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"Conversations are not what we think they are... a conversation goes deeper, and is more robust than simple information... and trust is the fuel of healthy conversations."– Judith Glaser, organizational anthropologist.
Researchers believe quality conversations are the 'golden threads' that bind people together, setting a great culture's foundation. In today's world, the rise of AI, IoT, and other advanced technologies has led to the emergence of numerous channels for conversations in both voice and text format. Following the coattails of modern communication shifting to messaging apps, businesses across industries strive to create personalized conversations to breed brand advocacy and improve the bottom line. Such a tectonic shift in customer engagement has paved the way for conversational commerce (c-commerce.)
But benefiting from c-commerce is easier said than done. The reason: c-commerce currently exists behind barbed wires. To elaborate, brands engage their prospective customers through one-way content publishing and leave them in the lurch without any room for dialog. The need of the hour is to allow back-and-forth conversations to happen on the customer’s preferred schedule. Close to 40 percent of customers abandon a call within the first minute of waiting, and this percentage grows exponentially as wait time increases. Contact centers have turned into a breeding ground of frustration as customers often find themselves mired in the endless loop of "Press 1, Press 2" messages. The situation is grimmer for contact center agents who often face angry customers day in and day out.
"LivePerson turns call center agents, most of whom come from a non-technical background, into the “engineers” behind sophisticated chatbots"
At this crucial juncture, LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN) is leading today's businesses into the world of c-commerce. Founded by Robert LoCascio, who invented web-based live chat for brands in 1995 to enable seamless communication between consumers and their favorite businesses, LivePerson knows what it takes to fill the communication gap. Today, the company helps businesses initiate and answer AI-powered conversations with customers asynchronously (meaning customers aren’t tied to the brand’s timeline) through various channels, including SMS, messaging apps, websites, and apps.
Customers can initiate a conversation with a brand and return to it on their own time frame from wherever they are, even if they drop the conversation for a bit they can pick it up later, just like people do with family and friends. The conversation history persists for both brands and customers, akin to a typical conversation between two people on any messaging app.
In today's complex world of sales, marketing, and customer care, contact centers are constantly under pressure to meet KPIs such as call handling time, staffing needs, improved sales conversion rates, cost per call, cross-selling, revenue per call, after-call work time, and more. Each of these factors represents not just a mere number, but small hinges that can swing big doors.
LivePerson's intelligent Conversational AI allow brands to achieve all this at scale. The company's AI platform is built on over twenty years of conversation data and includes a diverse set of sophisticated tools, including Natural Language Understanding, advanced metrics/analysis, and bot-building features. Unlike traditional chatbots, LivePerson's Conversational AI solutions share a significant part of the cognitive load to design, manage, and optimize automated conversations, which were previously orchestrated almost entirely by humans. The platform consolidates all of a brand's communication channels and back-end operations onto one, easy-to-use cloud-based platform.
LivePerson has a world-class conversation data set and deep Conversational AI expertise, meaning our NLU is on par with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft when it comes to creating experiences for customers
"LivePerson has a world-class conversation data set and deep Conversational AI expertise, meaning our NLU is on par with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft when it comes to creating experiences for customers. We’ve built tremendous intellectual capital in the space, including many patents and a team of world-class data science and engineering talent," says Robert LoCascio, Founder and CEO of LivePerson. The company's data set is one of the largest in the customer engagement domain, and LivePerson uses its vast data, talent, and visionary approach to strategically think about the challenges between a brand and its consumers. "From new sales and marketing use cases that generate revenue to the customer care transformations we’re traditionally best known for, we continue to expand the possibilities for brands using our Conversational Cloud," states Robert.
Leaving a Lasting Impression through Instant Bots and Optimized Conversations
Reports suggest that close to 70 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned. The reasons include lack of personalization, choice, and the inability to learn the customer's actual intent. LivePerson's commitment to brand-customer interaction and deep domain expertise has allowed the company to continually innovate and improve its platform.
The company's Intent Manager is a real-time intent recognition and classification engine that analyzes consumers' purposes at every point in the conversation. Therefore, contact centers can instantly and automatically learn what customers want and take the appropriate action related to customer service, marketing, or sales. The tool routes conversations to the agent or bot best equipped to resolve them at high satisfaction levels. The decision-makers, be it an agent or a bot, can make critical decisions related to policies, processes, and products. LivePerson offers readymade intent models tailored for different industries, including telco, financial services, retail, airlines, and others.
Performance Optimizer is another LivePerson AI-powered tool, used to measure and manage the health of brands' conversational operations. In one self-service dashboard, Performance Optimizer allows brands to:
● measure critical KPIs for conversational experiences and provide actionable insights on performance improvement,
● easily track conversational performance against internal targets and industry benchmarks, and
● deliver robust executive reporting data with clear recommendations for improvement.
What's more, LivePerson turns call center agents, most of whom come from a non-technical background, into the “engineers” behind sophisticated chatbots. Agents can use LivePerson's Conversation Builder, the world's first all-in-one platform for building enterprise-scale chatbots, to turn themselves into AI-skilled powerhouses. The platform's easy-to-use interface features a guided assistant and a point-and-click UI, as well as user personas for access levels and interfaces. It also includes out-of-the-box integrations and prebuilt automations for a variety of verticals. All these functionalities allow frictionless building, testing, visualization, intent creation, and dialog creation. This tool is integrated into all the messaging platforms the company supports.
A case in point, within five months of implementing LivePerson's Conversation Builder, HSBC created a fully functional and optimized bot with 15 intents, promoted the first-ever Bot Manager, saw messaging become the channel of choice for frontline employees, and achieved CSAT at more than 90 percent week on week. Looking ahead, HSBC plans to roll out Conversation Builder to other countries, increase bot containment, and teach bots to handle the fulfilment of questions. HSBC's team that completed the Conversation Builder training said: "Working to build chatbots has been an incredibly challenging, yet positive experience for us. As a team, we have used LivePerson's innovative and user-friendly platform to give our customer the best possible journey. The results have been great and it's been fantastic to see customers giving us such positive feedback to a feature that was completely new to them on our app."
Likewise, Virgin Atlantic has transformed from a largely synchronous contact center heavy in voice, traditional chat, and email to one focused on messaging and conversational AI—with SMS and WhatsApp outperforming all other CSAT channels. The airliner's invitation to its customers to use SMS messaging made a positive impact on convenience, experience, and CSAT. The company is now focused on improved bot strategy, new channels, and growing messaging volume.
The Breakout Platform in the Era of the Pandemic
While LivePerson has been a head-turner over the years due to its increasing value in building bridges with the customers, it was 2020 that brought the company to the epicenter of the contact center world. As consumers were left adrift by closed business locations and excessive phone hold times, they turned to messaging to engage with brands, LivePerson witnessed a massive increase in volume on its conversational platform compared to the pre-COVID times. "Once social distancing and lockdowns went into effect, we started seeing massive volume increases. But perhaps even more importantly, volume isn’t going back down. As we’ve known all along, consumers who experience the convenience and personalization of conversational commerce will start to demand it from all of their favorite brands," points out Robert. To that end, brands need to shift to adopt messaging and automation to handle the surge in volume and improve agent performance. Stepping up to the occasion, LivePerson allows brands to manage high volumes of incoming service requests by introducing automation and providing agents with a consolidated platform they can use to serve customers from the comfort of their own homes. Companies such as HSBC, GM Financial, David's Bridal, Zurich Switzerland, and more used LivePerson's AI platform to launch new messaging channels to accelerate remote working and better customer experiences amid social distancing regulations. As COVID-19 also brought the need for a new way of measuring conversational experiences, LivePerson's Performance Optimizer helped businesses accurately assess their customer service efficiency and make real-time changes to improve the effectiveness.
Spreading Compassion through AI Revolution
Team LivePerson has customer care at its heart and aims to spread compassion for one and all using artificial intelligence. The team has set out to realize a world where people genuinely care for each other and built BELLA, a mobile banking application. BELLA is a community where every participant in the community can use their funds to make someone else's day through random acts of generosity. Every participant will have a Karma account through which they can pay it forward to surprise and delight other BELLA users, plus receive surprises of their own, like someone covering their coffee bill as a treat. Through BELLA's unique model of compassion and care, LivePerson has taken c-commerce to an altruistic level, marking a new era in what AI can do to make everyday experiences feel more human.