Ted Mico created an automated customer service platform that works with companies like Crate & Barrel and subscription box service FabFitFun because he hated chat bots.
His three-year old company Thankful was born after his own experience waiting two weeks to hear back from customer service and throwing his phone in frustration across the room far too many times.
"When it comes to customer service, suddenly when you add technology you end up with some hideous chatbot experience," he said.
Ted Mico is Thankful's co-founder and CEO.
Thankful establishes customer relationships through their service platform routing and tagging help desk tickets. A Thankful AI "agent" fields customer queries via text or email. Mico said that Thankful can resolve up to 50% of all help desk tickets without a human.
Among the companies that use his service are MeUndies, makeup brand Morphe and sock-seller Bombas.
"In each one of our average lifetimes we will spend 43 days, dealing with customer service," Mico said. "All those customer queries we can solve without customer service people being involved, then they can be involved in other things and everybody gets better service."
The Venice-based company announced this week they raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Alpha Edison, a capital firm that invests in early-stage companies using AI, data and behavioral science. In addition, Bonfire, TenOneTen, Greycroft, Omega, and Miramar also invested in this round. The funds will be used to develop the product.
As more shopping is done online, more complaints and problems are being resolved through chat bots and other automated systems. It has swelled the ranks of the customer service industry. Thankful competes with other AI-driven companies including Bay Area competitors Netomi and Forethought.
Thankful charges a platform fee based on volume. Though Thankful is not profitable, there are over 50 brands using the platform.
Mico thinks customer service will be regarded as the most viable sales and marketing channel of the future. Despite many outlets like Yelp using the star rating system helping restaurants and businesses learn about customer's comments and complaints, it isn't quick enough. There's an expectation for immediacy which has been fueled by technology and was heightened by the pandemic.
"Customer service is usually the last thought for most companies and we think that within five years, it will be the first," Mico said. "If you actually think of customer service as the most important thing, that customer journey is sacrosanct."