New Investment: Airkit, a low-code platform to digitize the last mile of customer touchpoints
We are delighted to announce our partnership with Airkit as they come out of stealth with $28M in total funding from Accel, Emergence Capital, and Salesforce Ventures.
Customer Experience is the next competitive battleground
We are living in the age of experience and customer expectations have changed. They expect interactions to be personalized, effortless, tech-enabled, and proactive. But these advances do not matter much if speed, convenience, and the right information are lacking.
A study conducted by PWC found that 73% of customers value experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions, only behind price and product quality. In addition, customers are willing to pay more for the experience qualities that matter to them. For example, over 40% of consumers reveal that they would pay for greater efficiency and convenience while ~80% of American consumers say that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience. Prioritizing technologies that can help achieve such outcomes can lead to tremendous success for companies. This is demonstrable through the success of customer obsessed companies like Amazon and Apple that have an NPS score above 60.
Customer experience focuses on building positive interactions and relationships with consumers. That said, every customer is different and allowing them to self-select their journey demonstrates that companies understand their preferences and consumers are more likely to do business with them as a result. Consumers want to engage with businesses in person, over the phone, online (website, social media) and across mobile – be it an app, mobile site or through SMS. Not only that, the process needs to be seamless across all the different channels. In fact, one report claims that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.
We are convinced that any startup helping companies deliver a superior customer experience is destined to win. This is why we became very excited when we learned about Airkit.
Yet many companies struggle to execute on delivering a positive omnichannel experience. They are failing to recognize gaps in their customer engagement, capture valuable customer interaction data, and create consistent journeys across multiple touchpoints. For large corporations, building customer interactions can be expensive and time-consuming to deploy and customize. These challenges are rising because as companies create multiple touchpoints to interact with customers, these channels often become separate from one another in terms of data storage and how they are managed.
At Plug and Play, we are convinced that any startup helping companies deliver a superior customer experience is destined to win. This is why we became very excited when we learned about Airkit (thank you Zoey and Neil Peretz for making the introduction).
Last mile in customer experience
Airkit is a low-code builder to digitize the last mile of customer touchpoints across any channel. Their vision is to make building beautiful digital customer experiences faster and simpler for both developers and business users.
Why should B2C companies pay attention?
First, a low-code approach gives business users (who tend to be closer to customers) more power to build customer interactions and better adaptability to respond to changing customer needs. Moreover, the approach eases dependencies on developers who can have a large backlog of requests to fulfill. Low-code platforms enable a wide range of non-technical users to rapidly build customer facing applications. In a hyper-personalized environment, in which you can deliver new customer interactions across multiple touchpoints within weeks and change it in as little as a few minutes, this is a game-changer.
Second, companies who prioritize customer experience can build a durable advantage. For example, one study found that customers who had the best past experience spent 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience and companies delivering the best customer experiences achieved over 4x the growth in value than those delivering the worst over a ten-year period. One of the things we really like about the product is that they are able to cater to companies of all sizes - small or large. Once a team is ready to build customer journeys, Airkit is able to work with smaller firms and has the ability to scale with the company as they mature and want more sophisticated capabilities.
The Team Behind Airkit
Why this team? We felt a strong founder-market fit when we met Stephen Ehikian (co-founder and CEO) and his team. The team first worked together at Relate IQ, a platform that automated the collection of customer interaction data. The platform grabbed the attention of Salesforce who ended up acquiring the company in 2014. Thereafter, the team worked at the CRM firm to launch their AI platform, Salesforce Einstein, before leaving to start Airkit.
We first met Stephen when we invited him to present the platform to a potential customer. His natural ability to engage with a customer and present the vision compelled me to grab my phone and demo the platform on their website right there and then - something I had never done before with any other company. We met with the team several times thereafter as their platform piqued the interest of many of our corporate partners and our interactions convinced us that we wanted to be part of their journey. This is exactly the kind of team we want to back - product obsessed with a customer-first mindset and outstanding expertise.
There certainly are many low-code platforms coming to the market, but we think companies may not want to compromise building customer interactions on generic platforms because customer experience matters. Building high-quality customer interactions requires a team and a product that understands customer data, complex integrations around customer journey processes, and what makes a superior customer experience sticky. Airkit is the world’s first low-code platform specifically built for customer engagement so companies should take a closer look if they want to create the best experience for their customers.