Balto, which is developing a conversational AI platform for call centers, today announced the close of a $10 million round. A spokesperson said the capital will enable Balto to triple the size of its go-to-market team while bolstering product development.

With customer representatives increasingly required to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, companies are turning to AI to bridge resulting gaps in service. The solutions aren’t perfect — humans are needed even when chatbots are deployed — but COVID-19 has accelerated the need for AI-powered contact center messaging.

Balto’s AI listens to both sides of a conversation and visually prompts agents what to say next. A smart checklist feature reminds agents of the prescribed conversational flow, with Balto automatically checking each point off a list. Balto also offers voice-trigged dynamic prompts, including rebuttals, compliance statements, and product knowledge. Notifications give agents feedback on keywords, soft skills, and other habits, while reminders can be delivered via digital sticky notes, along with team leaderboard rankings.

Balto

On the backend, Balto offers a range of management features, including an agent performance dashboard that swiftly converts all customer calls into data. This data funnels into a portal that shows metrics for agent and team performance, as well as snippets of call transcripts. An accompanying win rate analysis tool analyzes the effectiveness of phrases across different agents, while a trend analysis feature shows agent, customer, and competitor trends in real time. Balto also offers a playbook designer managers can use to send winning phrases, important points, reminders, and more to agents’ machines.

Balto says it encrypts all data in transit and at rest. The thin client, which starts when agents begin a call and sits to the side of agents’ screens, is designed to work with any system that relies on headsets plugged into a computer to place calls.

There’s no shortage of competition in the AI-driven call center analytics space. Gong offers an intelligence platform for enterprise sales teams and recently nabbed $200 million in funding at a $2.2 billion valuation. Observe.ai snagged $26 million in December for AI that monitors and coaches call center agents. AI call center startups Cogito and CallMiner have also staked claims alongside more established players like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

But Balto says business has been booming during the pandemic, with the addition of customers like Empire Today, eHealth, and National General Insurance. Balto claims it has seen a 90-second average improvement in handle time and a 35% increase in conversion rates.

“COVID-19 has ripped the carpet out from under sales managers across the country,” Balto CEO and cofounder Marc Bernstein told VentureBeat via email. “Balto provides the real-time call guidance they need to empower agents and sales executives to work remotely. It’s like having a coach at your side during every call to help agents say the right thing at the right time … Customers are seeing 35% higher sales conversion rates, 75% faster ramp time for new agents. One customer said their close rate was up 132%. We’re ready to roll out to new enterprises, and this funding will pave that path.”

Sierra Ventures led today’s series A, with participation from Jump Capital, OCA Ventures, Cultivation Capital, and others. The round brings the company’s total raised to over $14 million.

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