My Transcom Experience

Author: Eduardo Valdelomar

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Fundaments of Virtual Agents

Transcom recently announced a partnership with Creative Virtual, a company specialized in self-service customer experience management solutions. One of the objectives of this cooperation is to reinforce the Transcom’s offer in virtual agents and chatbots, combining the Creative Virtual’s portfolio, with the wide experience of Transcom in customer experience.

Transcom has already defined solid virtual agent solutions, as Philip Sköld explains in this post, but what’s behind a virtual agent? What technologies make possible for a chatbot to improve the customer experience?

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The foundation of the automated customer experience is Cognitive Computing (CC), a discipline that tries to replicate the human communication by using different Artificial Intelligence (AI) methodologies, like Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning or Speech Recognition.

Cognitive Computing allows the virtual agent to interact with the customer or the human agent in an easy and comfortable way, but with an objective: to solve a question, provide information, or help with a task. To ensure an efficient service, the virtual agent can use Expert Systems and Big Data.

The conversations registered by the virtual agent can be used to better understand the client’s need. For that purpose, Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Speech Analytics can help to extract value of the high volume of collected information.

Going through all these disciplines would be excessive for a single post, so let me focus on Cognitive Computing, which is probably the greatest contribution of the AI to the virtual agent.

Cognitive Computing has been developed since the 50s and 60s, when the foundations were set. The highest evolution started in the 80s, when the computational capacity allowed the evolution from rule-based algorithms (symbolic approach) to machine learning algorithms (statistical approach) [1].

The different perspectives of Natural Language Processing

There are several different perspectives of NLP:

Phonology: this first level is widely used in speech recognition, segmentation, and analysis. This is extremely important for virtual agents.

Morphology: focuses on the word and its composition, and is the basis for syntactic analysis. One interesting application of morphology is the lemmatization: a way of reducing each word to a canonical form. Lemmatization retrieves the infinitive form of the verbs from their original past and gerund forms, which simplifies their utilization in further processes like decision trees.

Lexicography: focuses on the meaning of the words. The NLP systems require a machine-readable dictionary to implement the lexicographical analysis. Stanford CoreNLP has gone one step further and has integrated Wikipedia as a dictionary, marking the terms that can be found in its database.

Syntax: the syntactic analysis deals with the break-down of the speech in different constituents (sentences, phrases, words) and the links between them. There are different algorithms related to syntax analysis:

  • Parts of speech: this type of algorithm tags each word with its function in the sentence, which is important since one single word can have different meanings depending upon the context.
  • Constituency parse: creates a tree representing the grammatical structure of the speech. This is important since sentences can have very different meanings, which would drive different constituency structures. Normally the current algorithms use a probabilistic context-free grammar to determine the most probable structure (and meaning), using machine learning to optimize the probabilities.
  • Dependency parse: if constituency parse was based on the grammatical structure, dependency parse is based on how the words are directly connected each other.

Semantic: the semantic analysis focuses on the meaning, which normally requires previous morphological, lexicographical and syntactical analysis. There are many different types of algorithms depending upon the requirements, like the Named Entity Recognition (NER), which identifies places, persons, organizations, dates, amounts etc. within the sentences. The sentiment algorithms are gaining more importance, since they are able to identify feelings, which can be extremely useful both on-line to address the conversation, and off-line to evaluate the service and improve the expert systems based on the accumulated experience. Sentiment analysis is normally based in machine learning, which even allows detecting sarcasm or irony.

Discourse: this discipline deals with texts including several sentences, focusing on the overall meaning of the speech. Some examples of discourse analysis are anaphora resolution, discourse structure recognition and automatic summarization. Anaphora resolution uses sentences in the text to solve uncertainties in other sentences. CoreNLP is also able to execute some coreference analysis.

Pragmatic: finally, the pragmatic approach involves a scope in the analysis that is not explicitly included in the text under review. The pragmatic algorithms take advantage of wide big data to retrieve the information necessary to create the missing context.

Here, you will find a sample sentence where I’ve applied some algorithms of the Stanford CoreNLP software[2] to help further explain the different NLP perspectives.

Other disciplines are also very important for virtual agents, but this is supposed to be a post, not a book, so I’ll leave it here… for now.


[1] There is some controversial about if this was really an “evolution”. In an interview published in 2012 (which you can read here), Noam Chomsky opined that the preponderance of statistical learning techniques provided some quick results but addressed the AI evolution in a wrong direction. It is, definitely, an interesting point of view.

[2] Stanford CoreNLP is licensed under the GNU General Public License (see license details is https://stanfordnlp.github.io/CoreNLP/#license)

Author: Philip Sköld

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Transcom’s Robotic Process Automation solutions

Digital transformation is heading the corporate agenda. Hardware and computers are becoming faster and less expensive while software becomes significantly more sophisticated. These factors are creating exciting opportunities to introduce a digital workforce.

Robotic Process Automation, RPA, is a system to automate repetitive tasks by mimicking human behavior with increased quality. RPA is deployed on top of current IT systems and uses the same user interface as humans do, making RPA non-intrusive and thus there is typically no need for integration to other systems. 63% of companies say that RPA is a top priority for their operations strategy to reduce cost and to deliver higher quality services; however, only 11% have real experience of deploying RPA in their organizations.

Transcom has extensive experience of RPA implementation. Our dedicated RPA team has automated more than 150 processes with excellent results. We offer a full range of services to deliver a production-ready solution to our clients, including advisory, project management, and maintenance, operations, and improvement services.

Making use of RPA will be a key lever for efficiency gains for many companies in the years to come, especially in customer service. Human agents can spend more time on value added tasks by automation of manual processes. RPA will also bridge challenges in business system integration, reduce cycle and waiting times and increase accuracy and consistency in process execution without interfering with the IT application landscape.

Read more about our offering here, or contact us directly on rpa@transcom.com.

Author: Helene Ruda

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Frost & Sullivan recognizes Transcom’s leadership in delivering value to clients

Frost & Sullivan awarded Transcom the 2017 European Contact Center Outsourcing Customer Value Leadership Award after an evaluation of best practices across multiple business performance categories against key competitors. Transcom’s ability to navigate a shifting digital landscape is recognized, as well as the ability to support clients on their digital journey and helping them manage the shift towards non-voice solutions for customer care.

Transcom-Award-Logo

“Transcom has gone through considerable changes as of late, and its brand name remains strong in Europe due to the way in which it continues to serve its clients.  The company is offering its clients real value by helping them negotiate these rapidly changing times – the way in which the company has helped steward clients through the chaos of economic and technological change while under such pressure is testament to its leadership”, commented Frost & Sullivan Analyst Stephen Loynd.

Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Awards are presented each year to companies that are predicted to encourage growth in their industries, have identified emerging trends before they became the standard in the marketplace, and have created advanced technologies that will catalyze and transform industries in the near future.

“We are extremely proud to be recognized by Frost & Sullivan for what we consider to be the most important award of all. Delivering customer value is our top priority, and this award is a testament of how we have achieved our key objective of aligning customer experience management and innovation. We pride ourselves of being at the forefront of customer care and of investing in the right technology solutions that would enable us to support our clients in their digitalization journey, while maintaining the highest quality standards in our core service offering”, says Michael Weinreich, President & CEO, Transcom.

 

Author: Philip Sköld

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Transcom’s Virtual Agent solutions

As a specialist in customer experience, Transcom is constantly looking for new ways to help our clients improve customer satisfaction and increase loyalty. One of the key elements in doing so is to reduce the effort for a customer seeking support. Transcom has now made it even easier for our clients to complement their customer service team with virtual agents by developing tailored solutions. We do this by providing process advice, project management, implementation, operations handling and maintenance, partnering with some of the most distinguished technology providers in the space.

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) offer an exciting opportunity to take customer service and experience to the next level. Virtual agents are already working side-by-side with human agents, introducing new capabilities, increased flexibility, and more efficient contact handling. And these solutions will improve further with the growing maturity of machine learning and natural language processing.

Deployment of virtual agents in contact centers brings major benefits. Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA), today typically implemented as chat bots, provides autonomous support to your customers in selected channels across selected topics. The VCA’s will most likely migrate into voice channels, as well as reactively or proactively providing customers with relevant information using machine learning and predictive analytics, as the technology matures. Giving fast and easy access to the correct information will facilitate for customers seeking for answers on your website – which is often the customer’s first choice in seeking advice or help.

Virtual Agent Assistant (VAA) can help human agents extract the most relevant information from the knowledge base and proposes answers leading to an optimal outcome, allowing them to focus on quality in high value interactions and eliminate human errors in more transactional requests.

Giving the customer an effortless experience by clever deployment of virtual agents can have a huge effect on loyalty. Positive effects range from more flexible opening hours and lower response times, to more customized responses based on better leveraging of customer data and contextual information. However, companies deploying virtual agents typically experience several challenges. Lack of clarity and direction in the digital transformation agenda, uncertainty as to where and how to deploy, and concerns about the impact on brand reputation can potentially delay implementation and limit the benefits. To help overcome these challenges, Transcom provides solution tailored to the customer service environment and your specific needs. You can read more about our offering here, or contact us directly on virtualagents@transcom.com

Author: Juan Brun

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Transcom Spain certified as Top Employer Spain 2018

Transcom Spain is proud to announce that it has been officially certified by the Top Employers Institute for its exceptional employee offerings.

The annual international research undertaken by the Top Employers Institute recognizes leading employers around the world: those that provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation, and which strive to continuously optimize employment practices. Transcom has been awarded the exclusive Top Employers España 2018 certification.

Top_Employer_Spain_English_2018

Crucial to the Top Employers process is that participating companies must complete a stringent research process and meet the required high standard in order to achieve the certification. To further reinforce the validity of the process, all answers were independently audited, meaning this research has verified Transcom’s outstanding employee conditions and earned them a coveted spot among a choice group of certified Top Employers.

The Top Employers Institute assessed Transcom’s employee offerings on the following criteria:

  • Talent Strategy
  • Workforce Planning
  • On-boarding
  • Learning & Development
  • Performance Management
  • Leadership Development
  • Career & Succession Management
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Culture

“The optimal conditions for employees ensure that they can be developed both personally and professionally. Our exhaustive analysis concludes that Transcom Spain offers an excellent work environment, and a wide variety of creative initiatives, from secondary benefits and working conditions to well-implemented performance management programs perfectly aligned with the company’s culture”, says Salvador Ibáñez, Country Manager of Top Employers Institute in Spain.

“We are proud to have received this certification that shows our capabilities to make our company an excellent place to work, promoting the development of our most valuable resources: our employees”, says Juan Brun, General Manager Transcom Spain & Portugal Cluster.

Author: Gianluca Gemma

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The challenges of Customer Care in the Travel & Leisure industry

Providing customer assistance is always a delicate task, one that requires tact, empathy and skill in order to offer the right solution and strike up a rapport where necessary. The travel sector in particular throws up a range of potentially thorny customer care challenges: for example, a flight cancellation can ruin a long-planned, eagerly anticipated holiday, with the affected users understandably angry when they speak to an operator to get an explanation. The changing, unstable international panorama is another factor that can generate problems requiring quick solutions: events such as Brexit can alter the dynamics of a travel company, while terrorism is – sadly – another factor to take into account.

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All of these potential pitfalls require professionals to be as competent as they are empathetic. When customers are in difficulty, especially if they are abroad, it is vital that we are able to reassure them and explain what they need to do. It is this mix of interpersonal skills and technical expertise that constitutes the very foundation of Transcom’s customer care team, enabling us to provide practical answers in even the most unexpected situations.

With experience in the travel sector stretching back to 2009, Transcom has developed specific industry expertise over the years and became a partner of the Lastminute.com group in 2015. The organisation, which brings together a range of booking companies, interacts with over 43 million users per month, considering both searches and actual bookings.

However, added value is not just generated in moments of crisis like the ones we have mentioned here. It is the product of a constant, multi-level commitment to improving the Lastminute.com service for its customers and giving them a reason to keep turning to that particular booking company rather than others.

The first element is the quality of service offered by Transcom. We provide our services in a wide range of languages (13 in the case of Lastminute.com), covering 35 nations. The service is available 24 hours a day across a variety of channels, with telephone, email and chat support available to ensure users can get in contact in a way that suits them. Operators are highly trained and familiar with websites and Customer Reservation Systems (CRS) that use specific processing languages and thus require specialist knowledge. Finally, as a company Transcom has extensive experience in customer care, having been operating in the travel sector for the past eight years. It is this experience that enables the company to anticipate and respond to the needs of users and provide pre- and post-sales services such as suggesting car hire options in their destination.

The other side of Transcom’s role in its partnership with Lastminute.com is to propose solutions designed to optimise processes. With 14,000 daily transactions to process, it is vital that workflow is organised efficiently. In the field of process improvement, Transcom has proposed a web platform designed to automate back-office activities which were once done manually, thus enabling to us speed up operations and reduce errors.

The work undertaken by Transcom for Lastminute.com has resulted in an increase in the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and saw the company awarded top prize for Customer Service Management in 2017 on the recommendation of a panel of Customer Management Multimedia Call Center (CMMC) experts.

But don’t just take our word for it! Hear from our clients here:

https://dreambroker.com/channel/flvx366a/cuu7yk4p