Talking to Bots? Replicant AI Launched with $7million
The creators of a conversational voice AI platform, Replicant AI, have announced $7 million seed funding
Improving the effectiveness of contact centres is a primary focus for customer service providing organisations everywhere. Improving and enhancing experience for customers can be achieved in a number of ways and in recent years self-service tools and chatbots have become more widespread allowing customers to quickly resolve enquires. Still though huge numbers of customers want to interact over the phone and mundane routine enquiries reduce the efficiency of call centres, increase waiting times for other customers and reduce workplace enjoyment for agents.
What if there was a platform that could eliminate call waiting time, improve contact centre efficacy and stop agents from having to answer the same query fifty times in a day? Well now there might just be one.
Replicant AI, believe that we are now at a stage where artificial intelligence and machine learning technology can allow machines to have genuinely useful voice interactions with humans. Its platform enables full voice conversations between humans and its “Thinking Machine,” an AI-infused talking bot. The bots can handle a range of enquires and can answer calls 24/7 with absolutely no need for waiting or connection delays.
Replicant has been developing its proprietary AI technology for over two years and the agent bots can understand and process full sentences rather than just keywords or phrases. Traditionally one downfall of such technology has been the lag during processing, but Replicant’s bots analyse the interaction and format a conversational voice response in under a second. With background API integration into other business systems the bots can then process tasks such as booking tickets, updating information or answering queries.
If interactions become too complex for the bot it can then escalate the call and transfer the interaction to a real human agent, handing over all of the relevant information and context from the previous conversation. Using machine learning the bots will hone their skills over time as the platform builds experience from previous interactions.
This week Replicant have announced $7m seed funding secured with several forward thinking venture capital firms including Atomic, Bloomberg Beta, Costanoa Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners. Atomic had a hand previously in other successful tech ventures including Hims, Bungalow, and TalkIQ. As well as the funding Replicant have also hired industry specialist Gadi Shamia, previously Chief Operating Officer of contact centre unicorn Talkdesk, as its new Chief Executive Officer. UC Today spoke with Shamia over the phone to find out more about Replicant AI and what they have planned for the industry (We checked it was definitely him and not a Replicant bot first).
Shamia explains that previous interactions between machines and people have required the person to lower the complexity to suit the bot. Shortening sentences, speaking slowly and reducing compound phrases almost as if you were speaking to a very young child. Not so with Replicant as its AI tech enables more natural speedy interactions.
“We wanted to elevate the machine to the level of the person calling in. We want customers to have a great conversations on the phone talking to a bot, as if they were talking to a real person.”
Creating genuinely humanistic interactions over the phone with a bot isn’t easy at all. Two years of development and huge attention to detail have been required to ensure that the latency, before a bot’s response, could be radically reduced. As well as responding quickly a bot needs to be able to understand subtle nuances and multi-layered sentences which might include several key pieces of information that could be useful later in the interaction.
“The team invested a tonne of effort in creating a really fast brain that in 20 milliseconds can generate an answer.”
Replicant are already delayed by phone technology, it needs to take each human statement as a voice recording and relay that into the platform to be analysed so being able to respond quickly is critical so that, coupled with delays from the voice call, the response doesn’t appear delayed to the human. Replicant uses AI and machine learning algorithms to find new ways to solve problems and analyse data to create a ‘Collective Brain’ for the contact centre. The foundation of this is Replicant’s ‘Thinking Machine’ which collects knowledge from every call in a central neural network that becomes smarter over time.
The potential applications for the platform are huge. With businesses apparently spending over $1 trillion on customer service calls each year the opportunity to reduce those by removing interactions from human agents in a call centre is obvious. Replicant’s plans don’t stop there though. Currently available as only English language based bots the potential is there for future development in other key languages.
“Language is such a barrier in customer service. We are excited to develop in other languages so that we can help global companies improve their customer service. It’s definitely part of our plan.”
One of the largest costs for international customer service bodies are multilingual agents or contact centres in different geographies to cater for different languages. If Replicant, in the future, can offer bots that can interact in Spanish, Mandarin or French the possibilities are even more vast for potential cost reduction. Shamia did tell us that such advanced technology does require a massively in-depth understanding of the language.
With his industry history at Talkdesk, a business that grew from initial funding of $10 million to now being valued at over $1 billion, Shamia recognises the huge opportunity for Replicant AI. Shamia cites the transformation that automation enabled in manufacturing. All of the manufacturing industry was transformed. Products are now created more quickly, in better quality to the benefit of customers. In contrast the business, or white collar, space has not yet seen much automation.
“We are reaching the era that, with AI, automation of more business processes is possible and that will really increase productivity for everyone, allow businesses to be more effective and provide even better customer service.”
So before you know it the next time you call into a business you might end talking to a customer service bot. Or, actually, will you know it’s a bot at all?…