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Customer Service Summit Review


Presented By: CrmXchange

Delivering proactive, genuinely personalized service that consistently maintains context across channels… Using customer data, comprehensive knowledgebases and advanced machine learning to reduce call volume and drive seamless transitions between AI entities and human agents…Meeting customer expectations with more responsive social media service, messaging apps and chatbots...These are just a few of the issues examined in depth at the Customer Service Summit, a focused educational event held at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge in New York City November 16-17.  

Produced by the Incite Group, the Customer Service Summit brought together a roster of authoritative speakers from such businesses as: Alaska Airlines, Comcast, Estee Lauder, Hertz, Intuit, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Samsung, Wells Fargo, and more.

CRMXchange was on hand to talk with a number of visionary solution providers on the exhibit floor about some of the emerging applications, evolving trends and strategies that will be shaping the future of customer service.


Agent IQ offers an enterprise “hybrid platform” of AI-assisted interactions and real-time knowledge presentment for live agents that can take businesses beyond the rudimentary personalization of existing “Hello (First Name)” solution.  Once customers start interactive conversations with a company on a broad spectrum of channels, including webchat, email, Twitter, SMS, and Facebook Messenger, as well as iOS and Android apps, they will receive specifically cultivated information on their topics of interest.

 “We believe in optimizing service to make it more genuinely personal,” said Craig Davis, Founder and CEO of Agent IQ. “Our solution utilizes machine learning to teach agents based on the collected knowledge of actual conversations with customers. This enables them to provide responses that don’t sound like they are scripted or set up by a decision tree. It arms conversations with intelligent recommendations to assist with purchase decisions.  For example, if someone is inquiring about red blouses, they will receive targeted recommendations that references color nuances, size, and availability.”

Davis believes that customer care has largely been ignored by the tech world for years. “Superior AI solutions can be used to improve omnichannel conversations, not just at the departmental level but at the agent level. The intent is not to replace agents, but to take them away from mundane functions. This enables agents to become a true concierge for customers in critical moments and allows businesses to scale up without a linear increase in the cost of resources or diminishing the quality of the customer experience. Agent IQ focuses on the needs of each individual client and is able to build customization into the solution to meet specific requirements.  While Davis considers them to be 'vertical-agnostic,' their current strengths are in telco, online travel, consumer product goods, and ecommerce."


AnswerIQ “We like people to write,” said Pradeep Rathinam, CEO of AnswerIQ.  “When they engage via written communications, they express their problems more clearly.” The Seattle-based solution provider (formerly known as SmartAssist) offers an AI that employs a NLP (natural language processing) algorithm that understands questions and reliably gives agents the right answers. AnswerIQ enables companies to deliver both a quick response and personalized service by using advanced machine learning technology to learn from the organization’s own processes. “The solution reads from the historical past of successfully handled tickets, analyzing how the company prioritizes them, and who resolves them,” said Rathinam. “As it learns, the technology is then able to automatically route and classify tickets, providing quick and accurate response recommendations for agents, while automating common ticket responses.” AnswerIQ has the capability to identify patterns in agent responses to ensure incoming tickets rapidly get to the right team or agent. This frees the best agents from having to spend their valuable time on the process of triaging. “As soon as a ticket comes in, we can predict whether it’s a Tier 1, Tier 2, or billing issues, as well as gauge the sentiment of the person on the other end of the interaction,” said Rathinam. “We greatly expand the capabilities of an ACD.”

AnswerIQ claims that if a company receives more than 10,000 tickets or has more than 30 agents, it can reduce the cost per ticket by a minimum of 25% within six months. Rathinam believes the factor that differentiates the company from competitors is their unique ability to ensure that a business can answer the question correctly. “The solution can help a company understand every interaction:  it reflects the tone, message, empathy, and connection. As it learns based on history, it becomes aware of what the content gaps are and how to fill them. This self-learning enables us to provide the agent with fully curated information using the least number of key strokes.”


Conversocial has a history of innovation in social media, bringing broad experience to the table in transforming platform, processes, and people to enable companies to navigate the complexities of   delivering effective social customer care. The New York based international solution provider, which was a Platinum Sponsor of the Customer Service Summit, has been expanding its focus into social messaging applications. “Imagine just how powerful web chat would be if it wasn't tethered to the web,” said Joshua March, Founder and CEO of Conversocial. “Customers can initiate a conversation on a company’s website, then continue the dialog via Facebook Messenger. The asynchronous nature of messaging means it has workflow and KPIs that are very analogous to social customer care.”  Facebook has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users (over 20% of the earth’s population), making it a prime platform for messaging applications. Conversocial also provides service on Twitter DM, Instagram, and WhatsApp. While their service encompasses SMS as well, they don’t believe it gives users as many opportunities to integrate graphics and images.

“Messaging has emerged as the preferred way people want to communicate with businesses to solve issues...in text-based bites with phone notifications whenever a new message comes in,” said March. “In messaging interactions, the company has the advantage of always knowing who the customer is…once they’ve been authenticated on Messenger, it’s always clear who is reaching out.”

Messenger-based customer care can make customer relationships more effortless, less frustrating and give companies a distinct competitive advantage. March acknowledges that adaptation of messaging has been slow to date, attributing it to the difficulty in adding it into a continuous case management system.  “We’ve built a case management system that reports on the most pressing KPI metrics for most organizations, including response time, sentiment analysis, and resolution management,” he notes. “We’re bridging the gap between social media and mobile messaging to meet the needs of the contact center.”

March believes in the near future, messaging will be the dominant method of delivering customer service. He cites as evidence one client company that had been providing 6% of their service over social channels, but when they shifted to Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM, within two weeks, the percentage went up to 20% and climbing. He also believes interest in messaging will spike as the rollout of Apple Business Chat goes into high gear, with its capability to allow real-time scheduling and secure payments via Apple Pay making messaging more important in B-to-B and B-to-C use cases.


Digital Genius offers Human+AI Customer Service which brings practical applications of deep learning and AI to customer service operations. The solution analyzes incoming messages, predicts meta-data, routes cases, provides agents with accurate suggestions, and automates responses.

“It automates the repetitive part of the workflow in text-based communications,” said Titus Capilnean, Director of Marketing for Digital Genius. “Our mission is to surface the right information at the right time to the right agent. When an inquiry comes into the contact center, it is rapidly routed to the most appropriate person. He or she sees the question with an intelligent prompt from our AI and then chooses to either approve it, personalize it, or ignore it and make their own reply. In cases where the AI is confident about the answer, the response is fully automated. It frees up time for human agents to handle more cases and create genuine experiences for customers, across multiple channels, including live chat, email, social media and mobile messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, and WhatsApp.”

Digital Genius uses deep learning algorithms to train a neural network based on a company’s own customer service conversations. It learns from every interaction what type of sentiment and what types of triggers are involved. The AI has the capability to turn words into sets of numbers, enabling it to extract meaning and context, as well as the nuances. These numerical formulas can also be used to create templates in a variety of specific languages; word vectors that negate the need for translation services.  The company started several years ago as a chatbot builder but evolved into a broader arena focused on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Customer Service. “In 2016, we had two customers, KLM Airlines and Unilever, but now we’re up to 31 clients,” said Capilnean. The company has also grown from 25 employees to 60 in 2017.


Guru believes that too many organizations are still working with traditional knowledge management systems that live in a silo. “In today’s business environment, companies cannot afford to have people in customer-facing teams spending large parts of their day searching in multiple places for information and wondering if what they find is even accurate,” said Steve Mayernick, Head of Marketing for Guru. “Knowledge portals are not built for support, particularly on such channels as social media, live chat, and text. Product information is constantly changing and processes are being updated. Bringing the right knowledge direct to the agents in their workflow -- where and when they need it -- can decrease response time by as much as 60%, while also resulting in lower AHT and higher CSAT scores.”

Guru enables businesses to bring all their collective knowledge into one solution. They can then maintain this knowledge through the Guru web app, filtering by attribute or category. The solution also takes measures to ensure that knowledge remains current. “We built a verification workflow to automatically set a date for companies to be reminded that they need to update their knowledge,” said Mayernick. “Agents can then verify that information has been reviewed and brought up to date. This instills confidence since team members know they can rely on the trust status of every element of knowledge they’re disseminating.”

Guru incorporates analytics to allow its users to gain insight into how their knowledge base is performing. Leaders can see which knowledge is being used the most and by whom, as well as identify trends in high-volume searches. They can then fill gaps in their knowledge strategy by determining what searches aren’t producing results.

“With the rise of customer-facing teams in support, success, and sales, our mission is to make it easier for all these groups to access information. To support this effort, we built a bot that lives on the Slack team messaging and collaboration platform,” said Mayernick. “Making the right knowledge available to everyone who needs it enables businesses to deliver consistent value to their customers.”


KCenter USU is a German-based company that has been building knowledge bases since 1996 and is now gaining a foothold in the US market. They have expanded upon their knowledge management capabilities: producing chatbots, and self-service solutions.

“Customers want immediate responses to their questions 24/7, via every communication channel,” said Laura Williams, Sales Manager for KCenter USU. “In a study by Forrester Research, 72% of respondents said they prefer to look for solutions themselves, rather than reaching for the phone and calling Customer Service or sending emails. They can obtain information online, but conventional website FAQs are often static and outdated and are not tailored to the needs of the customer.”

KCenter USU offers Knowledge First, an intelligent Web self-service widget which guides people step by step through a company website and quickly and precisely provides the right information relating to all issues.  Whether it’s accessed on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, the Web Self-Service Knowledge First helps to proactively provide the specific information desired by the customer. It eases the customer service workload by reducing call volume, which reduces customer service and support costs.

“It’s easy to integrate into an existing system,” said Williams. “The web self-service solution has its own web interface that seamlessly moves like a slider over a company website to provide the same look and feel. The company website remains untouched, giving customer care teams the independence to respond quickly to additional customer requirements.”

Knowledge First can access content from KCenter’s Knowledge Center, an active central knowledge base that contains relevant information for all service channels. “Knowledge Center can make every service representative an expert,” said Williams. “First contact resolution rates (FCR) can be increased by as much as 40%, with a 50% increase in productivity and up to 80% reduction in agent training time.”


SmartAction is focused on the intelligent automation of customer service, offering a conversational AI platform for omnichannel self-service. “Customer effort is the key to brand loyalty,” said Charlie Schrier, Director of Product Marketing for SmartAction. “By implementing a customer experience strategy focused on minimizing effort with intelligent self-service, taking contact centers into every customer touchpoint and meeting their demands for self-service, companies can build lasting relationships that translate into doing more business with their customers.”

SmartAction uses proprietary speech recognition technology running on an AI “brain” to provide customer self-service. Their Omni-bot™ solution combines voice, text, and chatbot functions to provide intelligent contact center automation on every channel.  For voice channels, SmartAction make often frustrating IVRs more productive with 100% natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence. This allows companies to cut down on the number of complex but repetitive tasks that agents are now handling and give front-line performers more opportunity to add value to customer experiences.

“We approach the delivery of customer service via automation as an inverted triangle,” said Schrier. “At the top are simple tasks that can be handled by our chatbots or addressed via IVR. In the middle are more complex interactions, which are challenging but often process driven. Our technology can automate conversations businesses never thought possible, turning them into effortless self-service experiences. This includes everything from secure, PCI-compliant, inbound payment processing and common roadside assistance, to voice of the customer surveys, and also 3-factor patient authentication. The bottom tier are interactions that we know can only be handled by humans who can provide empathy, such as road service in hazardous situations or medical emergencies. We create business rules on when and how interactions are transferred to ensure seamless transfers between channels and from AI to humans.”

SmartAction was one of the companies included in the list of “Cool Vendors” in the “CRM Customer Service and Support” report by Gartner, Inc. Within the past year, they have added several new clients to their already impressive list including: Lincoln Financial Group, Luxottica, Gannett, and Electrolux.