SMBs are famously time-starved, as they juggle being music teachers, dentists and roofers while also wearing the hats of chief operating officer and chief marketing officer. That makes simplicity and time-savings the name of the game for SMB Saas tools. This is a well-recognized but under-executed success factor.
Goodcall is a startup that’s working the time-saving aspects of this formula. The company raised $4 million in seed funding this week to automate customer service for inbound calls to SMBs. Funding comes from Neo, Foothill Ventures, Merus Capital, Xoogler Ventures, Verissimo Ventures, VSC Ventures, and several angels.
Goodcall applies a dose of AI to manage inbound phone calls, thus freeing up SMBs to do their thing. Part of the opportunity here, according to GoodCall founder Bob Summers, is that 60 percent of SMB inbound calls go unanswered. So the problem isn’t just SMBs’ valuable time but potentially-lost business.
Adding to these longstanding challenges, the Covid-era has brought a new set of consumer inquiries — most of which can be answered in automated ways. For example, with constantly shifting local health guidelines, businesses are flooded with calls about everything from mask policies to outdoor dining options.
Going deeper on the product itself, Goodcall boasts the ability for time-strapped SMBs to set it up in minutes (a value proposition that seems to be gaining steam). Similar to Google Voice, SMBs can set up a dedicated local phone number to avoid the common practice of the owner listing his or her mobile number.
SMBs can choose between six virtual assistants, meant to mix the benefits of automation with some semblance of a personal touch. This serves as a sort of first line of defense to answer rote questions (think: hours of operation) that suck up proprietors’ time. More complex questions can make their way to a human.
Goodcall also offers analytics so SMBs can monitor logs to see call content or outcomes. Part of that involves an AI function that evaluates consumer sentiment. That AI engine has been built from a training set of calls, as the company claims to have processed several thousands of calls per month during its beta period.
As for pricing, there are three SMB-friendly options. A free tier is offered for the “S” in SMB, including 500 minutes of call time per month and a single line. Its Pro level offers five additional lines/locations for $19 per month. Finally, the Premium tier offers larger (“M”) businesses unlimited lines/locations for $49 per month.
Tangible Pain Point
In addition to its seed round, Goodcall has announced a new Yelp partnership. It will tap into Yelp’s SMB database for direct integration so businesses easily activate Goodcall. The idea is that Yelp listings data will fuel the platform’s core automated service, including business details like open hours and Covid policies.
All of this could resonate with SMBs in addressing a tangible pain point. And partnering with Yelp could help Goodcall beyond just data integrations. In other words, Yelp could essentially operate as a distribution and sales channel for Goodcall, given its reach and established relationships among SMBs.
It’s also worth noting that Goodcall founder Bob Summers is a former Google exec, housed in its Area 120 innovation lab. In that light, we can’t help but notice that Goodcall has similar branding to Area-120-incubated CallJoy, whose website now appears to be down. We’ll investigate any possible connection.
We’ll also keep watching to see if
CallJoy Goodcall can gain traction among SMBs and if Yelp can accelerate that goal. Meanwhile, Goodcall is deployed in English today, with plans for Spanish, French and Hindi by 2022. Its new funding will be deployed to subsidize its free tier, hire engineers and ongoing product development.