Is it a chatbot?
No, it's conversational AI. Wait, that's the same thing right? What can a bot do? How should it/her/he/they engage? All legit questions and reasons why Adam Godson and Josh Zywien, Paradox hot shots, join The Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Wait, what about that McDonald's Alexa train wreck from last year?
Oh yes, we cover that too :)
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INTRO (1m 4s):
Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for The Chad and Cheese podcast.
Chad (1m 6s):
Joel (1m 7s):
It's the Monday morning quarterback edition of the Chad and Cheese podcast everybody. What's going on I'm your cohost. Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my Batman, Chad Sowash.
Joel (1m 18s):
Chad, What's going on, man? It's Monday after the first week of football. How you doing?
Chad (1m 20s):
Oh my God. I've had a whole pot of fucking coffee, watching football. And yesterday I heard that the Buckeyes are going to be on the field in mid October. It's like fucking Christmas and not in, in what is it, September?
Joel (1m 36s):
I know. Right? My Browns ripped it up. So I'm pretty happy about that. Anyway, we are joined by an all star cast of guest today. The Paradox boys are here.
Chad (1m 46s):
This is the supersize podcast of marketing.
Joel (1m 50s):
Adam Godson (1m 54s):
Happy to be here.
Josh Zywien (1m 54s):
What's going on guys? Very generous intro.
Joel (1m 59s):
Your teams must have lost yesterday.
Adam Godson (1m 59s):
It's just Monday.
Chad (1m 59s):
So real quick, JZ, because I know your wife is a Michigan fan that's a big boo. Who's your NCAA. Who's your team?
Josh Zywien (2m 13s):
My team? I mean, I should say the Miami Redhawks because...
Chad (2m 16s):
It's not a real team. Go ahead.
Josh Zywien (2m 19s):
What's the point? So I root for Notre Dame because my brother went there for his master's and just grew up kind of watching him. So it's been my team.
Joel (2m 29s):
They struggled a little bit in the first half against Duke.
Josh Zywien (2m 33s):
That was real sloppy.
Chad (2m 33s):
And we know Godson is one of those Iowa fucking hot guy dudes.
Adam Godson (2m 47s):
Three yards and a cloud of dust baby. Here we go.
Chad (2m 46s):
Who's your Pro team Adam?
Adam Godson (2m 46s):
Green Bay Packers, I live in Wisconsin. It's just basically a religion.
Joel (2m 50s):
You should be really happy after that performance.
Adam Godson (2m 54s):
Yeah they played great!
Chad (2m 54s):
Dude. We kicked ass and took names. So JZ real quick, give us a Twitter intro about you, background, all that other fun stuff.
Josh Zywien (3m 1s):
Yeah. So I'm the, the head of marketing here at Paradox previously was the head of marketing at a company called SmashFly that was acquired by Symphony Talent. Back in November, before that, I worked for a venture capital firm in marketing and owned my own marketing agency for a little while and way, way back, I was a sports journalist, that's how I got started in this whole kind of weird writing marketing world.
Joel (3m 21s):
Covering Ben Roethlisberger but we'll save that for another day.
Chad (3m 27s):
Trying not to get beat up by Ben Roethlisberger.
Joel (3m 30s):
Adam, tell the folks who you are.
Chad (3m 33s):
Thanks, Joel. I'm head a product at Paradox has joined JZ about six months ago. Before that I'm an HR tech industry guy so I spent nine years at a CTO of CLO of the RPO field. So I got a chance to see all the technology that the industry has to offer and then decided to go join one. So it's been a cool journey.
Joel (3m 54s):
And both of you are in the archives. So for listeners who want to know more, go, go check it out. We interviewed both these guys individually.
Chad (4m 1s):
So words of warning for anyone listening, by the way, Adam talks extremely fast. So if you listen to podcasts at one and a half time, speed, you're going to want to back. You're going to want to back that shit back up. So, okay. So the first question right out of the gate, this one's for Joel and for the listeners who haven't quite yet come to understand the difference between a chat bot in conversational AI. I know the paper that Madelyn did goes into this a fairly deep, can you guys give us a quick overview?
Chad (4m 33s):
What's the difference between a chat bot and conversational AI? Or are they just the same shit?
Adam Godson (4m 36s):
The difference is the underlying technology. So a chat bot plays a lot of tennis. So being able to say like, if this, if I get this response, then do that. And you can try to draw a diagram of things that are really pretty straight forward, but doesn't have any natural language processing or actually understand what the person is, having a conversation with them, saying. You see a lot of this manifested when you see a bot, that's got like three buttons in it. You can't type an answer. It just says, what would you like to do?
Adam Godson (5m 9s):
A yes, no or maybe, and you push one of those buttons and it really doesn't even have to be part of a check. You are not chatting. It's just a different way to do an interface. When you talk about conversational AI, there's a layer of understanding. So natural language processing, where instead of writing, yes, you say sure. Or aha, or yuppers or whatever the hell you want to say, people say some weird stuff. I can tell you that, but then understands that that's a response that is an analog to yes. So being able to actually understand is the difference between just a dumb chat bot and actual conversational AI.
Chad (5m 42s):
So that that's kind of like evolved because that's what everybody was saying. A chat bot was at first because Joel's, he's really hitting on kind of like the hierarchical, you know, is it, is it really just RPA vs AI that understands what you're saying, right and LP? That's what everybody was saying at first. This is what we have, but now we're kind of, we're trying to split those two worlds. Is that because there are a bunch of those, kind of like bullshit, choose your own adventure, kind of chat bots that are out there versus people who are really doing the heavy lifting and conversational AI.
Chad (6m 19s):
Is there a lot of vaporware ?
Adam Godson (6m 20s):
I think honestly, what we did, I think you're right, Chad is it started with people trying to do conversational AI and process language. A lot of people figured out that was really hard so then they said, you know what, let's go back and put buttons in here to direct the user and make this more straightforward. So instead of typing something, let's just put buttons that they can push. And it really created a divide because it is hard. And so companies that couldn't invest in natural language processing and really doing it well and having a taxonomy of words and all the stuff that's really hard, just went to simple interface and said, just put a button in there and we'll make the button go.
Adam Godson (6m 59s):
So you really do see a divide now, whereas, you know, three years ago, it was probably a little bit more straight forward where people trying to figure out what path to take.
Josh Zywien (7m 12s):
I think too, like, just to add on that, Adam, I think sometimes people from outside of this industry come into this industry and think they can solve the problem in a very simple way and fail to recognize that there's a ton of nuance and gray area in recruiting and talent acquisition. So like that ability to understand the intent of what somebody actually wants to do is so important to actually creating real value I think with this technology in this industry.
Chad (7m 38s):
Plus marketing got involved and they were naming it whatever the fuck they wanted to name it right?
Josh Zywien (7m 41s):
Always the marketing.
Joel (7m 41s):
So talk about that, JZ, you know, I'm of the opinion that you're not what you say are your, what the customer says you are. And it seems like we're in a place where you're a chat bot, whether you want to be a chat bot or not, but does our definition of what a chat bot is evolved into something that's, you know, natural language processing and really kind of understanding, or you sort of locked in this whole tennis match that Adam so eloquently put it, is it just like, let's just resort back to chat bot and hope we evolve, or like, are we really gonna push this sort of a conversational AI narrative?
Josh Zywien (8m 21s):
Yeah, I think it's, I mean, narrative is kind of a nice word for reframing or repositioning something. So, you know, do people call us a chat bot? Do some of our clients even call us a chat bot? Occasionally? Yeah. I think when people are out shopping for this type of technology, they're looking for a chat bot, typically, you can look at search volume and search trends and see that. Yeah. I think the, the reason we use the words that we do is I think it's important to elevate what the technology can do and maybe what the expectations for the technologies should be.
Josh Zywien (8m 54s):
And so it's, is it like a little bit of marketing repositioning would say yes. But I do think there, there are kind of layers of functionality or depth of functionality that, you know, when you say chat bot, it just doesn't feel like it has a lot of heft there when in reality, the technology is pretty powerful. It can do a lot of different things. So, you know, I think it's a bit of a dangerous game to get trapped into the chat bot world. When you know the tools you, you actually offer can, can provide a lot more.
Joel (9m 21s):
Yeah. Let's get this out of the way right now. You guys were sort of Olivia, when you launch now, you're really Paradox. Like how do those two brands co-exist today? Or are you moving away from the Olivia stuff? And you're just Paradox now?
Josh Zywien (9m 33s):
Yeah. I mean, I'll, I'll tackle that one. I don't want to throw them back at Adam. I think it's, you know, originally it was, the idea was to personify the assistant a little bit and you see this in other technologies, obviously you have Alexa, some companies don't personify and so you have Google assistant. But we thought it was especially in recruiting and tonic this moment, that was really important to not necessarily trick people into thinking they're talking to a human, but give them more of a human experience. So we'll definitely stick with the Olivia kind of branding, but the positioning has a business's Paradox. The Paradox is the company.
Josh Zywien (10m 3s):
We view a Olivia's as the product itself. And Olivia has a bunch of skills where she can help companies and candidates do a bunch of different things.
Joel (10m 11s):
Just to go back, obviously COVID has changed how you guys work. I just, just sort of a check in on how things are going at the company, how things have changed for you guys, either both from a product and marketing perspective, or just a personal perspective. I know you're both working from,
Josh Zywien (10m 24s):
I think you should ask Adam that question. Cause his first day was I think when the whole country got shut down.
Adam Godson (10m 28s):
That is true, it was, it was a unique experience to do that, but really we reacted quickly to the way that companies have changed. So there was a period of brief uncertainty, of course, no one really knew what the hell was going to happen, but we moved really quickly to add features that would help with automation and what our clients were going through. So we quickly added things like a whole bunch, a whole knowledge base of intense around COVID. So employees looking to ask things about how the company is dealing with remote work, how, what safety things are in our, in, in play that are going to help me as an employee stay safe.
Adam Godson (11m 7s):
So we added a whole bunch of things there. We added a virtual events platform in March, April. We added video interviewing so companies could have that richness, that experience. So we've been able to react really quickly to what our customers are asking. And that's one of the joys of being a small and agile company. As a company ourselves we've been remote since, since March. We will be through the end of the year as well. And I think we found that to be really productive. So there's a lot of great things about being in an office, but our team has been able to adapt really well to be able to collaborate virtually.
Adam Godson (11m 42s):
And I do the things that, that we can do there. We still miss seeing customers being able to see each other and collaborate, but it's been a good experience, basically.
Joel (11m 54s):
JZ what are you gonna do with that conference budget? That's now being re-directed?
Josh Zywien (11m 56s):
Well, I'm going to throw it all these, these fancy ...
Joel (11m 58s):
Podcast advertising right.?
Josh Zywien (12m 0s):
Yeah, right. I mean it's yeah, that, that whole thing has been really interesting. You guys were on the conference circuit for, I mean, what, like every week you were going somewhere. So that's been the hardest thing as a marketer is figuring out where to kind of place the brand and where to invest those dollars. Because I don't know, there's some, I don't know what your, your opinion has been of some of the virtual replacements for these events, but some have been pretty good. I thought Smash Lodge, that event was really good.
Joel (12m 26s):
Yeah. Well, if you have a virtual DJ and a mixologist, for sure, right?
Josh Zywien (12m 30s):
Yeah. I mean, you can't go wrong, but I think there are so many of these events are still figuring out how to deliver an actual engaging experience. You just get there and you sign up and you leave after an hour. Cause it's somebody just talking to you the whole time.
Joel (12m 42s):
So, so where are you putting those dollars?
Josh Zywien (12m 43s):
I can't tell you that I'm going to give away all my secrets
Chad (12m 48s):
Let's switch a little bit. We were talking about what companies are looking for now. That's, that's obviously changed to let's talk about adoption. Because what we've, what we've, what we've seen. And what we've heard thus far is that COVID has pushed the slow moving industries, even faster to be able to adopt technologies, to help them get to probably where they should have been already. Are you guys seeing that? Are you seeing adoption? What's the big change from the ask, from organizations now that most of their people are remote and the whole recruiting, onboarding process is changing for them too?
Josh Zywien (13m 26s):
Yeah. I mean, I think it's, I'll have Adam talk about our product usage, which we've seen pretty dramatic spikes over the last few months, but in terms of what companies are looking for, I think it started out in March, April with needing to do more with less. You had teams that were furloughing recruiters or recruiting coordinators, recruiting teams so now you didn't have anybody to schedule interviews. You didn't have anybody to screen resumes or applicants that were coming in. So it was figuring out how you could use technology to get more done. I think that's still true, but I think you're now starting to see companies come back and say like, okay, well we can automate, but let's not lose the experience.
Josh Zywien (14m 2s):
We don't want to start treating candidates like shit again. So, you know, make sure that they can kind of balance the two. In terms of adoption. I mean, I think we've seen pretty incredible adoption and results from, from clients, which you can get into a couple of case studies if you'd like, but Adam can talk more about...
Adam Godson (14m 15s):
Yeah. In talking with prospects and clients, a lot of them have the chicken and egg problem of now they've got to do twice as much work with half the budget. Unsurprisingly, a lot of, a lot of recruiters went when COVID first hit and then it's just been the spark for, okay, now we've got to really be more efficient at this, and be able to figure out touch-less recruiting, how to be able to figure out how do we screen people without doing a bazillion phone interviews that are really inefficient?
Adam Godson (14m 45s):
How can we get to the best candidates fastest and then making them feel comfortable answering the questions as well. So I think we've seen some, some good spark that's helped move us along.
Chad (14m 54s):
This is an entirely new touch-less type of recruiting, social distancing type. So let's talk a little bit about that with regard to scale, because once again, companies that haven't adopted tech, they had enough people on the ground to be able to quote/unquote "scale." They really didn't, but they pretty much overworked their people. They don't have those people now. Right? They're going to have to scale up so quickly, not just in their recruiting departments, but across the entire organization.
Chad (15m 29s):
Are you guys talking mainly about scale? Is that an issue that companies are even bringing to the table or is that something that you're bringing forward that they're not even thinking about it.
Adam Godson (15m 40s):
Oh, they're definitely thinking about it. I think they're looking at the team that used to exist and thinking, how the hell are we going to do this? So thinking about how we can bring that to them. And that's one of the beautiful things about technology is, you know, I think about breaking recruiting down to its most fundamental level it's about conversations. And all the things we put in place: application and screening and a second screening, are all there because you want to filter the number of conversations you have to only the best conversations.
Adam Godson (16m 10s):
Well, if you could actually automate conversations, then you can ha you can really talk to everybody. And so I think being able to scale is what conversation AI is really all about.
Josh Zywien (16m 20s):
Yeah. I think too, there are plenty of companies that haven't laid off their recruiting teams. So I can't name the company that I'm thinking of, but what has happened with this company is they didn't lay anybody off, but they started like really evaluating the efficiency of their process and looking at what humans were doing that they didn't need to do. So I think it's like the whole COVID thing is, has really shine a spotlight on, are we doing this in the most effective way possible? Which then leads them down the path, I think to discover this type of technology and what it can do.
Josh Zywien (16m 51s):
But it's this like, you know, kind of instantaneous awareness of like, Oh my gosh, there actually is something out there that can make this experience a whole lot better for everybody.
Joel (16m 57s):
Curious, in regards to experience, how do most candidates or job seekers use the service? Are you finding that they come through most through, I mean, a web browser, a mobile browser, is it sort of straight SMS? I mean, how do, how do, how are people using the product most, if you had to break it down in percentages?
Adam Godson (17m 14s):
It's a ton based on the use case. So we've got clients like McDonald's where the most common use cases when you, you know, you and I were teenagers, we walked into McDonald's and asked for an application and now they point to the sign that says texts apply to 25,000. And so we see a ton of traffic at the, our level on SMS. That's the majority of our traffic engage with Olivia that way. When it comes to corporate more corporate jobs, we see a lot of engagement on career sites and so that's still majority web, but overall we are majority mobile.
Joel (17m 48s):
Gotcha. And what, what sort of a prediction for the SMS companies, you know, the Emissaries, the Text Recruits that sort of have a manual process, like, do you think they'll always be a space for that manual SMS conversation? Or do you think that automation will eventually put those guys out of business?
Adam Godson (18m 7s):
So there's always a space for conversations. I think it depends on the scale opportunity. So some may want to have those conversations and really personally be able to do that at the scale of they've got. Small businesses, for example, they don't want to automate that. And so I think there's a third space there there's oxygen in the room for all types of applications.
Josh Zywien (18m 30s):
Yeah. I'd agree with that. I think the big thing is flexibility within the conversation. So what we found is that candidates, when they come into, whether they start via SMS or they started on a career site, they usually have like multiple goals. But the conversation is either to find out more about the company, what do they pay? What jobs they have open? Maybe they would actually want to apply to the job, sometimes it's a check on the status of an application. So it's never kind of binary. So I think those companies where the conversation is kind of one director and one path like they're going to have to change to meet the demand of the market.
Josh Zywien (19m 4s):
And I think the market's going to start to demand more flexibility within the conversation.
Chad (19m 9s):
So let's talk about the Mchire the Alexa in Google Home process. So for the old process, you guys weren't around you guys weren't around when this was when this launched. So you guys, you get, you know, you get safe haven for at least what, what happened then. The assistant in itself, the old process you tell the assistant that you want to search for job at McDonald's, then you give it your mobile number, then it texts you a link that sends you to the old ass applicant tracking system and you have to go through that process.
Chad (19m 40s):
Now I understand that's better than pointing out a sign and saying, give me a paper application and filling it out on pen and paper in the location. Totally get that. But that's still a shit process. What have you guys done to evolve it? Because you do have conversational AI and if you do have their number, they've already opted into conversations and you guys can get so much data from them. What are you guys doing today? And what kind of numbers can you share with us?
Josh Zywien (20m 6s):
Yeah. After some, some backstory or kind of history first, and then I'll let Adam get into the success we've seen..
Chad (20m 12s):
You're going to make excuses, I can feel it.
Josh Zywien (20m 19s):
Not excuses, I think you, Chad, your experience that you had was real, like that is that certainly was part of one kind of direction of the experience. But even back when we launched originally, you could apply to a job almost completely through Alexa, as long as we were controlling the job. If we had to kick it to an outside ATS, which is sometimes what happens with these large corporations, is they have franchisees that have their own tools that are on systems so we had to kind of integrate within that ecosystem. Then, you know, obviously it's, you know, it's gonna be one experience in one direction and one experience in another.
Josh Zywien (20m 49s):
What we're, I think we've started to see as we've grown, our relationship with McDonald's is we started to kind of take over more of their jobs and we were working with more of their franchisees. So now the experience is more seamless. You don't get kicked to an ATS, you can apply directly through Olivia and it goes all the way up through to offer and onboarding. So Adam can talk about that, but it's, it has evolved quite a bit.
Chad (21m 11s):
Yeah, I want to hear from Adam because Adam built a system when he was at CLO that I always talked about on the podcast and it was specific high volume and he put some good shit together. So what, give me some of the good stuff that you're doing today, Adam, and what can we, what can we look for in the future with this product? Lots of high volume stuff?
Adam Godson (21m 31s):
With good shit, as you say, good shit, coming to be able to automate for recruiters in high volume spaces. So I think what we found at high volume spaces is that candidate experience and speed are really the same thing. And so it's about how fast can we make this happen? How can we not do it in a way that's overly complicated and how do we do it so it's using the mobile device, which is the only computer most of those individuals own. And so JZ is right there on the, in the Alexa applications the franchise architecture can be really difficult to take to handle.
Adam Godson (22m 6s):
But as we think about both franchise and for store owned, high volume, being able to get candidates in really quickly and be able to do things in some parallel paths. So for example, on the McHire, Olivia is going to ask some minimum qualification questions, get someone qualified, and then schedule the interview while the person fills out their application. And so being able to do those things in parallel allows them to get the interview scheduled and not have to wait. And what we've been able to do is cut down a lot of the waiting time.
Adam Godson (22m 37s):
So it used to take 14 days to get hired at a McDonald's and now it takes three. And so what was cut out was a lot of waiting a person waiting to look at the application, waiting to schedule the interview, waiting between the interviews, waiting for the decision to happen. And because we're using text messaging and all mobile web, they're able to schedule the interview, get an offer, accept the offer, fill out their paperwork, all those things on their phone and just get to work faster. And for restaurant owners, getting employees faster, we're get, we get feedback from them saying this job is actually fun when I'm fully staffed, I'm able to do enjoy that.
Chad (23m 15s):
Give me some stats around that though. I mean, that's, that's a huge compression in time. Where are you seeing the biggest, the biggest points of compression? Because I know before, when you build a system that you could, within seven minutes, have somebody scheduled for an interview, where is the compression around that?
Adam Godson (23m 28s):
It really is around that, that initial part of the interview or the application to be able to screen them, get scheduled without having to have the person review. So the ability to have them just schedule in that calendar without waiting for the manager, because that was where a huge amount of the time was previously for. But the part of the process is waiting for the manager to get around to it amongst all the other things that they have to do that that's area one and area two that I didn't solve for before is on the post accept.
Adam Godson (24m 1s):
So all of the onboarding things. It's just, it's typically a mess where people are going to get emails from different systems and just this, this rat's nest of things for the employee to do. And they just can't figure it out. And so some of them give up and punt like the Browns, others will not, and they'll just keep yelling. I think being able to solve for that and actually get people to work is the other thing that's been really important.
Chad (24m 29s):
Well, that was a boo for the Browns, by the way that Browns fans are used to that. So not, not a big deal.
Joel (24m 34s):
A quick reminder, Adam I have this list of Red hard questions you get into before you make another comment curious you guys, where are you with voice apply? Like, is this, is that really going to happen? Are you guys really spending a lot of resources around it? Are you seeing growth? Is it too early to tell, I assume you're not going to throw it under the bus, but I'm just curious what your thoughts are on voice apply.
Adam Godson (24m 56s):
Yeah. The technology is pretty good. And so we have voice supply and you can go to career sites like Citizens Bank and, and find Olivia there, Jamie, they call it, find a voice. But it's voice to technology is pretty good. The adoption is still gaining momentum. So people's comfort with having, with using voice, having voice interactions is still growing. So from a traffic perspective, we see most of it comes still in traditional ways.
Joel (25m 26s):
Is it a marketing challenge? Is it going to take McDonald's to have a commercial with, Hey, apply on Alexa for this thing to happen?
Josh Zywien (25m 33s):
Yeah, I mean, I bet they did some press around the whole apply through thing. And I do think there's a ton of potential there. I actually think voice is at least right now, much more powerful for the frontline manager in an hourly