As PayPal grows rapidly, it is fielding a growing volume of consumer and merchant inquires to its website and call center. Melissa has been integrally involved in the effort to improve the customer experience. PayPal is leveraging IBM Watson’s conversational AI to build a high-quality virtual assistant that uses AI and natural language processing to address customer queries. Using Watson Discovery and Watson Knowledge Studio, the virtual agent answers complex questions in a variety of languages. The effort is already a success: PayPal has diverted 1.25 million conversations per month from its customer support centers, resulting in $4 million in savings.

What makes an AI project successful?
Our organization has extremely talented data scientists and engineers, so finding in IBM a partner that could support us in our journey, be open to feedback and grow with us was extremely important. In addition, having leadership support for the program, both in the technology space and on the business side, is pivotal. Finally, by continually assessing and measuring results, we can adjust to create a more successful approach.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
The more diversity in thought leadership, the more inclusive your technology becomes.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Never let the internal “I’m not technical enough” stop you from voicing your perspective. Different views coming together make for some of the most successful projects.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Take the leap. As my career has progressed, I’ve learned that stepping out and being your most authentic self, regardless of the risk, is much more fulfilling than taking the safe path.

She puts Watson Assistant to work

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