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AI will mold future of customer service: Verint CEO

Dan Bodner, CEO of Verint, gives his keynote

Dan Bodner, CEO of Verint, gives his keynote lecture about artificial intelligence at a tech conference at Stony Brook University. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Artificial intelligence will mold the future of customer service, the chief executive of a billion-dollar Long Island technology company said.

Verint Systems Inc. chairman and CEO Dan Bodner, in a keynote address Tuesday at a conference held by the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology at Stony Brook University, said that consumers are demanding easy and productive interactions when they contact a company.

“If I’m not getting the experience I expect, I’m switching to another vendor,” he said.

That means businesses such as banks are placing a high “strategic” value on customer engagement.

“To create a competitive differentiation, banks need to focus on engaging customers,” he said. “Artificial intelligence is a technology that could have a very big impact on this industry.”

Melville-based Verint’s $1.1 billion in revenue during fiscal 2017 ranks it among the 10 largest public companies on Long Island. The company makes software and provides services used to collect and analyze streams of data received via voice, video, social networks, email and other channels for banks, insurance companies, health care providers and other businesses.

About two-thirds of its revenue for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31 came from its customer engagement business, including call centers.

Customers in that segment include New York Life, Humana, VSP Vision Care and Wells Fargo Bank.

The remainder of Verint’s business involves producing software used by government police and intelligence agencies to monitor and analyze communications in search of terrorist and other threats.

Bodner said that while many consumers prefer to speak to a human agent when seeking customer service, companies have an incentive to push traffic toward less costly virtual agents — online bots that mimic human interaction — and other forms of automated response.

He said that there are 10 million customer service representatives and 30 million employees processing back-office claims worldwide, areas viewed as ripe for cost-cutting through automation.At the same time, he said, surveys show that members of the millennial generation are more accepting of contacting a company through social media than baby boomers.

Bodner said that one of the most difficult areas in customer engagement involves transferring the customer from an automated system to a human agent.

“When the bot gets stuck, the person needs to take it from there,” he said. “The handoff is quite tricky.”

One method, Bodner said, calls for robotic systems to use algorithms to score an engagement and route it to human agents when required.

“Ultimately, artificial intelligence will be very good for the consumer,” he said. “There’s no way back.”

The two-day conference, which ended on Wednesday, included sessions on cybersecurity, health care technologies and smart manufacturing.

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