Conversational AI is a hot topic but has primarily been applied to contact centers, where the technology has been focused on dissecting chatbot interactions between businesses and consumers. This has been the “low hanging fruit” for the conversational AI industry yet it’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
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Conversational AI Needs to Address More than Chatbots
Most of the two dozen or so vendors in this industry have been laser-focused on the chatbot market to improve inbound customer service, but Uniphore has taken a bit of a different approach.
Instead of building a conversational AI product, the company chose to develop a platform capable of delivering AI-based data analytics to any type of conversation – chat, voice or video. Last year, it added to its platform with the acquisition of Emotion Research Labs (ERL), which brought emotion detection into the fold.
This Uniphore platform was the foundation of the new Q for Sales product, which uses a combination of computer vision, tonal analysis, automatic speech recognition and natural language processing to capture the full emotional spectrum of sales conversations.
Improving Virtual Sales Meetings
The company cited some interesting research that highlights the need for such a product. Pre-pandemic, 61% of B2B sales were conducted in person. This let salespeople read visual cues, adapt and build trust.
Today, 66% of B2B sales are done virtually, making it much more difficult for a salesperson to interpret body language and other non-verbal communication. Uniphore’s Q for Sales can bring better emotional intelligence to virtual meetings. In fact, it’s likely that this technology could make virtual meetings more effective than in-person ones.
Key features of Q for Sales include:
- Real-Time EQ Meeting Assist: Real-Time Emotion AI assistant to help sellers “read the room,” sense emotional cues and improve engagement during virtual meetings.
- Meeting EQ: Meeting playbacks, contextual key moments, engagement & sentiment trends for all members of a meeting.
- Deal EQ: Opportunity-level insights, customer sentiment & engagement timelines, and key moments from first meeting to closed-won.
- Key Moments: Provides real-time analytics that show highlights and low lights in the conversation — moments of peak and weak audience engagement so the presenter can self-correct.
- Team EQ and Improve: Shows presenters a performance chart of their EQ performance, which can be used for post-meeting analysis and coaching.
- Integrations: Works with major virtual meeting platforms including Zoom, and Webex by Cisco. Integrates with Salesforce CRM, Google Workspace and Office 365. Additional integrations to be announced soon.
Use Cases Beyond Transforming Sales
While there are many use cases for the broader definition of conversational AI, I was not surprised that Uniphore chose to apply it to sales first.
In this 2021 ZKast with John Chambers, who was an early investor in Uniphore through his firm, JC2 ventures, Chambers talked about the opportunity for conversational AI. He did admit the customer service is the obvious opportunity but after that, one must “follow the money.” That is, apply the technology to the areas in which businesses invest a lot of capital, such as sales, as small differences in efficiency can pay big dividends. Other near term use cases include marketing, customer success and other customer facing roles.
Long term, this could also be integrated into remote education, telehealth, legal and other areas where interpreting body language is important. This pivot from in-person meetings to video is likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future and businesses need to bring in new technologies such as Q for Sales to close the human–digital gap.
Q for Sales is available now to qualifying beta customers in North America, and will soon be expanded to other regions around the globe. General availability is expected to be late summer or fall of this year. This announcement caps a strong first quarter for Uniphore, which recently announced a series E round of funding of $400M with a valuation of $2.5B.
I believe conversational AI to be a powerful technology that most businesses will adopt in some form. Businesses that are considering an investment in the technology need to understand the scope of it. While it can improve chatbots, which is where the industry has been focused, that’s just a small component of what’s possible. Conversations need to be thought of holistically – chat, voice, video and emotions are all used to interpret interactions – and AI can play a role in all of this.