Facebook has acquired Kustomer, a customer service CRM platform. The startup was founded by CEO Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, the two had a previous startup that was acquired by Salesforce. Kustomer provides customer service agents with data from various channels to give a more unified picture of customers.
Kustomer has raised $174 million in private funding and had a valuation of $710 million. Although not officially disclosed by the social media giant, there are reports from inside sources that the acquisition was at $1 billion.
“Omni-channel” is the term Kustomer uses to describe itself since it brings together customer conversations from many separate places such as apps, on social media, in websites, via chatbots, or email, etc. This gives the agents a better picture of the customer and also shows how business is fairing across different channels. Additionally, Kustomer lets agents automate repetitive tasks so as to focus on the quality of other aspects of customer interactions.
This acquisition could give Facebook the opportunity to get better context of customer relations outside its platforms and potentially giving them more control in leading that market segment. Zuckerberg and Co have been broadening their efforts in providing customers services to businesses on its platform since many of them primarily use their Facebook page as their website. Today, they have 175 million businesses using Whatsapp everyday to respond to customers queries. The company sees a huge potential in this line and it recently announced API updates for WhatsApp and Messenger for faster business on boarding and managing communications. The new acquisition further shows their intent in taking over customers relations as their new revenue stream probably with a paid subscription service but time will tell.
Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, also recently acquired a customer support related startup, Voca.ai. It is still unclear what they intend to use it for but it is an interesting coincidence that two social media competitors are rushing to buy companies in this field.