We had a chance to interview Jim Callan, one of the masterminds behind The Conversation Hub™, the world’s first intelligent conversation platform. Recognized as an entrepreneur and innovator in retail banking and banking technology, Jim is the founder and CEO of Econiq. Previously, he led Eontec (acquired by Siebel/Oracle in 2004), which developed the world’s first multi-channel java banking platform, and delivered solutions to retail banks around the world. He has also created facial recognition solutions used on the internet.
Here is the complete interview:
1. Can you give us a brief summary of your extensive career in retail banking and technology, starting from the late 90s as a founder of Eontec, which developed the world’s first multi-channel java banking platform?
In the mid-nineties, there was a big trend in automating the desktop systems of financial institutions and at the same time, the Internet was emerging. I had been working in many retail banks in the U.S. and the U.K. that were looking at these issues. We were fortunate then to be able to build a large international business by helping clients address the need for a modern system to support these emerging multi-channel automation requirements. Eontec had customers across the world and the company was acquired by Siebel systems in 2004.
2. For the past 10 years, you’ve been building the world’s first intelligent conversation platform – The Conversation Hub. Tell us about it. How does it boost customer engagement by conducting two-way interactions?
Econiq work with clients to help them learn from and improve their high-value complex conversations with their customers. For these types of valuable conversations, the frontline agent will generally be using a desktop computer while talking to customers. Sitting on top of all these complex desktop systems is The Conversation Hub which has a color conversation guide which supports the agent in what they are saying to the customer. Conversations then flow far more naturally, the frontline agent is not being distracted by cumbersome technology, the conversation is kept safe and compliant and the customer feels that their needs are being listened to, understood and being acted upon. This improved experience can be transformational for the customer.
The Conversation Hub is crafted to understand how the best Conversation performers behave and models this behavior. The Conversation Hub is dynamic and guides the Frontline Agent through all the possible paths a conversation may travel. The Conversation Hub tracks the paths taken and what the customer has been saying. The Conversation Hub then converts the color elements of the conversation and the underlying digital data into an intuitive complete picture of the conversation (Visual Transcripts).
These digital color-coded images of the Conversations give full visibility to the executive team in real-time of what is happening during the conversation. This rich Visual Conversation Intelligence is easily understood, fully actionable and improved conversations can be released overnight.
At the operational level, these Visual Transcripts are perfect for training too. All these improved conversations result in a higher level of customer engagement.
The Conversation Hub can be installed very quickly. Clients can be holding and guiding valuable conversations in 6 weeks.
3. You say all business-to-consumer conversations must be human-to-human conversations, to drive more effective engagement and greater business value. Agreed! But how do you gain contextual, real-time insights and preference of a customer?
The most valuable and complex conversations are predominantly face to face or over the phone but important interactions along the customer journey may happen over a digital channel. The Conversation Hub is also present on these channels where it can be used to guide the digital conversation or just pick up important context for later use. The Conversation Hub is able to compile a very rich dataset because as it tracks it also gathers all the important questions and answers being put to the customer. In addition, it gathers any other relevant information (data points if you like) that can be used to build up a full, complete and meaningful picture of the conversation.
4. What is the commercial and social impact? Especially in the backdrop of growing concern over privacy and security?
In commercial terms, the Conversation Hub delivers value in multiple ways. It leverages the underlying technology to deliver productivity gains. All the compliance requirements within the conversation are fully met. Understanding the customers needs better results in a better experience and ultimately greater customer loyalty and revenue.
We count the value of the improvement in financial terms for each conversation. You won’t be surprised to hear that we use a color coding system to do this too!
We do not store any customer sensitive information outside the walls of our clients. Customers are used to having their conversations recorded and to date we have had no issues with privacy or security issues.
5. We live in an era in which customers heavily rely on smartphones, social media and emerging messaging channels such as IVR, chatbots, and AI-powered systems to connect with brands. What are the challenges you face in the market?
The Conversation Hub actually sits on the top of all of these technologies and uses the best of them to better guide a more natural customer conversation and to then produce the full picture of all the joined up conversations a customer will be holding with an organization.
6. You are known to be very passionate about Soccer and are indeed an avid coach. Does your passion for sports influence your success as an entrepreneur?
I’m not sure about that but it is always lovely to see young players improve over time and benefit from the social side of the game.