Today’s interview is with David Lloyd, who is CEO of Intelliresponse, a leading provider of virtual agent technology solutions and knowledge base management software for enterprises. David joins me today to talk about some of the cool things they are doing with virtual agent technology, customer self-service and what stops enterprises from getting more from this channel.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Delivering first-class customer service – a law firm’s perspective – Interview with QuastelMidgen – and is number eighty nine in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.
Here are the highlights of my interview with David:
- IntelliResponse is a leading provider of virtual agent technology solutions and knowledge base management software for enterprises.
- Intelliresponse’s solution is focused on three core pillars: 1. engagement through a virtual agent, understanding the customer’s context and making a relevant offer of information or an additional product/service.
- Intelliresponse is a spin-out from Waterloo University in Canada.
- The founders started with trying to find a solution to solving student’s questions.
- Typically, universities can’t afford large scale customer service operations so rely on innovative solutions and technology to solve these problems.
- David is a sell-confessed ‘geek’ and was attracted to the company due to the elegance of their patents and how they had approached the problem they were trying to solve.
- David believes that just using virtual agent technology to help deliver self-service is merely ‘table stakes’ and what they are helping their customers do is help them manage the self-service journey of their end consumers.
- Intelliresponse’s agents ‘learn’ on an ongoing basis so customers gain from having an ever more intelligent solution.
- David believes that surveys and focus groups are very ‘last century’.
- Their solution also acts as a Voice of the Customer tool allowing their customers to capture 100% of all interactions, particularly through their Voices solution.
- Gartner noted about Intelliresponse that they are capturing the Voice of the Customer 100% of the time for every transaction and not 1/2% of the time via a survey or a focus group every six months or so.
- On how their technology learns, their ‘agents’ get trained in the nature of questions and what answers belong with what questions.
- They do this by understanding the ‘intent’ underpinning the question.
- This is very different from the natural search/language approach taken by many companies.
- They are building dynamic links between intent and answers.
- One great benefit they have is that they operate across industries and ‘own’ the insight and learnings that come from operating across many industries, firms, their customers and their questions.
- David uses the example of Kobo, the e-reader company, to illustrate this, where it took them only 19 days to launch their virtual agent solution. They are now in 12 different languages worldwide with Kobo. You can read more about the Kobo case study here.
- David also tells a story of another example where they helped the Canadian Olympic Committee build a virtual agent for the Committee website, in two languages, for the Beijing Olympics and they had to do that in 12 business days. This didn’t require a big team (3 people) to deliver this either.
- Implementing this type of technology, given the effort required and the ongoing pay off, would seem to be a ‘no-brainer’. However, David’s view of one of the main things that stops many organisations from implementing this type of technology is that many of them are over-whelmed.
- Intelliresponse believes that today’s modern executive is drowning in data and we don’t need more data. We need to fundamentally act on the data that we already have.
- Many companies have a huge amount of very detailed information about all of their customers. But. when was the last time that you got a truly targeted and meaningful offer from that company?
- David believes that less than 1% of all data collected by forms is acted on.
- Executives need to take a step back and ask if their engagement strategy is working and how they can bring together the engagement, understanding and action that is required to build relevance with their customers.
- Companies don’t want to provide service channels and consumers don’t want to use them.
- David doesn’t believe that customers use self-service out of frustration with other customer service channels. He believes that customers, fundamentally, do want to self-service as they want service whenever and wherever they are.
- This conflicts with some data about customer channel preferences but David thinks that expectations are changing and will continue to change.
- Customers still prefer live channels when they get a rapid and consistent experience.
- David quotes a comprehensive HBR study that showed that 57% of all customers that ended up using a live channel (ie. the phone) started off on the company’s website and therein lies the problem: they didn’t find what they were looking for. In systems thinking terms, this would be called ‘failure demand’.
- Many companies, particularly in the digital environment, fail in the last ‘mile’ of customer service.
- When thinking about your customer experience and customer journey, for each stage ask whether your approach supports customer success and low-effort? If it doesn’t, fix that first.
- Fix the channels that are most likely to be used by the consumer first.
- Intelliresponse’s ambition is to answer half a billion questions by 2018.
- Drop David a note and ask about their Forrester assessment either via info at intelliresponse dot com or via his own email: david.lloyd at intelliresponse dot com
About David (taken from his Intelliresponse bio)
As CEO of IntelliResponse, David is responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction, overseeing operations and driving new growth. Before assuming this role, David was CTO & VP Client Services for IntelliResponse where he led the expansion of the product into analytics, social and mobile markets as well as the transformation of their analytics towards customer intelligence.
David was CTO/CIO with Dexit Inc. brought on to transform the current solution from proprietary technologies while making it available as a set of open services. Prior to Dexit, David worked with Carlson Marketing Group (CMG), as Senior Director, Technology Services in the US where he was responsible for overall technology strategy for the services and product assets that enable their many client gift card, loyalty and channel solutions. Mr. Lloyd joined CMG in 2001, after the successful acquisition of SalesDriver where he was VP Technology, leading this organization’s development and support of their SaaS based solution that supported thousands of client programs in a single configurable white-label solution model.
David has worked for top five consultancies as well as other start-ups in the area of online technology and strategy. His earlier studies were focused in computer science before completing his MBA from Queens.
You can drop David a note and ask about their Forrester assessment either via info at intelliresponse dot com or via his own email: david.lloyd at intelliresponse dot com. Furthermore, check out Intelliresponses case studies, find them on Twitter @IntelliResponse and you can find David on Twitter too @1RA.