ICMI Vendor Spotlight: Directly Makes a Splash with On-Demand Customer Service App

At the upcoming ICMI Contact Center Demo and Conference in Las Vegas next week, companies are expected to demonstrate the latest technology in the customer service space. On-demand customer service provider Directly is making its first appearance at the ICMI conference, but the vendor is already drawing attendee attention with its expansion into the B2B arena. The budding company has a number of well-known B2C clients, including Pinterest, Airbnb, and Lyft, but will at the ICMI event introduce a solution for B2B customers as well.

The company's B2C software provides a faster connection between consumers and customer service experts through integrations with major contact center vendors, including Zendesk, Salesforce, Oracle, and others. The solution works by differentiating between questions that pertain to strictly service-based requests and "how-to" requests, explains Lynda Radosevich, head of marketing at Directly. Companies such as Pinterest, Airbnb, and Lyft each have a network of experts—pinfluencers, top hosts, and top drivers, respectively. These experts are often better equipped to handle certain types of questions than customer service professionals are, because they interact with their business's technology every day, Radosevich says. When a company receives a support request through a help desk technology like Zendesk, Directly's algorithm determines whether it should be routed to experts or remain inside Zendesk's ecosystem for customer service agents to handle.

By routing questions on topics to the experts that specialize in them, companies can save customers time. "Customer service agents can handle questions about billing or help deal with technical glitches, but when it comes to figuring out how something works or how to best use a feature, the experts are better equipped to help," Radosevich says. It's a nuanced difference, she points out, but it can lower response time from 24 hours to five minutes. As for the experts that use the Directly app, gamification is a driving factor. Customers rate their responses, which earns them rewards. And the interaction is still a closed loop—if experts are able to successfully resolve an issue, the ticket is closed and logged through Zendesk. If experts can't help, the ticket is sent back to Zendesk and left to the customer service professionals.

After seeing success with the technology on the B2C side, Directly is now taking its software to B2B customers. Enterprise mobile app management provider MobileIron has been using Directly's B2B solution, and the company will be demonstrating its efforts at the upcoming event. The technology is similar to the B2C model, Radosevich says, except for the kinds of experts available to B2B companies. "There's much more complexity in the B2B environment, so the experts are going to be different. Ticket volume also tends to be lower, and the reward for well-answered questions is higher," she adds. The "core engine," however, is the same for both.

Other companies are also expected to make a series of announcements. Tethr, for example, will be debuting a machine learning platform that listens to calls securely from the cloud; Jacada will introduce SalesEngage, which promises to empower sales and service agents to engage customers through chat, voice, and video channels. In partnership with ICMI, Five9 will also share data from a recent survey, which highlights the need for new metrics and measurement for contact centers.

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