Customer service tickets tend to fall into the same few buckets — returns, refunds or quality control questions. Not only are these repetitive, but it leaves little time for customer engagement on more complex requests, like relaying information on products or helping a customer find the best product for them.
Maja Schaefer and Matt Ciolek, co-founders of Zowie, believe much of that repetitive work can be automated. They founded the company in 2019, blending their experiences of working with an e-commerce startup on both the product development and customer survey sides.
“We realized that customer service was not being solved by existing solutions because their implementation was so hard,” CEO Schaefer told TechCrunch. “It would take months to implement and then end up being hard to maintain.”
They proposed to a client chatbots as a solution for repeatable work, and after being tasked with building those in a matter of weeks, they had the idea for Zowie.
Using AI-powered chatbots for customer service is not new. In the past year, we saw companies like Forethought, Heyday, Cognigy, Landbot and Heyflow announce funding in this area.
However, Schaefer says some competitors require the company to input responses and other workflow information into the tool. Instead, Zowie’s Zowie X1 technology does the job of automating the request workflows specific to a product or brand from the very beginning. The company can analyze data in minutes and tell a customer the percentage of support tickets Zowie can support, in some cases 50%.
Schaefer estimates the chatbots free up about two hours per agent per day, leaving them open to take on questions not answered by the chatbot, resolve more complicated issues and turn more support into sales. On average, customers are able to realize up to 45% more sales, she added.
After experiencing its revenue tripling between 2020 and 2021, the company decided to go after a round of funding, raising $5 million in a seed round led by Gradient Ventures and 10xFounders, with participation from Lattice CEO Jack Altman, Giesswein CEO Markus Giesswein and returning investor Inovo Venture Partners.
The company is working with about 100 customers, including Giesswein, Zendesk, Shopify and Gorgias. She expects to use the funding on product development, marketing, sales and growth of the commercial team in the United States and across North America. Zowie has 36 employees currently and the plan is to double the team this year.
Some of the product features the company is looking to expand include automation across as many channels as possible, from websites to email to Whatsapp, and to enable features on the sales side so they can navigate through the customer journey.
Darian Shirazi, general partner at Gradient Ventures, says his firm was attracted to Zowie, in part by its significant revenue traction in a short period of time and the business that the founders are building.
“One of the differentiations we saw when looking at Zowie was that it was the first AI chatbot for e-commerce that generates your knowledge base,” he said. “Others have to provide the knowledge base to answer the questions, and some companies don’t have time to do that. We’d been looking in the chatbot space, and no one has done it well for e-commerce, which is a massive vertical.”