6 Artificial Intelligence Startups Customizing CRM
Every customer interaction creates an opportunity. Whether for information, sales, help or something else, companies today need to know what their customers want or, more precisely, through artificial intelligence-based customer relations management (CRM), what they want and when they want it.
In an article published earlier this year about 8 Artificial Intelligence Startups Improving CRM, we showed you some of the top companies and startups in this sector, from giant Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) to the small firm DeepGram. More recently, we talked about the increasing customization of the online marketing experience that will no doubt also play into the B2B space for customer relations. Here we look at six more niche-oriented startups pushing the AI CRM field in some different, interesting directions.
Scaling Customer Experiences
Austin-based CognitiveScale is the relative heavyweight in this group, pulling in $40 million in funding since 2014, with a $15 million Series C injection in June from power investors Intel and Microsoft. Data firm CB Insights named it as one of the AI 100 companies for 2017. We first reported about CognitiveScale last year after it took in $25 million from Intel, Microsoft, and IBM. Offering cloud-based services to such enterprise-level clients as Barclay’s, USAA, Nestle and IBM, it’s nested deep in the fintech, commerce and healthcare AI sectors. Founder and CTO Matt Sanchez led IBM Watson Labs and used it first in the financial services and healthcare sectors. CognitiveScale has two main products. The first, Engage, aims to improve the customer experience based on any interaction (“touch point”), while its second, Amplify, gets to the core of an organization to help it streamline, improve processes and adapt to key business changes.
Aviso in Silicon Valley aims to assist executives with powerful AI to better determine risk and accurately forecast sales. Its total funding is now $31 million, following a recent $8 million round led by investors NextWorld Capital, Scale Venture Partners, and Shasta Ventures. The SaaS company has a new CEO, Michael Lock, formerly of Google Enterprise, while co-founder and former CEO K.V. Rao has moved to chief strategy officer. Rao and co-founder Andrew Abrahams started Aviso with the goal to move financial analysis and planning beyond the spreadsheet to a bigger-picture, predictive analytics tool, like the one below.
Its Aviso Sales Vision, a cloud-based sales visibility AI engine, gives both a broad overview of where a company’s sales are headed and the ability to drill down into specific sales that drive performance. One of its competitors, InsideSales.com, may be one of the 5 Biggest Artificial Intelligence Startups, but Aviso is used by a few well-known companies, including Hubspot and Pandora.
Crafted Customer Experience
Imagine brewing up the perfect experience for each customer. Starbucks has and that’s why it’s invested in Takt, a hyper-personal AI-based CRM startup, to help it get there. With a $30 million Series A in 2016, Takt brings a “crafted” customer experience instead of a segmented one. That’s important to companies who rely on frequent repeat business, like coffee houses, which explains Starbucks’s interest. Here, the AI serves to capture and refine data to prepare a company to serve each customer exactly as he or she expects.
That’s a tough standard, so it requires intuitive machine intelligence that adapts and pulls in data from a variety of channels and sources and then offers an individually tailored solution.
Taking the Lead
The days of the Rolodex are well behind us, but it’s still not an easy task to build up a contact list. San Francisco-based Growbots wants to automate the whole process using AI. It has raised $4.2 million since it was founded in December 2015, including a $2.5 million round in June of this year. Growbots’s schtick is to take a company’s customer data and extract the most relevant information to build targeted sales lists. As CEO and co-founder Greg Pietruszynski told TechCrunch: “Growbots’s AI algorithms will generate tailored contact lists for your team in minutes, run all of your outreach campaigns, optimize team/individual results, and manage their inboxes, so each person can focus entirely on talking to potential customers”. The company says its customers on average see 40 percent more positive responses after a month, generating 250,000 warm leads from their collective campaigns.
Another San Francisco-based startup using AI to help jumpstart the sales conversation is Nova. The company has picked up $2.2 million in funding since being founded in 2015. Nova helps break the ice with a possible customer by crafting a personalized introductory paragraph for an email. The AI part comes into play by rooting through all of the unstructured data available online about each contact and finding the salient points that will butter up the potential client. It’s sort of like online stalking before an OKCupid date. Here’s a sample introductory paragraph:
The platform integrates with a user’s email system, as well as provides metrics on successes and failures of each correspondence. This reminds us a bit of Persado, a startup we covered recently that uses AI to create email titles that will engage the reader and get them to open the email.
Irish startup Altocloud monitors online customer “journeys” gathering data from voice, video and text-based interactions to help companies increase sales and improve CRM in real-time. It received $2 million in VC seed funding in 2015. It also has an office in Mountain View, Calif. Altocloud’s machine-learning and real-time predictive analytics tools, including one built on Cisco’s Spark for sales teams, show what customers are doing on a website, in an app or conversations with team members. It can also be integrated with Cisco’s Collaboration and Contact Center. Prices for the service begin at $49.
It would seem that, thanks to AI, your sales teams will soon have a lot of added time on their hands – to sell even more stuff. Machines can now generate sales leads, write customized emails, and track performance. We’ll still need humans around to seal the deal and pad their expense reports for that martini dinner, but AI in CRM is making a pretty powerful pitch.
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