June 20, 2016

Customer Service Reinvented

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The world has changed.

21st century consumers are always on and communicating via text, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, email, and, yes, even the phone—often at the same time. They’re 18 to 80 years old. And they expect an Amazon Prime or Uber-caliber customer service experience whether they’re making a plane reservation or scheduling a service call.

21st Century Consumer

The problem is the customer service technology on the receiving end hasn’t kept pace. Most companies are using customer service software designed in the 20th century—before the iPhone and before all the modern messaging applications. This means most customer service software for B2C companies is still siloed by channel – sms, voice, email, primarily focused on cases and tickets and amazingly mainly on-premise. (According to Gartner, fewer than 5% of complex customer service centers are Saas.)

Yet, consumers toggle between voice, email, twitter direct messages, Facebook, sms with their friends and keep track of these interactions as one conversation. But companies can’t maintain this pace. Agents ask for a case number because it’s the only way for them to tie all interactions back to a single customer. It’s impossible to bring all these channels together in complex contact centers without a major overhaul.

This is where Gladly comes in.

Reinventing Customer Service

At Gladly, we asked ourselves, “What if we could reinvent customer service for the 21st century?”

We started with a belief we paraphrased from Maya Angelou that, “People never forget how you make them feel.” We realized that the key to creating feelings of affinity and trust depends on a company’s’ ability to have natural and empathetic conversations with customers.

And we believe that to enable this, a 21st century customer service platform needs to be built on the following pillars:

It’s about People

We made a radical departure from the standard customer service platforms and built our system around people, not cases or tickets. It’s about people talking to people—customers talking to customer service agents and having the kinds of conversations you have with a friend or partner. We’re trying to end the era of cases or tickets because who wants to be known as ticket #576935NFW. Gladly only asks that you remember your name.

What does it mean to build a system around people? While virtually all existing systems route tickets, Gladly routes customers and keep every interaction, regardless of channel, in one open conversation. If a customer emails one day and calls the next, the agent handling the phone call sees the customer’s email from the day before—along with every other contact they’ve made with the company. With the customer at the center, multiple agents can work in parallel to take different tasks, solve an issue, or provide an answer in a fraction of the time it takes traditional systems.

Lifetime of conversations

Second, we enable great conversations. Imagine if every one of your conversations with your friend, partner, or spouse worked how most customer service software platforms worked. You’d have to start by asking, “Who are you? When did we meet? Why are you calling me again?” Or if you wanted to continue a conversation about a vacation you were planning you’d ask, “Remind me again where we are going? What is our flight number?” You’d wonder if they listened to you, knew you, or even cared. You’d probably be ready to cancel the trip altogether.

Gladly provides a single view of all a customer’s conversations with a company. And it’s designed from the start to be channel agnostic so agents and customers can converse seamlessly across phone, email, SMS, chat and social media. When a new agent joins the conversation, they can simply pick up the conversation right where the conversation left off.

Delightfully Productive

Third, we are building a product that we think customer service agents will love. Customer service is hard work.  Your agents are the face of the company and your champions on the front line fighting the good fight. We aspire to give them the tools that turn them into heroes. It’s easy to get started since Gladly looks more like the messaging products they already use—Facebook Messenger and iMessage and the like – as opposed to case management tools from last century. Agents get all the information about the customer and the conversations they need to be empathetic and make customers feel appreciated and even loved.

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21st Century Customer Service Platform

We designed Gladly as modern cloud platform to support the voice of the customer. Companies get the traditional operating metrics for call times and hold times, email response times, etc. But we also provide topic reporting to understand the topics of conversations so that companies can proactively eliminate a website bug or reorder a popular product. And all of this is delivered via software as a service from the agent facing applications to the telephony and messaging systems.

Incredible Team

We would not be here without help of an incredible team. We are fortunate to be backed by two of the top venture capital firms: Greylock and NEA. After several months of incubation, Greylock, where I am also an investing partner, led our series A of $12 million. Jerry Chen joins us on the board. NEA recently led our $15 million series B, in which Greylock participated. Ravi Viswanathan from NEA joins us on the board.

And last but not least, we’re very proud and excited about the team that we’re building. My co-founders are Michael Wolfe and Dirk Kessler. Michael built one of the first email customer service products, Kana, which is where we met. He ran engineering and I ran marketing and we were part of the team that took the company public. Then together we co-founded Vontu. Dirk Kessler was the first person to join the Vontu team and someone that I’ve known for 20 years from our days at Apple. And there are many more people behind the scenes working to bring Gladly to life.

The Beginning

We’re just getting started and we’re excited about the journey ahead and reinventing customer service for the 21st century. If you want to learn more and follow us or join us, reach out here or follow us on Twitter. We will gladly find a time to connect. 🙂

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