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February 3, 2022
Dave Feliu is fairly new to his position as channel chief at SupportLogic, a company that has created technology to predict and prevent customer escalations. Feliu has more than 20 years’ experience in the channel. Since he took the SupportLogic role in October, he’s wasted no time in developing, as he describes it, a “boutique” partner initiative.
SupportLogic’s Dave Feliu
Feliu has rolled out the Partner Experience Plus, or PX+ program, which provides a “white glove approach” to developing partnerships. In three months, the company has garnered seven new partners and plans to get to 20 by year’s end. As Feliu puts it, “I really want them to feel like they’re being paid attention to. And over the years, I’ve found that gets difficult to do the larger your organization is. So we’re going to do a lot with fewer, more focused partners that we can really work with day in and day out.”
SupportLogic’s existing partners include CSS Corp., a global customer experience (CX) company, and Arcsona, which helps financial institutions use big data.
SupportLogic provides customers with a support experience platform, one that integrates its software with that of companies such as Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow, Slack and Microsoft Teams. They have relationships with big players, but SupportLogic’s executives still call the five-year-old firm a startup. Last October, SupportLogic got $50 million in Series B funding to expand the technology which, in basic terms, helps contact centers, or support centers, decipher heaps of data. The company will also use the money to hire across sales, marketing, engineering and product departments, as well as for R&D, Feliu said. Additionally, it will use the funding to support marketing efforts to further establish the support experience (SX) category.
What has SupportLogic accomplished since it founded? Typically, it has helped companies like Snowflake, Nutanix, Databricks, and Fivetran reduce overall contact center escalation by 40%. Case review time is down by 65% and operational costs have seen a 35% reduction for some of these companies. Their clients experience 25% reduction in churn.
What makes SupportLogic unique among the other companies providing AI-powered software support? Feliu discusses this. He also tackles how the pandemic has influenced the company, and why SupportLogic’s technology is beneficial to both retain customers and employees.
Channel Futures: What makes SupportLogic different compared to other firms in the SaaS space?
Dave Feliu: SupportLogic is really the first of its kind. We’re creating our own category as the first support experience management platform. Essentially what that means is we’re using AI, machine learning, and natural language processing (NPL) to extract signals from customer interactions. We then predict with pinpoint accuracy which cases are going to escalate. So, when it comes to the support experience, historically there has been very little visibility into the voice of the customer. That’s what we’re solving for today.
In the support world, the cost per ticket varies from company to company. It could be a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars. If companies are experiencing 20%-40% of their cases escalating, it becomes incredibly costly. Also, it’s potentially damaging to their reputation.
CF: On the company’s website it says that there are more than 30 signals your AI models look for to determine escalations. What are some of those signals?
DF: Our AI models are going to look for things like a sense urgency. It will pinpoint different words and phrases that help the model determine whether a customer is likely to churn or if a customer is likely to escalate. It’s not just flagging words; it’s also looking at context. Just because someone said “angry” doesn’t make it an angry customer. We’re re-reading the ticket in near real time. When I say near real time, I mean that the ticket is …
… entered, created and reread by our system within five minutes.
CF: How does your company handle security issues for the customer?
DF: It’s important to note that our technology is built on Google Cloud. And each one of our customers gets their own virtual private cloud. So, there’s no co-mingling of data or security issues.
CF: SupportLogic’s mantra says it harnesses the power of unstructured data. Could you explain what that means?
DF: Structured data is typically viewed as data that sits in a relational database. So those would be things like phone numbers, addresses, and names. Unstructured data is voice, text, emails, chat; those are the things we’re harnessing in ticketing systems. I recently read that something like 80% of data is considered unstructured. So if a customer has a voice call coming into their support center, it’s transcribed, and the support agent can attach that transcription to the ticket. Then we can work our magic in extracting that unstructured data and making sense of it. If it lives in the CRM system, or that system of record, that’s where SupportLogic is going to do what we do.
CF: SupportLogic is not the only firm of its kind using natural language processing, so what makes it different for your company?
DF: I have this conversation regularly with partners, even customers. They ask: “Isn’t everyone using AI, and natural language processing (NLP) in one form or another?” We’re not a conversational AI solution. We’re purpose-built for support and there are no other companies that do what we’re doing. In fact, our customers are our biggest competition. Many have tried to create their own support experience platform, leveraging their internal data scientists. Eventually they decide to go with SupportLogic. That’s not to say that other companies can’t use their AI and NLP capabilities to do what they’re doing. We’re just the only company purpose-built toward language for rather complex situations.
And, honestly, that’s what attracted me to the company. There are so many markets that are so crowded, especially in analytics and AI. What attracted me is that we are carving out our own category.
CF: Before SupportLogic, what was your professional background?
DF: I’ve been in the channel for over 20 years. I started my career at Computer Associates, now known as Broadcom. I spent close to eight years there in various channel positions. From there, I’ve been involved in everything from cybersecurity companies to managed service companies to cloud hosting and data centers. More recently, I’ve gotten into the voice of the customer type technologies. That’s everything from conversational AI to what we’re doing at SupportLogic now.
CF: As channel chief, you’ve been in the position for just a few months. What does your everyday work look like in that role?
DF: Coming on board with a startup, there was a need to grow our revenue. This was only going to be done by implementing a partner program. And that’s why I came into the picture. In the beginning I had to outline the blueprint for what the partner agreements were going to look like. I had to figure out what those contracts were going to look like. [Also], I had to calculate margins. I had to determine …
… marketing development funds, education and enablement. I had to lay all of that out because it didn’t exist. And I created these initiatives based on my years in the channel listening to what partners had to say. I know what they don’t like and what they do like. I’ve been able to hire someone who will be the channel sales professional for us. I’m making phone calls, doing outreach, and finding partners who are selling CRM technology. I’m rolling up my sleeves and going out there and evangelizing.
CF: Are you able to mention some of the partners you already have?
DF: We’re working very selectively with the technology distribution world. For example, we just completed the onboarding with TBI. We’ve included a little bit of the technology distribution folks, some global players in the CX space, and regional boutique service providers. We have a diverse showing and that’s super deliberate on my part. I’ve seen a lot of partner programs not succeed when they’ve put all their eggs in one basket. I think we have a platform that lends itself to these different sorts of solution providers. We also want the providers to be able to deliver the services. We’ll never compete with our partners on services. People don’t just want to resell; they want that added value. A lot of that added value comes in services.
CF: How did SupportLogic fare throughout the pandemic, and how did its tools help clients in this period?
DF: Overall, even when I speak with my colleagues representing different companies and different technologies, I think a lot of people were very pleased with how businesses thrived through the pandemic. I know there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. Will we reach our goals? Will we have to have layoffs? Obviously, some businesses were hurt. Speaking of the customer support side, we did very well, and not just because of the technology. The technology speaks for itself. It’s the fact that a lot of folks were working remotely and working from home. Technologies like ours really helped. There was still a lot of visibility in the voice of the customer. The remote work helped to really drive business in a positive direction.
CF: SupportLogic held a webinar recently about the great resignation. How does such a topic relate to your company?
DF: When we talk about support experience, we focus on our customers’ customers. On the flip side, through our technology, through our platform, we’re also listening to the support center agent. Yes, we must concern ourselves with retaining our customer’s customers, but we also must be cognizant about our customers retaining their employees. On the agent side, our signals do monitor whether politeness is shown to customers, was their empathy involved, things like that. In addition, our platform does recommend with the AI model which agent should handle which calls.
Typically, agents and cases are randomly matched. Our software examines the agent skillset, how they’ve handled cases like this in the past, can they handle the workload. Our model makes a predictive suggestion about which agent should be assigned to which ticket. We can also look at what agents need help in certain areas. Yes, this is a support experience platform, but at the same time there’s an agent facing piece. We want to be able to help with agent coaching so that they’re not unhappy. All of this helps retain employees.
Read more about:Agents
Claudia Adrien is a reporter for Channel Futures where she covers breaking news. Prior to Informa, she wrote about biosecurity and infectious disease for a national publication. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and resides in Tampa.
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