Conversational AI: Interview with Seb Reeve, Director International Go-to-market at Nuance Communications

Seb Reeve is the Director International Go-to-market at Nuance Communications. With customers in several industries such as healthcare, financial and telco, Nuance is improving user experience with virtual agents powered by Conversational AI and voice biometric solutions for authentication.

Mr. Reeve recently spoke at the Humanising Digital & Self-Service, which was held in London on October 3rd, 2019.

In this interview, Mr. Reeve shares insights on how conversational AI can be used to improve customer experience thanks to technologies such as speech recognition and voice recognition through biometrics, and how this can help remove any possible friction between the brand and the customer.

This interview has been featured in the Conversational AI Initiative 2019.

What is your background and how did you get involved with Nuance Communications?

My background is in Software Engineering – in which I have a Master’s Degree – with most of my working life spent helping brands create differentiated experiences for their customers. I joined Nuance in 2010 with the responsibility of developing our business growth in Europe which has been an excellent experience and incredibly natural fit.

Over 400 million consumers make more than 8 billion successful authentications yearly using Nuance biometrics and our conversational AI solutions have delivered organisations over $3B in annual savings.

Who are Nuance Communications’ customers and how do you create value for them? Are most of your customers in a particular industry, and if yes, why? 

We work with thousands of organisations globally across healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, government and retail – to empower a smarter, more connected world. As a pioneer and leader in conversational AI innovations we deliver solutions that understand, analyse, and respond to people – amplifying human intelligence to increase productivity and security.  Over 30 billion customer interactions flow through Nuance each year, with nearly all of the world’s largest financial institutions and global telecommunications companies having selected Nuance solutions. Over 400 million consumers make more than 8 billion successful authentications yearly using Nuance biometrics and our conversational AI solutions have delivered organisations over $3B in annual savings. 

Tell us about Pathfinder: what is the goal of this project and how far have you come?

Pathfinder is a breakthrough technology that uses machine learning and Nuance AI innovation to increase the conversational intelligence of virtual assistants (VAs) and chatbots. It reads existing chat logs and transcripts of conversations between agents and customers within contact centres, and automatically builds highly effective dialogue models – used to create and support two-way conversations between virtual assistants and consumers.

Until now, training a virtual assistant to specialise in financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, insurance and other industries was a highly manual, time-consuming, and often lengthy process, prone to human error. Pathfinder significantly reduces the time and cost to create an intelligent VA that resolves issues quickly and is capable of a contextual, two-way conversation.

We launched Pathfinder in February this year making it available as a solution to a number of strategic customers. Since then we have extended its reach and made it more generally available as a solution for a broader customer base.

You recently spoke at the Humanising Digital & Self-Service Conference. What did your presentation cover?

The key driver of my talk was on how we will make interactions with brands truly frictionless – and that to achieve this, we will need services that are both conversational and available across all the touch-points users truly want to interact with. I also focused on how designing effective, optimal self-service experiences will require both machines and humans to work together much more closely to see improved outcomes.

Learn more about Humanising Digital & Self-Service, which was held in London on October 3rd, 2019.

Conversational AI plays a part by enabling consumers to engage in natural interactions through text or speech to gain immediate access to information and easy, effortless outcomes through IVR, messaging or web channels.

Join our weekly newsletter to receive:

  1. Latest articles & interviews
  2. AI events: updates, free passes and discount codes
  3. Opportunities to join AI Time Journal initiatives

Conversational AI Q&A

How can enterprises leverage conversational AI to make their customers happier and more satisfied?

At Nuance, our key focus is to help businesses deliver world-class, differentiated experiences – powered by AI – that focus on customers. We are committed to transforming the customer journey into an experience customer’s love.

Conversational AI plays a part by enabling consumers to engage in natural interactions through text or speech to gain immediate access to information and easy, effortless outcomes through IVRmessaging or web channels. It enables organisations to deliver omni-channel experiences that originate in or through the channel or device of a consumer’s choosing and navigate seamlessly across channels to achieve their desired outcome.

Improving the customer experience is all about removing friction from every interaction. The easier it is to interact with your brand, the more likely your customers are to stay long-term. An example of this is calling an IVR and having to answer a multitude of security questions. This can, not only take time, but it’s also not always practical, and the result can be frustration and even defection.

Improving the customer experience is all about removing friction from every interaction. The easier it is to interact with your brand, the more likely your customers are to stay long-term.

That’s why many organisations are turning to voice biometrics for customer authentication in the IVR. If the customer enrols a sample of their voice, biometrics can recognise them when they call and authenticate them without asking for any other details. This is a shining example of conversational AI removing obstacles to interaction with a brand and making the experience for a customer smoother.

How can enterprises get started with their conversational AI strategy?

Customer expectations continue to rise rapidly, and there’s no sign of that slowing down. They’re going to continue challenging companies to give them better experiences and make every interaction effortless. As CTOs need to guide their companies through the digital transformation, it is key the overall strategy drives all technology decision-making, and that includes the best chat-bots. Organisations need a future-proofed contact centre designed to deliver intelligent engagements.

As we enter the so-called fourth industrial revolution, AI will fundamentally change how we do business and CTOs must be privy to this, re-imagining the way we work – with technology and humans working closer than ever before. 

Whether that’s through chat-bots becoming smarter and more natural in their conversation, or a clearly defined and seamless process of escalating a conversation to a human to take-over, we are at the forefront of the digital-first customer experience.

The combination of data-driven personalisation alongside prediction algorithms will offer the ability to design experiences for consumers that are genuinely easier to use than those we’re seeing today.

Which conversational AI-related technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact in your industry in the coming years?

There are a few that looked destined to have a considerable impact! For me, the combination of data-driven personalisation alongside prediction algorithms will offer the ability to design experiences for consumers that are genuinely easier to use than those we’re seeing today. I envisage a world where we will not need to reach out to brands very often at all – instead, we can expect them to anticipate our needs.

What are the most interesting conversational AI use cases for business that you see emerging in 2019? 

With customers increasingly seeking to ‘self-help’ through digital channels I see more use cases for smarter virtual assistants that bring even better customer service and faster resolutions for everyone. Not only customers but also agents and employers. The technology will allow for example show to metrics including agent churn, job satisfaction, overtime hours. Conversational AI will augment humans

The mission of AI Time Journal is to divulge information
and knowledge about Artificial Intelligence, the changes that
are coming and new opportunities to use AI technology to
benefit humanity.

About AI Time Journal Editorial Staff

The mission of AI Time Journal is to divulge information and knowledge about Artificial Intelligence, the changes that are coming and new opportunities to use AI technology to benefit humanity.

View all posts by AI Time Journal Editorial Staff →