Uniphore: The New Voice of Customer Service

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Umesh Sachdev, Co-Founder, and CEO and Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder and President, APAC With the proliferation of communication devices, widespread availability of digital connectivity, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) happening to streamline the enterprise back-office systems, Customer Service should not be such a cost drain on an organization and for the consumer; it should be a personalized, efficient and not-so-negative experience. But that’s not the case.

So, what gives? Why all the inefficiency, the negative customer experiences, and the dissatisfaction?

Even though call/contact centers have been around for decades, customers are often left frustrated and even livid—mainly due to their issues not being resolved after spending valuable time across various mediums, only to end up speaking to an agent after waiting on hold to voice their problem.

Here’s the challenge: vendors have traditionally offered enterprise buyers products and services which solve specific issues that occur at certain points of the customer’s journey to have their problem resolved. Enterprises continue to pursue technological innovations that supplement their customer engagement strategies, with contact centers and conversational platforms taking center stage in the enterprise setting. Optimizing contact centers with modern-day innovations such as chatbots and voice assistants continue to overpromise and under deliver a satisfying customer experience. Propping up a contact center with siloed technologies can prove to be a resource drain, both financially and in terms of ongoing support. As a result, quality and cost are often seen as opposing concepts when trying to optimize systems while at the same time provide a better customer experience.

Uniphore, a company focused on transforming the customer service market, hits this sweet spot through its artificial intelligence-powered automated conversational platform, providing significant cost savings all the while transforming the customer experiences for consumers.

The New Voice of Customer Service Has Arrived. And, it is So Much Better!

The two co-founders, Umesh Sachdev and Ravi Saraogi, realized early on in their careers that once a problem is well-defined, technology can be leveraged to find a solution. After spending countless hours in call centers, observing the interactions, understanding the systems, and processes across a wide range of businesses, they deduced that the entire contact center and customer experience could be redefined using AI and automation capabilities, resulting in not only in a solid return on investment for the enterprise but a significantly better experience for the customers and the agents who are supporting them. And, that is precisely what Uniphore says it delivers; a multifaceted conversational service automation platform that is built on three primary solutions – auMina, akeira, and amVoice.

Deconstructing the Perfect Solution

Uniphore has taken a decidedly different approach to solve customer support challenges. Armed with thousands of hours of contact center interactions, they identified the key areas where enterprises could leverage AI, machine learning, and automation capabilities to save money, benefit customer care agents and ultimately deliver a better experience to customers. So, they developed foundational products in each of those areas. While auMina listens to and analyzes customer conversations to derive actionable insights and understand the ‘Real Intent’ of callers during contact center interactions, akeira functions as a conversational assistant that enhances the speed, accuracy and quality of conversations needed to resolve customer issues. Further, amVoice, effortlessly authenticates a customers voice for biometric validation of user-identity. Essentially, this comprehensive solution portfolio streamlines the authentication process, virtually eliminates putting callers on hold, and makes agent note-taking/after call manual summarization a thing of the past. These outcomes are some of the key factors in Uniphore’s exponential growth in the contact center space.


While the contact centers grew exponentially in terms of adopting newer technologies, the customer experience part of the business was largely overlooked


Nevertheless, before demonstrating Uniphore’s technological prowess and its unique value proposition with some customer case studies, understanding its heritage can shed further light on how and why Uniphore was built.

Go Big or Go Home

The cornerstone to Uniphore’s products was laid in 2007 when the duo was working on another venture during their university studies. “We hypothesized in 2007 that, in India, 70 to 80 percent of the 1.3 billion people would not participate in the global digital revolution, largely due to the language barriers between the internet and the natives of the region,” begins Sachdev, co-founder, and CEO of Uniphore. “Fast forward to the current day, and our hypothesis proved to be true. Despite India being one of the largest consumers of mobile data with 300 million active subscribers in 2019, there were still large portions of the population that were excluded.”

The duo learned that in order to bridge the gap between consumers and the internet, a common ground between the two entities needs to be established. Sachdev and Saraogi concurred that the common denominator among all of the active users is the inclination towards voice communication. The variable amongst this diverse population is the local languages and dialects, wherein, helping people to talk to the internet (and have the internet intelligently reply) in their local language serves as the singular problem solver. Saraogi, co-founder and president of Uniphore says, “Bridging this gap of people and the digital revolution was the ‘go big or go home’ challenge for the two of us when we started out.”

The two co-founders established a call center and decided to run a pilot program through which consumers could call in and ask for any information they seek, be it any query, banking information, or guidance relating to a particular service. The two built the call center with professionals well-versed in multiple languages, including regional dialects. Witnessing the acceptance rate of this early venture, the two visionaries realized the merits of their earlier hypothesis and decided that the typical call center needs to transform into a more efficient and more effective customer service center with multiple media streams for interaction. However, scaling this business model with human agents proved to be a herculean task, since scaling these centers to address 700-800 million people’s call was just not feasible. As a result, the two co-founders turned towards speech recognition, AI, natural language understanding (NLU)+ processing (NLP), and machine learning, in order to automate a significant portion of customer interactions that were either trivial, redundant or inconsistent due to human error. Thus, Uniphore was born, paving the way for a voice-driven revolution in the contact center space.

The Path of Success

In the first few years of its genesis, Uniphore developed its multi-lingual speech recognition engine, conversational AI capabilities, NLP, NLU, and other foundational intellectual property. From filing patents to validating use cases, Uniphore did it all in the early years, building a robust set of products that could be applied across key verticals looking for AI to have a positive impact on their business such as financial services, business process outsourcers (BPOs), insurance, healthcare, telecommunications, agriculture-commerce, and other service-oriented industries and providing people access to information seamlessly through a B2B delivery model. In that incubation period, the company documented over 4.5 million callers. But, in 2015, Uniphore experienced a future-altering shift, as its platform gained momentum with customers and investors showing interest in its technology portfolio and market prospects.

“A few of our early investors told us that we had not created a product company, but instead developed a tech company with discrete areas of applicability.
We then started to venture out into the global contact center marketplace and doubled down on key areas such as conversational AI - an area with the biggest opportunity for our technology,” says Sachdev. Uniphore’s flagship products—auMina, akeira, and amVoice—are manifestations of this vision, aimed at disrupting the contact center landscape. Saraogi says that the motivation to develop these solutions can be correlated to the evolution of contact centers from call centers, and the reality is that AI capabilities now exist to connect and automate ERP and CRM systems alongside new customer engagement models.

"The reality is that AI capabilities now exist to connect and automate ERP and CRM systems alongside new customer engagement models"

“While the contact centers grew exponentially in terms of adopting newer technologies, the customer experience part of the business was largely overlooked. Though multiple engagement channels such as chat, email, and social media have been added to the contact center ecosystem, people engaging with these channels were left unsatisfied,” adds Saraogi. This conundrum is answered by Uniphore’s solutions where even with different use cases, Uniphore’s core products are designed to optimize the entire customer experience along with the enterprise contact center operations. Recollecting one such use case, Saraogi and Sachdev shed light on the merits of their solution through two different customer deployments.

BNP Paribas, one of the largest international banking groups, planned to enhance its retail banking footprint, having already established a credible wealth management portfolio. This required BNP Paribas to adhere to several mandated compliance regulations for customer interactions. “When we talk about compliance, multiple things can go wrong, especially while tackling fraud or unsolicited calls,” says Saraogi. To address help the customer expand its business and be compliant, Uniphore implemented its speech analytics and automation product auMina, assisting BNP Paribas in complying with the regulatory requirements. During this engagement, Uniphore saw the opportunity to enable sentiment analysis for the client, helping them better understand customer concerns and build productive relationships along the way. Through this, BNP Paribas could respond to the needs of its customers, and further offer them additional products and services.

Similarly, Uniphore’s conversational AI platform was implemented to automate the after-call work (ACW) for a large insurance firm in the US, which includes an auto-generated summary of the conversation. Normally, these ACW processes take an agent approximately three minutes to complete after a customer call ends, adding up to a significant amount of time spent before handling the next call. Upon realizing Uniphore’s merits in the conversational AI arena, the healthcare insurance firm engaged Uniphore to reduce the time consumed in ACW to an average of 10 seconds, which is a significant time and cost savings from the previous three minutes. “The conversational AI module of our solution runs in the background as the customer service agents interact with callers and is documenting the conversation in real-time. It then automates the entire process of writing the summary and preparing to upload into the call center’s CRM solution, enabling the customer service executive to complete the ACW by simply fact-checking the auto-generated summary,” explains Sachdev. This automation process alone translated to millions of dollars saved for the client, exemplifying the capabilities of Uniphore’s products. The company has documented numerous use cases such as this, empowering its clients to streamline contact center processes, all the while serving customers effectively.

What’s Next?

With these and many other use cases, Uniphore projects a success-driven trajectory for years to come, forecasting an 800 percent growth in the near future. Clearly, the company is continuing to win the trust of customers and investors alike. When asked about future plans and the next round of investments, Sachdev and Saraogi strike a notably positive note saying they recently raised one of the largest rounds of funding in their space with $51m coming in from a variety of sources, including March Capital. “This latest funding round was a huge vote of confidence in our team and a significant boost for our plans to expand globally,” said Sachdev. “And we’re just getting started,” said Saraogi. With industry veterans such as John chambers (former Chairman and CEO of Cisco) and Kris Gopalakrishnan (co-founder of Infosys) investing in the company, the road to automating contact center operations has never looked brighter.

Company
Uniphore

Headquarters
Palo Alto, CA

Management
Umesh Sachdev, Co-Founder, and CEO and Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder and President, APAC

Description
Uniphore offers a conversational service automation platform utilizing artificial intelligence, automation, NLU, NLP, NLG, and speech analytics capabilities. The company has developed a conversational AI platform for contact center optimization, featuring auMina, aKeira and amVoice. While auMina listens to and analyzes customer conversations to derive actionable insights and understand the ‘Real Intent’ of callers during contact center interactions, akeira functions as a conversational assistant that enhances the speed, accuracy and quality of conversations needed to resolve customer issues. Further, amVoice, authenticates callers’ voice for biometric validation of user-identity