Big Data

Zendesk acquires customer service automation startup

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Zendesk today announced that it acquired, a San Francisco, California-based platform that finds answers to customer’s questions by creating a knowledge layer on top of apps. Zendesk says that it’ll integrate Cleverly’s technology across its existing products, enabling teams to automate more processes while keeping up with customer demand.

With conversation volume increasing by more than 20% year-over-year, customer support teams are struggling to keep up. As a result, businesses are increasingly turning to AI to provide faster and more reliable service. A 2020 IDC survey found that automated customer service agents are a top priority for companies with over 5,000 employees. Indeed, technologies like chatbots are expected to save customers and enterprises over 2.5 billion hours by 2023.

Cleverly, whose customers include Vodafone, Dashlane, and Decathlon, taps machine learning to classify, prioritize, and route customer support tickets based on intents. The platform can classify content in over a dozen languages, integrating with help desk, FAQ, and customer relationship management software to identify knowledge gaps and automate replies for common customer queries either on the agent or self-service side.

“Cleverly and Zendesk share a vision of democratizing AI, as well as a passion for creating practical applications that make it possible for businesses to get started with AI right out of the box—without a team of data scientists required,” Shawna Wolverton, Zendesk EVP of product, wrote in a blog post. “With Cleverly, we will deliver a range of capabilities that automate key insights, further reduce manual tasks and improve workflows, and overall lead to happier, more productive support teams.”

Zendesk’s purchase of Cleverly comes after the company snatched up Smooch, an ecommerce customer service startup, in 2019 for an undisclosed amount. Prior to that, Zendesk bought San Francisco-based Base, which develops software for analyzing large volumes of sales data.

New features

Alongside the acquisition, Zendesk added new features to its software-as-a-service ticketing system, including workflow automation on social media customer service channels. Now, Zendesk can report on the performance of a brand’s automation strategy, like the number of conversations engaged with bot and interactions escalated to an agent. And it suggests macros that leverage machine learning to recommend a response based on ticket context, employing prebuilt integrations with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and to keep teams connected.

“While Zendesk has invested in AI to help our customers achieve better, faster, and more reliable customer service, we believe there is still so much untapped potential. Today, our AI-enabled capabilities help businesses automate the conversations they have with customers, boost agent productivity, and increase operational efficiency,” Wolverton added.

Zendesk, which was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007, went public in 2014 after raising about $86 million in venture capital investments. In recent years, it’s leaned heavily into automation, introducing a chatbot that has conversations with customers and attempts to direct them to helpful information and algorithms that better predict the answer a customer is looking for.


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