In order to provide customers with positive brand experiences, businesses must focus on technology to help improve speed, convenience, and access to data.

This was the theme of the Partner Perspectives session at IPsoft’s Digital Workforce Summit 2018. Junichi Kudo, Head of Applications and Content at NTT Group, the third largest IT company the world, and Deloitte Principal Owner John Brownridge, discussed their partnerships with IPsoft and how AI is helping to revolutionize customer service and internal business processes.

Deloitte, Amelia, and Customer-Centricity

During the session, Deloitte’s Brownridge discussed the behaviors that separate digital companies from traditional ones. As an IPsoft partner, Deloitte introduces technologies like Amelia to its clients to help them transform business processes. While researching digital behaviors, Deloitte found companies that were comfortable with technology were more likely to be agile and customer centric, among other traits.

“All of the changes that technology has brought has enabled us to do things differently,” said Brownridge. “Some things that we’ve always done, we’re able to automate using different technologies, but then we’re able to do new stuff, new things that we could never do before to change the customer experience, to enhance the customer experience and create value.”

If it’s not a moment that matters to somebody that requires human empathy or a task that needs human critical thinking, why not automate?

— John Brownridge, Deloitte

Brownridge referenced a client conversation in which a “very customer-centric organization” had reservations about implementing Amelia. The company was concerned that its customers would prefer to interact with a human worker, and that interacting with AI might feel unnatural.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s all good, but do your customers really care about that?’” Brownridge said. “Are they the kind of customers that want to go into a bank and talk to a teller? [No], they want to go to the ATM. That was a weird concept at first, but now it’s normal. I think this will be [normal] as well, as this technology takes hold and becomes more prevalent in our society.”

Once companies and their customers accept AI as a communications vehicle, companies will have to determine how to transform business processes using AI. Brownridge recommended looking at what can be automated versus processes that require problem-solving skills or human empathy. Anything that doesn’t require inherently human skills should be automated, he said. “If it’s not a moment that matters to somebody that requires human empathy or a task that needs human critical thinking, why not automate?”

DWS 2018: Junichi Kudo NTTC from IPsoft on Vimeo.

NTT Group, Artificial Intelligence, and The Internet of Things

Kudo discussed the company’s adoption of Amelia, which they branded externally as Cotoha, and internally as Randy-San. Cotoha was deployed in 2016, and serves as a virtual operator, marketer, and IoT support technician, while Randy-San serves as an internal human resources agent.

“Last year, Cotoha was able to only respond to easy and basic questions,” said Kudo. “But now we enabled Cotoha to connect with backend systems and made it possible to deal with more advanced inquiries.”

As a virtual operator with SMBC Nikko Securities, an NTT subsidiary, Cotoha was previously responsible for opening accounts, trading stocks, and asking customers for social security numbers. Today, Cotoha can handle stock price inquiries and other more complex tasks. Kudo said 70% of customers chose to interact with the AI service compared to 60% last year. He said he was pleased with the service’s ability to answer calls with 90% accuracy.

As a marketer, Cotoha was built to help improve the sales of SIM cards and smartphones. Cotoha is able to recommend smartphones to users once they answer three to six questions. Thanks to this process, conversion increased from 0.2% to 4.0%. Additionally, NTT found that more than half of business inquiries were coming during off-hours (58% compared to 42% during business hours). By allowing AI to field calls during off hours, NTT was able to serve more customers at their preferred times and at their own leisure.

Junichi Kudo discusses NTT Group's adoption of Amelia, branded externally as Cotoha, and internally as Randy-San

As an internal business process handler, NTT changed Cotoha’s name and avatar to Randy-San, whose job is to serve as a digital concierge to answer HR-based questions. Randy-San can be accessed internally via the company’s Skype channel. Although NTT Group rolled Randy-San out as an HR expert, the company will extend him to other corporate functions, Kudo said.

“Chatbot Randy-San is one of the solutions for work-style innovation to improve work efficiency and drive convenience by helping employees with any questions, including internal procedures,” said Kudo.

As an IoT support technician, Cotoha send alerts to customers via a messaging app to arrange an appointment with a field engineer when a product breaks. By connecting an IoT sensor to Cotoha, the company is able to automatically send an alert to customers to check the status of an error recorded on a device. If the error can’t be fixed by the customer, Cotoha will schedule a repair. For example: If an air conditioner sends an alert that the temperature has risen on the fan blades, Cotoha will contact the customer and ask questions about the fan’s performance. If there’s an issue, Cotoha will schedule a service call.

“This solution will create a new possibility of virtual assistant and IoT collaboration in terms of process automations,” said Kudo. “We expect this kind of collaboration with various external systems such as IoT, RPA and many others.”

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