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Everise to disrupt contact center and BPO industry with Microsoft’s AI

Editors note:

Everise recently announced their collaboration with Microsoft to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform disrupting the Contact Center and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Big Community was interested to get further information on their strategy and the importance of BPO and the contact center today.

They described the AI as an “omni-channel customer service solutions that will target voice, video and text interactions, and deliver an unprecedented intelligent, customer-centric experience by leveraging the power of AI. By adding advanced AI tools and chatbots to existing capabilities such as speech recognition, sentiment analysis, and image recognition, Everise seeks to set a higher standard for a more personalized customer experience.”

We spoke with Mr. Sudhir Agarwal, CEO of Everise and C3 to get a better view of how they are rolling out their AI with Microsoft.

Big Community : Can you share in more detail, about Malaysia’s BPO growth and what it means to the average person?

Mr Sudhir : On a global scale, the BPO market is predicted to hit USD$262.2 billion by 2022, with the Asia Pacific region receiving 8.5%, a major share of the growth[1]. Asian nations including Malaysia and Vietnam are developing their own BPO industries, with Malaysia’s BPO market now expected to reach US$1.4 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 7.9%, due to an increase in demand for customer care and high-end analytics solutions from Malaysian enterprises. Human resources together with the finance and accounting sectors made up 75% of the total BPO market in 2016, followed by the customer care sector at 14% and the procurement sector at 9%[2].

A combination of favourable government policies, good infrastructure and lower cost has allowed Malaysia to become one of the world’s leading BPO centres, meeting increasingly complex demands for multi-lingual customer care services. As such, the nation’s BPO firms ought to leverage smart technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), as a cost-effective method to retain customers. With ever-rising customer demands and clients’ expectations with regards to customer service – from speed and cost efficiencies to quality of service and care, companies ought to embrace technology to augment their employees’ skillset. That is why I believe the next stage in the industry is the integration of AI, as it provides a level of analytics that has yet to be witnessed, enabling the transformation of customer service and further providing value added services.  This will then lead to an enhanced level of customer service quality and overall care.

Big Community: How does AI play a role in improving Malaysia’s BPO?

Mr Sudhir: Traditionally, a BPO employee will need to handle a significant amount of administrative work during the course of his or her day, usually after a call has just finished. Much of this is quite rule-based and repetitive, and takes up a lot of time. Additionally, consumers no longer engage with brands through phone alone, but through multiple channels from social media and WhatsApp to e-mail and text, yet many BPO centres are unable to properly handle all of these channels. The next time you call up your telecoms provider, the chances are they will not be able to access your e-mail you sent, or the Tweet your posted on their company brand page.

This is where technologies such as AI come in, as it is able to handle this unstructured data, and present it in a manageable and understandable manner for the service employee to then action on. It is also able to automate many of the administrative tasks done previously, enabling BPO employees to concentrate on higher value work such as handling customer requests.

In 2018, Everise partnered with Microsoft to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to disrupt the Contact Center and BPO industry through an omni-channel customer service solution that targets voice, video and text interactions, delivering an unprecedented intelligent, customer-centric experience by leveraging the power of AI. In the BPO industry, client portfolios can be a challenge that require a combination of digital tools that can address multiple business processes and services. BPO companies in Malaysia therefore need to provide a very high level of customer service and they need to do this consistently, efficiently and at reasonable cost.

AI allows a level of analysis that has yet to be observed in the BPO industry in Malaysia. Front-line agents will be able to better evaluate and act on customer sentiment at a much quicker rate than before, hence being able to deliver a heightened experience as less time is spent on routine and monotonous tasks such as documentation and administrative aspects and more time interacting with customers. Engagements through chat, e-mail and text will also improve with higher accuracy, resulting in better, faster customer service and overall care. AI also enables BPO entities to initiate and incorporate innovation in their business processes and for their customers, hence establishing a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing industry.

Big Community: Why is BPO important in order for countries to progress in this digital age?

Mr Sudhir: Moving from a “human resources” to a “human capital” mindset, is key for BPO companies’ new phase of growth by adopting digital technology, equipping employees with crucial digital skills and building capabilities among them[3]. Upon transitioning from being people-led to technology-led through increasing reliance on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Malaysia can develop a technology-enabled workforce.

With rapidly increasing market demand, BPO firms ought to leverage the various forms of technology such as cloud computing, social, big data and analytics and mobility technologies to transform their traditional business processes to automated processes, in turn evolving from being tactical cost saving service providers to achieving operational efficiencies. Everise is one such example as we leverage technology, with our recent partnership with Microsoft, aiming to make customer service more accessible, affordable and efficient. Investing in skilled resources aligned to the big data and analytics initiatives being the key market differentiator, will also enable Everise to stay competitive as enterprises will seek the company for assistance. 

Big Community: Can you share some use cases of how technology has augmented but not replaced the human workforce?

Mr Sudhir: Not only will technology augment BPO employees but it will bring about a demand for higher-value jobs, moving the sector and its millions of employees up the value chain. Traditionally, BPO firms focus more on using human manpower on an offshore basis, to carry out tasks by utilising the same processes and systems that were previously used. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology will therefore enable BPO employees to do much more, at a faster and better level of service and quality, allowing staff to concentrate on customer engagement, resulting in a higher level of customer service.  Today, we handle so many things through our phone, including communicating with companies and brands and what Everise seeks to do through its partnership with Microsoft is make that possible, yet ensure that if a customer ever wants to speak to a human customer service representative, they will be available.

With an increase in demand and expectations, BPO firms in Malaysia can look into upskilling their employees. For example, taking up the study of analytics and data science or machine learning and data mining, will be an advantage in the future. Coupled with the influx of a large amount of diverse information, skills-based positions like data scientists, designers and digital marketing experts are here to stay and expected to be in high demand[4]. In need of people with the necessary skills for the new digital economy, ASEAN nations such as Malaysia, face a need to ensure that employees are trained in these areas, to be able to stay relevant and ahead of the competition[5].

Big Community: What are Everise’s plans for Malaysia with this new AI platform?

Mr Sudhir: Through our partnership with Microsoft, Everise have created a series of Artificial Intelligence (AI) centres for C3 Labs. Through these Labs we will be able to tailor AI solutions for our clients that suit their individual needs. We have opened one in Malaysia, Globee, and will be seeking to service both major multinational corporations, north Asian corporations and local Malaysian firms who are looking for high-quality customer service support. We provide omni-channel and multi-lingual business service support from clients and we see Malaysia and a growth market.