Twilio rival MessageBird launches Inbox, an AI-powered contact center
European Twilio rival MessageBird has launched a new all-in-one, AI-powered contact center as it enters the billion-dollar customer service software market.
Inbox, as the product is called, is a cross-channel customer service platform that’s pitched as the “Slack for external communications,” according to a statement, enabling companies to accept customer service requests from messaging apps, SMS, voice, and email — all from a single interface. It also leans on AI and automation to anticipate what a customer might be looking for, detect sentiment and intent, translate between languages, and more. Inbox will be available for free to companies with up to five customer service agents and 500 customer contact threads — above that, it will offer customized pricing depending on the number of agents and customers.
MessageBird is entering a space that is well covered by the likes of Zendesk and Freshworks, which also provide customer service teams with automated tools to manage customer interactions. But Inbox is a notable addition to the mix, given its existing roster of high-profile clients, which includes Uber, DoorDash, SAP, and Huawei. During its trial phase, Inbox was used by major brands like HelloFresh and Deliveroo in Europe, and MessageBird is ideally positioned to upsell or cross-sell to its existing customers.
Founded in 2011, Amsterdam-based MessageBird has until now offered developers a cloud-based communications platform that makes it easy for them to introduce chat and messaging functionality to their own apps through APIs. This saves them having to develop costly hardware infrastructure if they decide they need text- and voice-based features in their own services. The Y Combinator alum had bootstrapped its way to profitability before it raised a substantial $60 million series A round back in 2017 from Accel, Atomico, and Y Combinator.
MessageBird is now going the whole nine yards in terms of enabling companies to tap the full gamut of modern communication channels and keep their users and customers happy. With Inbox, companies are promised a speedy setup processs, after which they can accept inbound messages from WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Apple Business Chat, Line, WeChat, RCS, Telegram, email, SMS, voice, and more.
“With no developer resources required, businesses can deploy Inbox in less than 60 seconds and get started on the road to more modern customer engagements,” said MessageBird CEO Robert Vis.
Inbox collates everything from a customer inside a single thread and includes support for videos, images, and geo-location services.
Above: Inbox by MessageBird offers companies a unified, “omnichannel” contact center
Companies can also connect Inbox to other internal tools as part of their preferred workflows, including Salesforce, Jira, Shopify, HubSpot, Google Calendar, and Slack, so a customer service agent can add to customer profiles using information gleaned from other data sources or escalate issues or requests to more suitable people in the company.
Above: Inbox connects to third-party tools such as Slack
Of course, there are many other customer service software solutions out there already, which is why MessageBird is pitching the automated and AI elements of Inbox — many of which stem from its existing Flow Builder toolset — as core selling points.
For example, Inbox can automatically detect the language a request is made in and route it to an agent with the necessary language skills — or translate the message. It also promises sentiment analysis, whereby companies can establish the emotional state of a customer and take appropriate action, as well as monitoring whether overall sentiment is improving over time.
Additionally, Inbox will suggest automatic replies based on the content and context of a sender’s message, with the agency able to click on a suitable response.
Above: Inbox by MessageBird features clickable responses that change depending on the nature of the query.
Companies can also manually configure Inbox so alerts are triggered based on specific keywords in messages, for example, or they can create automatic responses with key information when a business is closed. The specific nature of an enquiry may also impact who is best placed to deal with a customer’s request, which is why companies can set up smart ticket routing that takes into account the context of an inbound message and ensure it’s sent to the correct agent.
“As the world becomes more mobile, few of us want to pause our day and wait on hold for a customer support agent,” Vis said. “Consumers increasingly want to interact with businesses on their own timelines using the communication channels they prefer.”
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