Steve Desjarlais is the CEO and Co-Founder of Heyday AI, a company that focuses on developing an AI capable of engaging and understanding customers in every stage of their journey: from pre-purchase to product browsing and answering FAQs.
In this interview, Mr. Desjarlais shares insights on how enterprises can leverage conversational AI to empower their marketing, support and sales teams with the ultimate goal of improving customer experience.
What is your background and how was Heyday AI started?
I’m former Head of Product of Ubisoft, the video game powerhouse behind blockbuster titled such as Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, FarCry and Splinter Cell.
Heyday was launched by former Ubisoft (video game), Lightspeed (retail), Genband (cloud, telco) and Dentsu Aegis (advertising) executives who saw a pivotal moment in the history of computing and user interaction. Conversational software will create a brand new economy, a new age of AI-powered personalization that puts the customer first.
What is Heyday AI‘s mission?
We believe natural language is the most frictionless interface there is.
Our goal is to reinvent customer experience with Conversational AI to make online shopping more personal and meaningful.
Heyday’s NLP is trained with more than 1000 variations of customer intentions to help businesses engage, serve and convert customers automagically
Walk us through Heyday AI’s products, and what problems they solve.
Heyday’s Conversational AI platform was designed to give superpowers to sales, marketing and support teams. As such, our technology has been built to engage and understand customers at every step of their journey: from pre-purchase browsing and product search, to cart creation and recovery, to automating FAQs like order tracking status and managing returns. As such, Heyday’s NLP is trained with more than 1000 variations of customer intentions to help businesses engage, serve and convert customers automagically, thanks to the power of natural language understanding and AI personalization.
What are the biggest challenges that you are currently facing at Heyday AI?
Like any startup at the forefront of new technology, the main challenge in the early days is to evangelize the market and educate businesses about the value of investing early in this space to gain a competitive edge. As the market democratizes itself, the next challenge will be to productize everything we’ve built in our AI lab to tool teams and empower them to be their best selves 24-7-365. At the end of the day, the goal is to make every customer feel like a VIP. So there are tons of technological challenges to make sure that the AI is trained to understand most use cases and it is connected to the right sources of data so that it can effectively serve customers and delight them with relevant and instant responses
How do you measure the performance of your products?
There is a myriad of metrics we track but I think there are three key north stars that sit at the intersection of customer acquisition and customer satisfaction:
- conversion rate (from sales conversations)
- Automation rate (for cost reduction)
- CSAT (for customer satisfaction)
What are the main business use cases of chatbots?
For us, the most popular use cases are:
- shopping assistant (personalized product recommendations and shopping guide)
- FAQ automation
- Order tracking management
- Customer acquisition
Sales/e-comm, marketing, and support use cases are the best fits for our platform.
How can enterprises get started with their conversational ai strategy?
The goal is to start small and then scale iteratively. We always advise to focus on a low-hanging fruit where you can get immediate ROI, whether it’s automating answers to order tracking questions or creating an acquisition funnel connected to a Facebook Ad, the key is to start with a use case that is both easily actionable and measurable so you can get data quickly and then educate the next stages of your strategy.
This shift will be of an unprecedented order of magnitude. It will surpass the impact that e-commerce and social media had on their businesses.
How can enterprises prepare for the changes in the industry brought by Conversational AI technology?
They need to understand that this shift will be of an unprecedented order of magnitude. It will surpass the impact that e-commerce and social media had on their businesses. As such, the key is to get started and get learnings early — no matter how small — because they will compound and snowball into a big competitive advantage in 5 years from now.
We believe internal teams are a formidable source of knowledge inside organizations, they are just all too often underutilized. At Heyday, our goal is to enhance human teams, not replace them.
What are the biggest opportunities for enterprises to leverage Conversational AI?
Obviously, the answer will sound self-serving here but customer experience is definitely a huge opportunity. How many businesses do you know to offer a great customer experience? Almost none. It’s even worse online. So the challenge and opportunity are to combine convenience and experience without sacrificing one or the other. It’s impossible to achieve this level of personalization at scale without AI. Hence why we are big believers in the space.
Which Conversational AI-related technology trend do you think will have the biggest impact in your industry in the coming years?
I think technology people are quick to discard human beings. We have a different approach and view on this: we believe internal teams are a formidable source of knowledge inside organizations, they are just all too often underutilized. At Heyday, our goal is to enhance human teams, not replace them. We want our AI to become the best ambassador of our clients — so it only makes sense that it needs to learn from internal teams (through machine learning and reinforcement learning) and collaborate with them. As such, we believe the biggest trend (if it is one) is to have a hybrid approach that positions AI as a member of the team, not a replacement. The synergy between man and machine will lead us to our desired state, i.e. creating smarter, faster and better customer experiences.