How Jordan-Based Startup Xina Is Reimagining Customer Service For Arabic Speakers With Artificial Intelligence

Launched in Jordan amid the COVID-19 crisis with an aim to tackle the problem of subpar customer service in the Arabic speaking world, Sari Hweitat and his team saw that the need for an intelligent voice assistant was very evident.

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I launched my startup, Xina, in Jordan amid the COVID-19 crisis with an aim to tackle the problem of subpar customer service in the Arabic speaking world. For me and my team of Jordanian tech gurus, the need for an intelligent voice assistant (IVA) like Xina was very evident. Customers have high expectations from businesses as they use multiple channels to seek instant and high-quality support, but businesses struggle to keep up with the pace and quality of customer support queries while scaling their operations. Also, when looking at the region we operate in, technologies have not offered much to solve these problems while also catering to Arabic speakers.


Creating Xina thus presented an opportunity to truly bring artificial intelligence (AI) applications to the region in an effective manner and to push for the preservation of the Arabic language for daily use in business and personal settings. But with the proliferation of many other smart tools and automations, one might wonder: aren't the current customer service applications already global? Hasn't AI already become available in our region and for our day-to-day use?

We constantly hear of technological ventures that appear on a daily basis to power up various functions: shopping, banking, travel, exercise, education, and customer service. The world is constantly excited by the possibilities brought forth by machines that are starting to behave like a human brain, and can automate and solve most of our business and personal challenges.

Beyond the buzzword, AI has been keeping many companies, organizations, and even governments up at night in a search for ways to deploy it correctly and reap its countless economic, technological, and social benefits. And in many cases, their efforts have succeeded. Nearly everyone we know today owns a smartphone that most probably uses AI to recognize objects, hand gestures, facial expressions, voice commands, and more. AI applications may also be present in everyday software and tools that we regularly use like email spam filters, online banking software, and video streaming sites.

Source: Xina

But while the missions to benefit from AI have started to actualize at a global scale, it is fair to say that AI has been somewhat hijacked by global powerhouses, like the USA and China. What this means is that the production of AI technologies has been concentrated within these geographies for the most part. Further, and most importantly, AI technologies have been developed by default for these regions' native languages, specific user preferences, and local behaviors that aren't necessarily the same everywhere else in the world.

For customer service specifically, automation tools thus far have not presented a solution that deploys natural language understanding (NLU), adopts deep-learning of the different dialects and variations of a complex language like Arabic, and relies on local user patterns and behaviors to optimize the Arabic speaking customer experience. Having said that, Arabic speaking AI-powered technologies are on the rise. Efforts in various countries across the Middle East, such as the UAE's One Million Arab Coders program, are quickly enriching the region with tools and resources that are built and taylored for its exact needs.

My startup, Xina, thus presents a new possibility for Arabic-speaking businesses and consumers to benefit from artificial intelligence, while still maintaining their linguistic and behavioral preferences. For businesses, the benefits of using AI for customer service are countless. First, deploying an AI-powered intelligent voice assistant and chat assistant means availability across all channels and all times. It also means consistency in quality and speed when dealing with customers, which directly impacts sales and retention. Moreover, businesses can automate as much as 40% of their daily customer care tasks, which frees up their valuable human resources for strategic and complex tasks and allows them to focus on scaling up their operations without facing incremental costs to the business.

From a customer standpoint, the benefits of using AI customer service tools are also mammoth. Less wait time and omni-channel availability saves their time and frustration, while the quality and accuracy of the responses they receive exceed by far existing customer care applications and methods. Add to that the fact that the linguistic and communication preferences of users can be fully accommodated, and none alienated.

Beyond this, we, as the creators of Xina, aspire to use the technology as a springboard to preserve and advance the Arabic language by continuing to create artificial intelligence applications that empower Arabic speakers in their professional and personal lives. Essentially, the technology that allows Xina to talk, listen, and chat in a natural Arabic dialect can serve as the blueprint for countless homegrown applications that are likely to ingrain AI in many aspects of our lives- but doing so in a way that matches the regional linguistic and behavioral needs.

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