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white, a call center-automated startup based in St. Louis, Missouri, announced today that it has raised $ 37 million in a Series B financing round led by Stripes, with the participation of RingCentral Ventures, Sierra Ventures, TIA Ventures, OCA Ventures, Stage Venture Partners, SaaS Venture Capital, Sandalphon Capital, Cultivation Capital and Atreides Management. The capital brings the company’s total financing to $ 51.2 million until now, and CEO Marc Bernstein says it will be used to “jump” in closed-loop reporting so customers can scale the best-performing agent behavior.
During the pandemic, the shift to digital has strengthened the company’s investments in customer service automation. A recent Harris poll examination found that 46% of customer interactions are now automated – a percentage expected to rise to 59% within three years. That over $ 339.4 billion the call center market has received a lot of attention in recent months, with 56% of multimedia and technology companies saying they plan to implement AI-powered call center technology in the future, according to to Deloitte.
Balto was founded in 2017 by Chris Kontes, Davidson Girard and Bernstein and aims to provide contact centers with a way to improve conversations when they happen, in real time. The company leverages AI optimized for contact center applications – specifically automated speech recognition and natural language modeling, trained on a dataset of more than 75 million calls and 1 billion labels.
Bernstein says Balto continued to grow during the pandemic, largely because of companies that needed a way to get information to now-remote agents. “When contact center teams work remotely, managers do not have the luxury of talking to agents in person for coaching or training,” he told VentureBeat via email. “By using Balto’s tools in real time, this roadblock will be significantly reduced. Managers can push script updates out to all agents at the touch of a button; they can instantly jump into calls when an agent needs support; and they have access to the data from all their calls in real time. ”
Baltos AI listens to both sides of a conversation and visually asks agents what to say next. A smart checklist feature reminds agents of the prescribed call, with Balto automatically checking each item from a list. Balto also offers voice-stimulated dynamic prompts, including rejections, declarations of conformity and product knowledge. Messages provide agents with feedback on keywords, soft skills, and other habits, while reminders can be provided via digital stickers along with team leaderboard rankings.
On the backend, Balto offers a number of management features, including an agent performance dashboard that quickly converts all customer calls into data. This data transports into a portal that displays metrics for agent and team performance as well as snippets of call transcripts. An accompanying wind speed analysis tool analyzes the effectiveness of the phrases across different agents, while a trend analysis feature shows real-time agent, customer and competitor trends. Balto also offers a playbook that designer executives can use to send winning phrases, key points, reminders, and more to agents’ machines.
Balto says it encrypts all data during shipment and at rest. The thin client that starts when agents start a call and sits next to the agents’ screens is designed to work with any system that relies on headsets connected to a computer to make calls.
According to McKinsey, 29% of customer service agent tasks have the potential to be automated. This may be why an estimated 33% of contact centers had invested in AI and robotics in 2019, a Deloitte report found.
“Business companies currently spend hours listening to call recordings and rely on trying a small percentage of calls to measure the agent’s performance … [They] also struggling to identify which calls to coach, ”Bernstein explained. “This leads to wasted time spent searching for a good coaching opportunity instead of actually coaching.”
Technology giants and start-ups have found the opportunity and in recent years have released products designed to automate common call center tasks. Google Contact center AI combines virtual agents with agent assistance software, just like Amazon Connect. Observer.ai, Asapp, CallMiner, Cogito, Uniphore, coat of arms, and Increase offer similar solutions.
Gartner’s research director Megan Marek Fernandez said that improving customer experiences and contact center projects today is driven by an increasing focus on customer retention, customer expansion and streamlining customer interaction. As the amount of interaction increases, customers use a wider mix of channels to connect with brands.
“Social media interfaces such as websites, mobile devices and email represent a growing starting point for interactions. This means that many companies are struggling to figure out how to improve customer service while handling larger amounts of interaction from a wider mix of channels, ”Fernandez told VentureBeat via email. “Gartner expects investment in contact center solutions that can enable the acceleration of automation of interactions across channels. As part of this automation, AI-enabled bots and virtual assistants handle more basic interactions, while contact center agents handle more complex topics. ”
But Balto has managed to keep its own and attract “dozens” of customers, including AmTrust Financial, Catapult, Advantage Communications and National General Insurance. Bernstein says the company’s platform to date has delivered over 160 million real-time recommendations.
“Our [product] automatically scores 100% of all calls and delivers the data to managers in real time, ”said Bernstein. “Real-time coaching warns managers of important real-time call coaching opportunities. And unlike other listening or chat coaching tools, [Balto] allows managers to join the call and guide the agent with just a few clicks. ”
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