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Asapp, an AI research-driven customer experience company, today announced it has raised $120 million at a $1.6 billion valuation, double its previous post-money valuation. Asapp says it plans to use the capital to support expansion after a year in which it grew roughly twofold.
With customer representatives increasingly required to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, companies are turning to AI to bridge resulting gaps in service. The solutions aren’t perfect — humans are needed even when chatbots are deployed — but COVID-19 has accelerated the need for AI-powered contact center messaging. A Deloitte study found that 56% of businesses in the multimedia and tech sectors have plans to invest in contact center AI technology in the near future. And according to McKinsey, 29% of customer service agent duties have the potential to be automated with technology.
Founded in 2014, Asapp, which claims to have the largest collection of Ph.D. students studying machine learning-powered customer experiences, applies what it calls “self-learning” techniques to solve challenges without rules programming, working to identify opportunities to add to micro-automations that might help call center agents. The company focuses on improving enterprise performance with advances in AI that augment human activity and automate workflows.
One of the ways Asapp aims to increase agent efficiency is with AI-driven suggestions of what to say and do to resolve issues quickly, even as agents juggle multiple conversations. Machine learning identifies opportunities for automation before, during, and after agent engagement, as well as flexibly setting agent capacity based on intent, complexity of conversations, customer responsiveness, agent experience, and more.
In sales scenarios, Asapp prioritizes prime prospects — those who are most likely to buy particular products or services. Machine learning models predict who these prospects are and place them highest in the queue, providing agents with AI-generated suggestions for what to say and do. Asapp also gives managers real-time performance visibility across queues, helping identify agents that need help. And it identifies opportunities to streamline agent efforts with journey mapping, which tracks what agents are doing.
Asapp provides AI-predicted summary notes that highlight details like addresses. In addition, it applies AI that understands customer intent, with real-time sentiment analysis and machine learning prediction of satisfaction scores.
Benefits of call center automation
By some estimates, businesses can reduce their customer service spending 30% by introducing AI-powered chatbots and virtual agents. An analyst report from Juniper Research found that by 2022, businesses are expected to save a whopping $8 billion in customer support costs — a jump from the $20 million saved through automation in 2017.
There’s no shortage of competition in the AI-driven call center analytics space. Gong offers an intelligence platform for enterprise sales teams and recently nabbed $200 million in funding at a $2.2 billion valuation. Observe.ai snagged $26 million in December for AI that monitors and coaches call center agents. AI call center startups Cogito and CallMiner have also staked claims alongside more established players like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
But Asapp is one of the few companies advancing research and development in AI and its application for customer experience, founder and CEO Gustavo Sapoznik asserts. “In an environment where customer expectations are rising, Asapp is helping large enterprises advance digital engagement, real-time voice transcription, speech analytics, live agent coaching, and analytics,” he added. “The customer experience industry is at a crossroads. After years of interactive voice response systems and bot investments, customer satisfaction is down and costs have increased. We apply our AI research to make people in contact centers wildly more productive because existing rules-based technology and architectures limit companies to small improvements that can’t bridge the digital transformation opportunity that AI is enabling and delivering.”
Fidelity and Dragoneer participated in Asapp’s round, with participation from existing investors John Doerr, March Capital, Emergence Capital, Euclidean Capital, HOF Capital, Telstra Ventures, and 40 North Ventures. This series C brings the New York-based company’s total raised to $400 million.
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