Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: DigitalGenius

DigitalGenius uses artificial intelligence (AI) in combination with human agents to enable companies to scale their customer service operations across multiple channels. The UK startup’s deep learning algorithms, which are trained on historical customer service transcripts, are integrated directly into the contact center’s existing software. Once enabled, the platform aims to automate and increase the quality and efficiency of customer support conversations across text-based communication channels like email, chat, social media and mobile messaging. Companies using DigitalGenuis’ technology include KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

The UK startup started out by creating chatbots for big corporate customers. For example, early on DigitalGenius partnered with Unilever in a program called Unilever Foundry that helps startups link up with its 400-plus brands.

An AI chat service it developed allowed people in South Africa to use their basic phones to text the ingredients they had on hand at home to get advice from Unilever brand Knorr on what to cook for dinner.The service helped Knorr build personal profiles of customers in a database that was then used to push targeted campaigns of their new products. Knorr said it found that engagement was higher than with other digital channels and gave the company the opportunity to reach people it had not connected with before.

Working with Unilever Foundry gave DigitalGenius a new use case and opportunity for its technology in a new market. It is continuing to work with Unilever across multiple markets and brands, even after pivoting from its original model of AI-based chat services to using AI to automate and streamline customer relations, says DigitalGenius CEO and Co-founder Dmitry Aksenov.

“We had a lot of success building chatbots for Fortune 500 companies like BMW. Unilever and HSBC,” says Aksenov. “It gave us a nice start.” But the chatbots had to be customized for each customer. So, rather than remain a product company it decided to build a service which amounts to what he calls “easy AI with a flick of a button.”

“Customer service is a huge cost center and a big pain for a lot of companies,” says Aksenov. “Our solution automates and streamline customer relations, it learns from historical conversations and acts in assist mode to help the agent. This helps companies to double the capacity of a contact center without hiring any new agents.”

The system learns from the agents and, “ at some point it becomes as good as an agent in answering certain questions and handle cases without the involvement of an agent, delivering a huge ROI by automating complex tickets,” he says.

Scripted chatbots have earned a bad reputation because they don’ t always understand requests, leaving customers angry and frustrated. To avoid such problems DigitalGenius’ service “only starts automating when it is 95% certain that a right answer will be given so we don’t have wrong replies,” says Aksenov. “And we always have agents in the loop so if a system is stuck on one part of the journey we can plug into a human seamlessly and make a handoff.”

DigitalGenius has raised $26 million in venture capital. Its backers include Salesforce Ventures.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.