Press zero to speak to a "real" person

We've all been 'that' customer - finger hovering over the keypad, waiting to hear which digit we need to hit in order to escape the dull menu of call-centre services. Minimising this expensive behaviour is a challenge that reaches right to the bottom line of an organisation.

Now that our Siri and "OK Google" experiences are improving out of sight, we expect the same level of quality from the self-service technologies we encounter when we interact with banks, airlines and telcos.

Unlike a personal virtual assistant, an organisational AI doesn't need to be all things to all people. We can instead focus on a specific industry, and outcomes that align to promises made to the customer. This creates a unique opportunity to exceed expectations by having a deeper understanding of a customer within the self-service experience. In doing so, how can organisations avoid becoming even less personal and more robotic with their customers?

The ability to be human makes the difference. To go beyond a search for data, to recognise a caller's intentions and respond conversationally, immediately and professionally.

FaceMe create real-time, natural interfaces to AI that are engaging and personal yet immensely scalable.

AI creates the opportunity for technology to 'see' and 'hear' through a customer’s self-service journey.  Being able to see expressions, understand tone and what is been said, gives AI the emotional intelligence to better understand context and provide a meaningful interaction. Empathy is the human component which significantly increases the customer experience.

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

Great customer experience is achieved through immediacy, relevancy and empathy. The FaceMe platform brings this together as a service that can be easy implemented across any digital interface as a natural extension to existing customer services. 

"When we think of an amazing customer experience, we imagined having a dedicated service agent per customer, that was immediately available 24x7 and could be contacted like a personal friend over phone, video chat or text. You have history with them and they personalize your experience every time." Says Danny Tomsett CEO FaceMe.

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The best way to achieve this is by using a mixed, seamless offering where live agents and virtual agents work together to focus on amazing, convenient experiences. The sum of the two parts create an environment of continual improvement, where technology and people learn from each other.

"We believe that soon, the value that virtual agents create both for organisations and their customers will mean that they are an expectation for a great customer experience; not an exception," notes Simon Grieve, Head of Marketing at FaceMe.

The Australian National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has worked with FaceMe’s Virtual Assistant platform to develop NADIA - a virtual assistant to help provide the best possible service and support to NDIS participants.

Nadia is the result of strong calls from Australians with disability, asking for NDIS information to be made more accessible and more personalised. Combining a human face and voice with cognitive intelligence in a system co-designed by the disability community, is a world first; and it’s pretty amazing!

"The digital world has been a structured world for the last 20 years, built on a foundation of structured forms and pages; and this isn’t only about government, this relates to financial services & almost all industries," explains Marie Johnson, Head of Technology Authority at the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Without this innovation the Agency would simply not have been able to meet the demand for information from the NDIS community as it increases from 40,000 participants to 460,000 participants in the next three years.

"Our estimates, is that at full scheme, this will be approx. $100m AUD cost to a call centre, simply answering general questions and answers. Nadia is about not only the uplift as the scheme scales, but also the unmet demand."

The current call volumes to the NDIS hotline are in the order of 5,800 general enquiries per week - plus 1,200 provider enquiries per week. This call volume is from a participant base of 32,000 and active provider base of 700. Approximately 40 per cent of these enquiries can be managed with relevant interfaces to Self Service. 

"I believe what we are seeing here in the start of the new world ‘beyond websites’, a world that is seamless, with intuitive multi-channel interfaces; augmented with cognitive intelligence. The next five to 10 years will be the age of conversations & the birth of the world beyond websites,” says Johnson.

"I think what has happened here between the FaceMe, the NDIS, people with disability has created the new world of web, beyond websites. We are going to change the world"

Forbes have described Customer Experience as the ‘new battleground’ and there is no doubt that AI has a massive part to play in how organisations can use technology to exceed customer expectations at scale. What people with disability in Australia have done with the NDIS & FaceMe is an inspiring insight as to what the future of CX looks like; a community otherwise marginalized in society is challenging all organisations to consider how to use empathy within technology to make conversations immediate and relevant.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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