Chatbots and other AI-powered tools have found a solid foundation in the world of customer service, either to augment or completely replace the role of a human who answers questions and complaints, or (sometimes, annoyingly , at the same time as the previous two). functions) sell more products to users.
Today, an Israeli company called TechSee is announcing $ 16 million in funding to help build its own spin on that innovation: an AI-based video service, using computer vision, augmented reality, and a customer’s smartphone camera. to provide technical support to customers. either in conjunction with live agent assistance, or as part of an independent customer service ‘bot’.
Led by Scale Venture Partners – the prominent investor who has been behind some of the biggest business moves in recent years (including Box, Chef, Cloudhealth, DataStax, Demandbase, DocuSign, ExactTarget, HubSpot, JFrog, and fellow Israeli supporter WalkMe), the Series B also includes the participation of Planven Investments, OurCrowd, Comdata Group and Salesforce Ventures. (Salesforce was announced as a sponsor in October.)
The funding will be used both to expand the company’s current business and to advance new product areas such as sales.
Eitan Cohen, the CEO and co-founder, said the company today provides tools to some 15,000 customer service agents and counts companies like Samsung and Vodafone among its clients in verticals such as financial services, technology, telecommunications and insurance.
The potential opportunity is great: Cohen estimates that there are approximately 2 million customer service agents in the United States and about 14 million worldwide.
TechSee is not disclosing its assessment. It has raised about $ 23 million to date.
Although TechSee provides support for software and applications, its sweet spot so far has been to provide video-based assistance to customers who call with questions about the long line of hardware in the world, used for example in a broadband WiFi service in home.
In fact, Cohen said he came up with the idea for the service when his parents called him on the phone to help them regain their cable service, and he felt challenged to do so without being able to see the cable box to talk them through what to do.
So he thought about all the instructional videos found on platforms like YouTube and decided there was an opportunity to take advantage of that in a more organized way for companies that provide an ever-growing range of kits that may never get the vlogger treatment.
“We’re trying to bring that YouTube experience to all hardware,” he said in an interview.
The idea is that this will become a bigger opportunity over time as more services are digitized, the cost of components continues to drop, and everything becomes “hardware.”
“Technology may become more of a commodity, but customer service cannot,” he added. “Solutions like ours allow companies to provide low-cost technology without having to hire more people to solve problems. [that might arise with it.]”
Today’s product is sold along two main trajectories: assisting customer representatives; and provide unmanned video assistance to replace some of the easiest and most common questions asked.
In cases where live video support is provided, the customer opts for the service, similar to how he or she might get a support service that “takes over” the device in question to diagnose and attempt to fix. a problem. Here, the camera for the service becomes the customer’s own phone.
Over time, that live support is used in two ways that are directly tied to TechSee’s AI game. First, it helps build TechSee’s largest backup video catalog, where all identifying features are removed with the exclusive focus on the device or issue at hand. Second, the experience in the video is also used to create the TechSee algorithms for future interactions. Cohen said there are now “millions” of multimedia files, images and videos, now in the company’s catalog.
The effectiveness of your system so far has been quite impressive. TechSee customers, the companies that provide customer support, say that on average they have seen a 40 percent increase in customer satisfaction (NPS scores), a 17 percent decrease in technician dispatches, an increase of between 20 and 30 percent in first call resolutions, depending on the industry.
TechSee isn’t the only company to create a video-based customer engagement platform – others include Stryng, CallVU, and Vee24. And you could imagine companies like Amazon, which is already dabbling in providing advice to customers based on what your Echo Look can see, might be interested in providing such services to users through the millions of products it sells, as well. how to provide them as a service to third parties.
According to Cohen, what TechSee has going for it compared to those startups, and also the potential entry of companies like Microsoft or Amazon into the mix, is an advantage over raw data and a vision of how the company’s AI new will use it to build the business
“We believe that anyone who wants to build this would be challenged to do it from scratch,” he said. “This is where we have robust content, millions of images, down to specific model numbers, where we can provide on-the-spot assistance and instructions.
Salesforce’s interest in the company, he said, is a natural progression of where data and customer relationships can take a company beyond responsive support in areas like rapid warranty verification (for all those times in that people have neglected to register a product) benders for insurance claims and, of course, upsells to other products and services.
“Salesforce sees the synergies between the sales cloud and the services cloud,” Cohen said.
“TechSee recognized the great potential to combine machine vision artificial intelligence with augmented reality in customer engagement,” said Andy Vitus, partner at Scale Venture Partners, who joins the board of directors in this round. “Electronic devices become more complex with each generation, which makes their adoption a perennial challenge. TechSee is solving a massive problem for brands with a technology solution that simplifies the customer experience through a visual and interactive guide. “