It is sometimes extremely irritating being stuck over the phone with a call centre agent. We all know that.
Real-time guidance and assistance to call centre agents while they are on the call can help ensure better customer satisfaction.
Observe.AI, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, with 80 per cent of employees in Bengaluru, offers voice AI (artificial intelligence) platform that helps call centre agents perform their job better.
Founded in May 2017 by Akash Singh, Sharath Keshava
and Swapnil Jain, the company has recently secured $8 million in Series A funding, led by Nexus Venture Partners.
MGV, Liquid 2 Ventures, Hack VC
and existing investors Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator also participated in the round.
Sharath Keshava, co-founder and chief revenue officer
“Companies have been actively discouraging their customers to call their agents for last two decades because of increasing costs... (But) with the recent advances in deep learning and natural language processing
(NLP), we are excited to partner with the team at Observe.AI
as these developments could lead to a positive disruption in the call centre ecosystem,” said Ram Gupta, managing director of Nexus Venture Partners
In August 2017, the company had raised $1.025 million in a round led by Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator. The fresh funds will be utilised for building the technology platform and hiring.
The company’s platform provides call centre agents with real-time feedback on customer sentiment and guides them to the next best action during a customer's call.
“The AI system can listen to the call in real time and provide next step guidance and information to the agent. This means an agent does not need to put the customer on hold or talk to a supervisor, which results in superior customer experience," says Swapnil Jain, co-founder and chief executive officer of Observe.AI.
Swapnil Jain, co-founder and chief executive officer of Observe.AI
Uniquely, Observe.AI, it claims, provides support to agents in real time, unlike others which provide post-call analytics. The start-up has built two products -- one for the supervisor and the other for agents.
“Our agent-first approach -- the 'agent assist' product -- is all about making the job of the agent easier which translates into better productivity and higher customer satisfaction," said Sharath Keshava, co-founder and chief revenue officer (CRO).
The company sees opportunity in overall customer service spend, which is pegged at around $200 billion. “Our larger goal is to automate a large set of customer service calls which are simple in nature. That is almost 50 per cent of the calls — a $100 billion opportunity,” said Swapnil Jain.
Genesys and Google are the two other key players in the market. “This is a very nascent market and we do not have any leaders yet. Our unique advantage is our GTM (go-to-market) approach via call centres. We have already partnered with some of the largest call centres in the world which are now taking our solution to the end customers globally. This is the fastest and the most efficient GTM way in this industry with multiple stakeholders," says the co-founder.
Akash Singh, Observe.AI’s co-founder
The company primarily focus on large enterprises in the US. It currently has 10 customers live on the product. While it plans to work with these 10 customers this year, it aims the number to grow up to 30 next year.
“We charge our large customers per hour of calls analysed. We charge anywhere between 60 cents to $1 per hour of call time, depending on the volume. For the common customer, we have per agent revenue model where we charge a monthly subscription for every agent,” said Keshava.
The subscription charges start at about $20 per agent per month and go up to $120 per agent per month.
The company aims to break even in 2020 and has set a revenue target of $10 million in the next 24 months. Having a presence in the US and the Philippines, the company aims to cover new geographies — Europe and India by mid next year.
The company feels hiring will be a big challenge, especially in the nascent field of machine learning. Another big challenge is handling different accents and languages as the company scales the product to different geographies.
August 2018: $8 million from Nexus Venture Partners, MGV, Liquid 2 Ventures, Hack VC, Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator
August 2017: $1.025 mn from Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator
EXPERT TAKE: A way to bypass rigorous training
Rijul Jain, Investments and portfolio management team, Astarc Ventures
With the cost of customer acquisition forever soaring, businesses need to heavily focus on retaining customers. A few companies, such as Amex, are known to heavily invest in training their customer reps and pay them higher salaries. This is not possible for a large number of businesses.
Customer experience massively varies due to multiple parameters, such as context, access to knowledge from the case, empathy of the agent, a playbook about the best course of action during a situation, etc. Observe.AI
provides assistance to agents in real time using deep learning to process the call and NLP to understand the context around these parameters and provides the agents with snippets and suggestions to ensure they are able to deliver a better experience. With such tools, companies can bypass the rigorous training route and still enable every agent to deliver a great experience. This is analogous to how Google maps made learning the routes of city unnecessary for cab drivers. Another advantage is constant feedback and the company playbook which regularly evolves gets easily communicated to all reps through the system. Its a definite win-win for the businesses, the agents and the consumers.