Last December, when CRM startup Kustomer announced its last round of funding – a $ 60 million round led by Coatue – its co-founder and CEO Brad Birnbaum said he would use part of the money to do more RPA automations in Integrate its platform Extend KustomerIQ, its AI-based product that helps understand and respond to customer inquiries to reduce repetitive agent burdens. Kustomer today Announces some M&A that will help with this strategy: It acquires Reply.ai, a startup originally founded in Madrid that has built a code-free platform for businesses to create bespoke chatbots to deal with customer inquiries involving machine Learning is used Over time, you can react better to incoming contacts.
Kustomer, who has raised more than $ 1
Reply.ai – whose customers include Coca Cola, Starbucks, Samsung, and a number of retailers and large advertising and marketing agencies that work on behalf of customers – had raised a modest $ 4 million in funding (compared to the last one) Round in 2018). . Investors included strategic supporters such as Aflac and Westfield (the giant of the mall) as well as Seedcamp, Madrid’s JME Ventures and Y Combinator, where Reply.ai was part of the startup school cohort in 2017.
Birnbaum said the conversation about the Reply.ai takeover started before the global health pandemic – the two were already working together on Reply.ai’s integration into a number of CRM platforms. However, active discussions, due diligence and closing of the deal were held about Zoom. “We were lucky enough to meet in front of Corona, but for the most part we did it from a distance,” he said.
Reply.ai was founded in 2016 – the year chatbots suddenly became fashionable – and managed to get over it, and then the low point of disillusionment when much of the early novelty waned after being discovered, but not quite so be effective how many had hoped or accepted. One of the reasons why Reply.ai survived was that it had proven to be a manufacturer of effective applications in one of the few market segments and became a willing customer and user of chatbots: customer service.
While much of the CRM industry – estimated at around $ 40 billion in 2019 – is still based on human interactions, efforts have been increasingly made to leverage advances in AI, cloud services, and Internet usage interaction to bring more automation to the process, both to help agents solve more difficult problems and to lower the overall cost of those who need customer support as part of their service offering.
If anything, this trend is currently only increasing. In some cases, due to social distance rules, agents cannot work if customer requests cannot be processed by remote employees. In other countries, companies are under great financial pressure and are trying to cut costs. Simultaneously with more people at home and unable to answer my physical inquiries about business and more, the entire medium of customer support is experiencing new levels of use.
Kustomer has taken on the bigger names in CRM, including Salesforce (where Birnbaum and his co-founder Jeremy Suriel previously worked), Zendesk, and Oracle by providing a platform that makes it easier for human agents to handle incoming omni-channel customer requests – Another big trend that uses the rise of multiple messaging and communication platforms as potential ways to both talk to customers and see them complain so the world sees them. A deeper introduction to chatbots and other AI-based tools is therefore a natural development.
Birnbaum said that one of his main interests at Reply.ai was to focus on “distraction” – the term for using non-human tools and services to resolve incoming requests before a human agent needs to be involved. Reply.ai’s tools have been shown to help distract 40% of initial incoming requests.
“Some companies have experienced a significant increase in inbound volume and it has been difficult to scale their agent teams, especially when they are remote,” he said. “These companies are therefore looking for ways to react faster. Anything they can do to help with this distraction and make their agents more productive to achieve a higher level of satisfaction, all that self-service can do is what it is about. “
In addition to the platform for creating chatbots and the distraction functions, other tools in the response toolkit are tools for agent assistants to suggest relevant answers as well as suggestions for marking (for analysis) and redirecting.
“We are pleased that Reply Kustomer is joining and sharing its mission to make customer service more efficient, effective and personal,” said Omar Pera, one of the founders of Reply.ai, in a statement. “As a long-standing partner of Kustomer, we can seamlessly integrate our distraction and chatbots technologies into the Kustomer platform and help brands to increase efficiency more cost-effectively. We look forward to working with Brad and the entire team. “