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CX Innovators: Ashu Roy, eGain

Harnessing Conversational AI and NLP to Enhance the Agent Experience and Improve Customer Satisfaction

CX Innovators eGain

Ashu Roy is chief executive officer of eGain Corporation, which provides an AI-enabled software platform that integrates with CRM and contact center systems for enhanced customer self-service, virtual assistance, and contact center agent tools. Roy has served as CEO and Chairman of eGain since 1997. Prior to that, he was Chairman of WhoWhere? Inc, an internet company that became part of Lycos, and was also co-founder of Parsec Technologies. Previously, he held software engineering positions at Digital Equipment Corp. Joining Roy for Dash Research’s CX Innovator Series interview was Sanjeev Sahni, Senior Director of Marketing for eGain.

The core of eGain’s strategy is “helping customers innovate CX through leading-edge technologies,” says Roy. “Service is the critical part of CX – service is about moments that collectively create a sense of trust, concern, and assurance,” he adds. Most of eGain’s customers are large enterprises, and approximately 80% of the company’s business comes from the contact center. The solution integrates out of the box across interaction channels and systems of record such as CRM and enterprise content management systems. The firm is focused on creating, capturing, and optimizing the knowledge of how to help customers, using a knowledge hub that is fronted by a conversational AI layer. eGain’s focus on enabling enhanced support begins at the stage in the customer journey where the consumer buys a product or service. Roy states that approximately 90% of the firm’s customer base are within five top industries: banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI); government; healthcare; telecommunications; and retail.

Most Significant CX Challenges

Ashu Roy, CEO, eGain

Many organizations’ knowledge systems are based on SharePoint, says Roy, and some eGain customers have up to 100 different SharePoint sites across which their knowledge repositories are distributed. Knowledge management has long been an area of focus for large enterprises, and Roy observes that there is currently a renaissance of focus on knowledge for two key reasons:

  1. Organizations have more customer touchpoints than ever before, so the total volume of customer contact has increased significantly. But meanwhile, internal processes that were working well with a voice-centric approach are now not as effective with a wider array of touchpoints.
  2. Conversational AI technologies have improved significantly, so the consumption of knowledge is becoming easier for agents as well as end users.

Roy points out that a recent Gartner hype cycle report on customer service technologies has placed knowledge management on the so-called “Slope of Enlightenment”, which is the maturity stage past the “Trough of Disillusionment” and prior to the “Plateau of Productivity”.

“Digital transformation initiatives look good on paper, but the business metrics don’t seem to add up,” says Roy, adding that customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and cost results seem to be going the wrong way. Particularly given the virtualization of the workspace, Roy states that bringing in new customer service staff, bringing them online, and making them productive, all while balancing the challenges of attrition, have become an arduous task for enterprises. Effective onboarding and efficient training through a knowledge hub can help make the customer service experience more consistent. “CX is really about ‘AX’ – agent experience – making it easier for them to do their job,” says Roy. The whole concept of composability is improving, he adds, and with improved API-based interfaces, eGain’s platform can become an over-the-top layer that helps unify other key systems and data repositories.

CX Success Stories

Roy highlights three key success stories among its customers, across different industry sectors.

In the Government sector, eGain worked with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve the customer experience for American taxpayers. The IRS partners with eGain on its digitization initiative, with a focus on providing digital-first omnichannel automation as well as enhanced tools to enable the agent experience. The agency deployed an IRS Virtual Assistant to provide AI-enabled quick tips for complex forms, as well as automated help information for navigating its website.

In Insurance, eGain worked with Florida Blue, the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance licensee for the state of Florida. Roy states that the two organizations have been working together for about 3 years, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit, says Roy, all contact center agents had to work from home. This new challenge was an opportune time to deploy eGain’s knowledge hub, in an effort to boost CSAT scores. Florida Blue started with one brand as an initial trial, then rolled out across other brands, ultimately serving approximately 6,000 agents. This project not only focused on next-best-action, but also on providing triage and next-best-solution options for the agents.

In Telecommunications, eGain has worked with BT for more than 5 years. BT has rolled out the eGain platform to about 10,000 agents and associates in 600 stores. The communications service provider has attributed 25 points of net promoter score (NPS) improvement to the deployment, although Roy points out that the actual NPS improvement was a total of 45 points. He adds that BT’s first contact resolution also improved from 62% to 85% and upfront training time for new service agents was reduced from 6 months to 8 weeks.

Internal Barriers

Roy states that eGain’s customers most often struggle with two key internal challenges. First, there tends to be a lack of internal marketing of the successes that good CX programs can deliver. An increased focus on marketing and selling the benefits of CX internally would lead to greater buy-in and organizational alignment. Second, the organizational inertia of “the way we do things” can inhibit the redesign and improvement of internal processes. “Innovation gets a lot of attention, but budget doesn’t get allocated accordingly – the investment goes into the pipes, i.e., simply deploying interaction channels without attention to the quality of interactions, enabled by AI and knowledge,” says Roy. A budget prioritization process that is more aligned with positive outcomes and CX improvement could reduce the friction associated with CX design, development, and deployment for many enterprises.

Key Technologies

The core of eGain’s technology focus is utilizing AI and natural language processing (NLP) to interpret and take action on unstructured data. With the advancement of conversational AI technologies, the vast body of unstructured data in customer service organizations can be much more effectively harnessed to improve the agent experience, and therefore the customer experience as well. Moreover, expertise can be captured and delivered in the flow of work with AI-infused knowledge. eGain is also highly focused on using its APIs to provide seamless integration with a variety of legacy systems and data repositories, both from an array of other platform vendors as well as the homegrown systems that many enterprises have developed over the years. Customer service agents need to be able to automatically source conversations and information from various customer touchpoints and serve up actionable insights in an easily consumable format.

Predictions for CX Market Development

Roy anticipates that in the coming years, enterprises will focus increasingly on inferring customer satisfaction and voice of the customer (VoC) insights from real-world interactions, rather than the conventional approach of collecting customer insight and CSAT through survey-based interactions. The continued evolution of AI and NLP will help tremendously in this regard, once again tapping into the rich vein of insight contained within unstructured data, but leveraging those capabilities to infer CSAT and other key indicators is an area that is still underinvested, says Roy.

About the CX Innovator Series

The CX Innovator Series is an actionable and educational industry initiative that showcases the best practices that leading end-user executives are using within their organizations to shape their community’s experience. The series is a collaborative effort between Dash Network, Sleeping Giant Labs, and Team Wakabayashi. Using expertly curated executive interviews combined with quantitative research from consumer surveys, the CX Innovator Series provides tangible insights and a deeper understanding of how successful companies are utilizing CX programs resulting in positive business outcomes.

The CX Innovator Series is made possible by support from our lead sponsors: Concentrix, eGain, Tealium, and QuestionPro. If you would be interested in participating in the CX Innovator initiative, either as part of an end-user interview or as a supporting sponsor, please contact us.

Author Information

Clint Wheelock

Clint brings over 20 years of market research and consulting experience, focused on emerging technology markets. He was co-founder and CEO of Dash Network, an integrated research and digital media firm focused on the CX market, which was acquired by The Futurum Group in 2022. He previously founded Tractica with a focus on human interaction with technology, including coverage of AI, user interface technologies, advanced computing, and other emerging sectors. Acquired by Informa Group, Clint served as Chief Research Officer for Informa’s research division, Omdia, with management and content strategy responsibility, formed by the combination of Tractica, Ovum, IHS Markit Technology, and Heavy Reading.
Clint was previously the founder and President of Pike Research, a leading market intelligence firm focused on the global clean technology industry, which was acquired by Navigant Consulting where he was Managing Director of the Navigant Research business.

Prior to Pike Research, Clint was Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, a New York-based industry analyst firm concentrating on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.

Clint holds a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington & Lee University.

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