Centricient snags $6.5 million for its customer service messaging management software

Centricient, a new customer service messaging management toolkit, is throwing its hat into the increasingly crowded market of companies competing to help businesses transition to using messaging platforms as a key point of contact for customer service.

To say that messaging — whether via SMS or tools like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or WeChat — has become the dominant medium for communication is now like saying “water is wet.” If it’s true that everybody hurts, it’s also true that almost everybody texts.

Recognizing this ubiquity, companies are scrambling to install tools that can meet consumers on the medium where they’re spending the most time, both for marketing and, increasingly, for customer service.

Large, established companies like Zendesk, and small startups like LiveNinja and Smooch are each pitching tech services for messaging management.

iphone with green text message_transAnd now businesses can add Centricient to that list. They’ve raised $6.5 million from Venrock and Next Frontier Capital, and have lined up a partnership with Helix Business Solutions, an Oracle Service Cloud system integrator.

“The customer service software sector is a monster,” says Venrock managing director Nick Beim, who led the deal in Centricient. “It’s a $5 billion plus market. And the reason is there is a lot to do. It’s not just speaking to a customer… you’ve got an internal organization… call representatives, making sure handling time is appropriate… for SMBs something like Zendesk is fine, but larger businesses require more support.”

And Centricient is hunting these very large businesses all the way from Bozeman, Mon. Founded by Mike Myer, a former senior employee at RightNow (which was acquired by Oracle and has become their customer service technology), Centricient is looking at providing these messaging management services to some of the largest companies.

Myer wouldn’t disclose his first beta customers, but said that two were in the consumer goods and telecommunications markets.

While the movement to messaging is clearly a massive trend in business, it’s not clear whether there’s going to be an attendant need to have a person handling customer service on the receiving end of a customer’s call.

The rise of artificial intelligence and chatbots means that in the not-too-distant future, Centricient’s technology runs the risk of being rendered obsolete.

In the event that AI takes over the call center, Myer says there’s still need for his management toolkit. “What we’re doing is needed still in bots,” said Myer. “You need the underlying plumbing and the channel.”

Myer acknowledges that bots will in some instances be able to replace agents. “The word I use to describe bots — the level of intelligence is more like a lobotomy. There’s a great opportunity to bring messaging to the contact center and then bring in AI on top of that existing platform.”