Technology

Aisera lands $90M to automate customer service requests with AI – TechCrunch

Aisera, a start-up developing an “AI-driven” support ticketing system, announced today that it has raised $90 million in Series D funding led by Goldman Sachs with participation from True Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Icon Ventures, Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital and others. CEO Muddu Sudhakar said the new funds will be used to support Aisera’s market expansion and go-to-market strategy, in addition to investing in the company’s product development, R&D, sales and marketing initiatives.

Sudhakar says he created Aisera after realizing the need for “predictive AI” solutions that could automatically solve problems in customer service, IT, sales and operations. Leveraging AI, the platform plugs into existing systems of record, including helpdesk portals, to respond to incoming queries and requests.

Sudhakar co-founded Aisera in 2017 with Christos Tryfonas, a longtime colleague. Most recently, Sudhakar led teams at ServiceNow and EMC and previously founded startups (Caspida, Cetas, Kazeon and Sanera Systems) that were acquired by VMware and Splunk. Tryfonas, a former researcher at AT&T Bell Labs, worked with Sudhakar on several of his ventures before joining Aisera.

“We thought [the pandemic] would be a problem, but Aisera’s technology works very well in remote environments. Customers wanted AI and automation to drive user engagement and adoption,” Sudhakar said in an email interview with TechCrunch. “Now, in the current market downturn, we see the need to reduce licensing and staffing costs. This is driving demand for Aisera as we can help organizations reduce IT and business services costs.”

As Sudhakar explains, Aisera’s platform learns to solve problems through a combination of language-analyzing AI and robotic process automation (RPA). RPA technology attempts to mimic the way humans interact with software to accomplish basic, repeatable tasks at scale. It’s not a particularly new idea — RPA vendors, including Automation Anywhere and UiPath, claim to be able to do it to some extent. But Sudhakar claims that Aisera’s RPA brand is specifically designed for customer/employee service use cases.

Aisera

Photo credit: Aisera

“In a way, Aisera competes with ServiceNow and Zendesk, but it’s also complementary to those solutions because we work with them, as well as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Salesforce, Atlassian, and Cisco,” Sudhakar said. “Aisera is unique and differentiated with ontology and taxonomy for each domain and vertical industry… [We also do] AI learning and training on customer datasets to capture specific intentions, phrases, and utterances required for natural language processing and understanding.”

When a request comes in via email, voice, ticket or chat room, Aisera tries to understand it by analyzing it with an algorithm trained to understand voice. The platform then compares sources like ServiceNow, Salesforce, Oracle, Confluence, and SharePoint for customer data to personalize its responses to the request. After this step, Aisera creates a list of actions that must be completed in order to fulfill the request, which is submitted to a “workflow management” engine.

Aisera may return articles, or snippets of articles, from a company’s knowledge base that are most likely to answer a customer’s question. In addition, it can automatically perform certain actions itself, like resetting a user’s password – this is where RPA comes in – or forwarding requests to the appropriate team. For trickier problems, Aisera can also give teams “next best action” recommendations and improve with each additional data point.

“Our technology helps companies improve their operating results while controlling help and service desk support, customer service and support costs [more]’ added Sudhakar. “Aisera delivers solutions for large and small businesses operating in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets for IT, HR, cybersecurity, customer service, sales, marketing, legal and finance departments can be used.”

Aisera claims to be busy. Unfortunately, without access to internal data, it is difficult to know how well the product works in practice. The platform claims to recognize over 70 languages, but does it understand all of these languages ​​equally well? What happens if Aisera makes a mistake when resolving requests (e.g. pulls the wrong support article)? It’s unclear; We have contacted the company for more information.

However, if one steps back to examine the larger industry, it’s clear that there is strong interest in AI technologies for customer service. A 2021 survey by ManageEngine (Zoho’s IT division) found that 59% of US executives are using AI – such as in chatbots – to improve customer service in some way. Realistic or not, AI is viewed by many as a route to greater efficiency (ie, handling more customer requests with fewer resources) and greater personalization (ie, upselling).

Aisera

Photo credit: Aisera

It’s not a panacea — evidence on whether customers prefer even simple chatbots over human agents is mixed. But the hype around AI has fueled the rise of startups like Lang.ai, which automatically flags customer conversations to resolve service issues. Last year, Zendesk acquired Cleverly, whose product platform provided a number of AI-powered features, including a triage feature to automatically tag incoming service requests to categorize workflow. There’s also Ultimate.ai, a data collection bot builder platform; Ushur, which offers a service for companies to create AI-based communication flows; and Tidio, a suite of live chat apps and AI-powered chatbots.

Competition aside, Sudhakar believes Aisera is well-positioned for growth, with over 100 customers and nearly 80 million users. Current subscribers include brands such as Zoom, Chegg, McAfee, and Autodesk, as well as federal, state, military, and defense agencies.

“We’re in a somewhat recession-proof industry where our cloud-native and AI-native technology can better accommodate budgets than others. AI and automation are important cornerstones to fight inflation,” said Sudhakar. “Aisera is experiencing massive growth – 300% year over year – with gross margins between 80% and 90%. . . . As the tech industry faces uncertainty and economic headwinds, business for Aisera is booming.”

To date, Aisera, which employs around 250 people, has raised $180 million in capital.

https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/03/aisera-lands-90m-to-automate-customer-service-requests-with-ai/ Aisera lands $90M to automate customer service requests with AI – TechCrunch

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