The Death Of Deflection

Fifteen days ago, we launched Freddy, ‘a (hu)man’s best friend’, a conversational AI ‘omnibot’ that vastly improves customer experience across all channels of customer engagement: email, chat, social, and voice. We’ve envisioned Freddy as your favorite pet canine, but with a twist: the glasses balanced on his cybernetic snout bely his tireless intelligence.  


Along with our new partners at Google, Freddy is a major advance in the use of conversational AI in a customer service context. More often than not, enterprise AI platforms are too intimidating and complex to understand, much less implement.  Even worse, they haven’t been easy to use for customers or their representatives at the front lines of customer service.

With Freddy the omnibot, we make all that complexity and frustration a thing of the past. Like your favorite pet, Freddy jumps up on your lap just when you need some cheering up, with timely information, like the morning newspaper he just fetched. In the customer service context, the ‘newspaper’ is the instant insights he delivers to both agents and customers to have better-informed conversations with each other, wherever and whenever those conversations occur: in chat, email or phone calls.

And here’s the BIG reason I’m so excited about Freddy: when you make powerful technologies like Conversational AI easily consumed by everyday people, something BIG shifts in our thinking, and how we view the world.

Too often businesses view customer service as a ‘cost center’ rather than an ‘opportunity center’ to draw the customer closer, understand him better, and improve loyalty with deeper relationships. Traditionally, we’ve thought of AI as a way to ‘deflect tickets’ from customer support. This deflection mindset is one of ‘cost reduction’ because of the agent’s time responding to ‘so many tickets’ rather than an engagement mindset of ‘how can we best serve the customer whenever or wherever she wants?’

(This is why we invented the word “omnibot” to describe Freddy: he’s omnipresent and omniscient all at once!)

What’s more, the younger generation of customers won’t wait for a call center to open in the morning if they need help now (in the middle of the night!) They want the answers fast, and Freddy is right there for them NOW, with the answers, whenever they need them.  

With Freddy, we fully embrace this engagement mindset instead of a deflection mindset. Let’s call it the Death of Deflection: we want more conversations with customers, not fewer, to keep them close and ensure they never avoid contacting us for fear of a bad experience. When Freddy responds to emails and voice calls now, thanks in part to the amazing natural language generation technology from Google, the phone experience is so natural, sometimes you can’t even tell the difference between Freddy and a live agent. Now that sounds a little scary but in reality, it’s just a better experience for the customer. And because Freddy takes care of so many of the repetitive routine tasks such as identifying and contextualizing the customer data, both the customer and agent have a great engagement.