Avoka targets customers’ digital experience

Avoka TechnologiesBROOMFIELD — Avoka Technologies has growth on its agenda.

Founded in Sydney, Australia, and co-headquartered there and in Broomfield, Avoka secured $12 million from private investors in June. The plan for using the money includes increasing the number of employees and the number of customers by extending the company’s reach.

Avoka intends to increase its headcount by 50 percent — mostly in Broomfield and in London — over the next fiscal year, according to chief marketing officer Don Bergal.

The company was founded in 2002, and as an enterprise partner with Adobe it focused on helping the Australian government reduce errors in PDF forms.

“We had a big focus on reducing red tape to government services,” said Phil Copeland, co-founder and chief executive.

As technology advanced from static PDFs to interactivity on mobile phones, iPads and laptops, Avoka stepped up to the challenge. The company developed software that makes the relationship between online customers and businesses simple and fast.

Avoka now focuses primarily on helping the financial industry acquire customers digitally.

“Our goal is to improve the experience for customers who expect an Amazon-like experience,” said Copeland.

Large banks and investment and financial-service companies aim to get customers to sign up for services through digital as well as traditional in-person channels. It’s the digital channels that can cause a company to lose the sale if the process is too complicated or the application questions poorly worded.

Creating efficient online applications is a time-consuming task. For a bank, it can take years, according to Bergal, and the focus reduces how agile a bank can be in rolling out new services and getting them to market quickly.

“If a bank has a website and advertises a new credit card, it could build a user interface,” he said, “but by the time it’s built with the ability to save and pick up later for a spouse to sign with legal and financial disclosures, they have a project that takes one year or more.”

By the time the bank builds another user interface with another offer, its customers are banking somewhere else.

Avoka software, on the other hand, gets a customer’s offer out in weeks rather than years.

“We provide the software that customers will see when they sign up,” he said. “We do the portion that’s between ‘apply now’ and ‘submit.’ It allows banks to target narrow market niches more quickly than if they have to write the interface from scratch.”

Services for which those customers are signing up range from credit-card applications to loan applications.

Banks and other financial organizations customize Avoka’s software with their branding. “All the pieces are there — security, identity verification, income validation and electronic signatures,” Bergal said. “The bank decides how the branding looks and what questions they ask.

“Security is huge, so compliance with regulatory issues and encryption is vital,” he added.

Continuous optimization is another part of Avoka’s product and service. “Things change constantly and have to be tested and optimized constantly,” he said. “About 80 percent of applications are dropped before they’re finished.”

Avoka provides the ability to monitor those abandonment rates and adjust questions when the number of exits at certain points in the process increase.

For example, changing the wording in a question about an applicant’s income or moving the question to later in the application after more time and effort has been invested in the process can make the difference between getting a customer and not.

“If the bank has to do it, they can only change a question every six months, and that’s not an efficient way to optimize,” Bergal said.

The result of Avoka’s efficiency helps double the number of applicants that are converted to customers. Hiring people to sell and connect to banks and build Avoka’s ecosystem with other sellers is the goal now.

“We grew 50 percent over the year before and signed up customers on three continents,” Bergal said. “We have a mature product and a proven customer base that delivers a lot of value.”

Since the basics of writing code is done, hiring people for sales, marketing, engineering, support and customer management is the next step.

“We’ve been around for 12 years and have a degree of stability after breaking even or being profitable for many years,” Bergal said. Because of that, he believes the company is attracting good new talent.

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