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AetherPal Raises $6M for Live Smartphone Customer Care, Hires New CEO

Wed, 11/06/2013 - 2:33pm
Ben Munson

AetherPal announced a fresh round of fundraising and a new CEO to go along with its on-device customer care cloud-based platform and application.

New CEO Daniel Deeney said that the $6 million Series A AetherPal just raised—from Point Judith and New Venture Partners, Deeney’s firm—will accelerate the company’s go-to-market activities both direct and through channel partners.

“We are looking to scale the business beyond the U.S. into Europe and then certain parts of Asia and Latin America,” Deeney said.

AetherPal already counts among its customers two tier-one wireless operators in the U.S. and one tier-one operator in Europe.

Deeney explained that there two components to the product: a mobile app that’s either pre-loaded or an over-the-air download, and there’s a cloud-based platform that’s used for the remote diagnostics and control over the trouble-shooting process.

“It effectively enables a tech support rep at a carrier to take control of the customer’s phone,” Deeney said.

Specifically, it’s called a remote session, in which the customer receives an unlock code from the support rep, punches it in and then the rep can see the actual device on their end. Much like an IT professional taking over a desktop, the customer will see tech support’s activity on their device in real-time and will receive prompts for their permission if the support rep tries to enter a sensitive area of the device.

Deeney said that AetherPal’s customers are attracted to the personalization its products brings to customer care but also in the promise of reducing return rates on devices. Deeney said that return rates are typically around 25 percent and that AetherPal wants to cut that number by 50 percent.

“There are a couple of our customers that are making good progress on achieving that target already,” Deeney said, adding that the savings are significant when factoring in device subsidies.

Because the care reps need to access the platform from all over, it made sense for AetherPal to deploy in the cloud. Deeney said the cloud aspect also simplifies the management of the platform.

The cloud deployment of AetherPal could play a key role in the service expanding its functionality. Deeney said the company is in the process of developing a virtual smart care depot, which he summed up as sort of a “knowledge base.” Essentially it would compile tutorials and scripts dealing with how customer care reps solve various device and service problems.

For example, if a customer care rep is presented with a problem on an older device running an older version of Android, they’d be able to pull up the knowledge base via web browser to more quickly diagnose the problem. 

Deeney said that carriers, in cooperation with OEMs, are already doing something similar to this when performing “post-mortems” on returned devices but that it makes sense to give reps a quick and easy way to call up that information.

Pointing to the fact that way more mobile devices are being sold today than desktops and laptops, Deeney said it was important to see a major shift in how mobile devices could be supported remotely.

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