Proving that contact center technology is still desirable, Invoca raises $83 million – TechCrunch
Invoca, a platform that uses AI to analyze calls for marketing, sales and customer agent training, today closed an $83 million funding round that values the company at $1.1 billion after financing. Invoca has raised $184 million to date, most of which is being used to support product development focused on Incova’s contact center offerings, international expansion and potential acquisitions, according to CEO Gregg Johnson.
There is evidence to suggest that poor customer service experiences, such as long wait times, can affect revenue. Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to put a strain on call centers in particular, which have had to deal with not just the “new normal” of remote working, but a historic labor shortage. For example, in 2020, T-Mobile was forced to move 12,000 customer service employees from 17 call centers to work-from-home platforms. Last July and August, the company’s annualized attrition rate — a measure of the number of employees leaving in a year — hit 65%, up from around 20% before the pandemic.
Invoca does not claim to solve all these problems. But through services like agent coaching and “automated contact center quality assurance,” the company aims to increase conversion rates, customer satisfaction and service levels in a largely hands-off way. .
“Business-to-consumer (B2C) brands are focused on growing revenue, delivering exceptional customer experiences and reducing churn. And at a time when they’re getting more incoming calls and have fewer qualified reps to handle them, delivering a quality customer experience is vital,” Johnson told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The contact center has re-emerged as a strategic solution and this is increasing investment in technology to modernize the contact center.”
Invoca was founded in 2008 by Colin Kelley, Jason Spievak and Robert Duva in Santa Barbara, California. The founding team worked together at CallWave, a communications company that was eventually acquired by Voice over IP 8×8.
According to Johnson, Kelley, Spievak and Duva foresaw the intersection of two major trends: the shift of advertising and marketing to digital telephony and the Internet. Johnson joined Salesforce in 2016, where he was senior vice president of product management at Marketing Cloud, with a vision to extend the Invoca platform and leverage emerging technologies around AI, natural language and voice.
An IPO was in preparation. But Johnson and the management team ultimately decided the timing wasn’t right.
“Invoca solves a critical problem for businesses – the broken customer experience,” Johnson said. “Invoca’s technology enables revenue teams to better understand the end-to-end consumer shopping experience and immediately act on the insights consumers share through phone conversations. In our case, “revenue teams” include marketers, contact center sales and loyalty teams, as well as digital commerce and customer experience teams. »
Invoca aims to provide “actionable” data from phone calls between sales or service agents and customers in real time. Entirely cloud-based, Invoca acts as a centralized platform that combines AI-based speech analytics, automated call scoring, call routing, and conversational Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capabilities.
Invoca customers get metrics for call handling, call intent, and conversation outcomes, as well as a searchable database of call transcripts and recordings.
“Invoca’s flagship product is used by acquisition marketers from major consumer brands, such as AutoNation, Banner Health, DirecTV, ORKIN, Rogers Communications, Mayo Clinics and University Hospitals,” Johnson said. “Over the past year, Invoca has added AI-powered products for contact center teams to improve customer experience through better quality management, coaching and agent performance. , call routing, conversational IVRs (virtual agents) and unanswered call handling.”
The call center technology market has seen something of a revitalization in recent years as startups and incumbents pursue what is – and will be – a lucrative opportunity. Grand View Research predicts that global contact center software revenue will reach $149.58 billion in 2030, up from $28.09 billion in 2022. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft offer products that automate common contact center tasks. contact and perform analysis on call data. The same goes for new entrants like Replicant, Tenyx, Observe.ai, Loris and Level AI. Earlier this year, Uniphore, which uses AI to suggest actions to service agents, raised $400 million in one of the largest call center technology deals to date.
Johnson says what sets Invoca apart are its machine learning capabilities, particularly its classification systems. The platform can detect call results such as purchases made, appointments set or job applications submitted, he explained, and group conversations into topics based on speech similarities – identifying topics of conversation. appeal (e.g. filing a complaint) and most pronounced words (e.g. “best price”) and possibly pushing and pulling data to/from third-party marketing applications, including Google Ads. For example, a customer e-commerce merchant can see data from Invoca such as their estimated household income, their last web pages viewed, and the number of times they have called.After the call, the retailer can be notified if the caller mentioned or purchased one of its products.
“[We’re] see multi-site chains and large-scale enterprises start using or even doubling up on contact centers so workers can focus on in-person guests,” Johnson said. “The contact center is representative of something much larger: a fundamental element of the company. As a result, Invoca [has seen] a dramatic increase in the number of customers calling businesses, handling more than 337 million calls, or the equivalent of 1.579 billion call minutes.
One of Invoca’s less advertised features is automatic call scoring, which allows customers to set criteria to “quantify agent performance and track script compliance” and “monitor agent performance…against to the basic KPIs”. Although the rating is par for the course when it comes to call center analytics software, the functionality may not be suitable for agents already under pressure due to increased call volumes. A 2021 ExpressVPN survey of 2,000 workers found that employees were dissatisfied with workplace monitoring software, overall, with 43% seeing it as a breach of trust.
Johnson championed automatic call scoring as a way to improve agent performance through teachable moments, also despite the technical challenges inherent in voice recognition. When an agent fails to meet expectations, a manager can step in to review the conversation and provide feedback, he said, which apparently saves time.
“[Invoca] generates huge efficiencies in our customers’ QA process, allowing them to be much more efficient without additional resources,” he continued. “It also helps our customers improve morale and elevate their agent coaching programs by improving access to data and facilitating increased collaboration between agents and their supervisors.”
Customers were not deterred. Johnson said Invoca surpassed $100 million in revenue, with annual recurring revenue reaching $97 million. The company broke even on an EBITDA basis in the last fiscal year (ending January 2022) and plans to grow its workforce by 50 from 380 this year, targeting new customers beyond its main markets from the United States and Canada to Europe and Mexico. , and South America.
Signaling its broader ambitions, in 2020 Invoca expanded with the launch of Invoca Exchange, a portal where businesses can find third-party integrations for applications such as e-commerce and sales. And last year, Invoca made its first acquisition in DialogTech, a startup that creates tools for marketers to analyze incoming phone calls and other contacts.
“As technology company valuations have fallen 50% year-to-date, investors have a critical eye on verified business fundamentals and long-term market potential,” Johnson said. “They are moving away from investing in companies with high vision and back to strong, stable and proven companies. Invoca’s cycle bucks the current trend in tech valuations and validates the strong long-term fundamentals that are driving its business.
Silver Lake Waterman led Invoca’s latest funding round with participation from Upfront Ventures, Accel and HIG Capital.