When your company employs thousands or tens of thousands of employees across numerous divisions, providing consistently great customer service isn’t easy. But it’s far from impossible — particularly if you’re willing to embrace an omnichannel solution. That’s the pitch Gladly, a company founded by serial entrepreneur Joseph Ansanelli, has been giving prospective customers since 2015. And it’s not just talk — the San Francisco startup recently added Godiva to its growing customer roster (which already included JetBlue and Tumi), and it was recently honored with RTech’s CEO Forum Innovation Award.
On the heels of those wins, Gladly today announced that it has secured $50 million in series D financing led by Future Fund and Glynn Capital, with participation from existing investors Greylock Partners, GGV Capital, and New Enterprise Associates. This comes after a $50 million series C and $36 million series B and brings Gladly’s total raised to $113 million.
“The way people communicate every day has significantly changed, so the way companies talk to their customers also needs to,” said Ansanelli, who serves as CEO. “Gladly is disrupting the decades-old customer service space by getting back to its roots — focusing on the customer at the center of customer service. [It’s] resonating with top brands who care about building enduring relationships with their customers.”
Gladly’s software-as-a-service platform collates customer service interactions from multiple channels — including voice, email, messaging, Facebook Messenger conversations, WhatsApp messages, and Twitter conversations — in a single web dashboard. Agents see text messages, voicemail messages, and more inline as those communications come in and have the freedom to respond to each one with built-in messaging tools.
A helpful header distinguishes the purpose of each request — i.e., rescheduling or booking — and a customer profile viewer displays key account details. JetBlue reps, for instance, might see customers’ frequent flyer numbers, seat preferences, upcoming reservations, accumulated rewards points, and travel history.
The end goal is to build relationships that drive revenue and repeat business by meeting customers where they are, Ansanelli said, and by improving efficiency. Roughly 71 percent of customers use at least three channels to communicate, and for customers like JetBlue, quality of service has implications beyond happy ticket holders. A recent study by Watermark Consulting found that airlines with the highest customer satisfaction ratings perform better on the stock market than those with low ratings.
“Legacy 20th-century customer service is centered around the idea that customer service is a workflow problem solved with case management. But treating customers as cases … doesn’t build the kind of relationships that last a lifetime,” he said.
Gladly appears to be well on its way. The startup’s platform enables JetBlue’s 3,000 agents to service 40 million customers annually, and it helped the airline nab the third spot last year in the American Customer Service Satisfaction Index.
Luggage brand Tumi is another satisfied customer. Gladly’s service allowed the Samsonite subsidiary to begin accepting service requests on social media and to keep better tabs on cross-channel scenarios, such as when a customer sends an email and then follows up by phone.
“[W]e sell durable goods that are meant to last a long time, which means we need to have a durable relationship with our clients [that is] meant to last a lifetime,” said Charlie Cole, chief digital officer at Tumi and global chief ecommerce officer at Samsonite. “Gladly allows companies to move beyond the 30-day transactional mindset and move toward a goal of true lasting relationships with their customers.”
Gladly isn’t the only customer care solution in town, of course. There’s Saleforce’ ServiceCloud and ticketing systems like Freshdesk and Zendesk, along with nearly 1,500 others with an average valuation of $4.5 million, according to investment site AngelList.
But Ansanelli argues that Gladly’s laser focus on the customer experience sets it apart from incumbent and upstart competitors alike.
“Legacy 20th-century customer service platforms were never intended to support 21st-century customers,” Ansanelli said. “The legacy ticket- and case-based systems were never built with the way consumers communicate today in mind.”