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 8 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 CRions 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) 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 company’s “Talkdesk for Sales” uses AI to identify successful sales calls to scale learnings across teams. TalkDesk also offers AppConnect, a marketplace which allows enterprise businesses to browse and download relevant call center software solutions from an app store.
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. Since its founding in 2011, Talkdesk has raised a total of $268M in funding over 7 rounds, including $143 million in Series C in 2020. The funding allows TalkDesk – a unicorn — to release hundreds of new features, solutions, and integrations each year.The company has over 1,800 clients around the world, including major companies such as IBM, Canon, and Fujitsu.
6) 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. Founded in 2016, Upcall raised an initial seed round of $2.2 million in 2017.
Upcall is bringing the on-demand economy to the customer service and call center world. The company has more than 400 customers, including some big names including Siemens, Sotheby’s, LG, and airBNB. In 2021, AirCall reached the milestone of making one million calls, and was named to Clutch’s list of Top Call Center Companies.
7) 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.
Sentient Machines update:
The next-generation AI cloud-based platform plugs into existing telephony providers systems and uses AI to better understand how customers express thoughts, challenges and emotions such as excitement or frustration. Sentient has achieved this capability at lower cost and higher quality than existing providers. Since its founding in 2016, the technology has been transforming clients’ customer experience; and has resulted in 65% cost savings and nearly 90% efficiency savings. Among its well-known customer names are Google, Accenture, McKinsey, and Amazon Web Services.
8) Servicefriend – hybrid messaging bot
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.
In 2019, Facebook acquired Servicefriend for its financial services subsidiary, Novi (formerly Calibra) customer service.
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:
Glia – combines voice, video, and collaborative browsing
Glia is a digital-first customer service platform that successfully integrates voice and digital touchpoints, enabling organizations to manage inquiries across multiple channels. Voted a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in 2020, Glia meshes co-browsing, messaging, social media, analog telephony, digital voice and video, with conversational AI, providing digital customer service to traditional phone calls. The company also offers intelligent queuing and routing rules based on multiple parameters. Their clients are mainly financial institutions and Fortune 500 enterprises that are invested in the digital-first approach, such as Berkshire Hathaway, Deutsche Bank, and United Healthcare.
Soul Machines – Humanizing AI
Soul Machines is a global pioneer of human and machine collaboration. The company literally brings technology to life by creating dynamic and emotionally responsive “Digital People” – avatars who can interact face-to-face with humans. With Soul Machines, brands are empowered to personally interact with their customers using unprecedented levels of engagement online. The extremely life-like Digital People ambassadors are deployed with some of the biggest corporate brands in the world, such as Procter and Gamble, NESTLÉ®, Google, PwC, Sony, and the World Health Organization. Soul Machines has raised a total of $65M in funding, including $58 million in a Series B round in 2020.
WhenWhyHow – Personalized digital customer experiences
Whenwhyhow focuses on customer-mindset analytics and actionable AI based #digitalempathy to improve loyalty, reduce churn and boost LTCV. The company combines internal data sources like customer data and behavior, channel usage, and history, along with external data sources like competitive analysis, economic data, and weather, to generate insights that build a personalized customer experience.
Combined with ML to constantly improve insight, whenwhyhow determines the most optimal way to engage customers in digital channels at a personal level. For example, whenwhyhow could detect that a client cancels his flights every time it snows. The company would anticipate this behavior and, next time there is a storm, could proactively offer him a complementary service. Founded in 2017, the company was pre-seed funded by the cofounders and has been named a Gartner Cool Vendor in 2020 for CRM Customer Service & Support.
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 interacting with customers, 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.