When I spoke with Janos about his company way back in early 2017, this is what I had to say:
“The past year has seen a boom in chatbots, which have become a buzzword in the tech industry, most particularly with retailers and big brands. StartupYard this year handled dozens of applications for chatbot startups, but despite the buzz, none of these seemed to us to have really discovered the inherent value of automating customer interaction on social media, and in customer care. Chatbots are not a new idea, after all, and much of the recent hype has come thanks to Facebook opening its platform for 3rd party developers, which has spurred renewed interest in new applications for chat.”
Today these words seem more true than before. Today, brands and marketers are facing the prospect of decreased access to their customers across social media channels, prompting them to rethink their social strategies, and put even more emphasis on chat and messaging.
Though we still get applications for chat-bot related startups (and we even took another in Batch 8: OptioAI, which has gone on to join TechStars), finding an immediate recognizable value for end-users remains a big challenge. So we’ve been very pleased with our choices so far, as both companies have been able to prove that the genre can be leveraged into compelling and useful products that people really value.
I sat down to catch up with Janos about his team’s experiences since leaving StartupYard nearly a year ago, and see what Chatler has accomplished in that time.
Here’s an overview of what I learned, and a look at how Chatler sees the near future for chat, and for itself:
Big Brands Love Chat (and Chatler)
Since finishing at StartupYard, Chatler has signed The Coca-Cola Company as a paying customer in 3 markets, Czechia, Hungary, and Serbia.
Chat via Facebook messenger is a growing category for major brands, who see chat volume increasing faster than any other channel. In addition, recent major changes in Facebook’s algorithm have left big brands scrambling to refocus on messenger as a prime channel for customer outreach. As Facebook decreases brand access to customers via the newsfeed, companies like Coca-Cola are looking to messenger as a bigger part of their future strategies.
That puts Chatler in the right place at just the right time to help big brands handle their social media presence, when content may become less important than personalization and two-way communication.
Many big brands currently use contact centers operating enterprise CRM software, so Chatler has responded by developing API integrations for software companies like vcc.live. The company provides contact center CRM software for major brands and contact centers in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Romania. In turn, these larger software providers can offer their brand clients, and also their retail and finance clients, the option of adding Chatler’s AI layer into their current toolset for customer care communication.
That’s a win-win for Chatler, who can provide the core AI functionalities for large clients that already have enterprise solutions in place. With Chatler, enterprise CRM providers can focus on providing the full stack of services to clients. Chatler will be used in this context to monitor communications, and develop automated suggestions and responses that are shown to get the best responses from customers. Chatler can help contact centers use their collective expertise more effectively, and refine customer support techniques using AI.
Investors See the Potential
Chatler has now raised 330,000 Euros (100m Hungarian Forints), from seed investment program of Hiventures Venture Capital Fund Management Ltd.
The investment has helped Janos and his team to build and prepare the launch of their enterprise-ready API, and it has opened doors to high-profile events and demo days, such as those of KPMG, and MOL, Hungary’s largest energy company.
And of course, Chatler is hiring! They’re looking for everyone from developers to salespeople. If you’re in Budapest, or if you’d like to be, and you love what they’re doing, send them an email.
Corporates are Slow, but SME is Interesting Too
While the Chatler team has had to wait longer than they would have preferred to release their API for enterprise customers (which is one of our Startup Facts), the waiting has also reignited their interest in SMEs and social media influencers, who can get value out of Chatler right now.
The team has already recorded some traction by selling their solution to Startup Safari, a well attended city-wide event for tech people in Budapest and elsewhere. Safari will use Chatler to manage the high volume of messages they receive during the events. In some cases, Chatler will work in parallel with a chatbot to allow fully automatic responses to simple questions on schedule, location, and other details of individual events.
That’s why Chatler has created a browser plugin that allows individuals or companies to begin to create a knowledge base from their correspondence on Facebook. Over time, Chatler’s AI functions will begin to suggest answers to common and eventually even complex questions as well. The plugin is designed to enhance the normal chat experience via Facebook, not to redesign it or to fully automate it. Chatler calls this “Next Level Chat.”
We have tested the plugin, and it’s very simple to use. Give it a try!
Leading the Chat Conversation
Chat is a unique channel for customer communication. It isn’t email, it isn’t the phone; it’s something different.
That’s why Chatler has also been developing content for SMEs and big brands to learn about this form of communication in the business context. They have started an active blog, where companies can learn about engaging with their customers, Chatiquette, and turning your chat channel into a content marketing channel as well.
Want to learn more about Chatler? Message them!
The best way to interact with Chatler is through their own product. You can start a conversation with Chatler on Facebook Messenger by opening the app on your phone, selecting “People” at the bottom of the screen, and tapping “Scan Code.”
Welcome to the future.