August

CSS Corp wins Silver Stevie® in 2017 International Business Awards℠

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company, was named the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award in the Best New Product or Service of the Year – Software – Platform as a Service category at The 14th Annual International Business Awards 2017. CSS Corp has conferred the recognition for its proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is a highly personalized virtual assistant, which integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website across devices, and offers context-driven, real-time support with a human-like interaction to resolve customers’ needs.

Speaking on the recognition, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “Winning Stevie International Business Awards is a milestone for CSS Corp. We are honored to be recognized as an industry leader in innovation. Automation and AI are becoming major game changers in the world of technology and business. At CSS Corp, we are leading this change by developing technology tools and platforms that give us a distinct advantage in delivering transformational results to our clients.

Sunil Mittal – EVP, Chief Sales, and Marketing Officer said, Our primary focus lies in building technology solutions that make a critical difference to our clients’ business while strengthening our technology pillar. Amongst CSS Corp’s many innovative solutions, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform stands tall, and to have been recognized as the Silver Stevie winner is indeed a great honor for us.

The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small – are eligible to submit nominations. The 2017 IBAs received entries from more than 60 nations and territories.

A record total of more than 3,900 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Company of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Startup of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others. Stevie® Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 200 executives worldwide who participated on 12 juries.

“The IBA judges from across the world were highly impressed with the nominations they reviewed this year. With the level of achievement documented in the nominations from 60 nations, the Stevie® Awards are proud to honor organizations that demonstrate a high level of achievement in a variety of industries” said Michael Gallagher, President, and Founder of the Stevie® Awards. “We look forward to sharing many of these stories with people around the world over the coming months, through the Stevie® Awards blog and social media channels, with the hope to inspire others to high achievement.

Details about The International Business Awards and the lists of Stevie® Award winners are available at www.StevieAwards.com/IBAAbout CSS Corp

CSS Corp is a new age IT Services and Technology Support company. The company harnesses the power of automation, analytics, cloud and digital to address specific customer needs. The company partners with leading enterprises to help realize their strategic business outcomes. The company’s team of 5,500 technology professionals across 16 global locations are passionate about helping customers.

For more information please visit www.csscorp.com

About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 10,000 nominations each year from organizations in more than 60 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at www.StevieAwards.com.

Preview: Business Line

Leveraging Human Intelligence & Automation To Drive Business Outcomes Of Choice

The human brain is known to rely on heterogeneous data associations to enable computational functions. Looking at a granular level, the brain is seen as a control center, and with every lobe comprising billions of cells work together to ensure what is perceived is conceptualized into thoughts and translated into actions. While the left lobe is analytical and responsible for linear thinking, the right lobe is more into creativity and intuition. The memory is a data bank that is leveraged for references, context and tasks that needs instructions. The peripheral nervous system generates a degree of forces through sensory signals for the required external stimuli.

Human brain categorizes tasks based on the degree of imagination and cognitive activity, as represented below.

A screenshot of a cell phone Description automatically generated

The only way humans can liberate themselves from routine tasks and free up time for strategic decision making and innovation is through technology intervention. Automation is a way of applying technology on a task to make it more efficiently executed, enable faster processing of voluminous tasks, reducing turnaround time, and improving the ROI. It is an ideal way to improve operational performance and can also be a strategic lever to sustain a competitive edge. Automating redundant activities by following standard operating procedures can save cost, time, improve workflow efficiencies, thereby reducing human error and increasing accuracy. It also allows employees to take up more challenging activities that can expand their intellect and imagination, leading to better competency and deeper job satisfaction levels.

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Chai Break with Sunil Mittal

Sunil Mittal, EVP & CSMO

 

What makes a good marketer?

“The Times they are a Changin’ “, sang Bob Dylan back in 1964. That’s the reality we find ourselves in today across all spheres. Marketing certainly is one of the areas that has evolved very significantly. So, for starters, good marketers need to be perpetual learners to stay in sync with the times. A good marketer needs to keep in touch with new approaches and technologies that enable marketing. They must also keep themselves updated with the latest trends in their industry or business. This knowledge translates itself into thought leading and impactful go-to-market strategies and messages.

Marketing is usually deemed a success when we hit the right person at the most opportune time with the most appropriate message through a channel that the person prefers. To achieve this in today’s world, a good marketer needs to be analytically inclined and data driven. Today we have new age automation technologies that can unleash intelligent insights about prospect/customer sentiments and buying behaviors that drive business success. Furthermore, there is a slew of market and social intelligence that enables marketers to drive messaging that is extremely relevant to prospects. A smart marketer must be able to assimilate this information and consumer data from various sources, apply tools and crunch data to be able to carry out personalized marketing efforts. These analytical traits and number driven orientation also enable the marketer to be able to track ROI and performance, especially in areas like digital marketing and for measuring campaign efficacy.

I feel that the CMO function today is more strategically critical than it has ever been. Good marketers have the opportunity to create solid business impact for their organizations.

How does one sustain their brand image?

Consistency and competitive differentiation are the most important factors for sustaining brand image. It is very important to have a consistent messaging around the brand across various channels used to build the brand image. Be it social media platforms, public relations, analyst relations, marketing and branding campaigns, advertising or content marketing, a consistent and differentiated message across all platforms is the key. Furthermore, marketers should avoid the “Me Too” tendency by focusing on unique differentiating factors.

It is also important to understand the perspective and contribution of various stakeholders in business to develop the right brand image and sustain it. Stakeholders could be investors, customers, partners, vendors and even employees. All these stakeholders are brand ambassadors and advocates of the organization. By engaging meaningfully and strategically with these stakeholders, a brand identity gets cemented over a period of time.

Where do you think Marketing is headed?

It’s an incredible time for brands to deliver personalized customer experience by embracing technology.
In yesteryears, scale was the key but personalization wasn’t. Marketers often followed large-scale ‘spray and pray’ models. This carpet bombing approach does not work in today’s times. Marketing today is about providing a contextualized and personalized omni-channel experience in both B2B and B2C contexts. It’s the age of customization and about being relevant.

Today, marketing also acts as a catalyst for growth by empowering organizations to drive context driven customer engagements. Marketing is well positioned to drive competitive differentiation based on a deep knowledge of the target audience and the customer.

Marketing, if leveraged properly can bring to the table, strong understanding of the customer’s decision and experience journeys. This insight is essential to develop the right value proposition that resonates with the market, as well as to develop the right solutions that solve critical business problems. Furthermore, digitization of the customer decision journey has made it possible to be able to personalize and better engage with the customer leading to better buying decisions which ultimately translate into better revenue conversion. Persona based marketing, UX, Augmented Reality all are becoming a complex reality in a world that is going digital.

Marketing will continue to be increasingly digital and break out from the traditional push based approach to pull based and inbound approach. Technology that drives the connected world today has emerged as a disrupting factor in the CMO’s world. In fact, some accounts have even suggested that in the longer run, the CMO might be a greater consumer of technology than even the CIO. Hence, we have exciting days lined up for marketers and marketing.

Based on these insights, marketers should enable businesses to dramatically improve customer experience by offering targeted and personalized solutions to their potential customers, and providing proactive recommendations.

Do social media channels really help marketers?

It is important to leverage social media in the right way and have right expectations from it. Many people look for tangible leads and outcomes from social and tend to write it off when they don’t see directly attributable ROI. However, we need to move beyond such perceptions. Social channels provide a platform for brands to actively communicate the companies message. This percolates downstream to employees, customers and prospects, vendors, suppliers and to the wider public. In the B2C world, social engagement gives a provider valuable insights about consumer behavior and the consumer’s next best action. This is important to be able to drive better revenue conversion. In the B2B world, social engagement helps in influencing buying decisions. Social should be used here as a means to drive sincere engagement with influencers through a two-way engagement. There are tools that can track the efficiency of our social media engagements, thus, must be leveraged wherever possible.

A technology you foresee as being useful to a Marketer of the future?

Marketing automation and Account based marketing (ABM) tools have already penetrated in most of the mature organizations and are shaping the marketing function. But, amidst automation coming into play, personalization is somewhere getting lost. I see increased usage of AI in marketing in the near future which will help keep it automated but yet personalized.

About Sunil Mittal

Sunil has over 18 years of IT industry experience across multiple horizontals and geographies. He has a spectacular track record of developing new markets, winning new logos, partnering with clients, creating & winning advisor led deals and building teams & businesses. His experience in setting up sales processes with special focus on “Social Selling” is second to none.

As the CSMO at CSS Corp, Sunil is responsible for driving business growth focusing on IT Services, Technology Support Services, Application Services & Infrastructure Management Services. He provides strategic leadership to the Sales, Account Management, Marketing, Solutions Engineering, Deal Advisory, Inside Sales, Alliances and Bid Management teams.

Preview: Paul Writer

How conversational AI is driving the next generation customer experience, powered by chatbots and assistants

With a new era of artificial intelligence (AI) dawning upon us, it’s an incredible time for customer experience, with humongous benefits to the customer and ultrafast customer service. As AI technology matures, forward-thinking enterprises are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function. In fact, Gartner predicts that “conversational AI-first” will supersede “cloud-first, mobile-first” as the most important, high-level imperative for the next ten years.

Over the last several decades, customer service and customer experience had been all about customers seeking help from call centers, websites, emails, applications, and so on. However, in the last couple of years, the way we interact with technology has changed incredibly, and the good old days of mouse-icon-click are now ending.

NLP-infused chatbots and intelligent assistants: Futuristic sci-fi or current reality?

With the explosion of smartphone usage in the last decade, it can be conjectured that voice search has introduced AI-based personal assistance, and has given rise to the meteoric growth of bots among consumers.

Today, whether it’s a digital personal assistant on your smartphone or a chatbot on your Facebook Messenger, conversational AI is a trend for digitally empowered consumers. According to a survey by MindMeld, a US-based provider of intelligent conversational voice interfaces, 55 percent of users who use voice assistants, use them on a daily or weekly basis.

Today, bots are not just being looked upon as personal assistants; brands that want to turbocharge their customer experience and engagement are increasingly adopting NLP-infused chatbots. These offer a conversational experience between the customer and the brand, bypassing the tedious path of emailing or dialing up the customer service department. The chatbot uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to ask questions or give answers to customers and make them feel understood in real time, thereby effectively improving the customer assistance process.

To the brands, these NLP infused chatbots provide business intelligence about customers’ preferences, opinions, purchase behavior and human sentiments, in general. With their proven efficiency in handling customer questions without human intervention, it helps brands with huge cost and time saving. NLP technology infused in chatbots addresses the growing needs of digitally empowered consumers with 24×7 assistance. Chatbots never sleep and do not keep you waiting for resolution.

AI-powered bots are redefining customer experience

At the heart of our omnichannel operating ecosystem is the idea of instant gratification. With an average attention span less than that of a goldfish (8.25 seconds), customers get real-time solutions to their challenges or questions from AI-powered bots via a messenger platform like Facebook. 2016 has proved that bots are here to stay and they have made a bigger impact on customer service in the first half of 2017 too. Gartner predicts that an average person will have more conversations with bots than with their own spouse!

Facebook recently introduced a chatbot application in partnership with 1-800-FLOWERS, where consumers could speak to a virtual agent via a Facebook Messenger window and order flowers. The interesting thing to note here is that the bot will detect conversational cues to recommend arrangements that address customers’ preferences and needs. Clearly, this is a win for customer service as well as the brand.

Advantages of Conversational AI

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to the emergence of sophisticated conversational capabilities and enabled machines in taming one of the most important aspects for intelligent interactions – context. Though chatbots and virtual assistants can rarely pass as human conversationalists, here are some of the potential business benefits that conversational AI can offer:

Reduced Cost: A recent BI Intelligence report suggests that businesses can cut labour cost by 29 percent when chatbots and other AI are deployed. Though complete automation is not feasible, automating a percentage of customer services and sales positions can result in significant savings.

Improved customer experience: AI reaches a wider audience and stores critical data points that companies can leverage to personalise the offerings and the buying experience of the digitally empowered customers. AI also helps brands optimise their product development with improved customer intelligence, which in turn delivers a delightful customer experience.

Greater consistency due to reduced human assistance: Until the arrival of AI, we had been largely depending on human efforts to produce goods or services of varying quality. This used to be a time-consuming and labor-intensive affair. With AI revolutionising all walks of business and life, consumers aspire to seamlessly interact with multiple apps rather than multiple layers of real human assistants, thereby leading to reduced reliance on human assistance.

Conclusion

Customer Experience is the next competitive battleground. Businesses are adopting new age technologies and are relentlessly reinventing themselves to stay ahead of the race. With advancements in speech recognition and NLP, conversational AI has become the new frontier that is truly transforming customer engagement, making it much more unified and collaborative. However, intelligent assistants are still perceived to be deficient in “social” intelligence, rendering them utilitarian and impersonal.

Nevertheless, the incredible uses and profitable ways in which bots can be used show strong indications that they are here to stay and evolve into more intelligent agents that revolutionise customer experience in more meaningful ways.

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CSS Corp wins Silver Stevie® Award for its COVID response

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Silver Stevie® Award in the ‘Most Valuable Employer – the Asia Pacific’, a COVID-19 response category in the fifth annual Stevie Awards for Great Employers.

CSS Corp bagged the award for prioritizing employee wellbeing and spearheading initiatives to ensure the holistic growth, development, and progress of its employees during this period of uncertainty.

The company rolled out annual increments, variable pay, and promotions in April 2020 for its global workforce of over 7,000 employees, spread across 18 global locations.

Additionally, advanced salary payments were made to support employees in the worst-hit geographies, along with additional incentives given to CSS Corp’s COVID heroes; the employees who worked round the clock on the business continuity plan.

Being one of the first movers in the industry to transition to a 100 per cent productive work from the home model at the onset of the lockdown, CSS Corp showcased resilience, determination, and fortitude that ensured seamless business continuity.

The company’s proprietary resilience framework – takes a three-pronged approach, which emphasizes preparedness, stabilization, and embracing the new normal.

Throughout this period, the company maintained complete transparency and communication with employees and consistently ensured their safety and wellbeing while factoring in their feedback through surveys.

This ensured that the company was able to adequately support and reassure all its employees. CSS Corp’s CHEER framework for employee engagement, employee assistance programs and dedicated 24/7 counselling support has been instrumental towards ensuring the mental wellbeing of employees while boosting their morale and rendering help wherever required. These initiatives have significantly reduced the attrition levels to all-time lows.

“At the onset of the pandemic, our immediate focus and attention shifted towards the safety and well-being of our employees. I was humbled to see how the employees responded with passion and collaboration towards the measures we introduced. This ensured we were able to not only maintain seamless business continuity for our clients but also do so with all employee interests taken care of. I believe organizations have a great opportunity to lead with empathy and provide certainty to their workforce during these unprecedented times. We are honoured to receive the Silver Stevie award and aim to continue leading, inspiring, and thriving in the new normal with the constant support and faith of our employees,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

“In the fifth edition of the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the judges were impressed by the Stevie winners who – during the crises we’ve confronted this year – continue to dedicate each day to make the lives of their employees and teams better through training, software, work-from-home plans, and more. We are pleased to celebrate them in 2020 and look forward to what they will accomplish in 2021,” said Maggie Gallagher, President of the Stevie Awards.

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers recognizes the world’s best employers and the human resources professionals, teams, achievements, and HR-related products and suppliers who help to create and drive great places to work.

More than 700 nominations from organizations of all sizes were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of HR-related categories. Especially popular were six free-to-enter COVID-19 Response categories. More than 90 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners.

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Shift left and get right

In today’s rapidly evolving environment, customers are at the center of the business ecosystem. Millennial customers being tech savvy with high expectations are looking for fast and easy solutions and instant gratification. Customers looking for support for consumable goods don’t necessarily look to queue up to talk to customer support representatives, but choose quick self-help options. They are channel agnostic and often prefer that necessary information is made digitally available. And if their providers are unable to provide them with this omni-channel customer experience, they have limited tolerance and often prefer to switch to a competitor.

To overcome typical customer support and channel management issues, organizations have started to embrace “Shift left” principle that moves the issue resolution as close as possible to the front-line and the customer, at the lowest cost level.

Shift Left accelerates case resolutions and requests by enlightening the customer and agents with low cost, self-help options that lets them solve cases themselves and become brand champs. This setup cuts down calls to support saving revenue and turnaround time. Shift Left also allows agents to be critical and on top of their jobs by utilizing the latest Knowledge Bases, AI and Smart Support. The revenue gained can be pumped into customer experience initiatives which further augments the support mechanism by taking the customer through guided points of resolution.

Shift Left relates to IT Services Management (ITSM), and as a discipline minimizes business and productivity impact on the customer. Many enterprises consider this principle in terms of Service Modeling, for it offers various desirable benefits, for both short and long-term gains.
The Shift Left strategy is critical in showing a commitment to superior-grade customer service and experience while freeing up costlier project resources so that they can focus on executing more mission-critical projects in a timely manner.

Key Elements for Implementing the Shift Left Principle
(a) Knowledge Management: Implementing an effective Knowledge Management process calls for a shift in mindset, which must slowly get embedded in the DNA of the organization’s work culture. This would provide a framework for creating a repository of best practices of customer service in a knowledge-intensive environment.

A Knowledge Management System is the core of any Shift-Left approach. The repeated updates and content refresh keeps agents ticking and helps them close more cases than before. It augments engineer’s productivity making them more focused to deliver when it’s necessary avoiding expensive training costs and alignment programs.

(b) Automation: It’s indeed the most tangible way of reducing cost and boosting performance. Automation helps witness a significant drop in fault percentage, a dramatic increase in process efficiency and drives cost optimization. Applied within a Shift Left system, it removes sluggishness from the system, makes workflows sync and “in-line” with other sub systems bringing long standing efficiencies.

(c) Self-service: This adds value to the customer, and can be the best delivery channel. It results in higher user satisfaction and more measurable business results. Finding the right metrics to measure self-service performance is however too significant to demonstrate any reduction in service low costs.
Imbibing self-service for self-help includes access to portals like FAQs, Wikis, and online references and makes use of all options that are not cost bound. This helps customers understand their challenge and solution at their own pace, making them brand evangelists over time and deflects calls to the support center. It’s a win-win for the enterprise as they don’t incur costs for this support function, yet gain customers.

 

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Customer Experience Emerging As Key Driver For Automotive Brands

Customer experience will continue to dictate business and operational models in the automotive and smart mobility space in the years to come.

Arguably, the disruption in the automotive industry over the last decade stacks up against all other industries. With the emergence of new media, technology innovations, emerging business models, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a tectonic shift in journeys of automotive customers globally, especially in the developed markets.

Like the rest of the world, the Indian market is also undergoing a dramatic transformation. Indian consumers are investing a significant amount of their time in researching about vehicles during the purchase journey. Deloitte’s Global Automotive Consumer study highlights that the manufacturers and dealer’s websites are among the most credible sources of information for Indian customers and often play a crucial role in influencing their final decision and that they’re embracing the idea of connected vehicles at more than 1.5x the rate than consumers in the US.

This study also points to the growing importance of getting CX right and delighting customers with dynamic content, interactive tools, meaningful insights, and customer support across all digital touchpoints to enable them to make better-informed purchase decisions.

Unfortunately, many automotive brands are failing to keep pace with new Customer Experience (CX) realities due to factors like the size of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), complex sales models of dealers (who continue to be the lynchpins of automotive distribution chains), and so on.

Interestingly, Google research has revealed that as many as 900 touchpoints can influence automotive buying decisions. Overall, this increasingly complex landscape of possible touchpoints has led to customer journeys becoming serpentine and leaving customers more informed than ever.

Traditionally, many auto OEMs have viewed customer experience as the primary post-sale responsibility of their dealership partners. But times have changed.

Some forward-looking OEMs have now begun to realize that CX is a differentiator and must be treated as a pre-sale activity and a focal point of innovation. Investing in building organizational processes and marshalling their resources to improve service experience have yielded repeat customers and improved customer loyalty for many of these OEMs.

Digital Experiences: A “New Normal” for Automotive Brands

Let’s face it: despite all the technological disruptions in the automotive space and cars becoming swankier and feature-rich, purchase and service environments and customer experiences haven’t changed much – even though customer expectations significantly have. Inspired by their digital experiences in other sectors, customers now seek new, modern experiences while interacting with automotive brands.

Today’s Gen Y or millennials find the automotive customer experiences somewhat outdated and inferior. With their declining interest in car ownership and preferences shifting toward new mobility concepts such as ridesharing, subscription models, or even rental services, the underlying model shifts from product to service to customer experience. But the current disconnect in what customers expect and finally get to experience is becoming more conspicuous than ever.

According to the Experience Per Mile 2030 report by 2030, “96% of new vehicles (will be) shipped globally with built-in connectivity (2X increase since 2020), 79% of new vehicles (will be) shipped globally with Level-2 autonomy or higher (vs 45% in 2020), 26% of mobility profits (will be) derived from new sources.

With these four megatrends disrupting the automotive sector – autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, sharing economy (ACES), legacy OEMs and dealers are now forced to rethink their business strategy to –

  • address the expectations of this first generation of integrated-mobility customers.
  • deliver more contemporary, superior customer experiences.
  • maintain their competitive advantage.

Even before the stage of purchase decisions, automotive brands are battling for customers’ attention based on the quality of experiences besides the quality of their products.

The transition to digital customer experiences in the automotive sector just hit fast-forward due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Incremental improvements didn’t suffice. Automotive brands were forced to jump years in a matter of few months to offer simple, intuitive digital customer experiences.

Digital-first Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy

Nearly 70% of the customers expressed their willingness to replace visits to the automotive dealer, store, or bank with AI-enabled assistants.

Honda Cars leveraged this trend and launched their virtual showroom, enabling customers to browse through the digital version of a car and interact by clicking on different parts.

Interestingly, Avataar.me, a technology company, partnered with MG Motor India last year and used its own AI platform to offer life-size AR compliant renders on Facebook and Instagram platforms for the automaker’s new product line-up. Similarly, the company partnered with Volkswagen to offer immersive experiences to customers with life-size 3D versions of its SUVW range.

It’s a no-brainer that the “new normal” in the automotive sector is marked by:

  • A transition toward live streaming, digital product launches, virtual brand centers, etc.
  • Surge in digital experience solutions, e.g., test drives, AR product explainers, online consultations, etc.
  • Shift toward the on-demand purchase and usage models
  • Predictive maintenance services and replacement of vehicles
  • Next-best offers from OEMs and dealers focusing on emotional connect

However, automotive brands must address the complete spectrum of customer experience and not individual touchpoints across the customer journey while embracing a digital-first, GTM approach.

The German premium automotive brand Mercedes-Benz has planned to drive 25% of its new car sales transactions online by 2025 and developed a “single log-in” digital strategy that offers lifestyle, mobility and shopping solutions to owners and non-owners alike. Also, its customer touchpoints have widened to include temporary pop-up stores, lifestyle-focused Mercedes Me stores, events, and conferences.

However, shifting customers to digital channels even before the automotive brand is ready or only has subpar digital capabilities for targeted touchpoints can trigger the “boomerang effect”, forcing customers to repeatedly contact the brand for troubleshooting or issue resolution. This can severely hurt impact the CX and the brand’s revenue growth.

Nimble technology services organizations are well abreast of these trends and paradigm shifts in the automotive space. Using the right technology framework, they’re crafting streamlined and humanized digital journeys for customers, bringing together three pillars of customer service – end-customer experience, operational efficiency, and support agent productivity; powered by intelligent insights.

Customer experience will continue to dictate business and operational models in the automotive and smart mobility space in the years to come.

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How CSS CORP is betting on AI, automation, analytics to open new revenue streams

California-based IT services company CSS Corp, which has offices in Chennai and Bengaluru, has been investing in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and analytics over the past few years to accelerate revenue growth. This renewed focus has helped the company, which is majority-owned by Swiss private equity firm Partners Group and had hired former Infosys Ltd executive Manish Tandon as its CEO in August 2016, report an 11% growth in revenue for 2017-18 to $158 million. In a conversation with TechCircle, CSS chief delivery officer Nishikant Nigam and chief information officer Mushtaq Ahmad explain the company’s initiatives in emerging technologies. Edited excerpts:

How is CSS using emerging technologies such as automation, cloud computing, and analytics?

Nigam: CSS works significantly with the business-side stakeholders in an organization who are responsible for the customer experience and revenue generation. Use of contextualized intelligence is critical in such scenarios. Adoption of emerging technologies like AI, analytics, and automation can accelerate usage of contextualized intelligence.

Our digital solutions leverage automation, AI and analytics to help customers combat disruptions effectively. We are helping pharma companies in driving patient adoption for vaccinations through deep analytics and AI; helping digital marketing teams in consumer packaged goods companies with creative interventions and insights on customer behavior, and driving predictive intelligence in managing the business and IT operations.

What products and services are being offered under the aegis of these new technologies? 

Nigam: In the past 20-plus months, we have invested heavily in our Innovation Labs. The Labs act as an entry point for clients to access new-age capabilities that augment customers’ capabilities, find solutions to crucial business problems and drive new growth streams.

Today, it’s a 70-member team with expertise in various technologies like TensorFlow, Big Data, Bigtable, and Hadoop. Across our teams, you will find UX (user experience) designers, extreme programmers, Big Data engineers, AI, and NLP (Natural Language Processing) experts, data scientists and as well as professionals from diverse fields like linguists, behavioral researchers, and domain specialists.

The labs have developed Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, a contextual AI platform for customer engagement; Contelli, an intelligent automation platform for IT operations; and  Active Insights, an AI-led customer analytics solution.

What industries are you targeting for these solutions? How do these help save cost and time?

Nigam: We have carved out a niche for ourselves in select industries like technology, media and telecommunications; retail and consumer packaged goods to handle digital and managed services expectations of our customers.

For instance, CSS helped a large consumer packaged goods company to modernize its digital marketing ecosystem through the adoption of digital technologies. We came up with a solution that helped the customer to launch global campaigns on the fly. The time-to-market rate was seven times faster and total cost of ownership reduced 60% through rapid adoption of cloud and automation.

Our customers in the telecommunications sector are looking for solutions to modernize and optimize their technical support operations to effectively manage the customer experience.

For instance, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform has helped a couple of our telecom customers reduce the cost involved to run a technical support operation by 30-40% through unified knowledge management and automation.

In a recent case, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform transformed the customer experience of a company specializing in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls from the ground up. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform amplified agent capacity and efficiency to 65%, reduced the learning curve from 90 to just 15 days — helping agents to get on the floor faster. Using its automation capabilities, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform improved agent performance by 80% — reducing and removing all redundant tasks.

How has the adoption of such technologies helped CSS boost its revenue?

Nigam: We are seeing significant acceptance of our digital services among our customers. In the past two years, large portions of our investments have been dedicated to building digital and customer-centric solutions. These solutions are opening new revenue streams, not just for us but for our customers as well.

Our digital practice has grown significantly in the last 12 months and has opened new opportunities for us. Today, we are managing interesting analytics engagements for some of our customers that have a direct impact on their revenue and customer retention.

We are helping to discover new ways of doing business by leveraging new digital technologies. These kind of opportunities are usually content-driven, co-creation type opportunities, which tend to be smaller than the traditional opportunities. However, they are extremely strategic and open up channels and avenues for downstream revenue creation, both for service providers and customers, which the traditional services cannot generate.

Is there any particular initiative that encourages employees to come up with new solutions?

Nigam: To augment our efforts towards enhancing our technology competency, we launched our digital-career progression framework called Reimagine. This reorients our service lines and re-aligns the growth of our employees to meet the growing business needs.

The Reimagine framework promotes a multi-disciplinary approach towards acquiring new domain and technology skill sets. The framework includes structured learning paths around AI, automation, data science, machine learning and other topics in a logical progression.

What are the cybersecurity challenges you face as a digital IT services company?

Mushtaq Ahmad: With the rapidly evolving landscape, at times one wonders if security is only a problem of IT alone as it spans across the entire organization. However, at CSS, we have aligned ourselves to lead and implement safeguards and tool-based protection against targeted phishing attacks, spam, ransomware and data leaks.

Another challenge (and focus) for us is to safeguard our data. There are multiple copies of data backups at offsite places (data center, cloud), which, if not checked, may prove vulnerable. For the same, we ensure robust security protection against every access and entry point.

How has Tandon’s appointment as CEO helped revenue?

Nishikant Nigam: CSS had management rejig in August 2016, which led to the appointment of Manish Tandon, our CEO. The first goal was to arrest the sluggish growth in the company. Once that was done, there was no looking back. The revenue of the company has been showing an optimistic growth trajectory, growing at 3% quarter-on-quarter, leading to annual double-digit growth in 2017-18.

There were some under-invested areas like sales and marketing, which have been strengthened with an increased presence in the US market, closer to our clients. We have also been able to build the Innovation Labs.

 

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CSS Corp wins Gold Stevie® & Silver Stevie® at 2018 International Business Awards®

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won a Gold Stevie® and a Silver Stevie® at 2018 International Business Awards.

CSS Corp has been awarded two Stevie Awards in the best new product or service of the year category, for its novel adoption of cognitive technologies and deep analytics in IT Service Management and Big Data solutions. The awards will be presented on 20th October at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel in London, England.

CSS Corp’s ‘Contelli’ and ‘Active Insights’ platforms were recognized for their industry-leading innovation and customer value proposition. The AI-based ‘Contelli’ platform uses context-driven intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing (NLP) for holistic IT operations and service management. The ‘Active Insights’ platform is a cloud-based analytics powerhouse that goes beyond traditional analytical models and drives intelligence along the customer lifecycle management.

Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “Ensuring customer centricity through innovation will be a crucial barometer on which most organizations will be measured. At CSS Corp, we obsessively pursue customer centricity. Our passionate focus on pragmatic innovation and service delivery excellence has helped us foster meaningful engagements with our customers and deliver critical business outcomes.”

“We are delighted to be recognized by Stevie, yet again, which is a great testament to our trusted customer relationships and sustainable business value that we drive in our engagements,” he further added.

Sunil Mittal, EVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said, “We are honored yet again to bag the Stevie Awards. The recognition is emblematic of our robust digital services portfolio with razor-sharp focus in helping our customers handle disruptions effectively. Being a disruptor in the services industry, we are endeavoring to break the stereotypes through focused adoption of new age business models in customer engagements.”

The 2018 International Business Awards® received over 3,900 nominations from 74 nations and from organizations of all sizes and from across a gamut of industries in a wide range of categories. The Stevie Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 270 executives worldwide who participated on 12 juries.
 

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