Aircall Aims to Put the Call Center into Every Agent's Pocket



Aircall made a splash at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference earlier this week with the debut of its mobile customer service application. For growing companies that need to expand their customer support teams, opening and operating a call center can be costly and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be, Aircall founder Olivier Pailhes says.

Aircall enables companies to use an app to run a customer support team virtually. Agents log in using the app, and calls are routed to them with the same level of sophistication present at physical calls centers—calls can be routed by location, expertise, language, and other factors. The system even allows calls from specific customers to be directly connected to specific agents.

Pailhes spoke to Smart Customer Service about what makes the company tick.  

Smart Customer Service: Where did the idea for Aircall originate and how does the technology work?

Olivier Pailhes: We built it from a specific use case: a company that operates in various countries, whose employees are not always at the office. We wanted to find a solution to distribute their customer service calls across apps using only the devices that they have with them at all times. Essentially, what the product does is get numbers instantly from anywhere in the world and assign those local telephone numbers to customer service agents, regardless of where they are physically. The only thing the teammates need to do is download an app to their Windows phone or iPhone, and they can receive calls and call out.

Smart Customer Service: How will Aircall be filling a gap in the market?

Pailhes:  Our product is typically for SMBs and midsize businesses. To get this level of functionality in those markets, you essentially have go with consumer solutions that do not have all the business features required. Our customers were using Grasshopper or even Skype. And in terms of other software, you don't get much product integration. If you want the business components and scalability, you have to go into much more complex software. But those aren’t solutions that just anyone can set up—you need technical knowledge. There wasn't anything in the marketing that offered [depth of functionality] as well as simplicity.

Smart Customer Service: What are some of the integrations that you currently offer?

Pailhes: The three deep integrations are with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Desk.com. Agents that use either of those three solutions can access Aircall directly through the respective systems, without having to open the AirCall app. For example, you go into Salesforce and use Aircall directly through the Salesforce dashboard. There's a deep sense of synchronization. That way, when someone calls you through Aircall, you've got the customer profile in front of you, you can log the call, and add comments. And on the front end, you can just dial directly from Salesforce, Zendesk, and Desk.com, and the call will launch using any of your AirCall numbers. We also have a backend integration with Hubspot, and we're going to add Zoho, Sugar CRM, and others.

Smart Customer Service: Do you think customer service is going to become more mobile-centric across the board?

Pailhes: It's really all about the end of the office as a workplace, right? Our customers come to work at the office, but they can also be on the go, at home, or virtually anywhere. The one thing that they always have with them is their mobile device, and that's what they would use for work. They want to be able to use all the tools that they had on a fixed desk, but on mobile devices. Things are changing; everything is remote and the office as a workplace is on its way out.

Smart Customer Service: So what's next for you as a company?

Pailhes: At this moment we are fundraising to build up the team in the United States. We started the company in France, but we are moving some teams here. We just hired the first U.S. employees last week. On the product side, the next big thing is integrating text messages. We're going to introduce that feature in three weeks.

So far, the company has raised $800,000 in Europe, and is aiming to raise $2 million from U.S. investors. One-third of the company's 400 customers are based in the U.S., and as of last month, the company is seeing 40 percent growth from month to month.

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