[24]7 Gains Virtual Assistance Technology with IntelliResponse Acquisition

Adding to its already extensive customer service solutions menu, [24]7 has purchased intelligent virtual assistance provider IntelliResponse. The amount of the all-cash acquisition was not disclosed.

[24]7 already has a slew of customer solutions for big enterprises, including omnichannel, customer engagement, big data, and, now, self-service through virtual assistance. The Campbell, CA–based company's customers include Adobe, SiriusXM, and Lenovo. IntelliResponse, headquartered in Toronto, brings its own impressive customer stats from the burgeoning IVA market: It handles more 75 million transactions per year and has more than 450 global deployments, including five of the largest banks in North America, Duke Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City, Yale University, Optus, and Copa Airlines. Copa Airlines, which serves Latin America, has deployed an IVA, "Ask Ana," which now handles 50 percent of all of its interactions.

Kathy Juve, CMO at [24]7, says the company has spent the last seven years focused on building out its customer intent prediction and intent engines, adding that [24]7 intends to improve IntelliResponse's technology by front-ending the virtual assistant with its prediction technology.

Juve also said that although [24]7 had many customer service solutions, it only had elements of virtual assistant technology and wanted to fill that void.

"We were excited about filling that gap," she says. "Our vision—and this is what we're hearing from customers—is that we'll be able to provide a single platform specifically to handle the virtual assistance to chat hand-off. In addition, if the virtual assistant is unable to satisfy the customer's needs, [that customer] can call into a contact center or have a chat session with an agent. We'll be able to connect that and transfer the context of that and make it a much better experience for the customer. We think there's tremendous value there for our customers."

Mike Hennessy, CMO at IntelliResponse, says his company believes that self-service is the first point of contact for a consumer, and it's crucial from an engagement and experiential perspective that those connections are stitched together. "This should all be intertwined so that the experience doesn't get cut off at any point during the customer journey," Hennessy says.

"What we're finding is that the proliferation of self-service channels isn't necessarily removing the need for an IVR or assisted channels like chat; it just requires a consistent, omnichannel experience regardless of how or where the customer wants to start," he adds.

Both companies will remain in their current locations. IntelliResponse's employees will continue with the company, including CEO David Lloyd, who will become president of IntelliResponse, now called "IntelliResponse, a [24]7 company."

"I think [this deal is] tremendous for both companies," says Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research. "Intelligent assistants—aka virtual agents—can legitimately be seen as a key part of any company's mobile-first and omnichannel care strategy. IntelliResponse was already one of the market leaders, with hundreds of deployments. Its virtual agent technology will dovetail nicely with [24]7's suite of software and services."

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