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Mark Baumgardner, VP Product at Velaro, explains that there has been a proliferation of live-chat service providers, which are more of messaging vendors having purpose-specific applications for messaging with different media channels. However, companies need an enterprise live-chat solution that integrates with their existing CRM systems, allows them to automate chat behavior, helps manage their sales reps, and customizes chat invitations as well as surveys to adhere to brand guidelines.
As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, Velaro provides live-chat software with click-to-call and intelligent engagement features. The company has been a leading provider of live-chat software built to support the unique needs of enterprise customers. In a recent interview with CIO Applications’ editorial team, Baumgardner discusses the prowess of his company and its future endeavors.
Tell us about the inception of the company.
Founded in 2000, Velaro is one of the first live-chat companies, specifically focused on live-chat. Being in the business for over two decades, we’ve got a lot of experience in this field, offering high-quality engagement with website visitors. We have no outside investors, and we’re the largest profitable privately-owned live-chat company in the industry. We have the best platform to allow live-chat agents to engage with their website visitors based on their current behavior or according to pre-defined business rules.
Through our platform, we have helped improve the performance of company websites to increase leads, online transactions, as well as improve customer service. The communication field is moving more toward a messaging scenario, which is not a true live-chat. As one of the first SaaS companies in the world, we hosted our application on our own servers, yet in 2015, we rolled out our second-generation solution, a cloud-based application on Microsoft Azure, while using our years of domain knowledge to continue advancing the live-chat market. We certainly want to be able to enable a live capability and provide that for our customers who require live features. However, we also need to address the concerns of customers and the need for them to be able to message from their desired location. Today the customer doesn’t always go to your website, you need to go to them, and messaging bridges that gap.
Our integrated software-as-a-solution platform is currently deployed on thousands of websites and is leveraged by companies from various sectors, including e-commerce, insurance, software, higher education, pharmaceutical, and healthcare. Our platform helps them optimize sales, deliver stellar service, and improve their rep productivity. We offer our Performance Management suite of in-depth analytics and reporting tools designed to drive agent excellence as well as customer satisfaction.
What are the major pain points faced by Velaro’s clients in the industry?
Several enterprises with complex customer engagement challenges consider us for their Omni-Channel needs. Many of them come to us for our API and data-level connections that we offer to CRM and ERP solutions. We have the highest quality integrations in the marketplace. We integrate at the API level, with the major players in the industry, allowing rich custom field and workflow mapping with companies such as Netsuite, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as with leading ticketing systems, marketing platforms, e-commerce systems (such as Adobe’s Magento) and content management systems.
We assist live-chat agents in engaging website visitors based on their current behavior or according to pre-defined business rules
Today, the highest cost for customers is the cost of the live agents (the human resource cost), and they are looking to do more with less and smaller budgets. To assist them with the same, we have implemented several advanced chatbot features that leverage rich artificial intelligence, including an entirely automated distribution without an agent. The human experience is of top importance at Velaro, so our Bots are very advanced, and mimic real-life conversations. A differentiator for us is the ability to detect sentiment of a conversation and transfer a chat seamlessly to a real live agent. Meanwhile, these moments if not positive, are logged real-time to allow administrators to fix these unnatural human experiences on the fly, preventing them from frustrating a customer in the future.
Whether a chatbot is on a webpage, an app, or a different channel, we can triage the visitors’ needs effectively. We also handle both pathways and a decision tree, button responses to hone in on specific responses, sophisticated rich controls such as fulfillment integrations or in combination with natural language phrasing and keyword detection for a more human like conversation flow.
The problem with bots is that the programming gets quite unwieldy over time. It should be restricted to conversational flow only, sticking to the goal of what is being presented in order to keep the overall communication seamless. We are separating the conversation from the content. We have a knowledge base that helps us enable effective content automation and can be utilized by an agent or a bot. Whether it’s a ticketing system or a knowledge base system, there is disparate information over several departments, such as marketing, sales, and support. Leveraging these information assets becomes a daunting task as enterprises don’t have access to all the required tools. Moreover, a ticketing system is most often a proprietary solution with a purpose that is specifically fit for internal problem-solving. This had been a major problem for larger customers that didn’t have any systems at hand to solve and meet the needs of a customer facing solution or one to specifically support their live chat and bot agents. We provide them with the ability to take this knowledge base and granularize it to make it deliverable and purpose fit.
Could you elaborate on the benefits of the solution provided by Velaro?
Enterprises are looking to have live agents augmented with automation to provide better service to customers while doing more with less. We have different webhooks that allow us to create a ticket or schedule appointments, which is very valuable for off-hours use to extend the reach of the live agent pool and to supplement agents.
We not only have an unlimited ability to intake customer’s data yet also have a robust workflow engine. We assist our customers to manage their customer engagement life cycle with our expression capable workflow engine that sits at the core of our solution. Our granular data capability is one of our biggest differentiators, which is why enterprises choose us. We also integrate with tools such as Microsoft Power BI, and all sorts of data cubes that allow enterprises to be able to crunch and dice their own data.
We also have a compliance model, unique to Velaro, which enables customers to offload all data entirely. In fact they can choose to never store data if that is what they prefer. It allows customers to track the transactions that occur while maintaining anonymity, so there’s no personal information or browser information stored. The encrypted data is offloaded real-time to a location of the customer’s choice, whether to the cloud or their own on-premise store. Moreover, we provide robust security and infrastructure with our offering. Whether it’s being compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, PCI compliance, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or offering Single Sign On and advanced two-factor authentication methods, we ensure our customers remain secure. The visibility of a given visitors’ strength across the events in the business life cycle is a key area that we are growing in, and we will continue to connect the dots, making our platform a key player in their omni-channel solution.
What does the future hold for Velaro?
We are continuing to advance our messaging offering and AI aspects. Our platform functions very well out of the box for most customers, yet when our customers require uniqueness, we are ready to integrate with any system, proprietary or not. Since the onset of the chatbots in the market, consumers don’t want to speak to live agents unless the chatbot is effective. We are currently moving into different channels, including asynchronous channels such as WhatsApp, iMessage and voice and audio commands within different apps and appliances. Since we support 100’s of languages, our goal is to continue focusing on some of the underserved and growing markets. We are already making great strides in Latin America and throughout Europe. Our aim is to be able to utilize these channels as effectively as possible to help our clients global keep growing.