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Sage South Africa Newsroom

Sage reaches AI milestone: 1 million user queries solved with AI powered smart assistant

Humans and machines working in partnership to enhance customer experiences, whist smart assistant automates administration

15 January 2019

First launched in 2016 as a conversational interface to assist small businesses with accounting related administration, Pegg quickly graduated to a development platform that enables Sage to solve many of its own productivity challenges.

Today Sage is embedding AI and Machine Learning into internal processes across the business to help solve the productivity puzzle. From reducing customer service wait times during busy periods to integrating AI into back office administrative functions such as travel, expenses and recruitment.

To date Pegg has supported Sage to efficiently answer 1 million customer and employee queries freeing up staff to focus on enhancing customer experience whilst Pegg automates administration.

“Our vision is to bring humans and machines together in partnership – helping us to achieve our goals. We have reached this important milestone using the platform services available as part of Sage Business Cloud - reducing the administrative burden for employees.” said Sanjay Almeida, Chief Product Delivery Officer, Sage. “We are pleased to see that our employees and customers alike have embraced automation – reducing call wait times benefits everyone, allowing customers to get on with the important task of running their business.”

Pegg for Customer Services - Streamlining customer support

Operating successfully for over eighteen months, Pegg for Customer Services helps customers in the UK, US, France, Spain, Canada and Australia garner answers to product related queries with an ‘in-product’ smart assistant. Rather than calling the help desk, customers can simply click a button within the product to launch Pegg and begin to ask and find answers to product related queries.

First piloted in the UK during the 2017 Payroll Year End period, this service was designed to cut call volume, thus reducing wait times for customers and helping Sage colleagues manage call spikes during busy periods.

  • 22% overall reduction in total incoming call volume during this busy time[1]
  • Reduced spike in call volume over peak period from 40% in 2017 to 18% in 2018[2]

The productivity gains in the UK drove the further roll out of Pegg for Customer Services to other Sage regions including US, France and Spain. Although the service has greatest impact at times of high volume, the business as usual performance of Pegg in FY18 has been significant:

  • 12% reduction of call volume directly attributable to Pegg
  • Totalling the equivalent of 11 full time agents

Pegg for travel and expenses – Increasing employee productivity

Designed to help Sage colleagues ask and find answers to common questions, Pegg for Travel and Expenses speeds up the process of submitting expenses. Since launch in August 2018, Pegg has answered over 1,500 colleague questions such as ‘when will my expenses be paid’ and ‘where is the Sage recommended hotel in London Bridge’.

The automation of this task saves the T&E team 35 hours per week, freeing up colleagues to focus on more complex tasks, whilst Pegg takes care of the admin.

Pegg for Recruitment – Improving ‘time to hire’

The latest Sage function to benefit from AI assistance is the in-house talent team. Pegg was introduced to the recruitment process in October 2018 to support the Sage Talent Acquisition team globally, answering questions posed by potential candidates.

Pegg for Recruitment helps improve the ‘time to hire’ with Sage colleagues spending less time dealing with routine queries, allowing them to focus on hiring. It's estimated the Sage Talent team spends 66 hours a week dealing with candidate questions. Over the course of a year, that totals 3,432 hours. It is predicted that Pegg will reduce time spent on potential candidate queries by 40% in its first year, and by 70% by its fourth year.

Pegg for a more ethical AI economy and workplace

With ethical AI implementation gaining new urgency, in July 2017 Sage released The Ethics of Code— sharing with the global tech community key learnings from developing the Pegg platform around ethical development and implementation of AI-powered technologies. Building on this work, in August 2018 Sage shared Building a competitive and Ethical AI economy – a new whitepaper which outlines key steps for businesses to put ethical AI principles into practice to benefit industry, government and society.

[1] Estimate based on pilot

[2] Estimate based on pilot