Thousands of companies all over the world use chatbots and virtual assistants as their primary channel for communicating with customers, generating leads, sales and customer service. ActiveChat aims to fill the gap that exists between the complexity of modern AI technology and today’s business teams who are trying to use it in real-life applications. The basic, visual generator is simple, and can be used to design multiple conversation flows for each specific use. These conversations can be easily deployed across multiple communication channels (Facebook Messenger, Telegram, SMS or website chat) with a single click. Even less experienced users are able to get great results with chatbots or virtual assistants that can be connected to various company assets (such as APIs, spreadsheets, calendars, etc.).
Virtual assistants help to reduce customer service costs, increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction levels, reduce wait times, and provide the business with a single, unified voice across multiple communication channels.
Andrii Ganin and Serg Kostiukov are the founders of ActiveChat. “We have known each other for over 20 years by now, and we had a number of entrepreneurial projects together, both successful and failed. We had a digital marketing agency, and we launched Activechat as a solution to our own problem. We needed a tool that would allow us to automate support and marketing communications for our clients, and all other similar tools just did not stand up to the job”.
Their courage and this initiative have led them to be a part of ICEX-Invest in Spain’s Rising UP in Spain programme, which focuses on attracting foreign entrepreneurs who want to set up and grow in Spain. The selected start-ups receive resources to develop their business in Spain.
Why did you focus on contact centre automation?
We focused our efforts on contact centre automation with AI because it is one of the most important and commonly used customer service channels. Automating contact centre operations with AI can help companies improve customer satisfaction, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
Some of the ways AI can help automate contact centre operations include:
- Automatic routing of contacts to the best available agent
- Identifying and responding to customer sentiment in real-time
- Providing recommendations for next steps or products based on customer interactions
- Automated chatbots that can handle simple customer inquiries
- Smart AI-generated hints for human agents, based on the total amount of company knowledge and previous conversations
We also looked at some of the challenges companies face when implementing AI in their contact centres, including data integration and management, system training and optimization, and regulatory compliance. Overall, we found that AI can play a significant role in automating contact centre operations, and that there are a number of ways companies can benefit from its implementation.
We were inspired by the need for a better chat software that could meet the needs of both businesses and their customers. We also saw a lot of potential in chatbots, and we wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for businesses to take advantage of this technology.
Your competitors’ platforms are either too simple or too complicated. What makes you special? Why should users pick ActiveChat?
We’ve designed ActiveChat to be the perfect balance of simplicity and power. We’ve stripped away all the unnecessary features that other platforms have, and focused on the essentials that users need to communicate effectively. At the same time, we’ve packed ActiveChat with powerful features that let users do more than ever before.
The main difference between Activechat and other customer service automation tools is the speed of development. Instead of weeks and months that are usually required to build a decent virtual assistant with natural language, we reduce time to market to days or even hours. We are able to train the machine learning model so that it would be able to respond to questions based on customer’s data even without designing the conversation structure manually (like most other platforms do).
Also, our platform has a robust AI engine that allows chatbots to learn and evolve over time. This ensures that chatbots always provide the best possible user experience.
Who exactly are those users? Who is committed to you?
We have two basic user segments, one for SMBs and another for larger enterprises. They use quite different sets of features within Activechat, but each of them is able to solve their specific tasks with our tool.
SMB customers are mostly marketers and small agencies, who use us for marketing communication automation, and e-commerce owners who do not have enough resources to build a substantial contact centre for their business.
In the enterprise segment, we’re mostly targeting large companies in telecom, utilities, law, and service industries. These companies have huge amounts of daily customer communication, and we can help them reduce support costs substantially.
How do things change for them after using ActiveChat? How do they improve? What feedback do you receive?
One of our customers (a law firm from U.K.) told us that introducing Activerchat completely re-defined their customer service routine and saved them 50% of the customer service budget.
Basically, we provide these customers not only with conversational AI that can help them solve frequent customer issues easily, but we also give them the tools to simplify the onboarding process of new contact centre employees and organise company knowledge base in an easily automated manner.
The biggest problem with chatbots in 2022 is not the technology itself (it’s already pretty awesome with the recent advances like natural language understanding and natural language generation), but how this technology is applied to specific business cases. And that is exactly where Activechat shines..
How did you develop your platform? What complications did you encounter on a technological level?
Building Activechat took quite a lot of time and effort. It has been a long journey, full of ups and downs. We had to solve a lot of complex technological problems to make it work as smoothly as it does now. One of our main goals was to make it easy for people to use, regardless of their technical skills. We are very happy with the end result and continue to improve it constantly.
We launched as a bot platform for SMB back in 2018, but since then we completely re-focused our efforts on serving enterprise customers and adding features that enterprises need in their day-to-day work. It was a necessary pivot, but it also required a lot of development work. We now have a product that can really make a difference for businesses and we are seeing great traction in the market.
The most complex thing for us was designing the internal framework of conversational automation that would be both easy to understand (it’s based on the natural human conversation in Activechat) and flexible enough to build even the most challenging automations.
Nowadays, conversations can be held easily over lots of different communication channels. How would you like to expand this service? What other channels would you like to be available on? What new features would you like to introduce?
Different channels are definitely something we are looking into. We want to make sure that end users can communicate with businesses however they want. We already have omnichannel capacities (supporting website chat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, e-mail and SMS). Right now, we are working on making our tool available on WhatsApp and Viber, and in other chat tools like Zendesk Chat, Hubspot, Intercom, or Salesforce. We are also working on introducing voice channels to make it easier to automate phone calls and self-service booths.
Why did you choose to apply to Rising UP in Spain?
As an early stage startup, we find it quite difficult to arrange direct introductions to large enterprise customers that we’re targeting. We noticed that Rising Up In Spain has quite a number of business partners, and we applied to the program because we are confident that we can help those companies build better customer communication. This approach worked quite well (we got great intros to companies like Mercadona or The Music Republic), and we’re establishing our company in Spain now to get more traction within the Spanish enterprise market.
How has it helped you set up in Spain? Why would you recommend it to other companies?
First of all, the program itself is absolutely awesome. The mentors, the networking, the content and the connections are extremely valuable.
Second, the help we received from the Spain Startup Program was incredible. They helped us connect with the right people, provided us with an office and introduced us to potential customers. Overall, we would highly recommend the Rising Up In Spain Program to any startup looking to set up in Spain. The program is also very well organised and structured, which makes it really easy to follow and get the most out of it.
What other support have you received in terms of investment or internationalisation?
We got an opportunity to apply for business visas for the whole team. Taking into consideration the current situation around Ukraine, it is a valuable asset that would definitely help us develop a business contingency plan in case the situation deteriorates.
Also, we’ve been introduced to a number of accelerators and investment funds, and we’re nearing our seed round in 2022.
Now we’re at the start of a new year, what goals have you set for yourselves? How are you hoping to grow and develop?
This year, we’re looking to attract more investment and increase our growth rate. We’ve been mostly a technical team so far, but participating in the Rising Up In Spain program helped us understand what key team members we need to add to make our product shine and attract more business customers.
We’re looking to grow our recurring revenue to amounts that would allow us to negotiate the Series A round later this year, and we’re utilising our new connections to build an international network of advisors who could help us grow faster.
In terms of product development, our efforts would be focused on introducing more AI-powered features into Activechat, to make it a one-of-a-kind customer service automation tool.
We’re confident that introducing Activechat to any customer service or contact centre operations could completely change the way companies talk to their clients, and we’re hungry for case studies to prove it. If your company has a substantial volume of daily customer communication, drop me a line at [email protected], I would be happy to connect!