Quiq raises $12.5 million to bring bots and messaging to customer service

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Mobile messaging is the cornerstone of communications today — both WhatsApp and Messenger claim well over 1 billion users each, while Twitter claims north of 300 million users. It’s safe to say that most people — under a certain age, at least — would generally prefer to message someone than call them.

As such, businesses have increasingly embraced messaging platforms as means of connecting with their customers, the idea being that if people use such channels to chat with friends, then they’d obviously like to use these channels to liaise with companies too. And it’s against that backdrop that Quiq is setting out to capitalize on the growing push toward messaging in customer service.

Quiq is a platform that makes it easy for businesses to integrate multiple messaging tools into their websites and apps, including SMS, Apple Messages (via Apple Business Chat), Twitter, Facebook Messenger, web chat, Kik, and Google’s RCS-based RBM. Quiq also enables companies to integrate messaging into their own native mobile apps, while it offers a one-way “broadcast” service for disseminating important messages to customers.

Today, Quiq announced that it has raised $12.5 million in a series B round of funding led by Foundry Group, with participation from Teamworthy Ventures, Venrock, and Next Frontier Capital. Prior to now, Quiq raised $6.5 million in a series A round of funding way back in 2016, and with its fresh cash influx it said that it plans to build out its platform to “make it smarter” through AI and bots “to deliver the next generation of conversational commerce,” according to a statement. It also plans to introduce what it calls the “first messaging-based shopping cart.”

“This investment validates our vision that digital engagement channels, like messaging and chat, are the future of consumer communications and that asynchronous messaging will be the foundation of the next generation enterprise contact center,” Quiq cofounder and CEO Mike Myer said.

How it works

When integrated into a website or app, the customer clicks on whatever options a business has made available — be it live web chat, SMS, Facebook Messenger, or the rest — and can instantly message the company.

Above: Quiq: 3 options

Customer service agents will then see all the inbound communications, aggregated in a single interface. Also, the Quiq platform can automatically group messages together from the same user, even if they message from different platforms — so if someone messages via SMS one day, and then Messenger the next (for example), it would all be in a single conversation.

Additionally, Quiq integrates with third-party platforms such as Salesforce, so if a customer contacts a company through other non-messaging channels (e.g. telephone), the information from this can also be funneled into the broader cross-channel conversation.

Above: Quiq’s desktop interface aggregates messaging options

In 2019, not all communications are carried out in a traditional human-to-human exchange. And that is why Quiq supports chatbots — this could be ones that a company has embraced itself, or alternatively Quiq also helps businesses create their own bots to automate elements of the conversation. This could be used if a human customer service agent isn’t available, to help route a query to the correct representative, to troubleshoot customer problems, or even garner feedback.

Above: Quiq bots: Routing, troubleshooting, feedback

It’s worth noting here that despite WhatsApp’s popularity in the messaging realm, it isn’t in fact supported by Quiq yet — something that Myer attributes to its focus on the domestic market.

“Quiq is focused on first growing our business in North America before international expansion,” Myer told VentureBeat. “WhatsApp has not been a high priority for our target companies in the U.S., but it’s certainly a messaging channel we plan to add in the future. Quiq’s has been architected to make it easy to plug in new messaging channels.”

In terms of pricing, Quiq doesn’t charge on a per-user basis — instead it adopts a usage-based approach, meaning the more conversations a company has with its customers, the more they will pay. A “conversation” is defined as any number of messages that are exchanged between the company and a customer in a 24-hour period.

By way of example, $500 per month will get a company 750 SMS conversations, 500 messaging chats, and 2000 outbound “broadcast” notifications. For $1,000 a month, those numbers are pretty much doubled, and if a company requires more, well, they’ll need to negotiate a price.

Above: Quiq pricing

The API economy

Quiq was founded out of Bozeman, Montana, in 2015 as Centricient, before changing its name two years later. The founding team, which includes CEO Mike Myer and William O’Neill, previously worked on a cloud-based customer service platform called RightNow, which was acquired by Oracle for $1.5 billion back in 2012. Oracle eventually rebranded the service as Oracle Service Cloud.

“Quiq’s team previously built RightNow, so we have a deep understanding of enterprise customer communications,” Myer said. “We’ve leveraged that background to evolve existing contact center concepts into a platform for the generation of asynchronous communications that seamlessly blends agents and bots, both native and third-party, into one customer conversation.”

Numerous companies have built big businesses off the back of communication APIs, such as Twilio, SendBird, and MessageBird, but Quiq’s focus on contact centers and enterprise customer communications sets this proposition apart. Moreover, its support for human agents, bots, and third-party integrations with the likes of Salesforce, Zendesk, and Oracle Service Cloud, in addition to its provision of performance related insights and data, positions Quiq as a serious tool for customer service agents and their managers.

“Large brands rely on Quiq to manage messaging at enterprise scale, which includes not just sending and receiving messages reliably at high volumes, but also the tools that contact center managers need to gauge agent performance and make sure every customer gets a response in a timely manner,” Myer added.

Source: VentureBeat

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