The global pandemic is creating challenges for businesses all over the world. In addition to having to adjust to the realities of working from home, many are seeing sharp declines in revenue and are being forced to make hard choices as a result. What’s clear is that the longer the crisis drags on, the more difficult it will become for businesses to survive.
Yet some companies are actually thriving in the current environment. By providing critical services, they’re helping their customers be more successful as they navigate the crisis, while also experiencing tremendous growth. In this post, we’re profiling four such companies from Espresso’s portfolio. Not only do they stand out for thriving in the face of COVID-19 thanks to their ability to quickly adapt to the current situation, but also because of the way in which their technology is helping their customers overcome some of the challenges that have resulted from the pandemic.
eSCRIBE helps restore local government
In times of crisis, we rely on the government to provide leadership and disseminate critical information. We want to know that everything is functioning and that our elected officials are working to ensure that things will be ok. Of course, for that to happen, those officials need to be able to meet, debate, and vote on key issues. Unfortunately, that has become impossible to do with the rise of COVID-19 since most local governments aren’t set up for remote work. As a result, many local governments have found themselves canceling meetings, which inhibits their ability to work effectively.
Although you might think that holding virtual government meetings is as easy as signing up for a Zoom account, it’s not that simple. That’s because there are all kinds of procedural components to government meetings that you simply can’t manage effectively with standard meeting software.
That’s where eSCRIBE has been able to help. With offices in the United States and Canada, eSCRIBE is a leading provider of secure, cloud-based meeting management solutions for public sector boards, committees, and councils. Working in combination with Zoom, eSCRIBE provides the meeting management support necessary to actually conduct effective government meetings. That includes functionality such as enabling debates and voting that would otherwise be difficult to manage in a virtual meeting environment.
“At a time when government could have broken down, we’re helping our customers restore local government and bring order to what could have been a very chaotic situation,” says eSCRIBE CEO Rob Treumann. “Although the change from paper-based to digital meetings has been on local governments’ minds for years, the current pandemic has really accelerated the curve.”
Since the crisis, Treumann says that customers have been rapidly expanding their existing accounts to add new features and functionality, while many new local governments have also signed up. In fact, he says, new customers are so eager to embrace the technology that they’re moving to fully remote meetings in as little as a week.
SocialChorus powers workforce communications
To be successful in business, you need to be able to reach all of your employees with relevant and timely information so that they can take the right actions. That’s true every day, but especially during challenging times like these. For companies in manufacturing, retail, and hospitality, that are furloughing vast amounts of their workforce, staying in touch can be particularly difficult. Yet it’s critical to keeping workers informed and eventually re-onboarding them when they come back to work.
To do so, you need to be able to reach employees no matter where they are. San Francisco-based SocialChorus is a communications platform designed to help companies connect with their employees, whether they’re in the office, on the factory floor, working from home, or not working at all. It delivers messages wherever necessary to reach employees, including over Teams, Slack, and Salesforce, or simply via their smartphone.
“Being able to communicate quickly and clearly is essential in a crisis,” says SocialChorus CEO Gary Nakamura. “With so much misinformation, companies and leaders need to be reliable and credible in sharing information and answering questions. You want to be the source of truth for your employees so that they know what to say and do.”
Nakamura says that the rise of COVID-19 has really amplified use of the platform. In response, in March, the company fast tracked its new Analyze feature and made it available for free. The feature allows companies to get insights on the effectiveness of their communications about the pandemic.
“In many ways, it has taken this crisis for businesses to realize how important it is to be able to reach all of their workers in real time,” explains Nakamura. “Doing so wasn’t previously seen as strategic or critical, but this is just another example of how COVID-19 has resulted in a fundamental shift in how businesses will operate going forward.
In March, SocialChorus reached over 1 million active users for the first time and continues to see rapid adoption of its platform.
AdvisorStream helps investment advisors retain their clients
If you’re an investment advisor in charge of overseeing people’s personal finances, you’re under a lot of pressure right now. Not only is there tremendous market volatility, you’ve also got the added strain of having to deal with highly anxious investors. Now more than ever, the key to doing so — and ultimately to retaining clients — is proactively engaging them with the right information. That’s because investor communications are not only critical to soothing anxious clients, they’re also one of the key factors that determine whether a client will stick around or take their business elsewhere.
Investors want their advisors to provide facts and credible content to keep them informed about what’s going on in the markets. In fact, in March alone investors increased their consumption of such content by 47 percent. Yet at a time when so much content is locked behind paywalls, gaining access to information that was once ubiquitous is now much more challenging. Underscoring the point, today around just 8 percent of American and Canadians have access to one premium news subscription, while less than 1 percent have access to multiple premium news subscriptions. Unfortunately, the information that’s available for free often isn’t accurate or reliable.
AdvisorStream helps advisors solve this problem for their clients. The Toronto-based company has an automated marketing platform for financial advisors, allowing them to leverage the world’s most credible financial news content to create greater engagement with their prospects and clients.
Since the start of the crisis, AdvisorStream has been running its COVID-19 relief plan, letting advisors use a basic version of their platform for free for three months to facilitate communication with their clients. In the weeks since, they’ve seen thousands of advisors sign up for free trials, 70 percent of which they believe will ultimately convert into paying customers.
“Poor communication is the second most common reason why investors leave their advisors,” says AdvisorStream CEO Kevin Mulhern. “We’re allowing advisors to communicate with their clients for free so that they can dramatically increase their retention levels throughout this crisis.”
Inference Solutions comes to the rescue as FAQs surge
One of the many logistical hurdles organizations are facing as a result of COVID-19 is responding to a deluge of questions. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations, for example, are being bombarded with inquiries about the virus and testing. At the same time, government agencies are being asked about shutdowns and travel restrictions, while all kinds of businesses are fielding questions from customers and employees alike.
Of course, fielding all of those questions can be daunting if you’re trying to do so manually. Recognizing this challenge, Inference Solutions, a global provider of Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) for sales and service organizations, saw an opportunity to help.
The company, whose AI-powered IVAs were designed to automate this type of support, is offering a free team of virtual agents to help companies keep their customers and employees informed during COVID-19.
Through June 30, Inference is waiving its standard licensing fees for service providers, businesses, healthcare organizations, and government agencies for up to five voice-based virtual agents. Those agents can be utilized to answer frequently asked questions using speech recognition, text-to-speech, and natural language understanding (NLU). FAQ On-Demand IVAs can be deployed in as little as two days, allowing organizations to disseminate critical information fast and efficiently.
“A lot of organizations have been dealing with a massive influx of questions since the crisis began, and they aren’t necessarily well equipped to respond to them all at scale,” says Inference CEO Callan Schebella. “We saw an opportunity to help make a difference by alleviating some of the stress businesses are facing.”
To learn more about about how some of our other portfolio companies are making a difference in the fight against COVID-19, read this story about how Spartan Bioscience is developing a rapid mobile test for the virus.