An artificial intelligence company called ASAPP is poised to bring its customer service and contact centre technology to more organizations thanks to a partnership announced Monday with consulting firm EY.
EY said in a statement its U.S. team will able to help its clients scale ASAPP’s AI platform across their operations to improve everything from service to sales.
Based in New York, ASAPP’s AI platform uses machine learning to understand the common behaviours of the best-performing agents in a contact centre. These behaviours can then be taught and applied to other agents to improve the overall customer experience, according to ASAPP CMO Macario Namie.
“AI has become synonymous with chatbots. We think that’s an extremely narrow view,” Namie told 360 Magazine. “We seek to solve a much bigger challenge, and that’s the relationship that the agent has with the customer in a live interaction.”
Besides chatbots, many customer service or contact centre applications have been introducing AI as a way to more easily find and retrieve account histories and other information. That can be helpful in that customers don’t have to repeat themselves and agents can show they recognize them, but Namie likened it to a kind of search mechanism.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said of pre-written or scripted content. “Surfacing a knowledge-based article is fine, but there’s no learning there (on the part of the agent).”
Instead, ASAPP customers use its technology to study what its agents say or do that contribute to their most desired outcomes, whether it’s lower call handling time or increases in customer satisfaction (CSAT). This means the return on investment will be more specific than what you might find with a one-size-fits-all kind of tool, Namie said.
“The ASAPP approach is to recognize that every company and the conversations they have with their customers is unique,” he said. “We prefer to train the models exclusively on that company’s actual data.”
ASAPP has already seen its platform offer real-time speech transcriptions that are 50 per cent better than those of other providers, Namie said. While training AI models takes time, organizations can typically see value — in areas such as improved agent productivity, for example — in less than two months, he said.
Service departments already do a lot of post-call analysis, but this usually means coaching is based on data that was collected weeks earlier. Instead, Namie said ASAPP can flag supervisors to know when a certain tactic or behaviour could lead to better results and coach an agent in real time.
“It takes more than words,” he explained. “You need to understand what was said and what was done. A transcript has to be paired with an understanding of the workflow the agent used — the systems they used, what they did. It’s both words and actions.”
ASAPP’s offering has been particularly relevant since more organizations have pivoted part or all of their contact centre to work-from-home mode amid the pandemic, Namie added. And while many organizations continue to deploy chatbots, he said the firm’s AI could assist there too.
“For too long the industry has been talking as if automation is binary: In other words, if it starts with a chatbot and then goes to the agent, then the automation has failed,” he said. “If it reaches an agent, we can still automate as much of that agent’s workload as possible.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.