LivePerson, the leading provider of cloud mobile and online business messaging solutions, has launched the world’s first enterprise bot management platform. Designed to run multiple bots at scale in the digital, marketing and care operations of large brands, LiveEngage for Bots is an extension of its LiveEngage platform, and allows these brands to deploy, manage, and measure bots in one place, directly alongside human workers.
The platform supports bots from both third-party developers or that brands develop themselves, and LivePerson has partnered with leading bot and AI providers. Major brands are live on the platform today, running bots from, among others, Toshiba, NextIT, Rebotify, BotCentral, GetJenny and Chatfuel, whose bot, integrated with the LiveEngage for Bots platform, was recently showcased at Facebook’s F8 conference.
Early bot deployments have often performed below brand and consumer expectations, primarily because they are disconnected from the human agents and operational measures necessary to fine-tune and run them successfully at scale. LiveEngage for Bots solves this issue by treating bots the same way as human customer care representatives: they are agents within the platform, with real-time measurement, management and visibility for care managers.
“Many brands launching their early bot experiments have been in the dark about how the bots were engaging with customers, and only able to understand the aftermath by reading through chat transcripts, long after the fact,” says Rob LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson. “That’s the wrong way to manage a consumer’s experience. LiveEngage for Bots allows businesses to manage bots like they do human staff — the same measures, the same connection to operations — and to automatically hand off to humans when an issue they can’t resolve is detected. This is the way bots have to work at scale.”
Some early bot offerings have left a negative impression, with many consumers suspecting that bots will not understand them. According to research commissioned by LivePerson in April 2017, which will be released in a May 2017 report, 60% of global consumers prefer to speak with a human customer care agent simply because they think a human would better understand their needs. In situations where a bot does not understand them, 67% of consumers would want to be transferred directly to a human. LiveEngage for Bots includes sentiment analysis, with alerts if there is high negative sentiment in a consumer-bot conversation, and automatic, intelligent escalation to a human agent.
LivePerson calls this process of seamless handover between bots and human customer care agents the “tango” — a careful and precise process where two partners must work together, taking turns. For a long time, bots have run independently from the main customer care organizations at the brands where they have been deployed, instead of chiming in on the same conversation thread as the human customer care agents.
According to research, bots are actually preferred over humans in many cases, so long as it’s not a complex issue where a bot would struggle: for simple tasks, 71% of global consumers would prefer a bot to tell them their account balance and 61% would prefer it to update their address.
“Platforms like LiveEngage for Bots are a testament to the quickly growing bots ecosystem,” says Dmitry Dumik, CEO at Chatfuel. “As bot technology becomes increasingly prevalent, the industry needs tools and platforms that can help companies leverage it efficiently. We are committed to continuously supporting these platforms, like LiveEngage for Bots, and fostering the bot community.”
Says Eswar Priyadarshan, co-founder and CEO at BotCentral, “We are very excited to be included as an early partner in the LiveEngage for Bots ecosystem. Our ‘Task Bots’ will help automate routine tasks under agent supervision, thereby freeing agents to tackle more interesting and challenging issues.”
A key advantage of LiveEngage for Bots over deploying bots “natively” — without a platform layer for management and measurement — is the increased transparency into what a bot is doing. Instead of “set and forget” bots that run unsupervised, the platform serves as an additional layer of intelligence into AI, with real-time analytics and workflow that help businesses understand the effectiveness of bots in their customer care, and the ability to watch bot conversations in real time, and jump in if warranted.
The LiveEngage for Bots platform is currently available to all LivePerson customers.