Previous Winner – Directly Previous Winner Posted by Jon Howell | 26/03/2019 Fresh from their win in the AI category at the 2018 Tech Trailblazers Awards (see here), Directly took time out to let us know what’s next for them. The firm, which uses artificial intelligence to improve customer experience (CX) automation, has had great success helping companies such as Airbnb, Microsoft, and Samsung in resolving more customer questions for 60-80% less cost. We caught up with Directly’s Head of Demand Generation, Joey Greenwald. Could you give me a brief description of your company and what your focus is? Directly’s CX Automation platform allows a brand’s expert users to identify gaps in self-service content and solutions and: create rich support content and answers that can be delivered automatically teach the AI by providing feedback on each answer as its delivered, with suggestions to improve matching and content resolve complex questions when the AI and broader self-service can’t …delivering a new level of experience and empathy unmatched by intelligent assistants and standalone AI. Instant answers are delivered in the voice of the expert who authored the answer, with the expert available behind the answer, delivering a new level of experience and empathy unmatched by intelligent assistants and standalone AI. Behind the scenes, gig-economy mechanics such as routing, rewards, and incentives ensure quality by using answers from only highly-rated experts that demonstrate product and/or service expertise. They bring this all together in a system that integrates with all leading CRM applications (Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce Service Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, and Zendesk) and open APIs that allow integration with existing help centres, enterprise knowledge bases, messaging, virtual agents and business intelligence systems. For companies with existing AI and automation solutions, the platform can deliver the content and training to make existing solutions actually work, and work better. Are there any key moments in your journey as a startup that have been particularly challenging or that you are particularly proud of? According to a report published by Radiant Insights, the customer service market size was valued over USD 51 billion in 2014, and is expected to be worth USD 68.5 billion by 2020. With seemingly endless options for customer service chatbots, BPOs, and support communities, Directly had to establish itself as a unique-in-the-market solution – AI powered by subject matter experts – in this crowded space. Directly’s model shows that for knowledge workers, AI can be a tool for people, not “instead of” people. Directly’s AHA! moment was realising the ability to systematically infuse domain expertise into AI, while rewarding people for automating their work with a royalty that incentivises them to build better automations. Though many fear that AI could displace human workers, Directly’s model shows that for knowledge workers, AI can be a tool for people, not “instead of” people. If used in the right way, AI can be a boon for businesses and employees alike. What words of encouragement would you give to a company which is weighing up whether to enter the Tech Trailblazers Awards? Your entry will be judged by your peers in the tech industry, so having a clear value proposition is key to an excellent entry. Though the detailed application process might seem daunting, it’s a great opportunity to really articulate (and even refine) your value proposition. Are there any tips you could give a company to help them with entering the awards? Use as much data as possible to support your entry—whether it’s internal data touting your clients’ successes, or third-party data that supports your position in the market and shows why your solution is valuable. And when it comes time for the public voting, be sure to share both internally and externally on your company social channels, and make it easy for your employees to promote the voting process to their networks. It’s a bit of a cliche, but listen to the feedback you receive from customers… Do you have any advice in general for start-up companies, trying to survive in the current economic climate? It’s a bit of a cliche, but listen to the feedback you receive from customers to ensure that you’re improving your product to meet their needs. Also make sure you’re investing in your employees because without them, you can’t scale and grow your business. How is the future looking for you? What’s next for you? Our goal is to continue expanding our work with large enterprises similar to current customers like Airbnb, Samsung, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. We’re also looking to expand our footprint in the tech, telecom, and gaming markets. We will continue to advance our AI technology, and demonstrate how this technology can work alongside knowledge workers, which will prepare them to thrive in the next economy.