The good news about social media for brands is that it can amplify good word-of-mouth quickly and widely.
The bad news: It can do the same for bad word-of-mouth. Which is why many brands are paying more attention to managing customer inquiries and complaints through social networks.
Sparkcentral specializes in providing software for managing socially based customer support at scale. Today, the company is announcing it has scored $12 million to help brands keep up with social.
“Enterprises who want to offer premium levels of customer support through these modern channels are challenged with delivering personalized engagement to thousands of people who contact them on a daily basis,” CEO and cofounder Davy Kestens told VentureBeat via email.
The Sparkcentral cloud-based customer engagement platform, he said, “caters specifically to customer care teams within these large enterprises,” so they can provide real-time social customer service.
The platform, for instance, generates a profile for each social customer, automatically prioritizing conversations and routing them to the customer support team.
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Kestens noted that industry research firm Gartner calls this kind of platform a CRM (customer relationship management) Customer Engagement Center to reflect the ability to entice customers with an upsell, for instance, rather than simply answering a question or fending off a complaint.
He told us that “a large part of the new funding will go towards product development, focusing on adding new levels of CRM functionality, such as event-driven customer segmentation, prioritization, and proactive engagement.” It will also be used to grow development, tech support, and sales in the newly opened European headquarters in Belgium.
To date, Sparkcentral has raised about $17.6 million, but Kestens said he expects to raise more in the coming year to support the company’s “aggressive scaling plans and tremendous traction among large enterprises.” The company said it grew by 60 percent in the last quarter, and today boasts such customers as T-Mobile, Delta Airlines, Uber, and Sears.
A variety of software solutions are being offered to brands to handle the social media opportunity/dilemma, ranging from customer service-focused companies like Kana and Conversocial to social customer service embedded in large multi-function clouds, like Salesforce’s Service Cloud.
Kestens told us that, when “Sparkcentral started in the social media space, we were originally more competitive to social media management solutions such as Sprinklr, where Sparkcentral’s focus on customer service within social was the key differentiator.”
As Sparkcentral expands to include other kinds of customer contact functions, he said, it “is running up against different tiers of solution providers, mainly established CRM companies.”
With over five dozen global brands using the platform, he added, Sparkcentral “has replaced instances of Salesforce Service Cloud, SAP, Adobe, and Genesys, to name a few.”
This Series B round was led by Split Rock Partners, with participation from existing investor Sigma West.
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