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Issue #23, March 12, 2018
The leading newsletter about customer experience and call centers
Market insights, trends and news about customer experience, BPO, and call centers.
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It’s already March! Let’s get caught up.

Sabre launches ‘Ella,’ TSI’s new virtual travel agent chatbot

Sabre is probably one of the most dominant companies in their industry, that most consumers don’t recognize. They provide all the booking software to allow airlines to make reservations, adjust pricing dynamically, and more. In this article, it talks about how they’ve developed a pilot chatbot program with their partner, Travel Solutions International, that allows corporate customers to change flights, make special meal requests, choose and pay for seats, and get email itineraries. At this stage, if customers get stuck in the chatbot, they will get redirected to a live agent in-chat. This bot was built using Microsoft’s Bot Framework, and also uses NLP.

It sounds like some of the key results Sabre is looking to see, is containment rate (how often a live person needs to be involved), how often the bot gets used, preferred use times, points of frustration, and types of interactions handled. This is fantastic – no doubt if Sabre’s pilot program is successful, they will make it available to their various partners, which means we could be seeing a lot more bots in airlines soon!

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The sudden death of the website

Making a very bold prediction, this article is written by Rob LoCascio, the CEO of LivePerson, a top chat service provider. According to LoCascio, Google’s ranking algorithm has resulted in ubiquitous eCommerce experiences, and frustrating UI. Given that as much as 90% of inbound calls can come from a company’s website, LoCascio sees the website UI as being inherently bad for commerce. As such, he’s predicting that in 2018, we will see the first major brand shut down its website to shift its priorities to chat and social media. He claims to be working on several large brands to achieve this.

Initially, I was very much surprised and perhaps opposed to this idea. After all, having a website is more or less a requirement for a modern-day business, and a lot of companies still don’t have working websites to highlight their products/services. The more I thought on this idea however, the more it made sense (for an eventuality). Customer channels are becoming increasingly fragmented with efforts spent on every social media channel, customer communication channel and more. It makes sense that if a website generates more pain points than it solves, then getting rid of it could be a positive solution. That being said, I believe it is still too early for it to happen (if at all). I’ll concede that perhaps a risky company will do so for the buzz, but I believe they will eventually have to reinstate their website. Websites are still key for eCommerce. What are your thoughts? Interested in eCommerce? We are also experts in global eCommerce. Contact us for more info!

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With in-article chat bots, BBC is experimenting with new ways to introduce readers to complex topics

The BBC is currently experimenting with chatbots! For articles that are especially complex or long-winded, the BBC is hoping these chatbots will help readers with limited time or attention understand the key points of the story or be able to stay up-to-date with breaking developments. According to the article, the BBC has been experimenting with chatbot placement, design, default open or closed status, and more. The article further states that so far, every chatbot has attracted cult followings of users who go through every option. So while these bots may not be relevant to a broad audience, it receives very strong engagement to those who are interested.


This is the type of testing and optimization we like to see! The results do make me wonder though, if the same people who are committed to fully reading the article are the ones who are going through the chatbot thoroughly to make sure they didn’t miss any information. Being informed through a conversational format, amazing! We’ve identified chatbots as being good at customer education, especially with some of our eCommerce clients that sell products a little less familiar with the local/target demographics, but this is a whole new level. Want to see one of our customer chatbots in action? Reach out for a case study!

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Baidu’s voice cloning AI can swap genders and remove accents

Voice replication through AI is getting better than ever! Baidu’s Deep Voice can now clone a human voice with only 30 minutes of training material, can change the gender of the voice automatically, and even change the accent! In the article, the samples used allows the recording to be switched from sounding like a British man to sound like that of an American woman. Hopefully, this means that robotic IVR systems will be a thing in the past… But not sure how comfortable I am with the idea that voice data can be used to replicate voices. This could mean voice recordings are now a lot more valuable than previously anticipated.

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Average Person Placed On Hold Gets Fed Up Within 9 Minutes, Study Says

It’s an interesting article that states that a study published by Jive Communications (which polled 2,000 people), most people are fed up with being on hold within 9 minutes, while 18-35 year old’s will stay on hold for up to 11 minutes, and Millennials will be on hold for 21 minutes longer than any other generation before getting fed up. Besides the confusing use of “Millenial” (aren’t 18-35 year-olds Millenials? How is this a separate group?), the article also provides the following stats:

  • 33% of millennials said they wouldn’t complain about being served the wrong drink
  • Only 12% in adults 55+ said the same
  • 39% of young adults claimed they would go back to a business after having a bad experience
  • 23% of seniors would go back to a business despite a poor experience
  • 80% of Americans said they would complain about bad experience with customer service
  • 35% prefer to use telephone to make the complaint
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Curated from Sacramento by Tom Coshow and the transcosmos OmniConnect team.


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