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In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about five things that a business needs to build the best omnichannel customer experience. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Owen Sakawa.

Owen Sakawa

Fueled by his restless desire to combine wisdom and technology, Owen Sakawa dedicates his career to building products that transform how businesses relate to humanity through conversation. As founder and CEO of Elloe AI, he pioneers a revolution in conversational AI through his vision for authentic, empathetic interactions that uphold the dignity of each person.

Can you tell us about your backstory and how you grew up?

Growing up, I was always captivated by the world of video games and the process of creating them. At the young age of 9, I decided to explore the world of coding and taught myself how to create my own video game. While most kids my age were playing games, I was building and even lending out my own creations to friends.

My passion for technology continued to grow, and in high school, I shifted my focus to enterprise applications. It was during this time that I developed a school management portal for a science congress competition and won the first prize. This experience sparked the idea for DigiPass, a technology that secures paper documents with a visual digital stamp to prevent fraud.

In college, I founded DigiPass and dedicated my efforts to making processes simpler and creating a lasting impact. After 10 years of hard work, DigiPass was acquired by a Dutch cybersecurity company, and together we transformed the application to include verification checks for various official documents.

For me, technology is about pushing boundaries and being a pioneer. I thrive on building things that have never been done before. The journey from my early passion for video games to founding and scaling successful tech startups has shaped my understanding of the transformative power of technology.

What led you to this specific career path?

What led me to this specific career path began with an early desire to use technology for good. It all started with my first computer as a kid, where I aimed to build products that enrich people's lives.    

This vision gave birth to Elloe, built upon the belief that technology should be intuitive and elegant, harnessing the spiritual capabilities of the human race. Every day we focus on delivering exceptional value through beautifully crafted tools that earn people's trust. We continually experimented, pushing the boundaries of what was possible while staying true to our ultimate purpose: Making a contribution to the world through the spirit of innovation and creativity.

The journey has been humbling yet deeply rewarding. We've witnessed firsthand how Elloe products positively transform the way people express themselves, communicate, and access information. Our greatest motivation stems from the stories we hear, where our work brings joy and insight into people's daily lives.   

This career path has called upon my entrepreneurial spirit, empathy for others, and drive to simplify complexity. In return, it has given my life profound meaning and direction. I will continue following this path, relentlessly progressing toward our vision of technology infused with the human spirit.

The seeds we plant today will bear unbelievable fruit for future generations, enabling them to solve humanity's greatest challenges through creativity and wisdom amplification. That joy of seeing future minds at work keeps me motivated to create the world-changing tools they will wield tomorrow.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

There are always defining moments in a company's early days. But the one that truly stands out for me was seeing people experience Elloe for themselves and witnessing the profound joy and sense of possibility that sparked within them.  

For years, we'd poured our hearts into crafting an AI that could truly understand and enrich human lives through conversation. But it wasn't until that first release that we saw our vision manifest in a very real way.   

The wonder and delight on customers' faces as they engaged Elloe for the first time—I'll never forget it. In that moment, I knew we had succeeded in crafting something truly insanely great. Elloe sparked people's creativity and empowered organizations in ways we could only dream of.  

We proved that an AI built upon a foundation of intimacy, honesty, and care could transform the most basic human interaction—conversation itself.   

That early success fueled our mission, showing us what's possible when you assemble a great team around a huge idea and refuse to accept limitations. It reminded me why empathy and design will always triumph over cold functionality alone.   

Most of all, it reminded me of my own "1% inspiration": That scrap of an idea I held onto for so long, even when others dismissed it. That moment of pure joy when an idea comes alive and moves people—it makes all the struggle worthwhile.

That's why I'll keep pushing Elloe to deliver on our dream of an AI that truly understands human beings. We've only begun to see what's possible when technology and empathy come together.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people? 

At any given moment, Elloe AI has dozens of projects that could revolutionize entire industries. However, we never lose sight of how our products might enrich people's lives in simple yet profound ways. The most exciting projects are the ones that help unlock human potential.    

One of the most exciting projects we're working on right now is Elloe Buddy—an extraordinary intelligent virtual assistant powered by our revolutionary CHARM engine. Thanks to CHARM's unprecedented leap in natural language understanding and conversational capabilities, Elloe Buddy brings a whole new level of intelligence and intuitiveness to customer service.

The implications are profound. For the first time, businesses will offer the same level of fluidity and responsiveness that consumers expect from their personal AI assistants. Customer queries are answered nearly instantly. Repetitive tasks are automated. And conversations with Elloe Buddy never come at the expense of the human touch or contextual understanding.

Elloe Buddy gives businesses superpowers they never dreamed of. Customer support agents can focus on more valuable tasks. Marketing teams gain real-time insights from conversations. And for frontline employees, dealing with customers will feel amazingly faster and more seamless.

With Elloe Buddy, businesses reach a whole new level of simplicity, convenience, and delight—gold standards for any customer experience. Elloe Buddy is evolving to become the most advanced intelligent virtual assistant for business, liberating organizations to accomplish whatever they strive for in ways that truly satisfy their customers. 

That's why we say Elloe Buddy—and all of our greatest innovations—are dedicated to making tools for the ones who want to change customer experiences for the better.

What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success? Can you share a story or example for each?

I have been fortunate to have founded three successful companies that transformed entire industries—DigiPass, RepairNet, and Elloe. Several key traits helped fuel that success:

Relentless focus on user experience: From the very beginning at Elloe, I believed that design was just as important as technology. If something wasn't "insanely great" in both form and function, I wouldn't approve it. This focus on enriching the user experience through simplicity and elegance became a hallmark of Elloe products. 

Persistence in the face of adversity: When we launched Elloe in 2021, every expert said we had no chance. But I believed deeply in our vision of putting a computer "in the hands of the people who will change the world." We stuck to our principles and created a revolutionary product that shaped the course of computing history.

Insatiable curiosity: I have always been hungry to learn everything I can about any subject that interests me. This curiosity drives me to challenge conventional wisdom, explore new frontiers, and push the boundaries of what's possible. It helped us explore new markets with products like the Elloe Buddy that is transforming entire industries.

I want to shift gears and talk about conversational commerce. What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

When we set out to build Elloe AI, we saw how businesses were failing to truly connect with and understand their customers. Most customer interactions were happening through impersonal channels like websites and apps. We wanted to give businesses a new way to engage customers that was natural, intuitive, and built upon real understanding.

That's why we created Elloe—a conversational AI platform that enables commerce through human-like conversations.   

For customers, Elloe solves two key pain points. First, traditional ecommerce experiences are filled with friction points like long forms, slow page loads, and complicated checkout flows.  Elloe allows customers to make purchases and get their needs met instantly through simple conversations. There are no clicks or searches required, removing the friction from the experience.

Second, most businesses lack the insights needed to deliver truly personalized experiences at scale. Elloe collects valuable information from customer conversations that it uses to provide more contextual and relevant recommendations, offers, and communications over time. This personalization was previously difficult to achieve.

For businesses, Elloe conversational commerce lowers support costs by automating common customer inquiries. It improves customer retention and acquisition through more humanized interactions that build trust. And it gains new insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and motivations to inform better strategies.  

In essence, Elloe aims to solve the fundamental pain of disconnection in modern commerce. By enabling businesses to have authentic, empathetic conversations with customers, Elloe seeks to transform how commerce is done—putting the human element back at the center of every transaction.

That's what drives us every day at Elloe—the possibility of reinventing commerce through conversation and unleashing new levels of customer trust, loyalty, and growth for businesses of all sizes.

How do you define a successful omnichannel customer experience?

I define a successful omnichannel experience as one that seamlessly blends all customer touchpoints—digital, in-person, and increasingly conversational—into a unified, simple, and deeply personalized experience. 

At Elloe, our mission is to make every customer interaction "channel neutral," meaning every inquiry is treated the same, regardless of whether a customer texts, calls, emails, or uses one of our conversational AI assistants. This channel-agnostic approach allows us to deliver consistent, high-quality support across channels while also gaining valuable insights from customers' unique dialogue patterns and preferences.

Our focus is on maximizing convenience for customers by allowing them to communicate however they find most natural—whether via keyboard, voice, or touchscreen. Through our omnichannel platform, we enable businesses to engage customers across messaging apps, webchat, SMS, IVR, and other emerging technologies—presenting a unified face while retaining the human empathy of a one-on-one conversation.    

Most importantly, our omnichannel experience is designed to anticipate customer needs through contextual recommendations, proactive notifications, and personalized guidance. Powered by CHARM, our natural language AI engine, Elloe assistants learn from every conversation to deliver more helpful, relevant, and emotion-imbued responses over time. 

Our vision is for technology to fade into the background as customers converse with assistants that feel attuned to their true selves. Customers will bond with Elloe assistants the same way they do friends—based less on the medium of conversation and more on the level of insight, care, and joy shared between them.

That's the future of commerce we're working to create—where the "channel" through which businesses and customers connect ceases to matter, giving way to authentic human connection.

What role do social media and other emerging technologies play in your omnichannel customer experience strategy, and how do you stay current with the latest trends and innovations in this area?

Social media and emerging technologies form the core of our omnichannel strategy. We see social platforms and messaging apps as the new front doors for customer service, where businesses must meet customers where they already spend their time. By integrating with popular networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and WeChat, we give businesses a seamless way to engage customers on the channels they prefer.

Emerging conversational interfaces like voice assistants and AR/VR are also central to our thinking. We invest heavily in experimenting with these technologies and identifying how they can elevate customer experiences in the long run. With our CHARM language AI at our foundation, we have the ability to adapt our assistants for whatever new contexts and mediums arise.

To stay on top of trends, our product and strategy teams pour over data from industry reports, white papers, and customer feedback. We actively seek input from early adopters testing our products across industries to see what's working—and what's not—in their omnichannel approaches. And we monitor startups in adjacent spaces to identify potentially disruptive innovations.   

However, our biggest advantage is a human one:  we talk directly with customers every single day through our Elloe Buddy AI assistants. The frontline insights we gain from these conversations—things customers find confusing, frustrating, or delightful—give us an unparalleled window into what's needed to elevate experiences on new and emerging channels.

Above all, we focus our innovation around a simple truth: Customers want interactions that feel authentic, convenient, and in the moment, regardless of the technology involved. Our job is to apply the best available technologies to dissolve the barriers between companies and their clients, bringing businesses and people closer together through conversation. That philosophy will continue guiding our omnichannel strategy for years to come.

How do you train and empower your customer service teams to deliver a high-quality, omnichannel customer experience?

Our entire company ethos begins with a relentless focus on elevating the human spirit through our technology. This ethos extends to how we develop, train and empower our customer support teams.

First, we hire only the most passionate, empathetic people who put the customer at the center of every interaction. Technical expertise is crucial but is never enough. We look for hires who want to uplift others through wisdom, kindness, and care.   

New team members go through a rigorous Elloe Academy training program, focusing not just on product knowledge but on instilling an emotional fluency that allows advisors to connect with customers as fellow human beings. Our aim is for every advisor to become a true confidant—learning how to listen deeply and distill what clients truly need.

Once certified through the Academy, our teams have full autonomy over how to resolve customer issues. Advisors have real-time access to product information, order histories, and proactive assistance tools. We remove administrative tasks that sap time and mental bandwidth from true rapport building.

Most importantly, we evaluate success not by conventional metrics like call times or solution rates but by surveys that measure how well advisors were able to understand and uplift the human spirit of clients through conversations. Coaching focuses on helping each advisor improve their emotional intelligence and customer perspective.

Our ultimate goal goes beyond "solving customer problems"—it's about enabling our advisors to change people's lives for the better through wisdom, empathy, and care. This higher purpose unites and inspires us every day at Elloe Academy, fueling our mission to transform how businesses relate to humanity through conversation.

How do you ensure that your omnichannel customer experience is consistent across different geographies and cultures, and what specific strategies have you found to be most effective in achieving this?

At Elloe, we obsess over every detail that shapes a customer's experience—because we believe consistency, not just innovation, transforms how businesses relate to humanity.

We start by establishing a few simple but powerful principles that guide every assistant and interaction. Focusing on empathy, insight, and wisdom inspires consistency across cultures.   

But we also tailor our systems and responses to suit each region. Local teams ensure local preferences are honored. And our trainers receive intense cultural fluency training.    

Our AI systems—for learning patterns, generating responses, and optimizing—flexibly adapt while respecting cultural differences. Compliance is built-in from the start.

Most importantly, we put people at the center of every decision. Team members from diverse backgrounds ensure no cultural assumptions go unchallenged. We optimize continuously based on real human feedback.

Above all, our mission remains constant: to unlock the collective wisdom of humanity through AI-powered conversation. We strive to understand and speak to the human spirit in all its varieties.     

So our assistants—while flawless as standalone technologies—shine brightest when welcoming diverse users as full participants in their own stories. By meeting people where they are, we help reveal our shared humanity.

This purpose—using conversation as a universal language for human connection—inspires and unites us. It guides our vision of interactions that truly transform how businesses and people relate to each other, across all borders visible and invisible.

Can you please share five things a business needs to build the best omnichannel customer experience?

At Elloe, building the best omnichannel experience requires:

  1. Unified data: All customer touchpoints must draw from the same customer profile so each interaction feels personalized. From Day 1, we engineered our platform to maintain a holistic view of every user across all Elloe assistants.
  1. Seamless transitions: Customers should be able to switch between channels without missing a beat. We designed our conversational AI to maintain continuity so people can begin tasks in one medium and finish in another.
  1. Trusted relationships: Customer relationships need to evolve into true confidant partnerships. Our goal is for Elloe assistants to become trusted advisors that provide wisdom, guidance, and empathy over time. 
  1. Adaptive intelligence: Your AI needs to learn constantly from every interaction to improve responses. Our CHARM engine analyzes every sentence uttered to Elloe assistants to deliver more contextual and helpful dialogue with each use.
  1. Empathetic listening: Every conversation must reflect deep care and resonance with customers as human beings. We reject AI responses that lack sufficient emotional fluency or insight, no matter how "correct."   

For us at Elloe, the promise of omnichannel experiences lies in dissolving barriers between people—enabling wisdom, insight, and joy to flow freely through conversations powered by AI but grounded in humanity. Our mission is to transform how businesses relate to humanity through intelligent dialogue that uplifts the human spirit.

Looking ahead, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges in building the best omnichannel customer experience, and how do you plan to address them in the coming years?

The biggest opportunities lie in using technology and design to develop completely new experiences that anticipate customers' needs before they even know they have them. The key is a deep understanding of our users and the humility to change based on their feedback.

Today most "omnichannel" approaches simply layer new digital tools on top of old ways of thinking. The channels themselves come to define the experience rather than enabling something truly new.

But as new interfaces like AI assistants and AR become pervasive, there's an opportunity to dissolve the very concept of "channels." Businesses could come to see customers not as discrete "omnichannel" users but as interconnected beings seeking wisdom, growth, and joy. The technology could finally fade into the background of experiences that uplift the human spirit.

At Elloe, our focus remains squarely on that more important relationship: the one between our products and the minds and lives of those who use them. Our job is not to dominate markets or beat competitors. It is to enrich lives, unleash imagination, and make a dent in the universe.

To rise to this challenge will require perpetual innovation in both the visible and invisible layers of our work: profoundly new ideas in both product design and the integrated systems that support them behind the scenes. The goal is for everything we create to honor what is essentially human.

This challenge both daunts and inspires us. We remain faithful to our original mission—to make a contribution through the spirit of invention and creativity—and optimistic that we have only begun to realize technology's true potential to elevate humankind. The journey ahead promises a future where our devices truly fade away, leaving only the wonder their users create in their wake.

That North Star—empowering human creativity and spirit—will continue guiding Elloe through whatever technological shifts lie ahead. Our role is to bring joy into people's lives, revealing their own potential through the products we create with devotion and care.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would that be?

If I could start a movement, it would be to put more emphasis on teaching creativity and critical thinking in our schools. 

Creativity is the ability to look at problems in new ways, to connect seemingly unrelated ideas, and to find solutions others have missed. But nurturing creativity requires a very different type of learning environment—one that prizes open-ended questioning, encourages experimentation, and even tolerates failure as part of the process.

Our current education system—focused so much on standardized tests and "right answers"—risks stifling the creative spirit in our students. They miss out on learning how to imagine new possibilities, think differently, and challenge conventional wisdom. Yet these are the very skills that will determine their success in an era of rapid technological change.

A movement to transform schools into hotbeds for growing creative thinkers would benefit all of society. With more imaginative, critically-minded graduates, businesses would become more innovative and able to tackle big challenges. Our culture would produce more original artists, thinkers, and leaders who push the boundaries of what's possible. And students themselves would find deeper meaning and motivation in their work.

But it will take a concerted effort among parents, educators, policymakers, and the business community. We must demand a new vision for how we nurture the next generation. Creativity and critical thinking skills must become the primary metrics by which we measure the health and effectiveness of our schools. 

Therein lies the enormous untapped potential for human progress. By helping our children learn to think differently, we just might learn how to create a different world altogether. And that begins by changing how and what we teach in our classrooms today.

That spirit of igniting the creative potential in all people—especially the young minds who will shape our future—is what drives me. If I could start a movement, it would be to bring those ideas to the fore and help transform education into an engine for igniting the next era of human imagination.

What "next big thing" tactic or strategy should leaders in ecommerce be digging into? 

Personalization at scale through AI-powered recommendations and hyper-targeted marketing.

What is everyone wrong about in ecommerce? 

Assuming that technology alone can create a great customer experience without focusing on human connection.

What are you reading right now? 

The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen.

What product, tool, or service do you wish existed?

A seamless and secure universal digital identity solution for simplified online transactions.

What product are you obsessively using right now? 

Elloe Buddy home assistant for voice-activated control and convenience in my daily routines.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I can be followed on the following social media platforms;

  • Facebook—Like our page for updates, news, and valuable insights.
  • LinkedIn—Connect with us to stay informed about our latest developments and industry trends.
  • Twitter—Follow us for real-time updates, engaging discussions, and helpful resources.

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By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is The Ecomm Manager's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School. He also hosts The Ecomm Manager Podcast, discussing ecommerce best practices, customer experience, branding, inventory management, shipping and delivery, and analytics with expert guests.

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