A SalesTechStar Chat with Olivier Pailhes: on Aircall’s Funding of $120M and $1B Valuation
Leading cloud-based voice platform provider Aircall recently announced a $120M Series D funding round led by Goldman Sachs; CEO at Aircall – Olivier Pailhes has a chat with SalesTechStar to discuss the funding further as well as what it means for the company and contact center industry:
Hi Olivier, congratulations on the recent funding and valuation! What are your comments on the impact of this to the contact center industry and the future of Aircall?
Thank you, we are excited to share the news and are thrilled with Aircall’s quick growth. With this fundraise, we can continue our mission of changing how professionals use the phone on a daily basis.
Over the past year, companies of all sizes experienced an accelerated growth in their digital transformation, and at the same time, their customers increased their expectations around personalized and convenient service. Aircall’s cloud based phone solution modernizes the customer experience and enables support and sales agents to have smarter conversations. We always had the powerful drive to help millions of professionals create better communication between them and their customers. We are dedicated to ensuring that our investments in our technology will continue to empower professionals to have richer business conversations. We believe that three key focus areas drive customer interest, and loyalty. These focus areas are call analytics, conversational context, and speech recognition. These three themes will be implicated in Aircall’s product roadmap to deliver rich and insightful moments between our customers and theirs. With the funding from this recent announcement, we’ll be investing in improving our technology with new AI capabilities and additional productivity features for call centers, including machine learning, sentiment analysis, and insights. We are hoping that our work in improving our technology will positively impact the call center industry as a whole and show that investing in customer experience and partnerships help produce both productivity, and better moments through richer conversations.
How are you seeing the contact center industry shift today and what are some key features and technologies that you feel are changing the game for this market?
Over the past few years, changing consumer behavior and digital transformation have been driving innovation for contact center technology. CCaaS and UCaaS are emerging as the two core models, which opens the door for growth among cloud-based contact center solutions like Aircall.
Productivity in communication is a cornerstone of competition for companies and brands, so any technology that prioritizes this, will be game changing for the market. We recognized this early on and built Aircall as an API first product that existing tools can be built on top of. We believe the future of the market will be in developing application ecosystems with integrations that allow for any possible use case and fully customized usage within existing processes & workflows.
Can you talk about the impact of AI on contact centers and how AI powered technologies will create a new mode of work?
The impact of AI is yet to become significant, especially in its widespread use, whereby it becomes pervasive in customer interactions and helps enrich or automate what can be, and focus conversations on the most interactive human to human moments. Hence our roadmap and future investments.
Can you share five major trends that you feel will dominate contact centers in the near future?
There are a few trends that are shaping the future of the call center.
The first trend is the use of AI and machine learning. AI and ML have become a large part of customer service over the past year and continue to take the call center industry by storm.
The second trend with a strong impact in our sector this year is hybrid and remote work. According to a recent McKinsey study, nine out of ten organizations will be combining remote and on-site working.
We believe that hybrid work is already reshaping customer service, while changing how businesses operate and work with their customers.
Another trend that will dominate call centers shortly is the number of enterprise businesses switching over to cloud call centers. With the increasing demand for premium customer service, call centers are taking a new form to fit within the hybrid workspace and meet the ever-growing needs of their customers. Cloud call centers allow businesses to keep a group of customer service agents ready and available within a close range and understand regional and national customer needs.
This trend ties directly into the fourth trend I am going to speak about, digital transformation. At the beginning of the year, many companies were scrambling to find a foothold in the digital space. It is about how to integrate the existing digital model and the news hybrid model of customer interaction.
The final trend, not new to telecommunications but significant enough this year, is the rise of customer expectations. According to a recent Stella Connect survey, 50 percent of consumers said that COVID-19 had increased the prioritization of customer service. Another 67 percent of respondents expressed less patience for bad customer experiences due to the ongoing pandemic.
Customers now know the best of in-person service and the best digital service – and expect nothing but the best. They will no longer stand for subpar service. Therefore, call centers must continue to focus on improving their technology to impact the call center industry as a whole positively.
A few thoughts on the future road map / journey at Aircall?
At Aircall we’re on a journey to change how the phone is used. Every conversation should be a delightful one, and the platform we build will continue to be aimed at enriching conversations. This means developing a communication ecosystem that allows people to have productive conversations no matter where or how they start. We plan to innovate our technology to cover all use cases. Aircall is building the ecosystem for voice that doesn’t force businesses to choose between a modern phone solution and their favorite business tools.
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