Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start Boost.ai?
As Chief Commercial Officer, my role is to help companies identify how they can create real ROI with conversational Artificial Intelligence. When my Co-Founders and I started Boost.ai in 2016, we saw a clear gap in the market for artificially intelligent virtual agents that could increase experience and satisfaction for customers, not send it spiraling the other way through impersonal automation. We wanted to bring the customer experience closer to the good old days where companies could maintain a relationship with customers but do so on an infinitely larger scale.
What is Boost.ai and how does it fit into a modern Enterprise Technology stack?
In order to deliver an optimal customer experience, we recommend using conversational AI to handle 100 percent of online customer interactions. This has proven to reduce waiting times for customers by allowing the virtual agent to either resolve inquiries on the spot or seamlessly forward them to human support staff.
While our system is robust enough to handle extreme volumes of traffic, it’s our mindset that sets Boost.ai apart from the competition. Our Artificial Intelligence understands when it isn’t 100 percent confident that it has the right answer and can give customers options for what it thinks they want. It also knows, in the case of delicate or sensitive requests, when it’s appropriate to pass on interaction to the appropriate human in live support – all within the same chat window and with a chat log so they are up to speed.
This ability to better understand customers helps to reduce the effort for businesses and cut wait times for customers. It has proven successful with many of our major clients such as DNB, the largest bank in Norway, who saw a 50 percent drop in traffic to live chat in just 6 months. They now automate 17 percent of their overall customer support via a virtual agent.
Which industries have been the fastest to adopt conversational AI?
As we specialize in the financial services industry, a majority of our clients are banks and insurance companies looking to digitize their customer service experience. We offer pre-built, industry-specific content to help these kinds of companies get off the ground in a matter of weeks, not months.
How do you focus on bringing CRM and Data Analytics together at Boost.ai? What are the core technologies driving your product?
While many chatbot solutions on the market are run on simple syntax or rules-based legacy systems, our virtual agents are built on a foundation of natural language technologies and advanced Machine Learning. What differentiates Boost.ai are a number of proprietary neural networks such as our Automatic Semantic Understanding (ASU) that allows our virtual agents to truly grasp the context of what a customer is asking. ASU gives us the power to understand exactly if and when a virtual agent should forward an end-user to human support, rather than just answer with a canned “I don’t understand” response.
For CRMs, we offer a deep dive into the interactions of a virtual agent via an analytics dashboard. Companies can easily track metrics like number of conversations or how many links are actioned on. A feature that is especially popular with our clients is the ability to monitor message and conversation feedback. It lets them monitor and improves how intents and responses work overtime.
Tell us about Nordic’s Data Privacy mandates. How does it impact regional Marketing and Customer Experience campaigns?
The Nordics are one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to data privacy. That means we take extra care to ensure we are up to speed with the latest mandates in GDPR and privacy standards. Built into our solution are functions that allow for data anonymization and the ability to download and delete conversations from within the chat window. This gives our clients peace of mind and the flexibility of an updated chat API that allows them to easily comply with the latest in international privacy standards.
Tell us about your technology integrations with other Marketing Technology platforms such as Contacts, Contracts, Email, and Customer Service.
Customers will search you out when they have a problem. Great customer service means being where your customers are and being available when they need you. Therefore, our virtual agents are platform agnostic, available through a variety of platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, and popular voice assistants.
On the backend, we also integrate with leading live chat platforms like ServiceNow and Puzzel to seamlessly transition customers across when our AI identifies the necessity for it.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology for 2019-2020?
In conversational AI, we can expect to see a shift away from the current informational nature of virtual agents into being able to perform more transactional operations. It’s happening already with a number of our clients, and I expect we’ll see more of it across the board. Customers using virtual agents to perform complex tasks – such as funds transfers between accounts, resetting PIN codes, etc – will become the norm and no longer require human assistance.
From a business perspective, we can expect the market to be flooded with more chatbot solutions than ever, but I believe companies will become smarter about selecting the right vendor. Businesses will expect to see a return on their investment in AI in 2019-20.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Our partners Digital Workforce in Finland have spun off an exciting new startup, Front AI. They specialize in using conversational AI to improve efforts in robotic process automation.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?
While it’s certainly important to keep current on the latest trends in the industry, I think it’s equally necessary to always be looking even further ahead. Identifying the avenues in which conversational AI has the potential to deliver tangible improvements for our clients and their customers is key to keeping us at the head of the pack.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
I believe that results can be a great motivator. Once we began to see our clients getting impressive numbers in automation rates and reduced wait times (such as with DNB), it helped push the team to refine the product even further and work on building out even better features.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
We use Slack as our primary method of communication at Boost.ai. I also couldn’t live without my calendar to keep me on track for my next meeting.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Efficient prioritization is key to getting through a massive workload and hectic schedule.
What are you currently reading?
I’m making my way through ‘The Big Nine’ by the futurist Amy Webb. It’s a fascinating book about the largest AI companies in the US and China and how they have been shaped by the humans behind them. I also enjoy a selection of writers on Medium, as well as soak up a lot of information from my LinkedIn connections.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Seek to improve, not perfect – success doesn’t come overnight!
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
The secret to our success at Boost.ai is our unparalleled understanding of what customers want and finding the right balance between machine and human support so that customers get the best experience every time. Personally, I believe my work ethic reflects the company culture. Everyone at Boost.ai constantly strives to get the best out of our technology and we won’t be satisfied until we make it as the first Norwegian unicorn.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Jan Thomas Lerstein – SVP IT Emerging Technologies, DNB.
Thank you, Henry! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Henry Vaage Iversen is the Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer for Boost.ai, a software company co-located in Europe and California. Henry and his colleagues have developed proprietary AI methodology, called Automated Semantic Understanding (ASU), that achieves remarkably complex, purpose-driven conversations that have human-like qualities.
An expert in the concept of conversational commerce, Henry holds a Master’s degree in Strategy and Leadership. He is a driving force behind the conversational AI industry and is recognized as an international voice in the use of artificially intelligent virtual agents in the banking, financial services, insurance and enterprise sectors.
Boost.ai is a Scandinavian software company that specializes in conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI). With tireless dedication to Machine Learning, we have developed the world’s most complete software for building, implementing and operating digital advisors powered by our market-leading conversational AI.
Taking advantage of robust natural language technology, unlimited scalability, enterprise-level security and best-in-class privacy features, numerous clients can rest assured that they provide the level of service their customers of the future expect – today.
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.