With patents in Speech Recognition Technologies, Umesh and his teams were ready for the hyper-growth Uniphore experienced over the past 18 months as the world’s consumerism moved to online, requiring comprehensive digital customer support.
M.R. Rangaswami: You have been running Uniphore for over 13 years and raised $140M a few months ago – what has happened in the last 18 months that moved the company into hyper growth mode?
Umesh Sachdev: During the last 18 months the customer experience market underwent a significant transformation. People flooded contact centers with changes and cancellation of travel, arranged healthcare appointments, interacted with insurance companies, and transitioned to shopping for everyday items online. Engagements like these for both large and small brands made the contact center one of the most important assets for their customer experience.
Uniphore’s mission is to ensure that every voice is heard and understood. There are simply too many calls, too few agents, and too little technological innovation for contact centers to scale quickly and maintain high quality customer service. Having built a platform that combines AI, natural language processing (NLP) and automation, we set out to change that. Additionally, with video rising to be on of the most significant forms of communication during the pandemic, we recognized the potential for rapid innovation around video for business and consumer markets and the trend that video has become the new norm that is here to stay.
Video provides even greater capabilities to effectively communicate via the non-verbal cues that we all have come to understand — such as an eye roll, a wink, or a nod – which often convey a deeper level of meaning than just using words can. Early this year we acquired Emotion Research Labs to bring emotion-based AI technology to analyze emotions and engagement levels in real time over video-based interactions.
As the only company to harness voice and video AI technology, Uniphore’s comprehensive product portfolio represents a dramatic shift in how businesses approach customer service.
M.R. Your mission is to enhance and improve conversations with AI and automation technologies. How can machines drive better conversations?
Umesh: AI, NLP, and automation technology are critical to improving customer experience. Uniphore increases the speed of customer interactions while improving the quality of those interactions by better equipping agents in the moment with real-time coaching and automation to tackle complex issues with empathy. This way, the caller doesn’t simply talk to a robot or sit on hold for minutes and sometimes hours, and agents don’t get stressed spending valuable minutes looking up information. Instead, the focus is on improving customer experience with each interaction.
Our research team has spent years analyzing and better understanding conversations in over 100 languages and dialects, resulting in better customer experiences. For example: one of our customers is a Fortune 50 provider of mortgage services. They experienced a huge rise in calls coming into their service centers during the beginning of the pandemic. Using our advanced AI and automation technology, they utilized the tools and techniques to gather key data and better understand, in real time, the top reasons for the calls, how agents were responding, the sentiment of those callers, etc. They then took this data, trained their live agents, developed self-help information for posting on their website and proactively communicated information to their customers. The outcome was a significant drop in contact center engagements (up to 45%), which cut down on overtime (saving money), drove efficiency in handling other calls (saving time) and resulted in happier customers. This is the power of effective communication with a focus on CX.
M.R.: You founded the company when you were in your 20’s – if you could go back and tell yourself something at that age, what would it be?
Umesh: I would like to go back and tell my younger self to press forward and not stress about so many things. When you see an opportunity in the market and the stars align, you need to seize the opportunity with everything you have. Everyone understands that starting a business requires unwavering dedication and commitment, but there’s more to it than that. You also have to know when to go all in on a project or a decision.
I would also tell myself that in just a few more years, I would be living in the U.S. as the head of a global 400+ employee business that is going to cross the $100M revenue mark. I’m not sure I would have believed myself at the time!