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Customer service & chatbots: Interview with Erik Pfannmöller, Solvemate

Interviews 4. July 2018.

We invited Erik Pfannmöller, CEO / Founder of Solvemate as a guest speaker to give his view on the importance of customer experience and chatbots in customer service improvement.

Solvemate provides a cutting-edge and proven platform to automate customer support based on deep-learning and chatbot technology.

How did you come up with the chatbot startup idea?

Prior to founding Solvemate I was leading an e-commerce company as founder and CEO. We had 15 customer service agents dealing with 250.000 service requests per year and I noticed three problems: 1) customer satisfaction dropped dramatically as waiting times increased, 2) turn-over in the customer support team was higher than any other department, due to the repetitiveness of their work, and 3) it was too expensive to do anything about it. I am a big math nerd and have always found machine learning exciting. Now I saw a real case for building a company to solve a massive problem.

What main challenges do organisations face in customer support nowadays?

In addition to the above mentioned steady pressure to bring down costs for customer support while maintaining a high quality, big corporates face the digitalization issue. In big call centers we have seen technology that is 5-10 years old which just is not (yet) compatible with lightweight Software-as-a-Service solutions like Solvemate. There is technical debt existing, that needs to be tackled.

Today, in the customer service industry, we are in the era of solutions based on chatbots, deep learning and AI, will this continue or what’s next?

Yes, this development will continue. Our whole society is moving towards an “instant economy”, which means that we want all product and services available whenever, wherever and in real-time. This trend will continue and chatbots will be a solution to make customer support instant and affordable. 

What are the reasons any organisation should invest in their customer service approach and infrastructure? And any do’s and don’ts you would like to recommend?

Invest: Increased satisfaction leads to more loyal customers that buy more. Transform your service agents into consultants and give their work renewed meaning.

Do’s / don’ts: DO think about the customer and what they want to achieve – finding a solution to their problem as soon as possible. DO NOT force customers down one path. People have different preferences and some people will still choose to wait 10min for someone to pick up the phone over solving the problem in 12seconds with a chatbot. Customers will learn and preferences will change.

Looking at your experience in building startups, which main barriers do you recon still exist between startups and corporations?

Moving fast in startups vs slow decision making in corporates. In addition to that, we sometimes see that corporates expect significant results without the clear willingness to invest into Proof of Concepts.

Can you share specific success stories from your partnerships with corporations?

On www.solvemate.com/customers you can find a selection of customer success stories. One we did with one of the leading German Banks – Sparkasse. Find it at www.solvemate.com/sparkasse.

You have recently entered a strategic partnership with MMV. What were the reasons and what do you expect as a result from that?

MMV brings with it a unique network of well seasoned industry professionals, with deep network into our target markets. This type of people are not possible for a startup to hire, so partnering with MMV will enable us to open more doors in a shorter amount of time, than we would on our own.

To be up-to-date with the latest chatbot trends, check Erik’s blog out!

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