Customer service outlets are one of the most direct ways people give companies feedback, yet the channels to do so are increasingly less personal.
As many entities turn to chat bots and automated features, consumers are forced to choose from canned answers rather than speaking to real people. MaestroQA founders Vasu Prathipati and Harrison Hunter, who got started in the sector in 2013, didn’t get the trend, thinking that humans should remain core to the process. “When you call customer service, you are giving the business feedback on something and that’s a total black box at organizations today,” Prathipati tells Forbes.
The founders discovered multiple companies still holding tight to their human customer service representatives but quickly realized why so many had chosen the path to automation: there were no solid tools for reps to manage and build customer relationships. They saw the perfect pivot for MaestroQA, founded as a customer retention software, which wasn’t taking off. “We thought there was a compelling opportunity to help companies coach their existing employees instead,” Prathipati says. “We have only fallen more in love with the problem over the years.” Four years ago, they launched the current iteration of MaestroQA; software that uses machine learning to track and analyze customer feedback to help train real live customer service representatives. The startup is now profitable and with more than 250 large-scale clients is now raising capital with expansion on the mind.
The New York-based MaestroQA raises a $25 million Series A led by Base10 Partners with participation from Talkdesk Ventures, Tokyo Black, angel investor Itai Tsiddon and existing investor SaaStr, as originally reported in Midas Touch newsletter. Base10 was well aware of the changing nature of the customer service industry when it learned that MaestroQA had already amassed double-digit millions of ARR while raising less than $10 million of outside capital, cofounder and managing partner TJ Nahigian says, for them it was an easy bet. “Vasu and Harrison did not need to raise this round,” Nahigian tells Forbes. “I proactively reached out to them because we saw how well they were doing. The customer list is also fantastic, it’s one of the best customer bases I’ve ever seen.”
MaestroQA had also reached an inflection point, so they agreed to raise the round, Prathipati says. The startup was profitable and putting up meaningful revenue numbers, and the founders considered that outside capital would help it grow exponentially. What’s more, after years of collecting customer feedback for their own products and implementing changes, Prathipati says that he felt the product was finally ready to start to scale.
MaestroQA’s software integrates with the workflow and customer service platforms companies are already using like Zendesk and Salesforce. The system uses machine learning to search for anomalies in customer interactions like a call running really long or a negative follow-up survey result. The software will try to figure out the issue, whether the representative was stumped by a question or did not demonstrate empathy when speaking to a customer, and provide feedback for training opportunities. “We don’t believe that you can fully automate the process,” Prathipati says. “They are human conversations. They are complex. We give software to give managers superpowers to know where to find the needles in the haystacks and dive deeper into them.” The customer base leans toward consumer companies like DraftKings but also has B2B clients as well like monday.com.