Call Center Innovation Ideas – The Startups Leading the Way
As companies invest more in optimizing their call center customer experience, the number of startups that focus on call center innovation has grown. Back in 2020, we picked out 9 call center startups that each brought unique and innovative ideas to the customer care space. We’ve now revisited them to analyze how they’re doing, as well as how the market has changed.
We have also added new players to the list who are introducing new call center solutions, setting trends and making their mark on the industry.
The pandemic has ushered in a “digital first” world, and the Customer Service industry has responded. Customer support startups that take a digital-first approach are springing up everywhere, presenting unique ideas that are changing the way we think about “customer service.”
These small and innovative startups are driving change by introducing disruptive solutions.
Some of these innovative startups focus on the agents themselves, helping them improve performance, while others are disrupting customer service through cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and advanced big data analytics.
Startups Introducing New Call Center Innovations
1) AirCall – cloud-based call center
AirCall is a completely cloud-based customer support system, enabling a company to set up their own call center in a matter of minutes. The AirCall app features every traditional call center tool without requiring a company to purchase equipment or spend a fortune in startup costs. Best of all, every call center essential can be accessed from a smartphone. AirCall features include the ability to purchase multiple phone numbers, to add teammates to the dashboard, and to replace and receive calls on any phone.
It’s the perfect system for a small company looking to expand into the customer service world because it practically eliminates the risk traditionally associated with investing in a call center. With AirCall, customer service representatives are now able to work from anywhere on their mobile phone. They have literally taken the “center” out of “call center.”
Since its founding in 2014, AirCall has raised $106 million in venture funding including a $65 million Series C round in 2020. With that capital, AirCall has improved its call quality, added integrations with major CRM systems like Salesforce, and HubSpot, and launched apps for both iOS and Android. Most recently, AirCall added integrations with Chorus.ai and Gong, enabling customers to get transcriptions and analyze the sentiment of the conversation.
AirCall continues to innovate with features promoting better consumer and agent experience, as well as improving call center efficiency. These features extend from custom wait music, to improved call transfers and distribution. AirCall’s improvements seem to be working, as it now has over 300 employees and 60,000 customers worldwide.
2) TechSee – intelligent visual support
TechSee provides a disruptive platform for Intelligent Visual Support in call centers, which allows call center agents to see exactly what their customers see and use augmented reality to visually guide them to successful resolutions.
The platform completely changes the support process by moving it from a “blind” experience to a visual one, which delivers a significantly easier, faster, and more satisfying customer experience. In a nutshell, the company turns every support session into a virtual tech visit.
In addition, TechSee collects the visual data from those support interactions and uses its proprietary machine vision algorithm to optimize support in real time. This data is the underlying asset for building a visual support bot.
TechSee set out to become the pioneer in Intelligent Visual Assistance for customer care, and that’s exactly what it has become. The company’s growth shows the massive potential of AI-powered visual engagement in the customer service industry.
Since its founding in 2015, TechSee has raised $54 million, including $30 million in Series C funding during 2020. The funds are being used to leverage its strong momentum, further develop the technology, and provide a leading AI-powered visual engagement platform to its clients. Having created the world’s largest, and continuously growing, visual repository of support-related images, TechSee is now firmly established as the market leader with top-tier clients such as Verizon, Vodafone Group, Orange Group, Samsung, Nespresso and Achmea.
3) EpiAnalytics – provides data insights
EpiAnalytics uses big data analytics to provide key customer service insights. The system collects information from all customer interactions across different channels (complaints, feedback, surveys, emails, social media, and call logs).The data is then analyzed and structured into powerful and comprehensive insights that empower companies to optimize their customers’ experience.
EpiAnalytics helps brands identify good and bad customer experiences, analyzes the effects those experiences have on customers and the reputation of the company’s brand, and delivers powerful insights into changes that need to be made.
EpiAnalytics’ cloud-based AI enablement platform provides an intuitive, self-service user interface that helps B2B users organize and analyze unstructured textual data. Using AI and machine learning technology, EpiAnalytics integrates with CRM and community platforms, including ServiceNow, Salesforce.com (via the AppExchange) and Workplace, a Facebook community offering. The company has also become a leader in information services for the automotive industry, helping manufacturers, dealers, auctions, finance and insurance companies increase customer loyalty, target and win new business, and make better lending and vehicle purchase decisions.
4) Pypestream – sending customers automated messages
The Pypestream app allows recurring customer service interactions to be automated over chat. With its enterprise-grade chatbot, businesses are offered a wide variety of advanced messaging capabilities. Pypestream can process payments, schedule appointments, notify customers of promotions, and provide real-time support. The app also utilizes push notifications to automatically alert customers of any issues that need to be brought to their attention.
For example, credit cards are often declined because a customer has forgotten to tell their bank or credit card company where and when they will be traveling. Rather than the customer trying to figure out what to do while waiting on hold for a customer service representative, Pypestream sends them a push notification asking where they are. All the customer needs to do is respond to the notification, and in a matter of moments they will be able to use their credit card again.
With the recent buzz around chatbots, it’s no surprise that Pypestream has been busy. Pypestream’s customer engagement interface—the Pype—facilitates any action a customer wants to take, on any channel, at any time. Powered by advanced AI and integrated with backend systems, the Pype delivers a hyper-personalized conversational experience for customers.
Since the company’s founding in 2015, Pypestream has raised $43.5 million in equity funding, including $5 million in 2020. Pypestream has since expanded globally and has a customer base of Fortune 500 companies, including Shell, Chase, Procter & Gamble, Google, Sling, and HBO Max.
5) EvaluAgent – motivating call center employees
EvaluAgent addresses one of the toughest challenges facing any call center manager: motivating the team. It has created a web-based platform that uses call center gamification ideas, a social media interface, and other features to raise the team’s morale, increase its overall performance, and create a unifying experience.
This is great for a company whose customer service operation has become stagnant and is looking for fun ideas for its call center. Once customer service representatives begin to use EvaluAgent’s web-based platform, they become more competitive and engaged, thereby improving call center productivity.
EvaluAgent’s cloud-based platform has attracted international enterprise customers such as Atos, Cineworld, and Invesco. In March 2017, the company built on its model and released the cloud-based EvaluAgent WEM (Worker Engagement Management) platform. This platform empowers call center employees with features such as self-selection of work patterns or shifts without management approval, better performance management tools, and updated team communications.
6) Tenacity – helps decrease agent burnout
Tenacity focuses on helping decrease the likelihood of agent burnout, one of the main reasons for absenteeism and attrition. Tenacity has developed software based on advanced social science research from MIT to help call centers adequately handle the stressful responsibility of keeping disgruntled customers happy.
Tenacity has taken various ideas for motivating call center employees to the next level. Its cutting-edge approach taps into our most basic motivations. It relies on providing the right rewards, in the right contexts, to the right individuals. It also uses a breakthrough adaptive behavior change algorithm to reduce absenteeism and attrition, while improving agent performance.
Tenacity continues to tackle one of the main challenges in the call center industry – agent attrition – using a variety of call center incentivization ideas and techniques ranging from gamification to mentoring. In 2017, Tenacity announced its partnership with Startek, a BPO operating in the competitive Philippines call center market.
Startek implemented Tenacity in many of their centers to stay ahead of its rivals by reducing call center attrition and attracting talent from competing companies.
7) InteractCRM – displays previous customer communication
InteractCRM’s customer experience platform provides a solution that quickly meets the demands of customers who reference previous communication with a company. At the same time, the platform provides customers with access to the company through a variety of channels, including inbound and outbound voice, email, web chat, SMS, fax, and social media.
InteractCRM solutions mean that customer service representatives no longer have to waste time searching for an email that references a customer’s bill. This is because it will automatically appear on their screen as soon as a customer calls. InteractCRM allows customer service representatives to deliver a quick and positive customer experience, saving both time and money, while also improving data flow.
InteractCRM has been featured in publications such as CIO Review and SiliconIndia, provides services to notable customers including VOX and US Bank.
8) TouchCommerce – integrates communications with buyer’s journey
TouchCommerce provides an omni-channel experience that allows a company to engage its customers at every step of their journey, by reaching them through the most efficient communication tools. It also tracks and optimizes the process of purchasing a product or service.
When a customer is looking to buy a new tablet they’ve seen in an online ad, they likely won’t buy it immediately. They may want to acquire more information about it, or compare it to other models based on price and quality. Often, these enquiries involve contacting the company that sells the tablet via online chat, phone, email, or even SMS.
TouchCommerce technology seamlessly integrates with each communication channel, so that no matter who is talking to the customer, they will understand the customer’s interest level and where they are in the purchasing process.
TouchCommerce was acquired by Nuance Communications on July 21, 2016 for a whopping $215 million, confirming the company’s valuation and innovative vision. Nuance Communications is a leading provider of global voice and language solutions for businesses, organizations, and consumers worldwide. Prior to the acquisition, TouchCommerce established relationships with companies including AT&T, Citizens Bank, and DirectTV.
TouchCommerce will help Nuance Communications expand its customer care solutions with a range of new digital tools aiming to disrupt the customer service industry, such as live chat, customer analytics and personalization solutions.
9) TalkDesk – integrates databases and technologies
TalkDesk is a cloud-based software that allows clients to fully integrate all their data into one simple interface. That includes Salesforce and other CRMs, Google tools, Slack, and many others, allowing a company to make data-driven decisions when talking to a customer. The software also provides many other tools to help improve call center operations, such as automated workflows, advanced routing, and call monitoring.
TalkDesk’s ability to integrate so many valuable databases, while providing the essential tools for establishing a call center, make it a truly unique and effective solution.
TalkDesk continues to invest in new ideas and technologies to improve the integration of different data sets and systems within contact centers. In 2017, the company integrated AI into its platform with “Talkdesk for Sales”, which uses AI to identify successful sales calls to scale learnings across teams. TalkDesk released AppConnect, a marketplace which allows enterprise businesses to browse and download relevant call center software solutions from an app store. This represents just one more way TalkDesk is making it easier for its clients to improve their call centers and customer service.
The company has over 1,400 clients around the world, including major companies such as Shopify, Prezi, and Dropbox.
Some new innovative startups in the call center space that have caught our eye and couldn’t be left out of our updated roundup include:
Upcall – outbound call center software solution
Upcall gives companies an “on-demand” outbound call center solution that combines a software tool with “upcallers” – professional human agents who follow call scripts to perfection.
The software facilitates the creation and implementation of call scripts, ensures calls are made at the right times, integrates with current systems and CRM platforms, and enables real-time improvements to upcallers’ performance through tools like call recording. It also matches the company to the best upcallers based on company needs.
Upcall users can track their performance, share real-time analytics, and collaborate with their team members.
The company joins a growing group of startups bringing the on-demand economy to the customer service and call center world. Founded in 2016, it was a Y Combinator graduate, and raised an initial seed round of $2.2 million. It has some big name customers including Sotheby’s, LG, and Coldwell Banker.
Sentient Machines – uses deep learning to analyze and improve call centers
Sentient Machines is an AI, cloud-based call center solution that provides analysis of calls and automates customer interactions in certain cases. The solution uses deep learning to understand customer interactions, and with the data generated, enables teams to uncover critical trends in order to improve the quality of a company’s call center, as well as cut costs. The two company founders, Danica Damljanovic and Lorenz Fischer, hold PhDs in AI, NLP and Big Data Analytics.
Designated as a Gartner 2017 “Cool Vendor”, Servicefriend is a hybrid messaging bot for customer service centers. The company is focused on bot-human collaboration, and offers a unique architecture where the bot is always at the front end of the conversation, even when a human takes over the conversation. The result is consistent communication, which improves customer experience as well as enabling enterprises to scale their use of bots.
Servicefriend was deployed by Globe Telecom, which integrated it with its Facebook messenger chat service, with great success.
Call Center Innovation Ideas that are Revolutionizing the Industry
Whether it’s tapping into artificial intelligence, compiling data for advanced analytics, coming up with new ways to utilize CRM platforms, or inventing new methods of motivating customer service representatives, each of these call center startups has its own unique way of revolutionizing the customer service industry.
The competitive culture that they have created contributes to new call center innovations, which will drive additional, more technologically advanced customer service solutions.