Jun 14, 2017 - Economy

This AI assistant earns one company $20 for every $1 it spends

CenturyLink, one of the country's largest telecommunications providers, has a new employee, Harvard Business Review reports. She is Angie, who sends around 30,000 emails a day, identifies hot leads, sets up sales appointments, and then transfers the conversation to said sales rep.

Angie is artificial intelligence-powered, and has made CenturyLink $20 in new customer contracts for every dollar spent on her.

CenturyLink isn't alone: Other companies like Epson America and RapidMiner are using AI assistants, too. "AI tools are the only way I can scale 'helpfulness' to a global community of 200,000-plus users with a team of two," one chief marketing officer told HBR.

How it works: RapidMiner uses an automated chat tool called Drift, which assists with online customer inquiries and resolves almost two-thirds of them. RapidMiner Chief Marketing Officer Tom Wentworth told HBR: "It's the most productive thing I'm doing in marketing."

Epson's senior manager of commercial marketing, Chris Nickel, says he was "drowning" in leads, getting up to 60,000 a year after various outreach methods like email and trade shows. Salespeople were "inconsistent" in following up, but after employing an AI assistant similar to Angie, Epson saw a 240% increase in official customer responses from the baseline established at the start of the pilot, along with a 75% increase in qualified leads. Nickel said that, because of this, Epson produced $2 million in additional revenue in just 90 days.

Go deeper