Observe.ai, a startup developing AI call center software, today closed a $54 million funding round. A spokesperson told VentureBeat the funds will be used to accelerate growth and R&D as Observe expands its go-to-market efforts.
With customer representatives in India, the U.S., and elsewhere ordered to work from home during the pandemic, companies are turning to AI to bridge the resulting gaps in service. The solutions aren’t perfect — human teams will always be needed, even when chatbots are deployed — but COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for AI-powered contact center messaging. Amazon recently launched an AI contact center product — Contact Lens — into general availability alongside several third-party solutions. And Google continues to expand Contact Center AI, which automatically responds to customer queries and hands them off to a person when necessary.
Observe is another beneficiary of increased demand. CEO Swapnil Jain cofounded the company out of his bedroom in Bengaluru, India in 2017, and it claims to have brought on more than 150 customers since the pandemic began, including Pearson, Alcon Laboratories, and Concentrix. Observe added over 20,000 agent licenses to its platform during that same time frame, which contributed to a 600% boost in revenue as the company added100 people to its workforce across India and the U.S. cities of Dallas and San Francisco.
Observe claims to offer higher speech transcription accuracy on some metrics than Google and Amazon (over 80%), courtesy of algorithms trained on millions of calls weekly. The platform can pick up terms specific to businesses and identify types of silence in calls (e.g. dead air and hold time), making note of their causes, lengths, and contexts. Moreover, Observe provides insight into sentiment by tagging instances of “strong emotions” displayed toward businesses and agents, frequent mentions, shifts in topic, and anomalies while automatically redacting sensitive data from both audio and transcripts.
With Observe, agents and managers can automate tasks like completing forms for customers and playing and scoring calls from a single view. They’re also afforded access to a transcript editor that lets them leave personalized tips within transcripts themselves. Dubbed Evaluation Forms, the editor aims to deliver actionable feedback via comments and timestamps on calls, like why agents scored well and where they can improve.
Beyond Google and Amazon, Observe has competition in Boston-based call center analytics startup Cogito. There’s also Augment, a company developing a platform that assists customer service agents at large enterprises; Mattersight, which uses unique voice signatures to personalize customer experiences; and DigitalGenius, LivePerson, Verint, and Nice Technologies.
But Observe has confidence in its product’s robustness. According to Jain, Observe’s engineering team spent time in the Philippines, where the call center industry generates over $25 billion, to study call center operations. Future plans include real-time coaching, omnichannel support, and interaction analytics capabilities, as well as a virtual assistant that will handle repetitive calls to free up overworked agents.
Menlo Ventures led this week’s series B, which brings the company’s total raised to $88 million, following a $26 million funding round in December 2019. Next47 Ventures and NGP Capital also participated in the round.