Sebastian Glock is Senior Technology Evangelist at Cognigy where he acts as a mediator between technology and business. He has advised top-tier companies in Europe and North America in digital projects and is a seasoned speaker at international conferences and events. During this Ringside interview, discover why getting the right balance between automation and the human touch is crucial to CX.
What’s your role at Cognigy and what do you love about your job?
Cognigy makes a software platform for conversational automation which enables enterprises to build smart virtual agents that understand and respond in natural language. As technology evangelist, my job is to make our company’s portfolio comprehensible and accessible for everyone. Being a product marketer, I am at the sweet spot of development, marketing, strategy and PR – every day holds new adventures and challenges. There just couldn’t be a more amazing job for someone with a real passion for linguistics and AI.
In what ways has business communications changed over your career?
I spent most of my career in b2b software business and it has always been mission-critical to translate features and functions into value. This is more true than ever, as every stakeholder needs to understand “what’s in for me?” without digging deep into complex technological details.
For decades, the favourite way to demonstrate value was – no surprise – the demo. In recent years this has fundamentally shifted: SaaS limits investment risks, sales cycles get shorter and “fail fast” is often preferred over long, costly evaluations. On top of this, the so-called democratisation of IT, fuelled by low-code applications, enables non-technical users to build amazing products without a single line of code. As a result, the good old demo is increasingly accompanied or even replaced by a self-guided test drive. Consumer-products like Spotify or Dropbox have educated buyers that trying is risk-free and easy. Business adapt this approach for b2b products such as business messengers, CMS or even conversational automation platforms. They want quick results, intuitive onboarding and bit of fun while they go.
This new try before you buy paradigm impacts product communication on all stages of the customer journey, from collaterals to customer success management. Communication is more dynamic than ever. Vendors need to be available for their customers whenever they have a need, across channels, and they have to resolve issues quickly. Last not least, with the information overload we all face every day, short, precise and impactful communication is key to success.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to a business wishing to improve its communications?
Automating communication is at the core of our business as we enable frictionless and intuitive human-machine-interactions. This can give an enormous efficiency boost to companies which deploy our solution in customer or employee services. But aside of all ROI considerations, the human aspect of communication is a huge acceptance and success factor.
I am deeply convinced that virtual agents should never pretend to be humans – but they absolutely should display human traits in their interactions. They need to be intelligible, flexible and goal-oriented. Conversation design should be optimised for user experience and not simply transfer business processes into a conversational UI. The best bots are built by cross-functional teams involving subject matter experts, conversation UX professionals and some support from IT.
Another aspect is to develop a clear strategy of the division of labour between human and AI-powered agents. No virtual agent can handle all cases for all customers end-to-end. Instead, a virtual agent should know its limits and handover to a human agent to make every interaction a success. This hand-in-hand of human- and AI-powered services will play a major role in the future of customer service.
Originally published Aug 05, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023