Business used to be predictable once upon a time. Companies were started in garages and were built up in brick and mortar buildings. The need for sales, marketing and customer service expanded slowly, and was usually fairly predictable. Customers were loyal, the tone of customer interactions was civil and direct marketing took place through the mail. The process was often asynchronous, with companies and customers communicating through the mail, via e-mail or even via catalog order.
Say good-bye to the twentieth century.
Business is a very different creature today. Companies are bought and sold overnight, markets expand and contract, and customers are the equivalent of speed-daters: they sit down with your company for five minutes, ask a few questions, and decide on the spot whether they’re going to stay or move on to the next date. Start-up companies can take off quickly, and trends can turn a small company into a big one overnight, often thanks to social media. Overall, customer support is a very different creature than it was a few decades ago.
Many companies, however, haven’t gotten the memo yet, and are attempting to serve customers with technologies and equipment better suited to 1991. Smart companies are looking for newer solutions that are as current as customers are. Most of all, these newer solutions need to feature real-time communications, since customers are no longer willing to wait.
French startup Aircall, which offers a software-as-a-service customer support solution, is one of those new players. The company recently announced that it raised a $2.75 million round led by Balderton Capital, with FundersClub and business angels also participating. According to Tech Crunch (which notes that it was part of the “Battlefield” competition at Disrupt SF 2015), Aircall intends to “reinvent how phone customer support works. Essentially, it’s an app.
The solution offers phone routing that breaks with tradition. Instead of relying on an ACD, it engages in something called “cascading calls.” If the first agent logged in is busy, the call goes to the next agent, and so forth. It also makes international calling easy by allowing companies to have phone numbers in different countries, and assign a team to each number. The app also features custom music and messages, click-to-call, call queuing, an IVR, call recording, analytics and integration with high-profile sales and CRM solutions such as Salesforce, Desk.com and Zendesk.
Currently, the Aircall app is available only for iOS, but the company says an Android version is coming very soon. While most companies using the Aircall app are relatively small, with just a few agents, it does have some standout larger customers; most notably Uber and Deliveroo. The company notes that more integrations with business software are also coming, and that it’s planning to take on some companies with larger and broader customer support needs in the near future.