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Free AI-assisted customer service for small businesses

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Free-AI (Free AI-assisted customer service for small businesses)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2018-09-30

In the course of the project Sonetel has conducted a feasibility study for its AI-assisted customer service platform for small businesses. Today, the ability to swiftly handle and respond to the text-based questions and inquiries from potential customers submitted through the company’s website is an important determinant of the competitive position of any business. The market has already responded to this demand through exponential growth of chat bots – computer programs that aim to automate responses to the prospects and maintain a conversation with a client in natural language. However, the vast majority of small businesses are not a part of this growth. To develop and launch a chatbot is expensive, requires vast programming effort and understanding of diverse aspects of natural language processing. Sonetel aims to disrupt the market and make AI-assisted customer service available to any company globally. We have developed the prototype of the service, which allows our customers to integrate automated text service capability in their websites through a simple web Widget. Sonetel’s solution uniquely and instantly resolves a wide range of the external and internal communication needs for small businesses – with an emphasis on the inbound customer communication – for free. In the back-end, our new service rests on the firm technological foundation of the Sonetel Voice SaaS platform. This platform has proven to change the way small businesses conduct international customer service activities. It transforms SMEs into true global entrepreneurs. The platform currently has +100,000 paying customers +170 countries. As a part of the SME Instrument Phase 1 feasibility assessment, we have develop a roadmap for scaling our innovation globally.
We have assessed the future development and scaling effort in terms of time, money and risks. The development plan has been divided into new tasks and prioritised according to expected value. The risks for implementation have been thoroughly assessed.
We have analysed the market potential for the new service in terms of the number of users. Key geographical markets have been established. The need for localization has been recognised and the languages were chosen. We have specified the SME users’ needs in detail and developed an extended value proposition.
We have identified stakeholders and potential partners in commercialisation. Strategies to engage them have been defined. Our employees are our strongest assets and our 1,000,000 customer base is a strong springboard to the growth of the new solution.
We have researched the competitive landscape in more detail. Our positioning against the competition has been further specified. We see our platform as critically unique thanks to the business model applied. Market barriers have been identified, and we have developed strategies to overcome them.
We have evaluated the legal aspects of the commercialisation activities and undertaken steps to facilitate commercial exploitation. We recognise the key need for stringent data protection measures. We have analysed our IPR situation and undertaken means to protect our platform from copycat solutions, where we want to retain our “black-box” strategy.
We have reviewed our pricing strategy and business model to optimise the potential for fast replication of the platform across the EU and globally. The best means to achieve this is, for Sonetel, the freemium business model which we intend to maintain and tune to perfection.
We have started our BETA testing program with users attracted in the course of the project. We have started communicating the benefits of the platform through using it as our primary communication tool with SME prospects (through our website). Our dissemination and communication activities have been put together into a structured plan.
As the result of this project Sonetel has developed the business plan as the blueprint for platform scaling and market expansion activities to be pursued as a part of a Phase 2 SME Instrument project (to be applied for immediately.
The feasibility study has shown strong potential of the project in delivering value to customers (microenterprises worldwide) and in developing Sonetel as a major market player offering an AI-assisted customer service platform. The commercialisation project has been fully defined and Sonetel is determined to continue the work begun.