Making it Work

Making It Work: Klearcom eyes expansion in the US, Ireland and India as it seeks to ‘dominate’ voicebot validation market

Waterford-based company is planning €4 million fundraise by the end of 2022

Liam Dunne, chief executive of Klearcom: ‘We want to lead this market, rather than follow.’ Picture: Patrick Browne

Almost three years ago, Liam Dunne called Satish Barot to discuss a problem he was having in a business he was trying to set up in the software sector.

“I was having a problem with a customer and I needed technical help. I knew Satish would be able to give it to me,” Dunne said. “But after that phone call, we were both kind of going: ‘why don’t we work together?’ We got on well and we knew the industry well. That conversation was on a Wednesday, and by that Friday we had decided to set up a company.”

That company was Klearcom, a Waterford business which tests voicebots used in customer service. Dunne, a veteran of the start-up scene, realised the potential of a market that has grown significantly since the development of automated customer contact systems.

“We understood that everyone was moving to voicebots, and that customers were going to switch to a different provider if they had a bad experience when they rang a customer service line,” he said. “We thought we could help stop the poor delivery of technical services in the industry.”

For large multinational companies, operating customer service lines has become much cheaper and more efficient since the development of interactive voice response (IVR) software which can deal with the majority of clients’ problems or queries.

But the problem is that in cases where the technology doesn’t work, there’s often no human manning the call centre, meaning customers who have bad experiences can’t get their issues resolved.

“These companies need a way to programmatically and systematically test that their voicebot is working – with German in Germany, with Japanese in Japan, with Cantonese in parts of China,” Dunne said.

“Our sweet spot is testing and validating that voicebots are up and working for multinational contact centres, and if there’s any issues we can generate a real-time alert for them. We’re the guys that let them know.”

Today, Klearcom employs nearly 40 staff and expects to increase that to 50 by the end of the year. As well as its Waterford office, the business has operations in India and has just opened a site in New York.

The Enterprise Ireland-supported firm counts some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies among its clients, as well as a number of major financial institutions. In December, it announced an €800,000 investment and is now planning another €4 million fundraise by the end of 2022.

The pandemic was a catalyst in the company’s growth, Dunne said. “When Covid hit, and the world started moving to remote, our service offering was a solution for a market that was growing so much as call centres got inundated.”

The company expects to close a number of significant deals by the end of 2022, Dunne said, adding that they would have a “transformative impact” on the business.

“In the long term, our vision is that we want to lead this market, rather than follow,” he said. “We’re expanding in Ireland, India and the US. We have just scratched the surface until now. We want to dominate the market.”