While some people build conspiracy theories about the way artificial intelligence will conquer the human world, others use AI to their own advantage. Today’s interview contains a lot of valuable insights concerning the role of artificial intelligence in customer service, ways to improve the customer experience via the usage of AI, and other captivating thoughts Can Ozdoruk, the Vice President of Marketing at Netomi has favorably shared with us.
So, get ready for a fascinating journey into the world of artificial intelligence and customer experience!
Thoughts on artificial intelligence in customer service
Benefits of using AI in customer service
Q: Netomi is the first continuously improving AI for customer service platforms. What are the benefits of using AI when working with a customer service platform?
Customer service is now critically important for companies to develop long-term, profitable relationships with customers. In fact, one instance of subpar customer service is enough to make 61% of people switch brands.
And customers today expect more: effortless, immediate, and convenient resolutions. Without AI, it's difficult to provide the support that customers expect across an increasing number of channels. Netomi’s customer service AI can help companies immediately resolve, within seconds, the high-volume, repeatable tickets. This frees up human agents to focus on complex, high-touch issues, eventually leading to reduced resolution time and increased customer satisfaction.
One instance of subpar customer service is enough to make 61% of people switch brands.
AI vs. human beings
Q: Do you think that one day AI will be able to absolutely replace human beings in customer service platforms?
AI should never fully replace human agents but rather augment their work. There are some situations and customer issues that will always require a human to provide the best outcome. These situations are overly complex, require creative problem solving or empathy.
At Netomi, we strongly believe that we should not try to train AI to have “synthetic empathy” and always strive to provide the best user experience. What AI should be used for in customer service is to alleviate the mundane work from live agents - resolving the monotonous, high-volume issues that lead to agent burnout. This includes things like order and refund status for eCommerce companies, baggage policies and upgrades for airlines, or troubleshooting technical issues for streaming and gaming companies. AI can also act as the first line of defense to gather information from a customer or from back-end business systems to help agents respond quicker to tickets.
AI should never fully replace human agents but rather augment their work.
Working at Netomi
Excitements, challenges, achievements, and failures
Q: While working at Netomi, what are the most exciting and the most challenging aspects of your job.
The most exciting thing about working at Netomi is seeing the impact that we’re having on the metrics that matter most to our customers. We have the highest accuracy AI and have reached 87% automation for our clients. It’s exciting to learn about how our AI is increasing CSAT by 24% for clients and how agents are able to take on more challenging and rewarding work while working alongside our AI.
The challenging aspect we saw in 2020 was such an increased demand in our technology given the strain that COVID-19 put on support teams across industries. As the marketing team leader, I need to keep our inbound and outbound activities laser-focused on our core target market - even as exciting new opportunities arise.
Q: Name one thing that you consider to be the biggest achievement and one thing that you regard as the biggest failure of Netomi in 2020.
The most significant achievement for Netomi this year is the incredible growth in terms of new clients and new industries, even while we were all dispersed around the world. In addition, we’ve partnered with leading Customer Experience companies. We’ve made some incredible new hires and industry-first breakthroughs on the product. 2020 was a phenomenal year for Netomi.
The only thing we would have loved to change is an in-person collaboration with our team. We look forward to hopefully doing that soon!
Vision and values
Q: What one word best sums up Netomi’s vision?
Our vision in one word: collaborative. We believe that AI needs to collaborate with humans, not replace them. Our team collaborates amongst each other, with our partners, and with our customers to build the best product that delivers the best experience. We collaborate with the brightest minds in AI, many of whom are investors, to push the industry forward and discover what’s possible with customer service AI. To grow, we must collaborate.
To grow, we must collaborate.
Q: What are the core values that drive people who work at Netomi?
Every person who works at Netomi is passionate about the work they do as individuals, the product we’ve built, and making our customers successful. This passion comes through every department - and it’s infectious.
Q: Netomi has worked with various companies, like Freshly, Tommy Hilfiger, Westjet, etc. What is the most memorable case (in terms of results, for example) you’ve experienced so far?
As you mention, we’re so happy to help leading brands worldwide and create bottom-line results for them. One example would be WestJet. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic in North America, airlines including WestJet saw huge spikes in customer service volume as flights were being canceled, travel policies and restrictions evolved daily, and government guidelines changed. WestJet’s Netomi-powered virtual agent seamlessly scaled to manage a 45-fold increase in traffic. Capable of answering hundreds of the most frequently asked questions, Juliet deflected tens of thousands of calls from human agents. Seeing this incredible impact AI had on the customer and agent experience during such difficult times was really rewarding.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic
Q: Is the COVID-19 pandemic a threat or an opportunity for your Netomi?
For many different reasons, the pandemic saw customer service teams on the front lines managing unprecedented volume out of new remote work environments. Airlines, hotels, concerts, and events, of course, saw massive requests for cancellations and refunds.
On the other hand, eLearning, food and meal delivery, virtual health, streaming and gaming, and eCommerce saw an influx of new customers. And many of these customers were interacting with a company for the first time. Providing a good customer experience was how these companies turn short-term demand into a long-term boon. With more customers comes more customer service tickets. To manage this increased volume, companies need AI more than ever to keep resolution time down, especially for simple queries. As we were able to change our focus to the new emerging industries in Spring, our year-end revenue more than tripled compared to 2019.
How to improve customer service: three pieces of advice
Q: As your webpage suggests, customer service is the bridge between brand promise and brand experience. Can you elaborate on this? What are the top three pieces of advice for a company to improve customer service?
Customer service is so crucial for companies to build long-term loyalty with customers. In fact, the customer experience (CX) is on par with quality and price to compete. Three ways that companies can improve customer service include:
- Be available where your customers are. People expect brands to provide support on their channel of choice - whether it’s email, chat, social, SMS, and even voice platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant. Adopting AI is the only way to scale across all of these channels and provide 24/7 support.
- Adopt the right AI. Not all AI and chatbots are the same. Frustrating bots that don’t understand the customer and get easily confused do more damage to the CX than not having a bot at all. Make sure that the AI you are adopting to interact with your customers is highly accurate, understands sentiment and slang, and can act on data from back-end systems to be able to provide a positive, personalized customer experience.
- Have the right division of labor between humans and AI. It’s important to use AI for the right reasons. Automate only the highly-repeatable use cases, and use AI to augment the work of human agents. AI is not meant to replace human customer service agents but remove the mundane work from their cone of responsibility.
Be available where your customers are. Adopt the right AI. Have the right division of labor between humans and AI.
A takeaway message: the only thing one might regret is not trying
Q: What is your favorite motivational quote and why?
“I knew that if I failed, I wouldn't regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying." - Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of Amazon.
I like it because it resonates with my curiosity, entrepreneurship, and vision for a better world.
We have other fascinating interviews on our blog
Thought-provoking. Useful. Witty.