Battlefield winner Forethought adds tool to automate support ticket routing – gpgmail


Last year at this time, Forethought won the gpgmail Disrupt Battlefield competition. A  $9 million Series A investment followed last December. Today at gpgmail Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco, the company introduced the latest addition to its platform called Agatha Predictions.

Forethought CEO and co-founder, Deon Nicholas, said that after launching its original product, Agatha Answers to provide suggested answers to customer queries, customers were asking for help with the routing part of the process, as well. “We learned that there’s a there’s a whole front end of that problem before the ticket even gets to the agent,” he said. Forethought developed Agatha Predictions to help sort the tickets and get them to the most qualified agent to solve the problem.

“It’s effectively an entire tool that helps triage and route tickets. So when a ticket is coming in, it can predict whether it’s a high priority or low priority ticket and which agent is best qualified to handle this question. And this all happens before the agent even touches the ticket. This really helps drive efficiencies across the organization by helping to reduce triage time,” Nicholas explained.

The original product Agatha Answers is designed to help agents get answers more quickly and reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve an issue. “It’s a tool that integrates into your Help Desk software, indexes your past support tickets, knowledge base articles and other [related content]. Then we give agents suggested answers to help them close questions with reduced handle time,” Nicholas said.

He says that Agatha Predictions is based on the same underlying AI engine as Agatha Answers. Both use Natural Language Understanding (NLU) developed by the company. “We’ve been building out our product, and the Natural Language Understanding engine, the engine behind the system, works in a very similar manner [across our products]. So as a ticket comes in the AI reads it, understands what the customer is asking about, and understands the semantics, the words being used,” he explained. This enables them to automate the routing and supply a likely answer for the issue involved.

Nicholas maintains that winning Battlefield gave his company a jump start and a certain legitimacy it lacked as an early-stage startup. Lots of customers came knocking after the event, as did investors. The company has grown from 5 employees when it launched last year at gpgmail Disrupt to 20 today.


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Customer success isn’t an add-on – Start early to win later – gpgmail


What comes first: Sales or Customer Success? Many growing startups pressure themselves to start selling as soon as there’s a viable product to sell. “Set up Customer Success functions” goes on the to-do list. After all, we don’t have to worry for another year, right?

Using the proprietary Scale Studio dataset of hundreds of SaaS startups, we’ll look at the metrics that venture investors use to link your company’s valuation to success in Customer Success — then dive into the tactics for adapting your CS program to your company’s high-touch or low-touch sales model

A year passes, and the company’s first renewals come due. Everyone from the CEO on down scrambles to do whatever it takes to make those charter customers happy and win contract extensions. After all, those customers aren’t just any customers — they’re the company’s first references, critical to landing new business and raising funds from investors. Every effort goes into making them happy.

The problem is, of course, that bringing in the CEO and CTO and VP of Sales on every renewal isn’t exactly a scalable process. Nor the basis for a long-term Customer Success strategy. 

Customer Success — a formal, process-driven, value-creating operational activity — needs to be structured to scale. And it needs to be top-of-mind from day one. Here is a look at the data and strategic rationale for launching CS early in a startup’s growth to avoid inefficiency and mistakes down the line. 

The case for customer success: Valuation

To venture investors, a well-run CS operation at an early-in-revenue startup communicates that your company has a sophisticated go-to-market strategy with a customer-centric foundation. This can translate into a valuation boost along two paths: accelerated revenue growth and increased predictability. And growth is a key driver for valuation with venture investors


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