Kustomer raises $60 million to automate repetitive customer service processes
For most brands, guiding and tracking customers through every step of their journeys is of critical operational importance. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, the number of companies investing in omnichannel experiences has jumped from 20% to 80%, and an Adobe study found that those with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies enjoy 10% year-over-year growth on average and a 25% increase in close rates.
In an effort to further accelerate the adoption of omnichannel strategies, AOL and Salesforce veterans Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel founded New York-based Kustomer in 2015, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider that automates repetitive customer service processes by applying analytics atop data from multiple sources. Business is booming, according to the two cofounders — among Kustomer’s marquee customers are Sweetgreen, ThirdLove, Ring, Glossier, Rent the Runway, Away, Glovo, and UNTUCKit. And that’s perhaps why they had no trouble winning over venture backers.
Kustomer today announced that it’s raised $60 million in a series E fundraising round led by Coatue, with participation from current investors Tiger Global Management and Battery Ventures. The tranche brings the company’s total raised to over $173.5 million to date, $161 million of which was raised over the past 18 months across four rounds contributed by Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures, and Social Leverage.
CEO Birnbaum said the infusion will bolster Kustomer’s global expansion as it continues to invest “heavily” in product development. To this end, Kustomer in September launched its first EU datacenter in Dublin, and by the end of the year, it plans to roll out “next-gen” customer relationship management capabilities. Additionally, Kustomer says it’ll triple the size of its development team in 2020.
Kustomer’s platform, which is hosted on Amazon Web Services, lets clients search, display, and report out-of-the-box on objects like “customers” and “companies” with tweakable attributes such as orders, feedback scores, shipping, tracking, web events, and more. These populate visual cards for customer service agents designed to provide context (i.e.g, past orders or shipping details) and surface relevant events from apps, as well as to enable shortcuts that allows those agents to quickly take actions or respond with predefined text.
On the AI side of the equation, Kustomer offers a conversational assistant that collects customer information for human agents and auto-routes conversations. This year saw the launch of KustomerIQ, which allows companies to train AI models to address their unique business needs. The models in question can automatically classify conversations and customer attributes, reading messages between customers and agents using natural language processing techniques. They’re also able to route customers to the appropriate department based on their native language, and to predict conversation volume and staffing needs based on historical and trend data.
Kustomer’s workflow and business logic engines support the creation of conditional, multi-branch flows that enable each step to use the output of any previous step, and to trigger responses based on defined events from internal or third-party systems. Queuing and routing features offer a rules-based solution that ostensibly decreases resolution times by matching customers with high-capacity service agents, and by establishing priority queues that ensure select customers, such as VIPs, are handled swiftly.
From a dashboard, managers can view which agents are working in real time and launch customer satisfaction surveys (or view the results of recent surveys). Additionally, the dashboard exposes customer sentiment to provide a metric for overall customer service effectiveness, and it enables admins to customize Kustomer’s self-service, customer-facing knowledge base with articles, tutorials, and rich media including videos, PDFs, and more.
Kustomer users can segment customers, conversations, and custom objects for targeting purposes, like to narrow down to folks who’ve made a purchase in the last six months. Robust tracking and collaboration tools allow managers and team members to compare metrics like customer satisfaction to money spent on products, and to invite others to join a conversation with mentions, notes, and more. Perhaps better still, Kustomer is truly cross-channel in nature, with support for email, chat, SMS, voice, Twitter, and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“Kustomer is transforming customer service as we know it. At a time when consumers want intelligent, personalized attention, the most forward looking companies are turning to Kustomer to help them exceed expectations,” said Birnbaum, in a statement. “We are seeing rapid adoption over legacy brands like Salesforce and Zendesk and are in a position of strength across all key business metrics as we raise our Series E. With this latest fundraise, we plan to continue our global expansion and will invest heavily to help our clients deliver exceptional customer service.”