The pandemic pushed a fast-growing tech company in unexpected directions. While several moves were for survival, others lay the groundwork for a solid 2021.
When CallMiner closed a $75-million investment round with Goldman Sachs at the end of 2019, the speech analytics firm knew the benefits of such a huge capital investment. It wasn’t as clear at that point, though, how fortuitous it would be for the company to have completed that process when it did.
“It was certainly, in retrospect, good timing to have closed on the money when we did, given everything that transpired in 2020,” says Paul Bernard, president and CEO of CallMiner, founded in Fort Myers in 2002.
Those funds were earmarked for efforts to grow the company’s customer base domestically and internationally, increase its channel relationships and expand into additional market segments. “The good news is from a strategic perspective, we continued to move down that path,” says Bernard. “But the pandemic slowed the path of some of those changes and growth, because we wanted to make sure our existing customer base was strong and solid and our team was strong and solid.”
That meant the 2020 first quarter didn’t see a lot of new customer additions. “But we added new customers in Q2 and more in Q3, and we anticipate in Q4 to be almost back on track in terms of our original plans,” says Bernard. “The growth has been slower this year than we originally hoped, but in spite of everything that’s going on, we’re headed in the right direction.”
The company now has 450 to 475 total customers using its signature software platform, Eureka. The platform employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer interactions via call centers and other channels to help clients improve contact center performance and gather key business intelligence. Some of those new customers came through new channel partners, which offer Eureka as part of a larger package of services.
CallMiner is constantly refining its offerings within its Eureka analytics platform, and in 2020 it released Illuminate, an AI-driven search feature that makes it easy for users to spot trends in customer interaction data. “Illuminate speeds the time to value in insight for our customers and creates a lower lift in terms of analysts’ time required to use it,” says Bernard.
It also released the CallMiner Continuum Maturity Model, which assesses a company’s maturity level related to their use of engagement analytics and offers insight on next steps. “It gives customers a road map on how to go forward, where they should be investing and what the real yields they can get are,” says Bernard.
‘The growth has been slower this year than we originally hoped, but in spite of everything that’s going on, we’re headed in the right direction.’ Paul Bernard, CallMiner
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but it’s also helped to substantiate the fact that CallMiner is offering its users — which include some of the world’s largest brands, financial institutions and communications companies — something well worth their money. “When customers start looking hard at all of their spends, you find out whether or not your solution is bringing real value,” says Bernard. “Luckily, we found overwhelmingly that our customers have continued to use our software. It’s a bit of a reinforcement of our value proposition that we really are important to customers.”
As part of its COVID-19 response, CallMiner launched the Coronavirus Customer Think Tank in March, a collaborative online community focused on helping organizations share resources and best practices for addressing customer concerns during the pandemic. Those efforts earned the company a Silver Stevie Award in the 17th Annual International Business Awards in the Most Valuable Corporate Response category.
CallMiner has about 130 employees in Fort Myers, home to its software engineering, product management and customer support divisions and portions of the firm’s research, AI and marketing teams. It has about 80 employees at its executive and sales offices in Massachusetts — where Bernard is based — and sales and support offices in the United Kingdom and Australia. It didn’t have to lay anyone off and in fact even added some staff during the pandemic.
In the three years before the pandemic, CallMiner had averaged year-over-year top-line growth of 30%. (Bernard declines to provide specific revenue figures.) While that slowed in 2020, Bernard is looking for a strong rebound in 2021.
“As I look at 2021, in many ways I’m viewing it as what the organization wanted to do in 2020 in terms of initiatives like international growth and new market segments,” says Bernard. “We laid a lot of the groundwork and got started on much of it in 2020, and we’ll really accelerate things in 2021. I expect there to still be some tail associated with the pandemic for probably another six months or so, but I expect to get a lot closer to kind of growth we had in the last few years.”