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Amid an exploding market for AI chatbots, companies targeting their virtual assistants at specialized business sectors could gain a stronger foothold than generic chatbots, according to analysts at Gartner. That’s nothing new for Zowie, which claims to be the only AI-powered chatbot technology built specifically for ecommerce businesses that use customer support to increase sales — no small feat in an industry in of customer service teams answer tens of thousands of repetitive questions every day. The company announced today that it has secured $14 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global Management, bringing the total to $20 million.
Chatbots — sometimes referred to as virtual assistants — are built on conversational AI platforms (CAIP) that combine speech-based technology, natural language processing, and machine learning tools to build applications for use across many industries.
The CAIP market is extremely diverse, both in terms of vendor strategies and the business needs that vendors are targeting, says Magnus Revang, Gartner’s research vice president of AI, chatbots and virtual assistants.
The CAIP market comprises around 2,000 providers worldwide. As a result, companies looking to implement AI chatbot technology often struggle with vendor selection, according to a 2020 Gartner report co-authored by Revang, “Making Sense of the Chatbot and Conversational AI Platform Market.”
The report suggests that in a market where no CAIP provider is far ahead of the competition, companies need to select the provider that best fits their current short- and mid-term needs.
The secret ingredient in the AI chatbot market
This is Zowie’s secret recipe: specialization. The company is particularly focused on the needs of e-commerce providers, Maya Schaefer, Zowie’s chief executive officer and co-founder, told VentureBeat. The platform enables brands to improve their customer relationships and generate revenue from customer service.
Many other CAIPs provide services to companies that sell products. However, their solutions also target other industries such as banking, telecom and insurance. Examples are Boost AI, Solvvy and Ada. Other chatbots – Ada is an example – can also be targeted for use in the financial technology and software-as-a-service industries, for example to answer questions about a non-working system.
Zowie is based on the company’s automation technology, “Zowie X1”, to analyze meaning and sentiment and find repetitive questions and trends.
Zowie claims to automate 70% of the requests ecommerce brands typically receive, e.g. B. “Where’s my package?” or “How can I change my shipping address?” She says. The solution also includes a suite of tools that agents can use to provide personalized care and product recommendations, she says.
For example, if a customer says, “I’d like some help choosing new shoes,” the system passes the request to a live product expert.
Before implementation, the platform analyzes a customer’s past chats, FAQs, and knowledge base to automatically learn which questions need to be automated. It uses AI skills to analyze new questions and conversations and offers more automation.
By analyzing patterns, the AI chatbot can recognize when something new or unusual is happening and alert the customer service team, Schaefer said.
Live agents may also have difficulty upselling customers, so Zowie gives agents unique insights into customers – what product they’re looking at, whether they’ve ordered before and if so, what they’ve ordered – and features direct product catalog integration, which allows agents to send product suggestions in the form of a carousel, she added.
time to optimize
In 2019, Schaefer and co-founder Matt Ciolek created the all-in-one modular CAIP designed for building highly customizable chatbots. Schäfer estimates that within six weeks of implementation, Zowie answers around 92% of customer queries such as “Where’s my package?”. and “What are the store opening hours?”
“Managers and agents don’t have to think about how to improve the customer experience – our system detects new trends and suggests how to optimize the system automatically,” she said. “In a way, we’re automating the automation.”
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