Interview with Henry Vaage Iversen, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder of Boost.ai
Henry has developed business ideas into real products, landed several deals for startups and expanded businesses from Norway to Scandinavia. His next target: The world.
TDE: Tell us about your product/business and your specific role?
Henry Iversen: In short, Boost.ai gives people more time by changing how customers interact with companies, by giving them the availability, accuracy and personalization that they expect in 2019. By using the power of conversational artificial intelligence, our solution brings companies a step closer to the good old days of having the flexibility to maintain a relationship with their customers. Our clients use our technology to interact with their customers on an infinitely large scale, while at the same time, improving the customer experience. We give them a tool to cut wait times and save costs. My role is to help these companies take the next natural step in their customer relationship journey and create real ROI with conversational artificial intelligence.
TDE: What is the core issue your product/technology aims to address and what sets it apart from the other players in the market?
Henry Iversen: Boost.ai removes waiting times for customers. Everyone hates waiting and none of us are getting any more time, any time soon. Especially not the time to talk to banks and insurance companies. By letting our conversational artificial intelligence – in the form of a virtual agent – handle 100 percent of online customer interactions, it either resolves enquiries on the spot, or seamlessly forwards them to human agents. The real difference, besides the fact that our solution is robust enough to tackle the extreme volumes of traffic enterprises encounter, is our mindset.
We understand that customers have different needs. Some are comfortable talking to a machine, but we also need to assist the customers that have too intricate, delicate or sensitive requests for a machine to process. To successfully automate interactions, each one must be improved, not just those answered by the machine. That mindset is made real because our artificial intelligence understands when a customer needs to talk to a human. When it isn’t 100 percent confident that it has the right answer, our AI gives the customer options of what it thinks they might be asking for. It also presents them with the opportunity to talk directly with exactly the right person in live support. This greatly shortens both wait times and effort for the customer and for the company.
TDE: What’s the one industry, sector or role that your technology is most relevant to?
Henry Iversen: The financial sector has a clear and present need to revitalize how they interact with their customers, and embrace chat as the ideal channel of communication. It’s widely reported, and has been demonstrated through research, that chat is the preferred channel for millennials and people growing up nowadays, and that is where we fit in.
TDE: What are some of the common challenges your customers approach you with?
Henry Iversen: Their contact points with customers are growing and they are not able to serve all customers in the optimal way. They face customers with growing demands on their availability, such as 24/7 support, and higher expectations on how quickly they respond. They need a solution to those challenges.
TDE: Using technology to affect transformation usually starts with a transformation of beliefs and mindsets. How do you consult enterprise clients and help them make that important shift in mindset to move ahead on a particular project or implementation?
Henry Iversen: Everything is connected and one of the most important issues we need to address in any project with conversational AI, is how we get all the necessary stakeholders on board. Implementing our technology requires evolution across many stakeholder groups, for example channel strategy. If you want to improve interactions through chat, you need to market that channel and recognize how it will surpass other options in the future such as emails, forms, knowledge bases, and FAQs. It’s all about availability and ease of access. This is understandably hard, as people tend to want to optimize the present channels that they’ve already invested resources in, and not look at the broader picture.
It’s one thing looking for customers who have success with similar solutions, but if it was me, I’d just ask someone between 15 and 30 years old how they prefer to communicate to get a glimpse of what channel will dominate the future.
TDE: Give us an example of an enterprise meeting a digital transformation goal through your product?
Henry Iversen: DNB, one of the largest banks in the Nordics, have several thousand online conversations with customers every day. That became an unbearable load that put pressure on the whole organization. By adopting our conversational AI and building a virtual banking agent, Aino, they automated 100 percent of their frontline customer support, and saw a 50 percent drop in traffic to live chat in just 6 months. But the effect wasn’t just felt in chat. Overall, DNB saw 17 percent less interactions that required human support.
TDE: What present or upcoming technologies you think have the maximum potential to accelerate enterprise digital transformation?
Henry Iversen: Conversational AI has achieved a breakthrough now, where we are starting to see some very exciting results after a number of disappointing years of implementing chatbots and limited technology. By adding voice technology on top, you are looking into a future with a much simpler interface, and that will change the game completely.
TDE: What’s your go to resource – websites, newsletters, any other – that you use to stay in touch with the explosive changes happening in the digital space?
Henry Iversen: A selection of writers on Medium, and I get a lot of information from my connections on LinkedIn. I also follow forward-thinking companies, such as Deloitte and BCG, in social channels.
TDE: Read a good book lately on digital transformation that you’d like to recommend to us?
Henry Iversen: “Blitzscaling” by Reid Hoffman.