Better CX through AI? Callaghan contribution helps find the answer

Published on the 01/07/2015 | Written by Vendor - media release


ai research cx

Radiant project aimed at better understanding customer/company interactions…

Auckland technology company Touchpoint Group has secured a $150,000 R&D Project Grant from Callaghan Innovation to complete an artificial intelligence research project. Named ‘Radiant’, the company’s research is investigating the way large businesses such as banks and utilities interact with their customers. Total project cost is expected to run to around $500,000.

Touchpoint said it hopes to use Radiant to improve customer service by predicting customer needs and assisting with decision-making.

In an interview with iStart, TouchpointCEO Frank van der Velden explained that Radiant intends to grab customer feedback information – and van der Velden said it is strictly limited to that – and rapidly produce operational intelligence to enable improved handling of various customer situations. “By understanding the context of a complaint in a call centre, for example, the agent can be provided with the relevant information to handle that complaint as well as a suggested workflow.”

The raw customer feedback data is difficult to analyse because it is typically unstructured, or poorly structured. “We’re looking for the ability to use machine learning to deliver specific outcomes for specific organisations. We’re meeting expectations in terms of what’s coming out so far, but we have a ways to go.”

Be that as it may, he said Touchpoint intends to commercialise the research by the first quarter of next year. “That doesn’t mean the bits and bytes will be productised yet – there is a lot to learn here – but we should see it being applied in terms of our people making it work in practice.”

R&D Project Grants are administered by Callaghan Innovation and are designed to support greater investment by businesses in R&D activities.

The Radiant program will run over the next six months and involves data scientists based in New Zealand and Australia. The team has assembled one of the largest data sets of its kind to simulate millions of discussions between virtual customers and corporations.

Van der Velden said the difficulty with analysing customer interactions is the number of variables that can come into play. “Many businesses are often left scratching their heads wondering what went wrong, let alone how to fix it. We hope Radiant will provide some of these answers.”

When completed, the research findings will be used to extend the capabilities of its TouchpointCX Customer Experience software. The company said it could also lead to the development of standalone products which draw on data to identify root causes of both poor and great customer experience – and to measure how these impact on commercial KPIs such as churn, revenue and loyalty.

Van der Velden was effusive in his appreciation of Callaghan’s contribution. “It is effectively providing 40% of the cost of the research. Without that, doing this project would be very tight.” He added that securing the grant is itself no mean feat. “They do put you through the wringer and that’s good, because the grant is taxpayer money.”

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