New York-based Glia, which develops a customer service platform that unifies voice, video, and chatbots, raises $20M Series B led by Insight Venture Partners (Kyle Wiggers/VentureBeat)

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Multimodality is fast becoming the norm in the $350 billion customer service industry. According to research published last year by Vonage company NewVoiceMedia, three-quarters of customers prefer to have their queries handled by a live agent, while the remaining 25 percent favor chatbots and other self-service alternatives. A separate survey by Econsultancy found that 51 percent prefer live chat for the freedom it affords. And, according to Zendesk, over 80 percent report that they’ve had questions satisfactorily answered via voice, email, and text messaging.

Glia (formerly SaleMove), a New York startup cofounded by Justin DiPietro, Carlos Paniagua, and now-CEO Dan Michaeli in 2012, aims to capitalize on the trend with an omnichannel customer service platform that supports text, phone calls, video chat, and more. Today the company announced that it has raised $20 million in series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from current investors Tola Capital, Wildcat Capital Management, and Grassy Creek, bringing its total raised to $29 million.

It’s been an eventful year for Glia, according to Michaeli. In 2018, the company saw annual recurring revenue grow 100 percent year-over-year across its customer base of financial services companies, and its workforce doubled globally. The funding, he says, will be used to expand Glia’s geographic footprint, particularly in product development, sales, marketing, and infrastructure.

“Almost every interaction between businesses and customers today involves a screen, yet the main method of getting in touch is still an old-school phone call,” he added. “Over the next three to five years, the move from ‘phone-first’ to ‘digital-first’ communication will define the businesses that win customer experience in their category.”

Glia matches customers with support staff by marrying video with messaging and voice. Michaeli claims its chatbot framework — AI Mangement Platform — is a key differentiator; it integrates and tracks bots powered by IBM’s Watson, Amazon’s Lex, Google’s Dialogflow, and other natural dialogue backends, which managers can divvy up into teams.

Customers who opt for human help can participate via Glia in live video sessions in which reps provide guided product tours and answer questions verbally or via text. Niftily, folks who dial in are assigned a unique ID that Glia uses to intelligently route them to the person they last spoke with.

No matter which medium customers choose in Glia, its CoBrowsing tool enables agents to walk people through apps and websites with a virtual mouse cursor. Michaeli claims that for some clients, this option (in tandem with the rest of Glia’s suite) leads to 20 percent faster issue reduction, a 4 times increase in application throughput, and an 18 percent reduction in average handle time.

“We are proud to partner with Glia to transform how businesses connect with customers,” said Insight Venture Partners’ Lonne Jaffe, who plans to join Glia’s board of directors. “Glia’s innovative technology includes an elegant blend of … video chat and voice communications and a machine learning-powered chatbot chassis that works across [platforms]. Glia is one of the shining stars of the New York City technology ecosystem, and we’re excited to get the chance to provide the team with the capital and scaling support needed to continue their rapid growth in 2019 and beyond.”

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