There is no longer a question of whether or not a business should invest in AI; instead, it is a question of where to begin. However, different industries and businesses do not follow the same workflows and have different areas to improve upon. But one department can be found in almost every industry that can serve as a great starting point for businesses looking to explore the advantages of AI – Customer Service. The use of artificial intelligence can greatly improve customer service.
According to the Huffington Post, the average American will spend 43 days, just over 6 full weeks, on hold with customer support in their lifetime. What a terrible thought, that we could all spend a month and a half of our lives screaming at a robot over the phone in an attempt to return a $6 t-shirt! Fortunately for us, some people are taking action to alleviate the frustrations these services have created.
Thankful AI, a portfolio company of Omega Venture Partners, is one of the leaders in the customer service revolution. The tech innovator uses artificial intelligence to enhance the service experience instead of cheaply deflecting people with chatbots and robocalls. It almost sounds too good to be true! “The goal is for Thankful to give you 3 out of those 6 weeks of your life back,” says Ted Mico, CEO and Co-Founder of Thankful AI. “Thankful was born out of my frustration. Bad customer service drove me to the point that I threw my iPhone at a hardwood floor, and it exploded.” As a result of his painful experience, Mico created a business with the goal of completely reimagining customer service. A company where AI works as an accelerator, not a barrier. So long, annoying chatbots!
Gaurav Tewari, of Omega Venture Partners, elaborated upon Ted’s comments noting that, “Thankful is empowering clients with up to 80% faster response times, 50% reduction in incremental support expense, and 90%+ customer satisfaction scores.” Mr. Tewari continued, “Thankful turns customer service into a revenue driver and customer-satisfaction enabler, going far beyond mere cost reduction. That is very different than the approach other companies have taken.”
Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service
Forbes states that customer service is a $350 billion industry, and it’s nothing short of a disaster. That isn’t too hard to believe; we’ve all experienced our fair share of painful “conversations” with chatbots, automated phone messages, and robotic emails. Why is this industry such a wreck?
1. High Expectations
In the age of Amazon, customers want things done right, and they want them done quickly. When many companies ship things like new phones across the country overnight, why should other companies wait five days to reply to your email?
2. Increasing Volume of Support Requests
Particularly since the recent pandemic, online exchanges are at an all-time high. As a result, companies receive more and more complaints every day from unhappy customers. However, businesses are at a point where hiring more people to staff their call centers to respond to these issues would drive them out of business! So, the service becomes slower simply because of increased demand and low supply
3. Outdated Solutions
Due to the high demand, brands flock to cheap ways to deflect customers instead of meaningfully engaging them. Enter the dreaded chatbot. Instead of resolving the customer’s issue, this technology often does more harm than good on the customer service side, since it eliminates the relationship that is born out of quality assistance. As a result, we are left with the disaster known today as “customer service”.
Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Transform Customer Service
The problem with customer service isn’t that companies don’t care, or that their reps are bad people. It’s that companies are under-resourced, and lack the tools to provide quality customer service. This is where Thankful steps in. Thankful’s mission: “Give every customer access to exceptional service by giving every company the tools to deliver it.”
Thankful works not just for the company, but also for the customer. They think of customer service not as problem solving, but relationship building. Thankful will revolutionize customer service by doing three main things
1. Automatically resolving routine problems
Not only can Thankful autonomously resolve up to 60% of incoming queries, but their customer-oriented AI delivers a human-like experience. Delivering personalized service across all written channels – email, chat, SMS, in-app, and social – customers will feel heard and not ignored.
2. Assisting agents in solving complex problems.
Thankful’s AI Agent knows when to pass customer queries off to human agents. While agents are tending to the request, Thankful will provide support by delivering AI intuition; saving support teams time and effort by collating relevant information and even suggesting responses and next steps.
3. Provisioning real-time business insights
Thankful provides companies with access to real-time data, reports, and alerts from the voice of the customer. Going beyond basic metric tracking, Thankful enables businesses to uncover insights and turn customer problems into opportunities to improve the overall customer experience.
Thankful + Omega Venture Partners
OMEGA invested in the recent financing of Thankful AI Inc. Thankful grew revenue 4X last year, and is projected to triple revenue this year. Thankful’s clients include established brands (e.g., Crate & Barrel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Universal Music) as well as pioneering digital-native brands (e.g., Glossier, Pura Vida, Bombas).
As to their preference to partner with OMEGA, Thankful’s management cite OMEGA’s technology and market expertise, focused investment thesis, and the Firm’s ability to open doors to lighthouse customers, including a large public commerce company that was introduced by OMEGA.
Why Thankful Matters
As commerce continues to move online, companies across the board are under-resourced and overburdened when it comes to providing quality customer service. A company’s customer service should be its priority, which is why Thankful created a system that’s on the customer’s side. Delivering reductions in support costs as well as increased revenue through increased customer loyalty, retention, and life-time value, Thankful is empowering clients with up to 80% faster response times, 50% reduction in incremental support expense, and 90%+ customer satisfaction scores.
Thankful is run by individuals who believe that service makes or breaks any brand. Therefore, this company’s ultimate goal is to revolutionize customer service, so that it is not a cost burden, but a revenue center. As Ted Mico likes to say, “In the end, technology that is on the side of the customer will ALWAYS win.”
Special thanks to Jenna Malone for the help on this post.