“We believe that AI will have a huge impact because it can greatly improve the quality, consistency and cost-efficiency of customer service,” says Reetu Kainulainen, CEO and one of the three co-founders of ultimate.ai, all of whom studied at the Tampere University of Technology.
Founded in November 2016, ultimate.ai made an instant impression in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) – gaining recognition as one of the Top 50 Startups in Europe in 2017, and also attracting enterprise customers and partnerships that include the global software giant SAP. The deep learning AI technology developed by the pioneering Finnish company is designed to provide large enterprises’ customer service agents with the AI tools they need to provide faster, smarter responses.
Faster and smarter responses
Customer service agents typically spend about 60% of their time manually searching for answers to the questions they receive. The deep neural network developed by ultimate.ai analyses a company’s historical chat and email data, training a suggestion engine to offer real-time reply suggestions to the common questions received by customer service agents.
The automated solution speeds up average handling times by more than 30% as the agents can instantly select the most appropriate response, which they then modify and personalize if required. The engine learns in real time, becoming more and more accurate as it works with the customer service agents, with each reply and modification improving its understanding of agent behaviour.
“Simple and repetitive questions can ultimately be dealt with automatic replies, freeing the agents to focus on more complex cases. The number of questions received by agents can be reduced by 80%, which is a very significant result for a big business,” says Kainulainen.
Finnish is one of the hardest languages in the world. Having to deal with the grammatical complexities of Finnish may be the secret behind the powerful algorithm developed by ultimate.ai, according to Kainulainen.
“We can also use the same algorithm for other languages and are currently scaling our service in Swedish, English and German, with Norwegian, Danish, Arabic and French also in the works,” he says.
Volker Hildebrand, Global Vice President at SAP Hybris and author of The Customer Experience Edge, sees huge potential for ultimate.ai. “Intelligent technologies which augment workflows and automate mundane tasks will be the status quo for the businesses of tomorrow. ultimate.ai’s solution is state-of-the-art and we are excited to partner with them to power this change in customer service!” says Hildebrand.
SAP has been working with ultimate.ai for a year. According to SAP, the combination of its Customer Contact solution with ultimate.ai’s language-agnostic AI layer can enable SAP customers to significantly augment agent work, enabling a faster and better customer experience.
“Since launching last year, the easy-to-implement product has garnered the attention of leading telcos, e-commerce businesses and government agencies around the world and has already won SAP customers. Ultimate.ai is also partnering closely with SAP Hybris to become a fixed feature in the new Engagement Center solution to help save agents around the world from tedious and repetitive tasks,” says Dima Durah, Community manager at SAP.iO Foundry.
Harnessing AI for better customer service
Fast-growing ultimate.ai’s other major customers include leading telcos, ecommerce platforms, media companies, the Finnish postal service Posti, and giosg, a European platform-provider that chat-enables over 650 businesses across 12 countries, handling 35 million unique users every month.
“We approached ultimate.ai for partnership because their technology was exceptional and a perfect complement. The combined offering has seen huge successes. As well as being able to offer state of the art customer service AI tools for our existing clients, giosg has been able to sign new clients with the combined portfolio,” says Ville Rissanen, CEO, giosg.
According to research by Accenture, an estimated USD 1.6 trillion is lost by U.S. businesses each year due to poor customer service. The rapid success of ultimate.ai demonstrates that Finnish AI know-how has the potential to create quality leaps in customer service and other sectors internationally.
“As a small agile country, Finland is an early adopter of new technologies. The availability of open data and the stream of high-quality AI engineers and researchers produced by Finland’s education system make this an ideal location for developing and piloting AI solutions. I believe that Finland will be one of the leading countries for utilising and getting the most added value out of AI,” says Kainulainen.