Leadership Conversation / 15.05.2020

The Power of U: Vijai Shankar & the Contact Center Industry

Vijai Shankar Working at HomeIn continuing our blog series on highlighting the voices of Uniphorians, I sat down virtually with our new VP of Product Marketing, Vijai Shankar (pictured to the left).  He has been in the industry for over 10 years and shared his background, how the contact center industry has changed, productivity tips, advice for upcoming graduates, and more. Read the below-edited transcript of the interview.


Q: What is your background and how long have you been working in the contact center industry?
A: I graduated from College with an Electronics and Communications Engineering Degree and started my career as a networking engineer working on Cisco Routers and Switches. Since graduating with an MBA in Marketing in 2005, I’ve been in Product Marketing, most recently leading the Product Marketing team at Xactly. I’ve over a decade worth of experience in the contact center industry from my prior experiences driving product marketing at Genesys and 247.ai.

Q: What is one way that AI & automation will help contact centers?
A: I’ve seen numerous changes in contact centers over the years but most of them have fundamentally focused connecting with customers as their preference of channel moved i.e. phone, email, SMS, chat, etc. However, the future will not be defined by the number of channels but rather how we orchestrate and optimize the front and back end experiences. That’s where AI and automation will help contact centers to predict the intent, emotion, and sentiments in customer conversations and drive personalized customer experience. For agents, automation will drive better productivity and engagement, thus potentially driving lower attrition rates.

Q: What are the ways that you stay productive while working at home?
A: Here are the ways that I stay productive:

  • Dress like going to work
  • Write down the top 3 tasks to accomplish in the day in order of priority
  • Take a quick 5-minute break every couple of hours. A 5-minute break can be anything like checking on family, playing a quick game of online chess to recharge, and getting water.
  • When not on Zoom meetings, l listen to podcasts or music.

Q: What is one tip you have for graduates who are looking at a career in marketing in technology?
A: I was recently speaking with one of my friends’ connections who is about to graduate from college and start a career in marketing. My one tip to her was to understand all the disciplines of marketing and choose a discipline where you can learn the most and move the needle. I managed to convince her to look at Product Marketing.

Q: Where do you see the contact center 10 years from now?
A: Looking back to contact centers 10 years back today, what has changed is the number of channels and how contact center technology is deployed i.e. the move to the cloud. What’s not changed is the continued focus on customer experience. What I do see 10 years from now would be AI-based personalized experiences to be the norm, more communication channel support (across devices such as VR, media), and speed being the essence in resolving customer service issues. Speed can be looked at how quickly a company can set up a contact center, how quickly do we (the consumer) get our answers, and how quickly first call resolution occurs.

And now for some rapid-fire to get to know Vijai a little better:

Q: The last book you read.
A: I just finished Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt over the weekend and I am almost close to finishing a sportsbook called Gloves off – 40 years of unfiltered sports writing by Lowell Cohn.

Q: Favorite cuisine.
A: Not to be biased, but I do love Indian food both the traditional South Indian as well as North Indian flavors. Mediterranean cuisine comes a close second.

Q: Favorite productivity application.
A: I used to use Evernote a lot but now I am using One Note and collaborating with the Office Suite by using OneDrive.

Q: The last brand besides Uniphore you referred a friend.
A: I love great wine. So, I did refer a friend of mine to a wine called Sterling Platinum. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon from Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga.

Q: If you had one celebrity voice to power your contact center’s virtual agent who would it be?
A: This is a good one. It must be the greatest Bollywood Actor, Amitabh Bachchan or Big B. He is known for his deep voice. The other option I was thinking about is the late legendary sports broadcaster, Dick Enberg.

 

Thank you to Vijai for his time. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more about the voices behind Uniphore.  Read our previous interviews below.