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VirtuOz raises $7M for virtual customer service

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VirtuOz, creator of intelligent virtual agents that provide companies with customer service and tech support, has raised $7M in a new round of funding. The Emeryville, Calif. company, which was founded in Paris, plans to use the investment for growth in both the United States and Europe.

The company’s virtual agents, or chatbots, are programmed to automate sales support for large and mid-sized businesses. By helping online shoppers resolve issues or make purchase decisions, VirtuOz helps web sites cut labor costs. The company claims that its agents, equipped with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, can provide customer service to clients for one-tenth the cost of a traditional human support team.

Still, the virtual agents don’t eliminate the need for old-fashioned NLP completely. VirtuOz’s human counterparts need to train the agents to handle frequently asked questions, and the agents have the ability to escalate issues to human reps when necessary.

Founded in 2002, VirtuOz currently provides the largest number of virtual agents to the Global 2000. The company processes more than 12 million conversations per month for clients including L’Oreal, Michelin, Chegg and H&R Block. For the latter, VirtuOz’s agents help the tax preparation company answer customer inquiries about their taxes.

The latest round of funding comes from existing investors Mohr Davidow, Inventures Group and Galileo Partners. The company last raised $11.4M from the same investors in 2009.