Google has acquired a small startup that builds tools for businesses looking to automate their customer service or sales workflows. Onward and some of its key employees, including co-founders Rémi Cossart and Pramod Thammaiah, as well as CTO Aaron Podolny, will be joining Google. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
The startup gives businesses an AI-powered chat solution to get customers what they want while making the most efficient use of their resources through automation.
Cossart and Thammaiah pivoted the startup from a more consumer-facing product called Agent Q, which was a sort of shopping virtual assistant that people could text and quickly ask for product recommendations. The team billed it as a product marriage of Magic and Consumer Reports.
The co-founders eventually determined that there was more worth in bringing this kind of functionality to businesses that could use it as a way to automate interactions with customers in a tailored manner.
The bot service basically sought to make it easy to answer the simplest questions with answers pulled from a database while building flows that could help more detailed questions get addressed with just a few follow-ups.
For these more complex customer queries, Onward created a visual bot builder to allow users to quickly build chat decision trees that could help address their customers’ requests while also knowing when it was time to hand things off to a human.
The service could be easily integrated with products like Salesforce, Zendesk, Shopify and HubSpot.
“Throughout this journey, we’ve remained focused on unlocking the magical experiences that are possible when computers understand the subtleties hidden in a user’s actions and messages.” a blog post on the Onward site reads. “With Google, we’ll be able to expand the reach of the technologies that power Onward.”