Big Data

Call center automation platform Talkdesk picks up $230M

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Talkdesk, which provides an enterprise contact center platform, today announced that it raised $230 million at a post-money valuation of $10 billion. The round, which came from Whale Rock Capital Management, TI Platform Management, Alpha Square Group, Amity Ventures, Franklin Templeton, Top Tier Capital Partners, Viking Global Investors, and Willoughby Capital, brings the company’s total raised to $498 million to date.

Over the past several years, businesses have increasingly turned to cloud-based contact centers to address budding customer service challenges. The pandemic accelerated that move — service conveniences were put in place out of necessity, which gave customers more options for interacting with companies. For example, 78% of contact centers in the U.S. now intend to deploy AI in the next 3 years, according to Canam Research. And research from The Harris Poll indicates that 46% of customer interactions are already automated, with the number expected to reach 59% by 2023.

Talkdesk’s contact center solution — which competes with offerings from Amazon, Google, Cisco, Aircall, Uject, and others, including Five9 (recently acquired by Zoom) — provides a way for businesses and customers to engage with one another through service channels. With Talkdesk, companies can manage and route customer requests through text, email, and social media, with services including virtual agents and analytics in addition to tools for customization across workspaces, routing, reporting, and integrations.

“During the last two years, Talkdesk has introduced more than 30 new product innovations. We’re on a quest to revolutionize the contact center market and automate 80% of customer interactions [by 2023]. We’re also lowering the barrier for AI adoption in the contact center. We currently have 1,000 engineers … working on solutions and 50% of our investment goes into R&D,” CEO Tiago Paiva told VentureBeat via email. “The new funding will … further support expanding [our] presence internationally, leading with industry-first customer experience product innovations [and] white-glove customer service.”

Injecting AI

Automation is a core focus for San Francisco, California-based Talkdesk, which was founded in Portugal in 2011 by Paiva and Cristina Fonseca, a cofounder of ecommerce startup Bouncely. The company offers AI Trainer, a human-in-the-loop AI model training solution that helps companies to implement, maintain, and customize systems for automation. Talkdesk also provides industry-specific products like Digital Lending and Vacation Now, which employ AI to streamline the lending lifecycle for personal, mortgage, and commercial loans and help companies ready contact centers to support anticipated surges in demand.

Paiva points to a survey of customer experience professionals that Talkdesk conducted in early 2021, which found that an overwhelming majority — 89% — believe in the importance of leveraging AI in the contact center. Another 82% said that AI is increasingly necessary for business success.  But only 14% considered their employers to be “transformational” with AI.

“[Talkdesk] enables customization, personalization, and extensibility [by unifying] all customer experience applications and data on a single screen and [allowing] enterprises to create interface[s] for every role in the contact center,” Paiva said. “Business continuity was naturally a primary driver in the early weeks of the pandemic. Today, many businesses see cloud contact centers as integral to meeting customer expectations, not just maintaining operations.”

According to Paiva, over the last two years, Talkdesk gained “significant” momentum as it expanded its ecosystem of resellers and cloud distributors and entered markets including Australia, Brazil, Canada, and France. Talkdesk currently has over 1,800 customers — Petco, Lemonade, and Sysco among them — and plans to increase the size of its workforce from 1,800 to around 2,200 by 2022.

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