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UJET Executive Interview

Anand Janefalkar, CEO, UJET

CrmXchange’s Sheri Greenhaus, recently reached out to UJET for a discussion on their latest news, solutions, and the current contact center environment. Below are responses from Anand Janefalkar, CEO, UJET, regarding their approach to improving contact center operations.  

In what direction do you think contact centers are heading?

Many companies are starting to think about digitization, but they are looking at it in pieces, moving portions of their applications to the cloud. We are trying to show people how to look at newer technologies that are designed from the ground up without the legacy baggage. 

The approach we take is user experience and convenience led. 

Email plus voice does not constitute true omnichannel CX for the modern consumer. Modern, multimodal omnichannel allows people to communicate with customers and agents the same way they communicate with friends and family.

Our core thesis for modernizing contact centers and the customer experience is based on two humans interacting visually and contextually through smartphones and other computer-like devices.

Having been in the contact center industry for over 30 years, I'm finding that for many companies, customer experience is actually getting worse.  Some are using COVID-19 as an excuse. What are you seeing?

We actually see most companies truly focusing on making customers happy. 

What differs is whether they’re doing so proactively, because it’s in their culture and makes good financial sense, or reactively, because they have neglected the customer experience and the impact of customer churn on the business is forcing them to become more customer-centric.

Since COVID hit early last year, we’ve seen business leaders - particularly those with premises-based solutions - accelerate their digital transformation efforts and investments as the requirements for business continuity quickly moved from theoretical to mission-critical. 

Of course we did see certain companies and sectors scaling back or delaying investments because of the market impacts of the virus. But overall, most seem to agree that the adaptations we all made in response to the pandemic simply accelerated inevitable advancements in infrastructure, support, and CX that will see resume investment as things move towards the new normal in 2021 and beyond.   

With digital transformation, what are some of the lessons learned that you can share, as well as what companies should not do? 

In terms of best practices, we feel very fortunate that we haven't had to change our vision or our outlook on how people would want to communicate with companies. Where we are seeing a change is in the admin and supervisor experience and many of our product releases are addressing these journeys. Their life has changed.

Admins and supervisors no longer have the luxury of walking the floor to see what agents are doing and what they are connected to. In some sense, this is accelerating adoption of cloud native technologies.

For example: Tens of thousands of BPO agents immediately moved to work from home, many of whom are experiencing network issues in geographic regions where there is still intermittent internet service. So rather than looking at agent metrics like AHT from the on-prem contact center, they are more focused now on calls being dropped or not getting connected.

We have an algorithm that after identifying agents with the right skills, uses what we call advanced scaling. Through segmentation filters we then select 2 or 3 of the identified agents to be connected to this call or chat. The last metric we look at the very end of connecting that conversation, is the bandwidth. 

This architectural design has helped our customers tremendously. Out of the choice of the 2 or 3 agents, there may be 1 agent that is the best because they were idle for the longest - but they have really poor bandwidth. That would make for a bad quality of service call, so we will put them in skipped state.  

The admin has the capability to identify if an agent is in a multiple skipped state and they will be put into unresponsive mode, then notifications are sent to the supervisors and agents.

This is just one example. We have devised many of these types of algorithms to be brought up to visibility for admin, director, and contact center supervisors. This enables them to better manage performance and availability for remote agents, so we’ll continue working with customers on their admin dashboards, to provide deeper insights into how these issues impact the quality of service, calls, chats, agents, or routing. 

I receive many emails discussing AI. For organizations just starting with AI or digital transformation, is ‘simple’ the best way to start – then start to build more complicated applications?

I think that's a good way to look at it. 

If a company is just starting with 10 agents, the number 1 priority is making support an integral part of the product and platform – this will set the tone. If support is an afterthought, you're never going to be able to transform that mind set no matter how big you grow.

For companies that are transforming and have been using some legacy technology, it’s best for them to select a platform and a point of view on how support and staffing and channel steering can be architected in the following manner:  Let the urgency and complexity of the issue dictate the channel experience and not the other way around.

Don’t throw a chatbot at something just because you bought a chatbot.

You need to have a platform that has the full coverage of the entire customer journey from the point of time that the customer makes a selection for a query or a support issue - all the way to through to the right channel and algorithms.

Companies looking at digital need to look at comprehensive platforms that unify the customer data, channels, and routing, rather than just adding digital over the top of what they already have. Your customer journey must be viewed and orchestrated holistically.

For companies that are starting their digital transformation, who from the organizations need to be involved so they are not missing a crucial piece?

We highly recommend that you look at support teams.  It’s not just product and IT. You need the individuals who understand the real customer pain points.

You need to include the people that are in charge of that experience (how the customer interacts with an app for example) in the decision making.  Otherwise one team may make changes for a certain set of user behaviors but if something goes wrong it is the support and IT teams that have to deal with issues.

To preemptively address issues rather than firefight, you need a single source of truth to enable intelligent, holistic journey orchestration.  For our customers, that’s our real-time dashboards. A lot of it will be the activity logs that we put into the case management or CRM system. By unifying the customer data in these systems, you can eliminate ambiguity on the timing of events and fires happening in real time. 

Today’s customers are unforgiving. They want instant gratification. They want instant support. If you can solve their problems, they'll be so much more loyal and they will want to do business with you.  So we’re huge believers in real-time. All changes on your platform need to be instant. 

Before someone purchases your platform, does someone from your team sit down and review everything with the company?

Every single time.  These elements are part of our initial discovery calls before customers even sign on with us.  We need to really understand what is motivating the change and what you need to see accomplished.  

Automation and Digital Transformation have shown to be successful in the enterprise, but only if it’s done right. 

Many of our solution consultants are actually former customers. I think right now we have over 8 or 9 people in our team that were former customers. The experience they bring as practitioners enables us to take a unique approach rather than having the same age-old conversation about the number of seats and minutes.

Do you find that sometimes companies will come to you with a misconception of what AI can do?

I don’t think people have a misconception of what it is in general. 

AI is real. AI plus Intelligent Automation is the recipe for success and we are very, very strong believers in that.  Our passion is for reducing the cognitive distance between the agent and the issue.

I think that’s how people are looking at it when they come to us. When they talk about AI, it is basically an aggregation of a lot of different things that they wanted. They want to automate the agent to make their life easier - to arm them with information. 

For the companies you’re working with, what are the top metrics and have they changed this year?

I wouldn't say it has changed from previous years with the exception of the remote piece. 

AHT is still important. Before, the thought was more ‘Let’s reduce AHT’ which was achieved by the customer resolving their own issue or forcing customers to call back multiple times. Now we’re looking to see if reducing AHT is actually solving the issue and we tie metrics directly together. 

It’s the opportunity to gauge if reducing AHT meant throwing customers to an agent with multiples chats. This does not really solve the issue. Bots may deflect some calls, but it could be those same people who end up calling back and call back more frustrated. Looking at metrics together gets to the source of the issue.

Security is also an important issue. Can you talk a bit about UJET’s approach to provide security? 

We launched with optimal security; the only company that did that. Security and privacy are the cornerstones from the very inception of the company. We had SoC2, and HIPAA, in under 29 months of existence. Companies we talk to feel extremely comfortable when they look at our certifications and compliances without exceptions. 

We empower customers to manage their own data and where it is stored.  For example, this allows them to make sure that recordings are on platforms that are already certified.  

Is there anything we haven't touched on that you would like to address?

With the mobile journey, it’s important to look at several things: how people are using the app, how they are navigating through a web page, where they clicked, and how they attempted to self-serve. I think these insights are significantly underrated and need to be considered with more importance.

Our diagnostic package, which is a unique piece of our platform, gives you insight into the customer journey and understanding into what lead to the customer frustration point. This helps to alleviate a lot of the issues. Our diagnostic package goes beyond personalization, and purchase suggestions, to predict likely issues - and the resolution - before they buy.

Would you say this is more of a proactive approach?

This would be a holistic view. There are several different ways that you can do it. First, you can put together logic, and you can do this in less than 5 minutes.

For example, we know that a person looked at a web page for a certain amount of time, has come back twice, and has a particular keyword in the URL that suggests they are having a specific issue. This can trigger a conversation with our virtual agent, then a hand off to a human agent, or vice versa.

Additionally, while the customer is logged in on the journey, and they went through these 3 different steps, and they are hitting an error - you can proactively take that information set, within the bounds of the secure website app, and render it on top of the agent screen through a secure packet. The agent then sees what has happened and can avoid making the customer start over and go through everything a second time. 

From the start, we took an extremely bold and holistic approach. It takes time to build something this complicated and complex, which is a global cloud, smartphone-era, customer-centric platform, with unparalleled security and elasticity as cornerstones.

The platform has not only been proven with the test of time, but also the test of our vision as we continue to see rapid adoption and growth - particularly from within our existing customer base, as the CX advantages they’re gaining fuel their growth.