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Krishna Raj Raja, SupportLogic: “support experience is going to make or break your brand in the coming decade”

Forecasting people’s behavior is quite the challenge, yet many enterprises still tend to do it themselves, rather than trusting companies that are actual experts.

This stubborn and negligent stance often brings more problems than it does good, as it leads to a loss of valuable time and resources. Meanwhile, correctly programmed AI tools are able to provide recommendations and solutions and improve the customer experience.

To learn more about AI-powered customer support, cybersecurity tools for companies, and what could be expected from AI-powered solutions in the near future, we contacted Krishna Raj Raja, CEO of SupportLogic.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of SupportLogic. Can you tell us more about your journey?

The genesis of SupportLogic goes all the way back to when I was hired as the first employee in India for VMware. I built the India support team – from myself up to thousands of support agents. One thing that quickly became clear is that as businesses grow, the true voice of the customer gets lost in the various interactions that happen inside support and other areas. Important systems of record, like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, are built on relational database models, and thus can’t really ingest and make sense of the unstructured data inside case interactions.

So, I set out to solve this issue by applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) to the text inside emails and other exchanges. We can extract predictive and other signals to better understand customers and anticipate their needs. This enables support teams to be more proactive and provide a superior support experience, and by extension, an improved customer experience.

Can you introduce us to what you do? How is AI incorporated into the platform?

SupportLogic ingests all of the unstructured data associated with a company’s support interactions (the “back and forth” emails, chats, transcripts of conversations, etc.) and we analyze that using AI and machine learning (ML) to extract what we call “signals.” These signals can include potential customer escalations, churn, or other “early warning signs.” We identify these signals for the customer, which enables them to take a more proactive approach to support.

AI/ML is purpose-built for business-to-business (B2B) support and is, therefore, fast to deploy. In addition, the ML model learns over time, so predictions continue to get more and more accurate as our customers use the product.

In your opinion, who should be especially concerned about implementing AI-powered customer support solutions?

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that all AI tools are created equal. Because we are purpose-built for both the core processes and interworking of support, and for B2B business models – SupportLogic users go live faster and see a return on investment faster than if they tried a “DIY” approach.

Predicting customer behavior is a very sophisticated endeavor, and many try and fail – wasting valuable time and resources when they could have just deployed a quick purpose-built solution in the cloud. In fact, many of our customers are AI companies; but they understood the complexity and thus chose to partner with us rather than take the risk of doing it themselves.

How do you think recent global events have affected your field of work?

To be blunt – the pandemic is just another driver of major shifts in the market which play very much in our favor. The move to subscription and the “everything as a service” economy means that B2B providers especially need to transform their support teams from reactive, “break/fix” models to more continuous, proactive approaches.

The pandemic continues this shift – especially when it comes to, as we have all learned, how to serve customers in a remote fashion – now the customer can more easily choose to leave. To combat this “less sticky” aspect of business relationships, businesses need to provide a standout support experience as part of their overall CX initiative to remain competitive.

Also, as the “great resignation” and “great reshuffling” have shown us, we need to provide a superior employee experience to drive retention of employees, which in turn reduces costs and improves the customer experience. Our software helps keep support agents (who already had a high attrition rate) engaged, and feeling valued, and thus they stick around longer, which is a significant benefit to those using our solutions.

Besides quality customer support solutions, what other technologies do you think can significantly enhance business operations?

I think a lot of B2B companies have ignored becoming truly omnichannel when it comes to engaging with their customers and enabling them. You must meet your customers where they want to meet you, so to speak. That means B2B companies should be looking into chat and SMS-based engagement models more than they are today. In addition, the knowledge management space is ripe for development.

When we look at companies like Coveo, and how they can help anyone, not just support teams, offer more informed responses to any customer inquiry, that’s a good thing. Also, customer success platforms like Gainsight go above and beyond customer support and CRM solutions in that they are purpose-built for the engagement model that defines a more success-oriented mindset when it comes to managing the customer lifecycle.

Talking about cybersecurity, what would you consider the key tools every company should implement nowadays?

Companies should be thinking about general security for their data centers. But also making sure their employees are each following security best practices and helping them by implementing multi-factor authentication and solid antivirus and malware protection for every individual. Everyone should implement endpoint protection, antivirus/malware, privileged access control, RBAC, IDS/IPS, and encryption – these are becoming table stakes.

What tips would you give to companies looking to strengthen their relationships with their customers?

Listen to them! A lot of noise has been made about the “voice of the customer” and a lot of big companies have emerged around the concept. But survey-based tools and small sample sizes of customer responses don’t tell the full story.

That’s why we look to ingest and analyze 100% of customer interactions – to deliver the true voice of the customer, so businesses can make the most informed decisions possible and truly be as customer-centric as they wish to be.

Where do you hope to see AI-powered solutions be used more often in the near future?

Anywhere humans interact with customers, there is an opportunity to augment the process and experience with AI. We are already seeing how AI can automate a lot of the customer experience – but now we’re applying AI to human-assisted touchpoints and that is exciting. That’s because we are, in a way, making super humans when we give them AI-powered insights that no human could come up with alone.

So, whether that is in high-volume interactions like retain, where a cashier can provide a more personal experience, or inside the more complex processes around B2B relationships, AI is making people smarter, faster, and more quickly adaptable to the needs of the customer.

Would you like to share what’s next for SupportLogic?

We are working on a lot of new developments as we grow. We are making it easier for our customers to see the ROI from using our solutions, and to eventually benchmark their performance against industry leaders.

We also want to expand the types of data sources we can ingest and extract signals from, to provide even deeper, more predictive insights. These could be chat-bot tools, real-time voice analysis, analysis of collaborative conversations in tools like Slack, etc. Really, we’re just getting started!

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