The 2016 CRM Service Rising Stars: TouchCommerce Bridges Gaps Between Traditional Ads and Digital Engagement Channels

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TouchCommerce was founded in 1999, but according to CMO George Skaff, it wasn't until 2005 that the company began to really define itself. That year, Bernard Louvat came on board as CEO and from his retail background brought the notion that online service experiences must compare to the ones customers get at the store. "As you walk into a store, you don't necessarily want to be asked immediately, 'How can I help you?'" Skaff says. "You want to be left alone to walk through the aisles and look at an item. Then, if you're looking around, puzzled, is when you would like to be helped."

Similarly, TouchCommerce's mission has been to provide companies with the tools to engage the consumer "at the right time and in the right place," Skaff says. "Regardless of where the consumer is looking at a product or brand—whether it's online, [via] the call center, or the store; whether they're watching a TV program and see an ad; or are walking in an airport and see a billboard—we want to connect all the dots and make sure the consumer is getting a consistent message," Skaff states.

Over the past year, the company has moved closer to making this vision a reality with a handful of product releases.

In May, the company released its TouchMedia product, which aims to link traditional, offline advertisements to live chats where customers can learn more. The solution enables customers to get more information about the products they see on billboards, print ads, and broadcast TV, for instance, by scanning content or texting a code through their devices to link directly with service agents.

The vendor also enhanced its Conversation Platform in September, adding to it an integration framework and application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it compatible across more channels. With these added capabilities, customer service professionals can also do more with text-based chat services, including accessing third-party customer information and referring to engagement metrics and reports.

The company's TouchSocial capabilities, introduced in November, give brands the option of attaching short links to their social media posts so that customers can initiate conversations with a brand. TouchSocial works on such sites as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and can direct customers to the company's Web site or a direct chat.

Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, who's been following the vendor for roughly four years now, notes that the work it is doing with chat is becoming increasingly important as that channel gains legitimacy. "They offer a great combination of technologies that are absolutely applicable and very topical right now," Leggett says.

Though TouchCommerce has only about 100 clients, they include several of the largest providers in the telecom market—AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast, and DirecTV. TouchCommerce also serves big names in retail, technology, travel and hospitality, and financial services.

To better serve these Fortune 500 companies, TouchCommerce partnered with Nuance in early December to incorporate natural language understanding into its platforms and improve its IVR.

"We're in the process of getting the product ready for market, and that announcement will come out later in the year," Marina Kalika, senior director of product marketing at TouchCommerce, promises.

The vendor also plans to dive deeper into the SMS and social media platforms. "If you think about it—we all subscribe to these services. Whether your flight has been delayed, your order has been shipped, or you're paying for something—all this stuff is done via SMS," Skaff says. "And SMS in the future will be a two-way communication where you'll be engaging with the brand." 


CEO: Bernard Louvat

Founded: 1999

Headquarters: Agoura Hills, Calif.

Projected Revenue in 2015: N/A

Employees: 275

Customer Count: 100

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