Chatbots are changing the way companies and customers interact, helping to create powerful, engaging human-to-AI agent experiences. Join execs from Lyft, Western Union and Kaleido Insights when you catch up on this VB Live event and learn how leading brands are using chatbots — you’ll leave with actionable ideas on implementing AI-powered customer support.

Access on demand for free right here.

Chatbots are the most accessible way of leveraging the artificial intelligence explosion. Leading brands like Lyft and Western Union are leading the way in chatbot innovation, using them to resolve issues and make customer experiences more rapid and effective.

And shipments of virtual digital assistant systems are beginning to touch every industry, from the banking and financial services space, to travel, retail, education, and more. It’s estimated to grow into a $7.7 billion market by 2025, says Jessica Groopman, industry analyst and founding partner at Kaleido Insights.

But as companies launch headfirst into building out these systems, they can run up against a number of considerations, particularly around balancing anticipation of customer needs versus the complexity of the bot’s ability to converse.

“We’ve found that it’s really important to understand where the customer is coming from,” says Jaime Gilliam-Swartz, Senior Director, Voice of the Customer and Shared Services at Lyft.

That means feeding all the data garnered in their passenger interactions, including where they are in their ride experience, any reservation issues, any driver issues, and more into the chatbot’s algorithms to continue to refine and optimize it, improving the chatbot’s ability to understand and resolve queries. That data informs the bot’s questions for the passenger and predicts their needs in order to resolve any queries quickly.

At Western Union, the bot is integrated into the company’s service functions, along with the ability to go into their digital send money flow.

“It’s all about learning from the customer interactions around those service functions and making them better as time goes on, and expanding into new service questions,” says Stanley Yung, Western Union’s chief customer experience officer.

It almost sounds like small potatoes — but  Groopman sees these kinds of chatbot functionalities as foundational.

“We often see companies who have great ambitions to apply AI across every possible customer touch point and end up reeling things back to a very narrow, specific demographic or line of questioning once the rubber meets the road,” Groopman explains.

But they’re also seeing AI use cases and applications starting to proliferate among three main axes: vision-based, or spatial awareness; language-based, including voice and text; and analytics, or cognitive-based. In customer experience or customer support contexts, that means a whole host of things: image recognition, sentiment analysis, understanding emotions or responses of individual customers as they move through a retail environment, resolution analysis, the kinds of actions or triage or content most efficiently able to resolve a customer issue, behavioral analysis, image analysis, object recognition, and trend prediction.

Visual commerce has been an especially interesting inroad with chatbots, Groopman says, where a customer’s clicks or interactions with specific images help to train or inform the next steps in that customer support or customer experience or even sales interaction. And the possibilities are growing.

“At Western Union, the chatbot we have today is pretty limited in scope,” Yung says. “But as we think about opportunities going forward, scalability and cost are big motivators, and the customer experience benefits are an additional layer that is very intriguing to us at this point.”

Consistency across channels is a big deal for the the company, from POS locations and digital interfaces to call centers and chat. AI is unlocking the ability to give all customers uniform and reliable service, in the most actionable and useful way possible for our customers.

They’re also looking to customization potential, particularly around language and different dialects, as well as the speed of the interaction, as well as super-targeted cross-selling and upselling, based upon what they know from their customer database, as well as what they can learn from the conversation.

“The ability to learn from the interaction and tailor it is going to be a big deal for us,” Yung says.

Gilliam-Swartz agrees.

“We are finding that [Lyft] passengers really value personalization and attentiveness,” she says. And it’s unlocked a whole new way to engage with their customers.

The presumption was, if the app allowed a customer to tell them something about the ride, they could potentially anticipate an issue and resolve it within an average of 65 seconds. But they found that even when the issue was resolved, many passengers would say something along the lines of thank you for helping me, I appreciate the refund, but I actually really want to tell you what happened, in a longer discourse. The company actually had to add the capability within the interactive help to collect all that rich feedback.

“It shows why decision trees just won’t work by themselves,” explains Gilliam-Swartz. “It is important to be able to interact and look at some level of natural language processing so that we can interpret what the customer is telling us and then take the right action and confirm to them that we will take it based on what we’ve helped them with.”

To learn more about how chatbots can offer rich data mines, bigger and better customer experiences, cost savings from economies of scale and more, don’t miss watching this VB Live event.

Don’t miss out!

Access on demand for free here.

Attend this webinar to learn:

  • The real truth about AI and customer service
  • How big brands are using AI and chatbots to resolve customer issues more quickly and effectively
  • How bots and humans can work together to optimize customer support
  • How to assess whether your organization is bot-ready


  • Stanley Yung, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Western Union
  • Jaime Gilliam-Swartz, Senior Director, Voice of the Customer and Shared Services, Lyft
  • Jessica Groopman, Industry Analyst & Founding Partner, Kaleido Insights
  • Rachael Brownell, Moderator, VentureBeat

Sponsored by Chatkit