Customer service tickets tend to fall into the same categories — returns, refunds, or quality control issues. Not only are they repetitive, but they leave little time for customer engagement on more complex requests, like conveying product information or helping a customer find the best product for them.
Maja Schaefer and Matt Ciolek, co-founders of zowie, believe that much of this repetitive work can be automated. They founded the company in 2019, combining their experiences working with an e-commerce startup in both product development and customer research.
“We realized that customer service was not being addressed by existing solutions because their implementation was too difficult,” CEO Schaefer told Ploonge. “It would take months to implement and then it would end up being difficult to maintain.”
They proposed chatbots to a customer as a solution to repeatable work, and after being tasked with building them in a matter of weeks, they came up with the Zowie idea.
Using AI-powered chatbots for customer service is nothing new. In the past year, we’ve seen companies like Forethought, Heyday, Cognigy, Landbot and Heyflow announce funding in this area.
However, Schaefer says some competitors require the company to enter responses and other workflow information into the tool. Instead, Zowie’s Zowie X1 technology does the work of automating request workflows specific to a product or brand right from the start. The company can analyze data in minutes and tell the customer what percentage of support tickets Zowie can handle, in some cases 50%.
Schaefer estimates that chatbots free up about two hours per agent per day, leaving them open to answering questions unanswered by the chatbot, solving more complicated problems, and turning more support into sales. On average, customers are able to make up to 45% more sales, he added.
After experiencing its revenue tripling between 2020 and 2021, the company decided to go after a funding round, raising $5 million in a seed round led by Gradient Ventures and 10xFounders, featuring Lattice CEO Jack Altman, from Giesswein CEO Markus Giesswein and returning investor. Inovo Ventures partners.
The company is working with around 100 clients, including Giesswein, Zendesk, Shopify, and Gorgias. She expects to use the funding for product development, marketing, sales and growth of the commercial team in the United States and across North America. Zowie currently has 36 employees and the plan is to double the staff this year.
Some of the product features the company plans to expand include automation across as many channels as possible, from websites to email and Whatsapp, and enabling features on the sales side so they can navigate the customer journey.
Darian Shirazi, general partner at Gradient Ventures, says his company was drawn to Zowie in part for its significant revenue traction in a short period of time and the businesses the founders are building.
“One of the differentiators 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 need to provide the knowledge base to answer the questions, and some companies don’t have the time to do that. We were looking into the chatbot space, and no one has done it well for e-commerce, which is a big vertical.”