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Zendesk acquires conversational platform Smooch, launches new WhatsApp and Slack integrations

At its annual Showcase conference in New York City, customer service software provider Zendesk today revealed that it has acquired Montreal-based Smooch, the company behind an eponymous business-to-customer messaging platform, for an undisclosed sum. Zendesk also took the wraps off WhatsApp and Slack integrations and announced new apps available through its Zendesk Marketplace.

Above: Zendesk cofounders Alexander Aghassipour, Morten Primdahl, and Mikkel Svane

In a blog post announcing the purchase — Zendesk’s fifth, following Outbound.io, Zopim, Bime Analytics, and Base — company founder and CEO Mikkel Svane said that Smooch’s technology will help drive “the next wave” of connected conversations on a range of messaging channels. To that end, a new Zendesk solutions team will support customers who plan to use Smooch’s products to build bespoke conversational apps and web pages.

“We live in a messaging-centric world, and customers expect the convenience and interactivity of messaging to be part of their experiences,” said Svane. “As long-time partners with Smooch, we know first-hand how much they have advanced the conversational experience to bring together all forms of messaging and create a continuous conversation between customers and businesses.”

For the uninitiated, Smooch’s AWS-hosted suite collates messages across web, mobile, and social messaging and combines user activity and existing profile data, enabling admins to create more tailored experiences. With Smooch’s embeddable software development kit and APIs for Android, iOS, and the web, a hotel, for instance, could give guests the ability to ping staff on-property, and an online retailer could manage issues like incorrect shipments and returns across channels.

Smooch supports speech on popular voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, along with text on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, WeChat, Telegram, Twitter DM, Viber, Kakao Talk, SMS, and Rich Communication Services (RCS). Zendesk notes that Smooch has the distinction of being one of the largest providers of WhatsApp Business integration, which allows organizations to manage and send non-promotional automated messages to customers — like appointment reminders, shipping info, or event tickets — for a fixed rate.

Thanks to Smooch, Zendesk says that customers in its early access program can now reach users directly through Chat, its live chat solution for mobile and the web.

Smooch

Above: Smooch’s website.

Smooch brings real-time push notifications, as well as standard messaging features, like typing indicators, timestamps, cloud message storage, media support (for emojis, GIFs, images, videos, and file attachments), and read and delivery receipts. It offers robust chatbot tools that enable businesses to add bots, orchestrate bot-to-human handoffs, incorporate natural language processing and AI engines, and juggle multiple bots and agents at once. Moreover, Smooch’s UI is fully customizable, and it works with third-party authentication systems and boasts end-to-end encryption.

“With their launch of Sunshine last year, Zendesk took the bold and disruptive step required to compete for and win the future of CRM,” said Smooch cofounder and CEO Warren Levitan. “The decision to combine forces with Zendesk and help further their CRM strategy will allow us to supercharge our existing mission for building the best customer experiences. We are thrilled to be joining the entire Zendesk team, so many of whom we have had the pleasure to work with over the past three and a half years.”

Smooch-powered services weren’t the only thing Zendesk detailed today. It also announced the general availability of Side Conversations for Slack, which enables Zendesk users to work with other departments or partners outside their companies. Specifically, Side Conversations integrates with Zendesk Sell, the company’s sales automation product that streamlines processes and pipelines, and Zendesk Support, its ticket-based customer service software.

Lastly, Zendesk said Suite — its all‑in‑one omnichannel package, comprising Support, Guide, Chat, and Talk — is expanding via Zendesk Marketplace. Partners — including Atlassian, Lessonly, Maestro, Stella, Tymeshift, Geckoboard, Statuspage, and Ada — have introduced integrations that augment workforce training and management, track KPIs and goals, monitor tickets for quality assurance, and more.

Zendesk Suite is available in two tiers: Suite Professional and Suite Enterprise. Suite Professional, the less expensive of the two, starts at $1,068 per agent per year (or $89 per month) and includes Zendesk’s knowledge base product for self-service, in addition to reporting, analytics, and AI-powered customer satisfaction prediction tools. Suite Enterprise is priced at $1,788 per agent per year (or $149 per month) and adds features such as roles and permissions management and skills-based customer service request routing, multibrand customization and multiple ticket forms, an unbranded chat widget, a web SDK, and priority support from the Zendesk team.

Zendesk, a 10-year-old company founded in Copenhagen and based in San Francisco, launched an initial public offering in 2014. It crossed a $500 million run rate in the first quarter of 2018 and recently launched Sunshine, a development platform for creating customer-focused apps on top of its products.

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