Customer service. It's hugely important, but oft goes unchecked. In many cases, it's just outright overlooked. The amount of CSR complaints revolving around technology companies in general is staggering, and honestly, it's tough to find a single company with overwhelmingly positive remarks regarding service to the end-user. Microsoft knows it, and they want to change it. The company has this week teamed up with 24/7 Inc. in order to jointly bring the power of natural user interfaces (NUIs) and data analytics at cloud scale (Big Data) to enable the future of customer service for businesses. The agreement includes Microsoft merging its interactive self-service assets (clients, people and technologies) into 24/7 Inc. The agreement also includes an R&D partnership, long-term IP licensing and Microsoft taking an equity stake in 24/7 Inc.
The combined Predictive Experience (PX) platform will manage more than 2.5 billion speech and online self-service interactions annually, enabling large businesses to derive and apply insight and intelligence across these customer service interactions and delivery channels. With this combination, 24/7 Inc. will be positioned to generate total revenues of more than $250 million annually by delivering solutions and services that enable large businesses to anticipate consumer needs, simplify the consumer experience and learn from every consumer interaction. Consumers today not only expect businesses to deliver service in more natural and intuitive ways but also expect these same businesses to be able to reach out and interact intelligently with them across a wide variety of channels, including on mobile devices, through social media, on the Web and even through the living room TV. This consumer expectation has created a key need for businesses to gather, analyze and gain insight by using Big Data to proactively anticipate and predict customer needs.
"24/7 Inc. and Microsoft are helping Avis deliver customer experiences in the way that customers want to be served," said Thomas M. Gartland, president, North America, Avis Budget Group. "We applaud the agreement between the companies that will harness the power of Big Data, apply advanced analytics to that data, and bring more intuitive experiences to customers. We see the future of customer service and are working together to lead the way."
24/7 Inc. and Microsoft will forge an R&D partnership moving forward, and 24/7 Inc. will utilize Microsoft Tellme speech and natural language technologies for natural user experiences in customer service. 24/7 Inc. will also be integrating its solutions with Windows Phone, Bing and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft and 24/7 Inc. have also agreed to a shared technology road map and a long-term IP licensing agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for speech-related technologies.
Only time will tell if this filters into rival companies or has a direct impact on Windows 8 tech lines, but it's certainly a bold step in the right direction.