Five9 Release Focuses on AI Use Cases

Cloud contact center provider Five9 today announced its Spring Release 2018, with features and capabilities aimed at helping enterprises leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in "practical" contact center use cases.

As Gaurav Passi, EVP of products and technology at Five9, told me in a briefing, the company has been getting a lot of "What does AI mean to us?" questions from enterprises as they work to cut through the hype and understand how they can apply AI to the customer experience. To guide them, Five9 has begun to identify use cases, like billing disputes and product inquiries, where AI becomes practical and easy to implement, Passi said.

Specifically, its Spring Release introduces Five9 Genius, an intelligent routing engine for matching customers to agents who can best address their needs. Using natural language processing and machine learning, rather than pre-determined "if this then that" rules, the Genius routing engine would understand that a customer has used a website search bar to ask a billing question. Pulling contextual interaction and historical information, it would match that customer to an available agent best skilled to address billing issues. The agent receives all necessary information on the customer's billing and call history, the bill in question, and guidance on the next best action for timely resolution. The machine learning, Passi noted, delivers the logic allowing for the personalization that Genius delivers.

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Additionally, Five9's Spring Release introduces Engagement Workflow, which incorporates machine learning technologies -- from Five9 and third parties like Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson -- to determine optimal workflows for customer interactions across all channels. In short, Engagement Workflow is what makes Genius actionable, enabling enterprises to design workflows and personalize customer experiences, Passi said.

"AI ... is the big vision for us going forward," Passi said. "Our customers want us to invest in AI; we need to invest. So we made sure our applications leverage this technology, and keep listening to our customers to develop use cases."

This release provides further evidence that Five9, as contact center analyst Sheila McGee-Smith wrote for No Jitter in March, is working to cement its position as a cloud contact center leader. "Five9 will be the first to admit that [it was] playing catch-up a few years ago, especially in the area of omnichannel," she told me in an email exchange. "Those days are gone, and with the 2018 Spring Release the company shows it is keeping pace with competitors in bringing AI into their applications."

In addition to Genius and Engagement Workflow, the new release features an extension of Five9's open platform to include real-time data and REST-based services via roughly 120 new APIs; a widget browser-based supervisor application; and a multi-role performance dashboard. Via the dashboard, Passi said, admins can get quick views of key performance indicators like how many agents with a particular skill are live, average handle time, or first call resolution rate.

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