Steve Jobs once said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
It’s a simple statement that actually contains multiple implications for how enterprises need to serve and support their customers. While providing customers with what they need in the moment is critical, an ability to anticipate and proactively offer complementary services is just as important to build long-term customer relationships and trust. Many enterprises are recognizing that cognitive AI – with its ability to interact with context, analyze patterns over time, and display sentiment and emotion when necessary – can augment a company’s ability to “get closer” with their customers.
Enabling proactive services within our cognitive AI colleague Amelia is an area where IPsoft dedicates considerable R&D and resources, as our enterprise customers consistently request such capabilities. These enterprises – in industries such as banking, insurance, telecom and others – know that a positive customer experience via Amelia leads to higher customer retention, and Amelia’s ability to proactively offer additional services and support opens new revenue opportunities.
Other vendors are focused on building proactive AI platforms for the consumer market (such as Google Duplex), handling requests that are usually focused on accomplishing a singular task in a fairly linear fashion (e.g., booking a reservation with a restaurant, or a haircut with a local barber). However, enterprise requirements for proactive services are more complex, requiring Amelia to balance multiple stakeholders, systems and needs, often simultaneously and always at scale.
Unlike consumer platforms, Amelia must adhere to vertical industry rules and regulations, which often means that Amelia must be deployed within an enterprise’s secure data center or corporate private cloud in order to serve customers effectively. Amelia also needs to deliver her services across multiple channels, with an ability to switch conversations from voice to chat, chat to phone, or phone to text. She can do so without losing any information or context between channels, and without the need to start the conversation over.
For example, Amelia works as a personal banking security monitor. She can proactively put a hold on a credit card when she detects anomalous or suspicious charges, then contact the customer (via phone, text or mobile app) to either verify charges or start the charge dispute process, and if necessary issue a new card. During a support call with a life insurance customer, Amelia acts a dedicated adviser with intimate knowledge of a customer’s needs and circumstances. She can suggest policy changes based on personal events (such as a new baby or retirement), and other ancillary services such as inflation policy protection, providing an end-to-end service experience. Amelia also looks out for customers’ best interests so they can avoid problems or issues. She can contact a telecom customer to advise them that they’re approaching their data limit, and offer a new calling package with more data and options, and activate the new plan.
While Amelia is already delivering real-life benefits to global enterprises, that’s not to say that she doesn’t have a place with consumer-based services. For example, in a recent pilot program, we collaborated with a home security company to teach Amelia to proactively call customers when a disturbance is registered in the house. She first confirms the customer’s identification through a series of questions (e.g. mother’s maiden name) before notifying them of the issue (e.g. movement on the second floor), and then – if necessary – works with them on next steps (e.g. contacting the local authorities). In addition, as part of her multi-channel ability, Amelia integrates with home-based virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, providing an ability for people to perform work and home activities through one channel.
Getting closer to customers is a priority for any business, but it’s a strategic imperative for global enterprises to compete effectively. Amelia, as a cognitive AI platform, is intentionally designed to handle complex, enterprise-level activities such as securely processing transactions, analyzing and acting on customer patterns, adhering to industry regulations, and proactively providing support and services before a customer even asks for them. And all of this is quite a bit different than simply booking a table at your favorite local bistro.