During the pandemic especially, it's become overwhelming for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to answer all of their customer service requests. A Freshworks survey found that companies experienced a 71% increase in overall contact volume between February 2020 and January 2021, and expect it to increase further. At the same time, customers -- while empathetic -- have become more demanding. The same poll shows that 68% of customer service managers have seen an increase in customer expectations.
What's a company to do? Automation is one route to more manageable customer experience workloads, potentially. Enter Tidio, a platform that aims to become a one-stop shop for companies corresponding with customers across different channels (e.g., email and SMS). Leveraging a combination of live chat apps and AI-powered chatbots, as well as analytics, Tidio attempts to scale customer service operations even at small companies without the benefit of dedicated staff.
Customer service automation platforms like Tidio aren't exactly cutting edge. To name a few, there's Ultimate.ai, a data-ingesting, bot-builder platform and Ushur, which offers a service for businesses to create AI-based communication flows. Ada also slots into the category -- it features chatbots powered by a natural language processing engine.
What makes Tidio stand out, co-founder and CEO Tytus Gołas asserts, is its simplicity in terms of implementation and structure. Tidio integrates with third-party services including email providers, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress and Shopify, allowing teams to manage customer interactions from a shared inbox. Plans range from free for two users to $332.50 per month (billed annually) for unlimited users and other extras.
Creating a conversation flow using Tidio's visual dashboard. Image Credits: Tidio
"Most of our clients get Tidio up and running within minutes and are seeing the value of our product within the same day. Our impact is twofold -- you can streamline communication and increase your sales with our chatbot functionality," Gołas told TechCrunch in an email interview. "[O]ur chatbots and sales generation features have a direct impact on return on investment and help increase sales and revenue -- sometimes covering the entire cost of the Tidio subscription in one day."
Tidio is the brainchild of Gołas and Marcin Wiktor, who co-founded the company in 2013. What started as a digital advertising agency targeted at SMBs evolved into a development house for online marketing tools, one of which was Tidio. After the tool gained traction, Gołas and Wiktor decided to pivot and make it their focus.
Investors endorsed the move. Today, Tidio announced that it raised $25 million in a Series B round led by PeakSpan Capital with participation from Inovo Venture Partners and InPost CEO Rafał Brzoska, bringing Tidio's total raised to $26.8 million,
Tidio provides a list of visitors on a company's website, which owners can use to interact with them in various ways -- either in real time (via chat) or automatically (via chatbot). For example, the platform can be programmed to send a "Welcome back" message to a return customer along with a unique discount code. Tidio also captures information like the source of web traffic, the amount of time customers spend on particular webpages and which products are viewed most often.
"We are using our custom dataset and state-of-the-art models to improve the language understanding capabilities of our models," Gołas said. "[One of these models] automatically detects any question topics in each new chat conversation. The platform then groups the topics by popularity, with the system recommending a user configure their [chatbot] to automate answers to the most common customers' questions, such as those pertaining to order status, shipping status and returns."
This type of automation -- assuming it works as advertised -- can save businesses time on repetitive tasks, Gołas argues, allowing them to focus on building customer relationships. Of course, not all customers prefer to speak with chatbots, and privacy-forward browsers might obfuscate the customer data Tidio collects for personalization. But the startup's sales pitch seemingly won over the more than 23,000 businesses that currently pay for Tidio, which used the platform to automate over 86,000 conversations in the last month alone.
Gołas says that Tidio has been cash-flow positive and seen 7.7x revenue growth for the last three years -- further highlighting the demand. The company claims that its platform is used by more than 510 million unique users and 3% of the merchants on Shopify.
"Customer experience is very often connected with how businesses are communicating with customers and they can see excellent results by showing that they care and understand their customers' problems," Gołas said. "With that in mind, it's imperative that Tidio give store owners the space and time to have those meaningful conversations."
Tidio plans to put the new capital toward marketing and expanding its 140-person workforce. The company aims to hire 100 people in the next year.