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Glia Delivers New Approach to Digital Customer Engagement
Glia was among five innovative companies judges for the 2020 Best of Enterprise Connect program deemed worthy to be a finalist in the “Overall” award category. As most No Jitter readers aren’t familiar with Glia, I’m taking this opportunity to explain what it does, and why its service resonated with the judges, myself included.
In the Beginning
Glia started in New York City in 2012 when two of the founders, then working for a large consulting firm, were tasked with helping a large electronics retailer to look beyond price and identify assets it could leverage to enable better customer engagement and financial returns. This particular retailer is known for the blue shirts its team members wear while on the store floor. If you visit a store and talk with a person wearing a blue shirt, you know you will be speaking with someone who knows the products and can immediately help you or, if not, introduce you to a “blue shirt” who can.
Glia’s founders realized that when people connected with this retailer by phone or via the company’s website, they didn’t get the same blue shirt experience. Glia was born around the concept of making digital customer service as helpful and personal as the in-person customer “blue shirt” service experience.
The founders had originally incorporated the company as “SaleMove,” and focused on automobile retailers and financial services, particularly credit unions. About a year ago, SaleMove rebranded itself as Glia and began expanding its market reach.
What Glia Offers
From the start, Glia’s focus has been entirely on digital customer engagement. The company offers a contact center platform for enabling web chat, SMS, IP and PSTN voice, video, live browsing observation, and co-browsing so that organizations can easily provide customer service assistance from digital properties, such as their websites and mobile apps. This sounds a lot like what other contact center companies offer: omnichannel customer engagement. What’s different is how Glia got there and how it has structured its platform to enable these services to be seamlessly blended with AI.
Glia uses WebRTC technology for peer-to-peer customer interactions. From the moment someone goes onto a Glia-instrumented web property or mobile app screen, their browsing activity is viewable by an agent via the WebRTC data channel. If they need help, they can enlist Glia’s chat, co-browsing, two-way audio, and one- or two-way video capabilities.
Glia has found that when agents offer to use WebRTC-enabled audio, co-browsing, and video capabilities, customer satisfaction is higher, Net Promoter Score ratings increase, and desired outcomes such as conversion rates or average hold times improve, sometimes dramatically.
Where Glia Differentiates Itself: AI Microbot Orchestration
One of the differentiating features Glia offers is a microbot orchestration capability. Bot orchestration is what caught my attention when learning about Glia. Glia believes that conversational AI and bots, when properly designed and used, can be very helpful to both contact center agents and end customers. The company’s approach centers around the idea that a lot of specially developed and finely tuned microbots will be far more valuable to digital property owners and their customers than a single large bot designed to do a wide variety of things.
Glia initially suggested to its customers that the orchestration framework should primarily provide bots that would help live agents assist end customers. The idea was that if the bot is crappy, at least it is crappy for internal agents rather than for paying customers. But bots learn, and improve, over time and so does an organization’s ability to use them effectively. As the bots Glia’s customers built got better and better through specialization, and as conversational AI itself got better and better, Glia’s customers now regularly use bots to engage with end customers directly. In fact, in some cases, Glia customers have bots that monitor end user browsing activity instead of a live agent monitoring that activity.
Glia’s AI management platform allows organizations to use any bot development framework to develop bot intents, entities, and conversational phrases, with pre-built integrations to major players including Google Dialogflow, IBM Watson, Microsoft Bot Framework, and Amazon Lex. Glia advises them to create small bots that do one task exceedingly well. Glia can then orchestrate the use of many bots in the course of a customer engagement.
For example, if a customer engages via webchat, an authentication bot can validate their identity. It can then pass the customer off to an information-gathering bot that can help figure out what the customer wants or needs. A third bot then comes into play, fulfilling the customer request. This might be filling out a loan application or opening a new bank account, for example. At any time, the session can be seamlessly escalated to a live agent. The live agent can further engage with the customer, determine what the customer really wants, and if appropriate, route the customer back to additional bots that can help satisfy the customer’s reason for engaging with the contact center. For Glia, small specialized bots are better.
Glia’s objective is to embrace digital customer service, reducing the friction customers experience when engaging a contact center. There are three takeaways to remember about Glia:
- On-screen interactions: To maximize effectiveness, Glia tries to minimize the effort customers need to make by offering guided online interactions via browser observation and co-browsing.
- Seamless transitions between channels: Glia enables via fluid transitions between digital channels including social, SMS, webchat, and voice. It can tie PSTN or mobile phone conversations to a digital interaction channel such as a web session or mobile app engagement.
- AI management: Glia helps its customers efficiently create, manage, and optimize highly specialized microbots for assisting customers and agents.
Glia’s go-to-market model involves direct sales and two types of channel partners: integrators that resell and deploy Glia, and OEMs that license Glia’s technology and embed it within their own products, especially the co-browsing capability. The company uses a typical cloud-SaaS subscription model that includes a base fee and a per-user fee.
Glia’s microbot orchestration model resonated with me, and it must have resonated with other EC ‘20 judges, too. I congratulate Glia on being selected as a finalist in the Overall category for the 2020 Best of Enterprise Connect Award.