MarTech Interview with Sumant Kawale, VP Customer Success at Cerebri AI

MarTech Interview with Sumant Kawale, VP Customer Success at Cerebri AI
MarTech Interview with Sumant Kawale, VP Customer Success at Cerebri AI

“The latest AI-powered technology use customer journeys as the raw material to fuel the new science of customer journey analytics.”

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. 

I have been dabbling in technology from an early age and ended up studying Electrical and Telecom Engineering in college and grad school. My first job out of school was writing DSP and VHDL code for large, expensive test machines that subjected cell phones to all sorts of scenarios, such as bad reception, interference and so on. It was the best job that someone of my background and interests could have started with. Since then I have been involved in technology every day of my professional life.

I spent some of my professional career advising Fortune 500 companies in the Technology sector on critical problems they faced. However, I missed building things and bringing about change in relatively short timelines, so I started working for a then young, AI start-up in Austin and helped it grow it ~30X (revenue, employees…) in a little over 3 years.

I have continued my AI journey with Cerebri AI, where we are redefining customer journeys, completely changing how they are built, used and acted upon by the enterprise. I currently lead Product and Customer Success at Cerebri AI.

As part of an AI software company, what unique challenges did you meet in launching the new product?

When you are launching and deploying any AI software, the challenge is the combination of complexities across different dimensions that must be accounted for. There are certain challenges, such as UX and pipeline latencies, that have accompanied software releases for a while now. However, with AI software you need to account for newer dimensions, such as retraining of models, constantly monitoring the quality of data, models, and labels.

With AI, we need to be careful to not ignore HI (Human Intelligence). At Cerebri AI our aim is to empower our users. We do not go into any project with preconceived notions of what our users can and can’t do. As a result, our roadmap prioritizes, not just the AI insights, but also how they were reached. We strive to provide as much context and explainability to the user as possible, which allows us to build unrivaled confidence in our tool.

How does Cerebri Values CX v2 analyze every customer journey?

Cerebri Values CX v2 is rooted in customer spend. Our platform analyzes the thousands or tens of thousands of data points that each customer leaves behind for the entire length of their customer journey with a brand or product. It then looks at millions of customers, goes through billions of possibilities and trillions of calculations to get to the right answers. Showing us which customers are like each other, grounded in not only their background (demographics and other more static factors); but also, their journeys with a brand (reflected in the events and interactions with Marketing, Sales and Customer Support).

Cerebri Values CX v2 shows marketers what their customers like, when are they likely to buy, and what actions are likely to increase their spend, as well as their engagement, with the enterprise brand. We treat every customer as a unique customer because everyone is unique. Users of our software may segment customers depending on the constraints they have in their workflows; however, the power of our platform is in analyzing every customer journey and letting the data drive the decisions.

Please explain how Cerebri Values CX v2 cuts across the traditional customer silos – Sales, Marketing, Support?

Cerebri Values CX v2 cuts across the traditional silos by integrating the customer across the silos. Customers do not have a Sales journey, followed by a Service journey, mixed with a Customer Support journey. Their experience and journeys are Omnichannel. We build one customer journey per customer and it is the richest customer journey possible because it includes all the events that a brand has information for.

I may not know how a customer receiving an email about an informational Marketing campaign today, will change her willingness to buy a product or service two months from today. The good news is that our AI can figure it out, and it can tell you – not only that good customer support can lead to better Sales; but how sensitive a customer is to receiving support over the phone vs. getting the information they need on a digital channel.

Understanding relationships between events in different silos, for example, excellent service during an oil change, to a vehicle purchase, is where Cerebri Values CX v2 shines, especially when the relationships change from customer to customer.

What metric do you analyze to measure customer success?

The primary metric is the same as that in many other industries – we look at churn. We look at churn for customers we have deployed the product to, and we look at churn for customers we have done a pilot for. In both cases, our metrics look good and we work hard to keep them looking good.

How did you scale your customer experience and delivered to your customers?

Once a big company has successfully wrangled their data into customer journeys, what happens next? Until AI and Machine Learning came along, the answer was, not much. The set of available tools in the typical analytics arsenal, even for a Fortune 500 company, could only allow you to swim in the shallow end of the value-added pool.

AI has changed all that, enabling pattern recognition and predictive analytics at scale – in other words, recognizing the common threads across millions of customer journeys comprising billions of events based on (no joke) trillions of calculations.

The latest AI-powered technology use customer journeys as the raw material to fuel the new science of customer journey analytics. Building customer journeys is the critical, mandatory first step. The result, however, is far more valuable than an accurate, complete set of customer records, which are helpful to be sure but won’t get anyone promoted to Senior Vice President.

Using AI, the latest, best of breed models can transform each journey into a single, universal metric quantifying each individual’s commitment to the brand, based on the patterns in the data unrecognizable to human eyes, scored using dollars as the unit of measurement. Now you have a standardized scoring system in place that dynamically tracks a company’s relationship with each of its customers, personalized at scale.

How much have the definition and industry applications of Augmented Intelligence evolved in the last 5 years?

Up to this point, customer journey analytics output would be rightfully classified as insights. Most customer journeys are glorified diagnostics, interesting, but not actionable – no next steps identified, no destination mapped out. To a human eye, the future still looks murky.

With the latest, fit for purpose AI modeling, like Cerebri Values CX v2, customer journeys lead to predictions about which customers are most likely to buy, and what offer has the best probability of converting to Sales. This is precision matchmaking on an enterprise scale.

Most of us are familiar with the proverbial advice that success is a journey, not a destination. But when you mix massive amounts of data with Machine Learning, that recipe turns success into a journey AND a destination – adding value to both sides of the next transaction.

What are the unique opportunities for AI-selling Marketing teams? How does Cerebri AI help customers stay relevant to AI-competitiveness in the industry? 

In this new era of privacy primacy, when it comes to contacting customers, B2C companies cannot afford to miss the bullseye, since their supply of Marketing ‘darts’ will no longer be unlimited. My team and I were shocked when a customer of ours, a billion-dollar subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company, informed us they had chosen to voluntarily cap unsolicited emails to customers at 10 per year.

While this might appear an arbitrary figure, some sort of self-regulation must happen to respect the spirit of GDPR, CCPA and the like. What is clear is that Marketing will need to be much smarter in future. Cerebri Values CX v2 is the smartest customer experience platform in the world, we are confident we can help marketers to drive customer success and financial results.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI, IoT, Automation, and RPA for FinTech in 2019-2024?

Privacy issues are front and center in our major economies. Talk of regulation is in the air everywhere; not just in California, where the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) becomes effective on January 1, 2020, or the European Union, where the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018.

Get the balance right and brands can stop spamming you with useless emails because they offer insight on what you might like to buy. They can time their approach, so they send you Marketing content when you are more inclined to buy.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Customer Success champion?

It is a combination of Product and Customer Success which will drive adoption in an AI-centric world. Product must drive automation (which leads to self-service) and integration with existing tools. Customer Success/Engagements must provide support to the enterprise customer as they start working with the tool. The way we do it at Cerebri AI is to support customer post-deployment using services that have been developed for the enterprise customer.

In other words, we provide the most complete platform possible, so that the customer or our team can build the AI workflows needed.

What AIOPs, Analytics, and SaaS start-ups and labs are you keenly following?

Players in the Customer Journey Management and Analytics (CJM/CJA) category.

What technologies within AI/NLP and Analytics are you interested in?

I am very interested in domain-specific entity extraction for customer support calls, I believe that is the next step in building richer customer journeys.

As a tech leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting AI/ML with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for these technology markets?

Cerebri AI’s CV/CX v2 is already in production and is targeted for use in four key industries: Financial Services and Banking, Automotive, Telecom and Wireless, and Travel and Leisure, and we believe these industries are currently best suited to adopting our technology.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Learn to use pivot tables effectively.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

I would have to go with Jeff Bezos.

Thank you, Sumant! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Sumant is a VP Customer Success at Cerebri AI.

cerebriai logo

Cerebri AI develops and sells the most sophisticated customer experience platform in the world. Measuring customer engagement and using those values and scores to drive customer success and financial results.

Cerebri Values CX v2 platform is a leap forward in applying AI to draw insights from customer journeys and making recommendations that drive engagement and results. Our insights, Next Best Action{set}s, are driven by patent-pending object-oriented AI & reinforcement learning modelling methods that time and value up to 4 events in a sequence, rendering both ‘rules-based’ and ‘AI-lite’ technology obsolete for driving maximum results.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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