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Zoom calls are no longer just for work meetings and family reunions. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) leader, Cresta, wants to make them a channel for customer service too. The company is integrating its AI tools with Zoom to improve the service when customers contact companies through a video call. 

The integration effectively allows businesses using Zoom to activate Cresta directly through Zoom’s interface. In essence, Zoom is leveraging its customer portfolio to sell other services and Cresta is making it simpler for companies to adopt its technology. 

The move is unsurprising as Zoom was one of the investors in Cresta’s $80 million series C round led by Tiger Global back in March. The deal catapulted Cresta to unicorn status with a valuation of $1.6 billion. This also comes in the heels of Zoom’s plans to continue expanding its platform toward new solutions for marketing and sale teams. 

Customer services powered by AI

Cresta uses AI to improve the work of customer service in several ways that will all be integrated into the Zoom portal. Its tool, the Cresta Agent Assist, offers suggestions to live humans using customer records and knowledge of what’s worked in the past. The suggested responses handle both strategic challenges like steering the customer to the best product, while also managing tactical details like checking grammar and deploying stock answers that are already edited. 

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“[Cresta’s tool] enables companies who purchase the Zoom Contact Center, along with Cresta, to use real-time transcription to guide the agent in their engagement process with the customer to do things such as sell more though better adherence to the company’s sales playbook, or to more quickly resolve customer issues.” explained Scott Kolman, the CMO at Cresta. “All of this is invisible to the end customer.”

Cresta claims that its platforms can boost several metrics. Customer satisfaction ratings (CSAT) increased by 15% in the company’s tests. Startup and training time for new agents was cut by a factor of three. The agents are said to save three to five hours in an average week by letting Cresta’s tools do repetitive tasks. 

“Cresta’s AI-solutions make agents faster and enable self-service automation, so businesses can finally improve [customer experiences] on every interaction while also improving operational efficiency.” continued Kolman. 

Conversational AI competition is heating up

A number of companies are actively trying to automate this space because customer service inquiries are expensive and sometimes fraught with political minefields with many dangers for missteps. These are one of the first places where AI scientists looked to apply their work in natural language processing (NLP). 

The tools for creating the bots are now fairly common in the front lines of businesses, and now much of the effort is devoted to finding the best channel for delivering the technology — which is reflected in Cresta’s announcement today. The creators of tools sold in market sectors like customer data platforms, customer relations managers and data management platforms all want to help companies curate their interactions with customers and they’ve been integrating AI in different ways at different layers. 

At the same time, some developers are shipping more basic tools that other developers can integrate into their own applications. AWS markets its tool, Lex, for creating virtual agents and voice assistants. It also offers other tools like Polly that can turn text into speech and Transcribe to create vocal interfaces. For companies that want a more complete and turnkey solution, there’s AWS Connect, a tool that integrates AI and machine learning (ML) with their bots to provide interactive chat sessions for customers. Competitors like Microsoft and Google offer similar options. 

Cresta’s decision to market its tools directly through Zoom is a good indicator of how these tools are becoming more of a commodity. Instead of being a product on its own, the company is blending into the feature set of other platforms. 

“The Cresta platform complements the Zoom Contact Center offering,” explained Kentis Gopalla, head of ecosystem for Zoom Phone and Contact Center. “The combination of Cresta’s real-time capabilities with Zoom Contact Center helps our customers improve agent productivity by providing additional insights, and deliver better customer experiences. This integration makes it easy to offer our solutions in a secure way without complex IT work, so customers can focus on business value.”

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