Nuance Communications to Acquire TouchCommerce

Nuance Communications today announced definitive plans to acquire technology partner TouchCommerce, a provider of digital customer service and engagement tools, with the goal of extending its capabilities in the enterprise. The transaction—which will amount to $215 million—has been approved by both companies and is expected to be finalized by the end of Nuance's 2016 fiscal year.

According to Tony Lorentzen, vice president and general manager of Nuance's On Demand division, the acquisition enables Nuance to bolster its customer care solutions with TouchCommerce's offerings, which include live chat, analytics, and personalization tools.

In a statement, Nuance noted that TouchCommerce will supply the vendor with the "best" self-service and assisted-service solutions. By merging TouchCommerce's solutions with its own artificial intelligence-powered self-service capabilities, the company intends to equip its clients to better handle customer interactions that span multiple channels.

"Many customer interactions today start digitally,whether it's through the Web, mobile, or social, and escalate to various other channels," Lorentzen adds. "In having TouchCommerce as part of our portfolio, we can [provide] an end-to-end view of the customer, from when they start in a digital channel and/or when they escalate to other channels."

The acquisition follows on the heels of TouchCommerce's release of TouchAssist, which highlights some of the initial moves both companies have made together since partnering in December.

The purchase also allows Nuance to offer more accurate automations in a range of customer service applications, as it can leverage the insights TouchCommerce gleans via the many interactions it tracks, which can also reveal the behaviors people exercise as they transition among different digital environments.

Nuance will continue to tap into TouchCommerce's desktop tools to allow for more seamless escalations between channels. For instance, if a customer begins an interaction with a virtual assistant (Nina), the enhancement will allow for a smoother transition into a live agent conversation. According to both companies, the system can learn from each customer engagement to ultimately improve the experience over time. Further, TouchCommerce's targeting engine will enable Nuance to drive more personalized conversations for customers as they seek support.

For Nuance, the merger with TouchCommerce presents an opportunity to reach new customers, Lorentzen points out. While both companies already share a similar go-to-market strategy, as well as segments in the telecommunications and financial services industries, TouchCommerce's customers make up less than 10 percent of Nuance's 6,500 deployments worldwide. "We strongly believe there's significant expansion opportunity," he says, adding that TouchCommerce brings expertise and experience in the retail space.

Bernard Louvat, president and CEO of TouchCommerce, said in a statement that a merger was inevitable:

"Our respective capabilities are so complementary and our strategies so similar that it became obvious to both parties that joining forces was the logical next step beyond our existing technology partnership."

"If you look at our competitors," including Genesis and [24]7, "a lot of them do IVR," Lorentzen says, and companies like Moxie provide chat solutions. "If you look at Nuance now, we have that broad spectrum [ranging] from digital first to voice self-service to proactive communication."


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