Partner Spotlight: Servion - Q&A with Laurent Philonenko, CEO at Servion
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Servion.
I've been in the contact center industry for two decades in leadership roles at Genesys, Cisco, and Avaya. I was familiar with Servion from my days at Cisco, which is how I got to know the company. Then the opportunity came about to come over to lead the company. I have always been impressed by Servion’s deep technical expertise and its considerable array of resources, which I thought would be interesting to deploy in a changing market as we see in contact centers today.
What are the challenges your customers are looking to solve?
It depends on where customers are in their maturity cycle. At one end of the spectrum, customers have fundamental problems, such as long wait times, utilizing available agent resources, or too many queues. In that case, we help them solve those issues and stabilize their operations. At the other end, you have customers who want to differentiate with a sophisticated technology implementation, which encompasses moving to digital, deflecting calls, or creating entirely new customer experiences. Enterprises who want to be at the forefront of modern customer experiences seek out solutions like Koopid.
Before kicking off a new digital transformation project, there are a few overarching questions that everyone should consider:
- Cost. Both people and technology costs matter, and improvements are possible for both.
- Business outcomes. There are several approaches companies can take - omnichannel, assistants, cloud and digital. What method will be most effective in achieving business outcomes and align with your customers’ expectations?
- Roadmap. Understanding what you expect to achieve will help drive the roadmap and focus your efforts out of the gate.
Contact center changes can be daunting. How do you ensure your customers are headed in the right direction?
Yes, there are a couple of things we start with to ensure alignment.
- Benchmarking. It aims to pinpoint 2-3 low areas that can be immediately fixed and improve business outcomes in the short-term.
- Define critical processes or workflows. It requires a bit more of a consultative approach. That has more profound consequences because it's not just about interaction but also about what happens in the back end. The intent is to go beyond the technology and to rethink and improve the process.
How does Servion look different five years from now?
The key for us is to scale our expertise and automate repeatable processes, continuously generating more value and lowering costs both for our customers and ourselves. The reality is that many manual processes of five years ago are now automated, and many of today’s manual processes will be automated in five years. We have to have some level of repeatability and automation in our services - we need to do more.
When you go beyond processes, you also have to think about how the solution stack is evolving, leading to services changing. Take speech, for example. In the past, to deliver a speech-based solution, companies had to tune grammars; that was expensive, and had to be done by specific resources with very niche expertise. That is no longer the case because AI and machine learning have become more commonplace and accessible to a much broader audience - lowering the cost to entry and speeding adoption up.
How do you see Servion and Koopid being able to solve the challenges that are beginning to bubble up in the contact center?
One of the reasons we partner with Koopid is that it offers a quite unique set of capabilities. What makes Koopid unique is the flexibility and the completeness of the solution when it comes to integration with contact centers. Many virtual assistants are not good at context or escalations. The notion that you can do an excellent job on the front end, and transfer the context seamlessly if human interaction is needed, is a significant differentiation for Koopid. Also, the no-code development of dialogs and flows is an important agility and productivity enabler.
Many companies have implemented chatbots thinking they would solve these challenges but they now realize that they have only deployed a very expensive FAQ. The reality is customers want to understand where they are at in the customer journey, but the chatbot is only one step in that journey. The ‘bot’ context should also be available to the other customer communication channels - SMS, IVR, and email - so that a persistent conversation is preserved throughout the customer journey. With AI and machine learning, Koopid continues to learn and evolve based on customer interactions, which is also an exciting value proposition.
Why is it challenging for contact centers to build and implement the type of solutions that Servion and Koopid offer?
We need to address people, process, and technology aspects. The problem is that enterprises have decades of intertwined data and applications, that simply do not work well together every time. Having a clean data structure is critical to do anything, but unfortunately, it's tough to do. That is where most AI projects fall short because extracting the right data from the silos created across the enterprise is extremely difficult.
For CIOs, understanding the problem is one thing - fixing it is an entirely different thing. It takes time and energy to do it. We all have experiences when we call contact centers where it's broken. It's not necessarily the contact center’s fault, but it's a defective integration of the front and back ends. That's really where many enterprises run into challenges. Solving these challenges will position companies for significant opportunities in the future.
What is a typical characteristic of an organization that tackles the tough organizational, people, process, and technology problem?
Companies who have decoupled their applications and moved to microservices are likely to succeed. As we’ve discussed, it's not easy to do, but companies are less apprehensive about making more changes once the process starts and productivity increases. Many companies have great aspirations to deliver fantastic customer experiences, but have first to overcome the hurdles of their legacy technology. The good news is that it can be done, and newer generation solutions like Koopid are tremendous assets for this journey.