LivePerson: AI- powered Conversational Commerce

Alex Spinelli, Global CTO Imagine sitting at the ballpark and being able to order a beer directly to your seat just by sending a text message. No having to wait in line and potentially miss crucial moments of the game. And imagine that you manage refreshment sales at the park and are able to see what customers are asking for in real-time. With this insight, you can make adjustments to your inventory before the next game to meet customer demand. And now imagine that this is all powered by AI.

For visitors and managers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA, this became a reality this summer. A first of its kind at a sports venue, the project was made possible with technology from New York-based LivePerson, which provides brand-to-consumer conversational experiences for over 18,000 businesses. Through its AI-enabled conversational platform, LiveEngage, LivePerson transforms how consumers connect with brands. “The capabilities that we deliver are a harmonious blend between AI and human intelligence that enable our clients to cover their full customer journey from discovery through considerations, transactions, and then re-engagement,” states Alex Spinelli, the global CTO of LivePerson.

Through LiveEngage, brands can connect with their customers through popular messaging platforms like SMS, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google rich business messaging as well as through Alexa and Google Home. These services significantly expand the volume of potential customer interactions for brands, scale that’s only possible with AI and automation. In fact, LivePerson currently sees more than half of all messaging conversations being handled by bots, a number that’s growing. “Conversational commerce doesn’t work at scale if it’s not connected to business operations and a great customer experience,” continues Spinelli.

LiveEngage enables brands to engage with customers through messaging across the whole journey from sales and marketing to care. The platform empowers businesses to get the most out of their existing digital assets by engaging with customers based on a real-time understanding of their needs intelligently. For e-commerce, marketing, and contact center executives, as well as small business owner/operators, this produces compelling and measurable results. “They can capture more qualified leads or convert anonymous website visitors into customers more quickly. By using the LivePerson platform, businesses can have an agile solution for streamlining the lead lifecycle,” adds Spinelli. “For us, it’s not about navigating FAQs or going through search experiences, but allowing clients to reach out to their customers through dialogue and conversations.”

As CIOs are being called upon to lead conversations across the enterprise on automation and AI, LivePerson has built a platform to allow CIOs to bring discipline to measuring AI spend as they would to other technology investments, providing a framework and tools to take advantage of automation across the enterprise. LivePerson thinks it is imperative that its conversational platform allows businesses to extract value from any bot integration, whether native automation built into LiveEngage, or by integrating any third-party NLP, like IBM Watson.
Implementing Digital Transformation at Scale

The LiveEngage platform facilitates capabilities that create an end-to-end experience or as Spinelli calls it, “the fabric of conversational commerce.” The connection can work according to the customer’s preference of device, operating system, or integration platform. LiveEngage has APIs that enable connectivity to consumer apps on the front-end, at the same time, it also hosts a framework for integrating and connecting to enterprise systems on the backend. “The conversation is only as good as what is accomplished through it. And to accomplish this, we enable clients to connect to CRM, scheduling systems, and product catalogs by pre-building all those fabrics,” says Spinelli. “This accounts for a highly flexible and configurable conversational experience for brands to interact with their consumers.”

Using 20+ years of conversational data, we can build AI to drive any kind of customer interaction

At the core of the system is an AI-based orchestration engine that looks for the consumer intent and find the best possible path to meet their needs. Spinelli adds, “For the consumers looking for order status, a bot can easily handle that inquiry, while more complex questions, like order upgrades or returns may be better handled by an agent for a richer conversation. The key for us is that we ensure that every element in the platform works in concert.” An example of where LiveEngage is a core element of an enterprise’s customer connection strategy is T-Mobile US. The LiveEngage platform connects a dedicated customer service team—the T-Mobile Team of Experts— to the different messaging platforms that customers prefer, providing the automation and operational capabilities necessary to run a customer care experience over messaging, at scale. It also provides an online workplace for the Team of Experts to message with the customers they support, where it shows agents the conversations a customer has had with T-Mobile across the different messaging platforms.

"The capabilities that we deliver are a harmonious blend between AI and human intelligence"

Enterprise-Grade Analytics and Security

The AI-based orchestration layer of the platform is backed up with enterprise-grade analytics. The data and reports are presented in context, per person, and per consumer intent. Agents that manage customer conversations receive the information that is most relevant to them automatically when they log in. It’s built directly into their workspace. Agents don’t need to search, filter, sort, or download any data. Through the Meaningful Connection Score™ (MCS)— an automated way of measuring the sentiment of a conversation in real-time—the platform delivers a combined numerical score representing the strength of the consumer brand relationship and the satisfaction of the consumer experience. “We use MCS to change the direction if the conversation is going down the wrong path,” mentions Spinelli. Further, LiveEngage delivers a powerful text and sentiment analytics tool that enables brands to collect, listen, and act on key KPIs.
LivePerson’s specialists help clients in configuring the solution, setting up appropriate reports, and importing any external data that they want to include in the analysis.

As a leading SaaS provider for over 20 years, LivePerson understands what CIOs look for from cloud-based solutions providers. To that end, the company offers best-in-class security as a part of its core service. “We believe that transparency is crucial in earning trust. We’re happy to help CIOs understand what we do to help protect your data, how we manage it, and how we comply with international standards such as ISO 27001, PCI-DSS, and the Privacy Shield framework,” informs Spinelli. “We put the utmost enterprise-grade security and privacy restrictions around the Personally Identifiable Information that is stored in our platform, and it forms a part of our DNA.”

The AI-First Strategy

For LivePerson, the ultimate goal has always been toward accelerating the adoption of conversational commerce by the enterprise and small businesses around the world, be it in the form of AI, messaging, or bots, combined with human intelligence. The company’s goal was substantiated when Spinelli, having previously headed Alexa OS at Amazon, came onboard last year to lead the Global Product and Technology group at LivePerson.

“I think one of the most powerful things we have is data—we have more than 20 years of intelligence from conversations coming from our chat and messaging background. AI is useless without data. Machine learning and AI works by feeding in millions of examples to actually help make a prediction of what would happen next,” says Spinelli. “We’ve built a continuous feedback system that allows our AI to learn every single day through every interaction with contact center agents in real time. The agent population globally is incredibly diverse—socio-economically, racially, gender-wise—so we have this wonderful pairing of world-class dataset of examples to drive our core models, and then a real-time learning system by leveraging the human interactions across our agents on a minute-to-minute basis.”

Tuning and Optimizing AI

LivePerson’s transformation as a powerhouse in the AI space has been equally supported by the creation of a Seattle technology center and a recent acquisition of Austin-based conversational platform Conversable, adding to its growing team of technologists focused on solving core AI challenges of the future. “The way that companies are embracing NLPs and Al, we are in a spectacular position to deliver a world-class platform in the space,” says Spinelli. Moving ahead, the company will be launching new capabilities that can help businesses accelerate their bot and automation initiatives, including a bot builder that makes it easy for both technical and non-technical employees to build conversational bots at a business, as well as pre-configured vertical bot templates optimized for specific industries. Additional AI capabilities will look at intents and sentiment and recommend the next best action for a conversation. “We allow you to just plug in our platform and it will assess existing conversations and dialogues and recommend opportunities for automation. You can take a pre-defined dialogue off-the-shelf that is created by looking at millions and millions of our transcripts, and that we know is optimized for any particular use case.”

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Alex Spinelli, Global CTO and Robert LoCascio, CEO

LivePerson makes life easier by transforming how people communicate with brands