise, train and coach their teams, during and after each conversation. This is in complete alignment with our vision of enriching discussion by connecting voice conversations with available data.

Marketing and Sales teams should focus – and are focusing, as we can see it within our customers – on “connecting the dots”: integrating all their software and all their communication channels (voice or text) to provide a seamless, cross-channel experience to the customers. In short, “integrations” is a keyword for the success of marketing and sales leaders in 2021!

Can you throw light on what it really takes to improve enterprise scale collaboration given today’s typical business challenges in tune with the ongoing pandemic?

2020 was the moment when we needed to manage drastic changes, in terms of customer’s expectations, and workforce management. A great takeaway to keep in mind in this perspective, and as part of leading a successful business overall, is scenario planning. Stressing the importance of having all scenarios in mind, and conducting the efforts where they need to be, rather than where they might land. An operational example would include how keeping your teams engaged will require different scenarios from C-levels to directors, and managers. Having clear, thorough plans of action for each of them will be key in 2021.

At the base of collaboration, there’s information and the accessibility of that information. Before the pandemic, one could sit in the office and collaborate naturally with the other people in the room. Post-pandemic, at least a fraction of the team is not going to be in the same room: how do you make sure that the information is made accessible for everyone? That’s where the ability to share, comment and assign conversations – e.g. phone calls on Aircall – helps bring everyone to the same level of information access, and sets the base for collaboration.

A few must-dos that every C-level executive/CEO in SaaS should follow through 2021?

Engagement, engagement, engagement: this might not be new, but the past months showed us how employees engagement is a strategic priority. I would encourage all C-levels & CEOs to build a best-in-class plan, and ensure a flawless follow up.

I’d especially encourage leaders to ask this question: What is the new role of a manager post-pandemic? Increased requirements around team support, empathy and clear target setting call for a new definition of what manager’s responsibilities are in order to keep their teams engaged.

As well, C-level leaders should review how engagement was achieved before the pandemic and how it will be achieved after pandemic. Depending on the culture and the management style, it may or may not be very different. For example, at Aircall we had a very strong in-office culture, with inspiring, charismatic leaders driving team’s engagement in certain teams. Looking at 2021, we want to root back to this – because we know it works – but to also adapt to the fact that a good fraction of our teams are now full-remote, and that certain “introvert” leaders have crushed it during pandemic. This can be an interesting management model as well.

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Aircall is an entirely cloud-based voice platform that integrates seamlessly with popular productivity and helpdesk tools that workplaces are already using, Aircall was built to make phone systems as easy to manage as any other business workflow—accessible, transparent, and collaborative.

Olivier is the CEO and Founder at Aircall

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