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From Assisted-Care to Self-Care

A few weeks ago, I read the book 'Delivering Happiness' by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. Zappos was a pioneer in retailing footwear online. It was acquired in 2009 by Amazon for ~USD 1.2 Billion.

Zappos had a manic focus on customer service. Every customer call went to a service rep and the reps went to a great length to help the customer get what they wanted. They even had an instance of a rep helping a customer who called the Zappos number to order a pizza.

At the other extreme, there are organization with highly complicated IVR menus that hide access to the agent behind multiple layers. They do so presumably to save customer interaction costs. However, it significantly deteriorates the experience for the customer who really needs to reach out to an agent.

Most organizations would like to be in the middle of the customer care spectrum, so they could service the customer while meeting targets such as:

·         Reduced cost per customer care interaction

·         Scalability to handle higher volume of customer interactions

·         Reduced average handling time

·         Deflection of calls to digital channels (Chat Bot, Virtual assistant, Mobile apps etc)

·         First contact resolution etc


To achieve the above goals, organizations are looking at shifting customers from an assisted care to a self-care mode. While doing so, they need to draw a fine balance between the cost and quality of customer care interaction.

This is where the concept of an 'Intent Engine' becomes relevant. This engine is expected to

·         Understand the intent of the customer interaction and route the customer to the right channel

·         Provide seamless hand-off across channels till the customer issue is resolved

·         Provide the complete context during the hand-off so that the customer does not have to repeat themselves at any stage.


Given below is a diagrammatic representation of the Intent Engine model:


I have also illustrated the hand-off across channels with a few use cases:



Oracle offers 'Intelligent Bots' as a part of its Oracle Mobile Cloud service. This service uses advanced machine learning algorithms to process natural language from users and provide responses.

The Intelligent Bots can integrate with different categories of messaging channels such as

·         OTT channels : Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype etc

·         Virtual Private assistants : Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod etc

·         Mobile or Web Apps with chat capabilities

·         Voice based inputs: Interfaces that use Siri, Google voice or even IVR's


The Oracle Intelligent Bots are powered by a robust Artificial Intelligence engine that also supports:

·         Enterprise integration to systems of record via Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS)

·         Dialog flow execution that enables a conversational interface between the user and the bot

·         Intelligent insights via Customer experience analytics

·         Ability to transfer from chatbot to human to chatbot


Organizations are actively looking at including the AI powered channels such as Chatbots in addition to the traditional customer touch points. An intelligent intent engine combined with solutions like Oracle Intelligent Bots will ensure effective utilization of the channels while delivering a rich customer experience.

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