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Cresta Cruises Into the Contact Center with Agent AI


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While artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot technology for the contact center, most companies recognize that AI doesn’t replace agents for direct customer interaction. The goal then becomes using AI to upscale and help agents be as efficient as possible.
That’s the niche in which Cresta, a 60-person startup, plays.
Back in 2017, inside a Stanford University AI lab, Zayd Enam, a student refined the technology skills that led him to launch Cresta, an AI startup that guides contact center agents on what to say and do at each turn of a customer conversation. Specifically, Cresta provides real-time prompts at pivotal moments in a conversation in order to optimize agent responses and personalized coaching on behaviors in order to hone an agent’s strengths and correct weaknesses, Enam shared in a recent No Jitter briefing. Cresta makes sure agents ask the right discovery questions at the beginning of a conversation, which Enam said is vital, and coaching agents at specific turning points can help overcome objections a customer might raise, he added.
Additionally, to improve productivity, Cresta automates repetitive tasks, like filling out order forms or pulling up customer records, Enam said.
With an open API and platform, Cresta takes an agnostic approach, and is able to integrate with on-prem systems and cloud contact center solutions from any provider, Enam said. “… we’re able to sit as a layer on top of all of them and help solve key human problems,” he said, adding that nobody wants to be in a closed system anymore. They want the flexibility to choose what building blocks to use in their contact center — and have the ability to move or change platforms as desired, he said.
During the pandemic, Cresta’s AI tools proved particularly useful to a leading retailer that had to rely on phone and chat for sales activities, Enam recounted. In a two-week pilot, the company saw a 24% increase in sales relative to sales in a group that didn’t use Cresta, he reported. “For me, that was particularly motivating, to see the impact of machine learning on productivity for sales teams,” Enam said.
In addition to this retailer, Cresta counts Intuit, Cox Communications, and other Fortune 500 companies among its customers, Enam said. Because the space is new, and companies are trying to identify the best possible partners, they typically start with a pilot or proof-of-concept test for one use case. Once they prove the value for one use case, “we have the win” and the customers add additional capabilities, he added.
To him, AI’s biggest impact will be in helping people be more efficient in their work. But, he added, “it’s going to be a combination of both humans and AI together.”