[TechSparks 2020] How AI-enabled customer service is becoming more humane

Bengaluru-based conversational AI company Gnani.ai’s Co-founder and CEO Ganesh Gopalan says bots are becoming more and more ‘humanoid’.
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A few years ago, we saw the introduction of automation in the customer service space in the form of interactive voice response (IVR) systems. And now, we have conversational artificial intelligence (AI), which takes automation to a whole new level.

Today, we have bots with integrated automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, and deep learning capabilities that can converse with customers in multiple languages. 

At YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks, we caught up with Bengaluru-based conversational artificial intelligence company Gnani.ai’s Co-founder and CEO Ganesh Gopalan to understand what’s driving the shift to conversational AI in the customer service space today.

According to Ganesh, none of the stakeholders — customers, enterprises or customer care executives — are happy with the way traditional customer service has existed, making the shift from manual customer service to AI imminent.  

He explained, “Today, nobody's really happy with customer service. If you take employees, I suppose it's not a great profession to be in; if you take end customers, they don't like these long wait times, they don't like the quality of customer service, they are always complaining about the training; enterprises are always complaining about the efficiency or the huge cost of customer service and keep saying, ‘Can I just take this customer service away?’” 

Gnani.ai Co-founder and CEO Ganesh Gopalan at TechSparks 2020

“For a long time, people wanted to solve it and the technology is now in place. The advancements of speech and natural language processing have made automated customer services a reality. This is why it's the right time for enterprises to get into automated bots, instead of manual customer service.”

But what about empathy, the key aspect of customer service ? Can AI be made to act humane

According to Ganesh, 70 percent of the inquiries a typical contact centre solution receives are routine, and can easily be handled by automated bots. “There are about 30 or 25 percent inquiries that involve persuasion and a bunch of other things. That’s where you have to involve the persona of the bot,” Ganesh said.

For instance, Gnani.ai works with collection bots for various fintech companies and in the early days of the lockdown, the persona of the bot was that it should be kind, caring and ask about the health of the family etc.

“And just as an offhand thing. You know, if you are interested in paying, you can do this using this thing, that's what the bot would say. It would answer questions that people had about the moratoriums, the impacts, and all. It would be more informational but slowly kind of pushing into the collection bit,” he said.

With collection being a critical aspect for fintech companies, the bot has evolved quite a bit, he added. With the focus being on how to collect better, the persona of the bot too has changed a lot, according to Ganesh. 

“So when I say persona it involves a bunch of different things like what kind of accents do they use? Do they use a male or a female voice? Is the bot going to speak as a person in his 40s or a woman in her 30s? [It's] a bunch of these things but it's also a lot more than that; it's also more on what kind of words to use. 

“Do you really push or you're softer and kinder? So there's obviously a whole lot of things that we get into when we work with customers, and it's a great phase where we are making our bots more and more humanoid and responsive to customers,” Ganesh said.

For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website.


TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020. 

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta