ServisBot’s virtual assistant automates customer service

5 Aug 2019

Cathal McGloin. Image: ServisBot

This week’s Start-up of the Week is ServisBot, a platform that enables businesses to build natural language solutions, virtual assistants and chatbots.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Cathal McGloin is the founder of ServisBot, which is his third start-up venture.

Prior to the launch of ServisBot in 2016, McGloin founded a mobile application called FeedHenry, which he sold to Red Hat in 2014. McGloin also founded a customer service performance management tool called Performix Technologies, which was sold to Nice Technologies in 2006.

McGloin graduated from engineering in University College Dublin (UCD) and later went on to attain an MBA from UCD’s Smurfit Business School. He founded ServisBot with his brother Raymond, who spent much of his career in management in the customer service industry.

Other members of the ServisBot team include Cian Clarke, a software engineer who also worked on FeedHenry, and Chris Doyle, an expert in customer service and software solutions.

“As a team, we identified the disruption that chatbot technology could cause in customer service,” McGloin said.

The market

McGloin told “ServisBot focuses on the enterprise market, targeting vertical industries that are interaction-intensive and can avail of chatbot and natural language solutions to transform how they engage with customers and employees more efficiently and conveniently.”

These opportunities exist across a variety of sectors, including banking, insurance, healthcare, gaming and entertainment, travel, transport, and customer service.

McGloin noted the different use cases for which chatbots and natural language solutions can be deployed when adopted by a company in any of those sectors. For instance, banking chatbots can be used for account status checks or loan approval, while in customer service these bots are used for FAQs, complaints and refunds.

The tech

“Our technology is based on natural language technologies, automation, messaging and AI services. We have developed a platform that makes it easy for businesses to build natural language and bot solutions,” McGloin explained.

The platform supports the building of bots that can engage across multiple channels, such as voice, messaging, SMS, web, email and live chat, in a number of different languages.

McGloin continued: “The platform is a serverless SaaS solution, built on AWS technologies and availing of AWS AI services.

“The platform provides the tooling for business users to quickly build bot solutions using bot blueprints and visual workflow designers. This helps them get bots to market fast. For enterprise developers, we provide tooling that helps them build bots at scale and automate their deployment. This ensures control over security and integration to internal business systems.”

The future

McGloin’s explained his vision: “The goal is to demystify AI for our customers and give them the tools to leverage natural language and chatbot technologies quickly, easily and securely.

“We want our clients to be able to reap the benefits of conversational AI – speed to market, improved business outcomes driven by the use cases, lower operational and service costs, 24/7 accessibility and increased brand loyalty.”

The start-up is growing from strength to strength, according to McGloin. This is because European and US markets have seen increased adoption rates of chatbot technology. ServisBot has closed deals with companies across industries such as insurance, banking and travel, and the start-up is even seeing an increase of uptake in B2E customers.

“Our partnerships are instrumental to our GTM strategy. We have a strong technology partnership with AWS (we are a member of the Advanced AWS Partner Network), which is generating very attractive business opportunities. We also have a partnership with Mastercard Labs, opening us to further opportunities with their global banking partners.”

Investment isn’t a huge concern at the moment, as McGloin said the start-up currently has all it needs. However, he doesn’t rule out seeking funding again in the future.

The challenges

“For ServisBot, hiring the right talent and skills has probably been our biggest challenge. We require software developer and data science skills, which are in high demand and are costly at the moment,” McGloin said.

“We compete with big international companies that have deeper pockets and can offer benefits and conditions that are out of reach for a start-up. It’s difficult to entice a young developer when they can earn more and have more guarantees on benefits and stock elsewhere.”

Although things are not always easy, McGloin is adamant that it’s well worth the effort to stay focused.

He advises other self-starters not to put too much on their plates. “The CEO or founders cannot and should not do everything; rather, they should build a team that can take care of the details. Look for skills that will help drive success faster and in new ways, but also look to build a team of passionate and committed people.”

McGloin also applauded the resources that Enterprise Ireland can afford entrepreneurs in Ireland. “With the aid provided by EI, both through funding programmes as well as market development or research initiatives, start-ups can quickly home in on some very relevant market opportunities.”

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic