Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation is the next big thing and Everise banked on this opportunity by recently announcing their partnership with Microsoft to use an AI platform that would further elevate business process and work efficiency already adapted by the company.
This move is set to change the BPO Industry in Malaysia.
In a previous statement from Everise, the company described the move as a way to produce “omni-channel customer service solutions that will target voice, video and text interactions, and deliver an unprecedented intelligent, customer-centric experience by leveraging the power of AI.”
“By adding advanced AI tools and chatbots to existing capabilities such as speech recognition, sentiment analysis, and image recognition, Everise seeks to set a higher standard for a more personalized customer experience,” it said.
Big Community spoke with Sudhir Agarwal of Everise to further discuss the impact of Microsoft AI platform to the BPO sector.
On Malaysia’s BPO Growth and Its Impact on the Country
“On a global scale, the BPO market is predicted to hit USD$262.2 billion by 2022, with the Asia Pacific region receiving 8.5%, a major share of the growth. Asian nations including Malaysia and Vietnam are developing their own BPO industries, with Malaysia’s BPO market now expected to reach US$1.4 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 7.9%, due to an increase in demand for customer care and high-end analytics solutions from Malaysian enterprises. Human resources together with the finance and accounting sectors made up 75% of the total BPO market in 2016, followed by the customer care sector at 14% and the procurement sector at 9%,” Agarwal explained.
Agarwal also said that the combined favorable government policies, modern infrastructure, and lower cost made Malaysia become one of the leading BPO centers in the world, meeting even the complicated demands of multi-lingual clients. Because of this, the country’s BPO industry should leverage AI as an effective way to keep customers. From efficiency and quality of service, the demands and expectations of customers are ever-growing. As such, companies needed to embrace technology to augment their employee’s skill set.
“That is why I believe the next stage in the industry is the integration of AI, as it provides a level of analytics that has yet to be witnessed, enabling the transformation of customer service and further providing value-added services. This will then lead to an enhanced level of customer service quality and overall care,” he added.
Role of AI in Improving Malaysia’s BPO Sector
“Traditionally, a BPO employee will need to handle a significant amount of administrative work during his or her day, usually after a call has just finished. Much of this is quite rule-based and repetitive and takes up a lot of time. Additionally, consumers no longer engage with brands through phone alone, but through multiple channels from social media and WhatsApp to e-mail and text, yet many BPO centers are unable to properly handle all these channels. The next time you call up your telecoms provider, the chances are they will not be able to access the e-mail you sent, or the Tweet you posted on their company brand page,” Agarwal said.
There is where AI comes in. It can handle unstructured data and arrange it in a manageable and understandable manner and employees can act on the data to provide solutions. AI can also automate administrative tasks, like ticking boxes, so employees can concentrate on providing better customer service.
In 2018, Everise partnered with Microsoft to utilize the AI platform that would provide an omni-channel customer service solution that enables voice, video and text interactions.
“In the BPO industry, client portfolios can be a challenge that require a combination of digital tools that can address multiple business processes and services. BPO companies in Malaysia therefore need to provide a very high level of customer service and they need to do this consistently, efficiently and at reasonable cost,” Agarwal explained.
Malaysia is yet to incorporate AI into their process but if they do, customer agents will better evaluate and act on customer sentiments, hence delivering a quicker solution to customers. AI also shifts a company’s focus on helping customers instead of monotonous administrative tasks such as documentation. Chat and email support will also provide better accuracy.
Innovating business processes is also easier through AI, hence providing Malaysian companies more edge in the competitive industry.
Importance of BPO in This Digital Era
The Everise CEO, said that “moving from a 'human resources’ to a 'human capital’ mindset, is key for BPO companies’ new phase of growth by adopting digital technology, equipping employees with crucial digital skills and building capabilities among them.” He added that shifting from people-led business to technology-led BPO will develop a tech-enabled workforce in Malaysia.
This breed of modern-day workforce can use cloud computing, social tools, big data, data analytics and mobility technologies to combat the growing demands of customers. In turn, companies will evolve “from being tactical cost saving service providers to achieving operational efficiencies from being tactical cost-saving service providers to achieving operational efficiencies.”
Agarwal gave his company as an example.
“Everise is one such example as we leverage technology, with our recent partnership with Microsoft, aiming to make customer service more accessible, affordable and efficient. Investing in skilled resources aligned to the big data and analytics initiatives being the key market differentiator, will also enable Everise to stay competitive as enterprises will seek the company for assistance,” he said.
Augmenting Technology Without Replacing Human Workforce
“Not only will technology augment BPO employees but it will bring about a demand for higher-value jobs, moving the sector and its millions of employees up the value chain,” Agarwal answered.
“Traditionally, BPO firms focus more on using human manpower on an offshore basis, to carry out tasks by utilizing the same processes and systems that were previously used. AI and technology will therefore enable BPO employees to do much more, at a faster and better level of service and quality, allowing staff to concentrate on customer engagement, resulting in a higher level of customer service. Today, we handle so many things through our phone, including communicating with companies and brands and what Everise seeks to do through its partnership with Microsoft is make that possible, yet ensure that if a customer ever wants to speak to a human customer service representative, they will be available,” he added.
Malaysian BPO companies can also upskill their employees to better fit the more technical demand and expectations of the role. Employees can study analytics and data science or machine learning and data mining that will be useful for their future positions.
Agarwal advised that ASEAN nations, like Malaysia, should ensure that employees in the BPO are trained to stay ahead of the competition.
Everise Malaysia’s Plan on the New AI Platform
Through the new partnership with Microsoft, the award-winning BPO company has created customer experience labs in Malaysia, Las Vegas, and Manila. Through these labs, clients can experience what AI can do for their companies and tailor the right solution to their needs.
The interview closed with Agarwal telling the teeming opportunity for BPO in Malaysia.
“We provide omnichannel and multi-lingual business service support from clients and we see Malaysia as a growth market,” he said.