In corona time, the messaging services of CM.com became indispensable

In corona time, the messaging services of CM.com became indispensable

A few years ago, entrepreneur Jeroen van Glabbeek was sitting in the stands with his favorite football team NAC. His Breda company CM.com was the main sponsor. Where most spectators mainly focused on what was happening on the field, he analyzed the football visit during the match. How do I buy a ticket and enter, how can I order beer here and how can I pay for it? “Those were separate actions, but we thought it should be much easier.”

Van Glabbeek and his company developed an app in which all those actions for supporters come together. It later became one of the corona solutions for the catering industry. If you order a drink or food there, you will in many cases be sent to an order site via a QR code at the table. Select consumptions, pay immediately and the food and drinks are brought.

“Actually, we had already thought of that for Lowlands a year before,” says Van Glabbeek. “Based on the idea that you no longer have to queue at a bar. It was still hip and luxurious back then. But it suddenly came in handy during the corona crisis.”

It was not the first application that his company scored with. The text messages that meal deliverers send that your order is on its way? A message that reminds you of tomorrow’s dentist appointment or that the result of your corona test is ready? Do you want to reserve a time slot at the Van Gogh Museum? Come up with an automated electronic communication and chances are CM.com is involved.

Club Message

The company started in 1999 sending text messages with advertisements to young people in discotheques – CM stands for Club Message. In the early years, CM.com also provided SMS voting for TV contests such as idols and the Eurovision Song Contest.

In the end, Van Glabbeek and business partner Gilbert Gooijers – now operational director – plunged into a market that KPN had neglected: business messages. “When WhatsApp came up in 2010, KPN immediately thought: this is wrong. Texting was the number two source of income for them. We thought: texting will remain a way of communicating with consumers for the business market.”

In addition to text messages, CM.com now offers a whole package of so-called conversational commerce to: from WhatsApp conversations with companies to chatbots. CM.com receives a few euro cents for every message sent via the service.

CM.com is a remarkable grower in times of corona. In the first half of 2021, turnover growth was almost 94 percent (to 112 million euros), partly thanks to acquisitions. The platform that allows companies to communicate with customers (such as via SMS and WhatsApp) contributed EUR 94.1 million in revenue, the part including ticket sales for EUR 4.8 million. Below the line, CM.com still made a loss of 4.9 million euros in the first half of the year.

Initially, the corona crisis was a blow to the growth ambitions of the Breda company. CM.com also handles the sale of tickets for events worldwide. Such as the Formula 1 race at Zandvoort. “In the beginning, of course, you mainly saw the problems. Festivals were no longer going on. Booking.com suddenly had no more travel. For every trip you make with Booking.com, we send a confirmation. That also suddenly went down”, says Van Glabbeek.

However, the switch soon turned. “Working from home caused a lot of hurdles. We were no longer able to sign documents remotely. If we run into this, it should also apply to others. We could do something about that.” The solution: CM.com developed an application for customers with which you can put a digital signature on documents on an iPad.

CM.com initially made the software available for free. “Companies were reluctant to invest. Our second quarter of 2020 was therefore poor. But by now we had a good idea of ​​what the market needed.”

Also read: Tech company from Breda has outgrown the disco

IPO

CM.com had the space financially. The company had just raised 70 million euros in February 2020 with an IPO. This was done through a special construction, the so-called special purpose acquisition company (spac). Investors put money into an empty stock exchange fund and with that money a company is bought. The company will be listed on the stock exchange through a merger. A first attempt to go public on its own failed in October 2019. Van Glabbeek: “We were growing fast and were looking for 100 million euros. Among other things, to hire three hundred sellers. We didn’t want external investors with far-reaching influence, so an IPO seemed the best option.” Shortly before the listing, however, the process was aborted. According to Van Glabbeek, the moment was not right. “Brexit got out of hand again. Trump made crazy statements again. Investors said: come back next year.” A few months later, the SPAC hit the mark. But not the entire company went public.

Van Glabbeek and Gooijers still own 54 percent of the shares. Preserving it is not must, says the CEO. “It may just be necessary to issue new shares if we want to make a major acquisition.”

According to Van Glabbeek, a recent takeover proves that there is still considerable growth. CM.com recently bought CX Company, a company specialized in chatbots, among other things. “There are just instances where a computer can help you better than a human. And also a lot of cases where it isn’t. We are now figuring that out.”

He mentions as an example someone who wants to have a towbar fitted to a lease car for the holidays. “A computer can answer such a question better than someone in a call center. It depends on which company you work for and what kind of contract and car you have.” A computer, he says, can immediately calculate those options and say: you can have a tow bar. “A person would have a lot more trouble with that. “Oh, I’ll have to check that.”

But suppose you drive into the crash barrier on the highway, Van Glabbeek sketches. “Then you just want to get someone on the phone and say, ‘Sir, stand safe and call the police.’ That empathy can never be taken over by a computer.”

CM.com is currently one of the largest players in customer interaction worldwide. Competitors are relatively unknown names like Twillo and Liveperson. In fact, says Van Glabbeek, the entire company has changed in one year. “Before the crisis, we already had good products and three hundred employees. Now we have eight hundred. Corona has changed the communication needs of companies. You can no longer sit in a call center with forty employees. You want to be able to communicate with the customer from home. We are now taking advantage of that.”

In corona time, the messaging services of CM.com became indispensable
Source link In corona time, the messaging services of CM.com became indispensable

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