Altocloud Personalizes Customer Service

On Day 3 of Enterprise Connect, I had a chance to catch up with long time participants of the show, Barry O'Sullivan and Lawrence Byrd. Barry is most recently known from his days at Cisco and Lawrence was Mr. Everything at Avaya. Today both hang their shingle at a startup called Altocloud, where Barry serves as the company's CEO and Lawrence's title is "technology evangelist".

This industry is filled with start-ups, some good and others not so good, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I met with them, but I left the meeting impressed with the product and the opportunity ahead of them.

Altocloud is attempting to raise the bar on the customer service delivered from the contact center, through the use of machine learning, contextual information and predictive analytics. The problems in contact centers have been well documented over the years, with customers suffering through long hold times, having to re-input or repeat information multiple times, and getting an all around impersonal and frustrating experience. Despite these well known problems and the fact that the call center remains maybe the most important touch point between companies and customers, there have been only small, incremental steps in improving customer service.

I believe Altocloud's approach can redefine the way a call center operates and the way businesses interact with their customers to deliver a much more personal experience. In turn, delivering a more personalized experience can lead to faster transactions for customers, increased loyalty and a move away from the price-driven markets we have today.

Consider the travel industry. The market is filled with low cost portals that bundle airfare, hotels and car rentals together and compete on offering the lowest price. But how does it really know I'll like the hotel, the area or anything else about the vacation? The fact is that most portals don't. I could spend hours reading user reviews, looking up restaurants on Yelp and looking at activities, but that process can also be frustrating and may not give the best result.

What if there were a way to capture all of my activity, both current and historical, and then when it became obvious I wasn't finding something I like, predictively route me to an agent who could make personalized recommendations based on the information gathered? Well that's essentially what Altocloud is bringing to market.

The company has built a cloud based platform that actively monitors what customers are doing (or attempting to do) and then can proactively put a person in a queue to communicate with a live agent over audio or video and predict the best agent to communicate with. The agent has a wealth of information and the ability to share screens and continue to get contextual information during the transaction to offer a highly personalized experience.

The Altocloud platform can be deployed quickly through JavaScript libraries and mobile SDKs that don't require the same amount of communications skills that more traditional platforms do. The platform allows for voice, video and chat to be embedded in web applications and also mobile applications, which is fast becoming the key interaction point for businesses and customers, particularly with the younger generation.

The product was designed to work with a wide variety of other vendors, such as Cisco, Avaya, Marketo, Salesforce and Oracle, to avoid enterprises having to rip and replace existing infrastructure, which has the added benefit of speeding up deployment times.

While this could apply to almost any vertical, there are some obvious "low hanging" verticals for Altocloud, and those are the ones where contextual information and speed of transactions matter. Insurance, particularly on the claims side, healthcare, financial services and technical support come to mind but there's really no business that couldn't benefit by delivering a more personalized, faster experience in their call centers.

The UC and contact center industries have gone through many waves of change, and I believe contextual information can move UC from being a "nice to have" technology to a need to have, particularly with mobile interactions. When a person is sitting at a desk, searching and exchanging information isn't all that arduous a task. Is it a pain? Sure, sometimes, but we can live with it. However, when mobile, the ability to search for, capture and input information can be very frustrating, and then having to repeat this information to someone can be extremely challenging, considering that the same device you're using to talk to the person is the one that you used to look up the information.

Altocloud has the potential to significantly change the way companies interact with their customers and it was great to see this kind of innovation first here at Enterprise Connect.

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