IVR, whether DTMF or speech rec, is the self-service technology that everyone loves to hate. Web self-service can also be frustrating to use. Yet they are designed right—one of the key features is having backup human assistance options--even those of us who hate communicating with machines may learn to truly like the experience.
Interactions Corporation thinks so. So does its investors. It has closed a new funding round totaling $12 million led by Sigma Partners, with strong participation from North Hill Ventures, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners and Updata Partners.
The firm has patented hybrid self-service/human assistance technology for automated voice plus other interactive systems that it says delivers an unprecedented level of understanding that engages customers in productive, natural conversations. The technology automatically routes customers’ utterances to a speech recognition engine supplemented by small pool of what it calls “intent analysts” who provide an additional layer of understanding at any point during the conversations.
The solution works with and enhances existing IVR and speech platforms and Web applications, providing it says a proven impact on ROI: by getting applications up and running three times faster than the competition at a fraction of the cost.
Here’s one way the Interactions solution works:
A customer is browsing on a firm’s Web site and needs some help finding a form to submit some healthcare spending account (HSA) expenses. After searching around for a few minutes the customer clicks on the "Interactions button" and is greeted with a voice that says "How can I help you"? The customer responds, "I can't find the form to submit HSA expenses."
Immediately, Interactions responds with the link to the form and offers to provide additional assistance. The engagement is completed quickly, and the customer is satisfied without having to speak with an agent.
Interactions say it has experienced significant growth and traction in the customer care delivery market. The company will utilize the new funds to support its growing customer base including from well-known brands, expand its market presence and invest in new technology and infrastructure. Among the customers it has attracted this year is Best Western International to provide a conversational voice portal for members of its Best Western Rewards loyalty program members. The voice portal, which leverages Interactions platform, helps Best Western Rewards members experience a seamless customer care process, enabling them to quickly obtain account information, redeem awards and get details about program benefits.
“Our customers view Interactions less like an IVR and more like a virtual customer service agent,” says Bob Davoli, Managing Director at Sigma Partners. “We are excited about Interactions because they are transforming the way customer service is delivered and have the potential to make a profound global impact.”
“Our philosophy is to apply our unique technology to create self-service applications for our clients that truly satisfy their customers and in most cases exceed their expectations,” said Mike Iacobucci, CEO of Interactions. “We are thrilled with our progress and the market's reaction to our unique capabilities. The funding will help us continue to provide excellent service to our clients while supporting the growth initiatives of the business.”
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves