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We are focused on automating those conversational flows with firms during the pandemic: LivePerson Founder and CEO

In this article:
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Rob LoCascio, LivePerson Founder and CEO joins the On the Move panel to discuss how LivePerson connects brands with customers.

Video Transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] in this era of pandemic, work from home, do everything from home, sometimes it can be really aggravating-- the word would be horrid, at times-- to get a company on the telephone, especially one where you need to do business. So to help people break through that logjam, we invite into the program the founder and CEO of LivePerson, Rob LoCascio. He's joining us now. And I would imagine that companies are desperate for the kinds of services you provide, but you don't provide the human to human contact that I just alluded to, do you?

ROB LOCASCIO: No. You know, we are focused on automating all those conversational flows that you have with brands. And during the pandemic, the contact centers got shut down and those agents were sent home. But a lot of them, if you're in the Philippines or India, they don't have access to broadband, access to access systems, or even take phone calls. So you know, something I've been talking about for the last couple of years is the end of the voice contact center, the end of being put on hold.

And we're providing the platforms that enable brands like Chipotle and T-Mobile and Delta to airlines to automate those systems and create a different experience with their consumers. We do have live agents on our platform. They are there. But we see a big shift right now, especially with COVID, towards automation, towards creating a different experience.

- Robert, it's Julie here. I think most of us have had the experience now where we have called into some kind of automated system. It's not less frustrating. I mean, at least speaking personally, they frequently can't hear what you're saying correctly. If anyone else is speaking in the room, it muddies it and you have to repeat yourself. I mean, to me, the AI is just part of it. It's the actual audio reading that is also part of it. Are you trying to improve upon that phase, that part of it?

ROB LOCASCIO: Yeah, we don't do those systems. So those are old legacy voice contact center systems. We do messaging. So the basis of the platform is using iMessage or Facebook Message or WhatsApp. You can message through those fronts ends now, and you can connect with a brand through our platform. And then you're connected to an automation or a human.

The idea of calling into those voice legacy systems I just don't think-- obviously, you know you're frustrated. They don't understand you. It says press 1 or 2 or speak 1 and 2. So we moved it to a messaging framework, which is aligned to consumer behavior. About 80% of the time, we're using our device to message our friends or family or colleagues. So that's the platform we built, called the Conversational Cloud. And that's what we built and put into the market about three years ago. And we've had tremendous success.

- Robert, I have had a lot of experience communicating with AI. And oftentimes, the first few back-and-forths work, and then you get to a point where you really just want to talk to a human. So I'm wondering if you see the two sides sort of working side by side. You know, we talk a lot about fulfillment centers and factories where you are going to see humans work alongside robots. That is the future. Is that kind of how you see customer service going, too?

ROB LOCASCIO: Yeah, and that's what's happening in the contact center. So in our platform, we actually empower the live agents because they're going to lose their jobs. You know, it's-- I believe we can automate about 80% of the conversations you have with them. But the flip side of that is they're the ones that actually build the conversations. And we developed our platform in a way that they can use it. It's low code. They go into it, they script in a way that they're like-- they're having a conversation naturally. They don't have to be a data scientist or technologist.

So we built that so that they can actually drive the shifts in what we call conversational commerce. And so we're empowering them. And they're part of the whole, you know, change that's happening in the world. You know, them answering phone calls at home, this concept of that's what's happening now, it's very hard. They've got families. You know, kids are running around, things are happening, and then they're trying to answer a phone call with somebody screaming at them. And we just don't think that's the way to empower them, either. We think the way to empower them is make them conversational designers. Get them involved with AI. And that's really what we've done with our platform, with the Conversational Cloud.

- But-- you talk about them eventually being out of jobs, but let me ask you this. Does the platform, does the software, does the AI that you're using give for the experience of we can't talk to you now, but we're going to call you back at this time to schedule? Because those have been the most pleasant experiences I've had. I think Delta has that. They'll call you back. You tell them, call me back in 10 minutes.

ROB LOCASCIO: Yeah, I just-- we don't do the voice. Like, I don't-- those are just [INAUDIBLE] because things aren't working, you know? We-- I look at it as when you're using our system-- like right now, there's a bot called Pepper. And Chipotle, you know, obviously to walk in and sit there and build a burrito is tough in this environment. But now you can actually message in to Pepper, and you actually create this automation. You interact with Pepper and you create your burrito. And then when you arrive, right at the door they hand it to you. And we're doing that with many retail brands.

And so there's a different way to do it. Most bots have been really bad, but we built a platform to do the things like Pepper to change the game. And one of the ways to do that, once again, is bringing the people in who normally build burritos, and putting them on the platform to say, how would a consumer build a burrito? And let them design the conversational flows. That's why we're growing like we are. You know, we grew 29% in the quarter, which is our-- one of our biggest growth orders in the last 20 years of being public because of the success we're having with our customers.

- Rob, and you mentioned Pepper with Chipotle. So what are some of the trends that you're seeing, that you've seen during COVID-19? What are some of the customer categories that have really had traction?

ROB LOCASCIO: So the big one is retail. You know, we're seeing-- you know, obviously retail has had-- has been under pressure for many years, but with COVID, it's accelerated. Obviously, we've seen many bankruptcies and things like this. But there are many retailers that are out that are just changing the game on how a consumer can engage with their brands, especially about curbside pickup. You know, and-- but they know, before someone picks something up, they want to have a conversation. It's just natural to have a conversation when we're buying something.

And so we're able to provide a platform like that, and then do the curbside pickup. We're doing this with one of the largest home improvement companies in the country. It's our customer. We virtualized one of the stores, the sales staff. You walk in, and there's little carts, stickers next to every product. You take your phone out. You message through iMessage or Facebook Messenger, and you have a conversation about a product with a bot, an automation, or a human that's not in the store. And so we are going to get through retail. We're going to power it, and we're going to help really design new ways to do retail than just I walk in a store and I'm face-to-face with somebody in that store. That's not going to work.

- Robert LoCascio is LivePerson's founder and CEO. We wish you all the--