Conversational AI in the Age of the Experience Economy
Mr. Krishna Tammana, Gupshup’s new Chief Technology Officer, in this interview shares his priorities as he partakes in his new role, offers his views on the changing landscape of conversational engagement, and how IT leaders can help companies chart a course for this change.
- How should IT leaders rewire their tech strategy and roadmap for the experience economy?
Experience is slowly overtaking product and price as the key brand differentiator. Needless to say, experience is technology, and experience-led transformation begins with understanding user needs. In the experience economy, the user is always the focal point, and their requirements and expectations should serve as the roadmap for IT leaders to follow.
- Why should IT and business leaders bet on conversational engagement technologies to drive growth?
It is most important to meet customers where they are and when they want. Conversational engagement in this context, with any medium (text/voice/video) is critical. This has the effect of improving customer experience and optimizing cost to serve. Businesses can leverage automated support tools like chatbots to handle simple customer requests, allowing human agents to respond to complex concerns more quickly and bringing down the overall query turnaround times. Customer support departments carry a high operating cost for most organizations. Cutting down on these costs by leveraging technology can significantly improve their margins. Insights collected during a conversation on a messaging platform can also be used to create a highly personalized chat experience for every customer. The data can then be processed to upsell and cross-sell or nudge the customer to make repeat sales.
- What’s the USP of Gupshup?
The pandemic has only seen more players enter this space, as businesses move towards digitization. Gupshup is unique in the sense that it offers a holistic and integrated range of solutions for businesses wanting to take their experience up another notch. Gupshup has made 5 acquisitions in the past 11 months and has strengthened its RCS capabilities with the acquisition of Dotgo, its voice offerings with Knowlarity, Active.ai, and AskSid’s acquisitions helped it venture into BFSI and Retail sectors respectively and OneDirect will help businesses with virtual contact centres. If there is a one-stop solution for conversational engagement products, it is Gupshup. Several industry analysts have recognized Gupshup as a leader in conversational AI and recently, Juniper Research has also named Gupshup as an “Established Leader” in the bot space.
- Can you share how your solutions are helping businesses transform consumer engagement across industries?
Let’s take an example, as part of NoBroker’s property listing process, customers were facing problems uploading photos on the NoBroker site and mobile app. As a result, the NoBroker team had to manually reach out to customers, collect the photos and upload them from their end – a tedious, resource-intensive, and inefficient process that resulted in cost overheads. Gupshup collaborated with NoBroker to develop a WhatsApp chatbot, which allowed property owners to interact and upload photos directly via WhatsApp. The overall time taken to upload photos for the property listing came down from 3 days to just 6 minutes. As a result, NoBroker saw 20x annualized ROI and a 2.8x increase in property let-outs/sales.
Another example is Doubtnut, a subscription-based EdTech platform that helps students clarify doubts related to STEM subjects. Earlier, students needed to click pictures of questions and upload them to Doubtnut’s website or mobile app. However, the EdTech company soon realized that students had limited access to high-speed mobile internet connectivity in rural India, which impacted the service. To address this challenge, Gupshup developed a smart WhatsApp chatbot. Today, students just send questions via WhatsApp and get backlinks to videos with answers, in a language of their choice, in under 10 seconds. Using the chatbot, Doubtnut saw a 95% user satisfaction rate, and the number of daily users shot up by 224%. In effect, Doubtnut’s tutor-student engagement rate increased by 260%.
- What are your key priorities as Gupshup’s new CTO?
Building on our current capabilities and simultaneously, exploring other growth opportunities are things we’d like to prioritize. With the recent slew of acquisitions, synergizing the various teams and products to ensure that we provide the most holistic conversational engagement solutions in the market is also something that we are looking to focus on.
- How is Guphsup’s engineering strategy evolving, given the macroeconomic challenges?
As leaders in the space of conversational engagement, automating processes across the customer lifecycle to lower costs and higher productivity, becomes an essential deliverable for us. As enterprises across the globe move towards making headway in shifting from manual to automated processes when it comes to conversational engagement, they need to be supported by the right tools and AI automation models that can help elevate the level of support and personalization meted out. Not only does this ensure exceptional customer experiences, but it also brings down operational costs and allows enterprises to dedicate human resources to higher-value tasks.
- What’s your cloud strategy? Which technologies are you investing in?
At Gupshup, our multi-cloud strategy allows us to maintain our carrier-grade network infrastructure, in addition to heavy investments in information security, automation, observability, and monitoring tools that come together to help us provide customers with an accelerated time-to-market. We also prioritize helping our customers grow exponentially without any hurdles or the need for manual intervention, which we deliver through technologies like Kubernetes with micro-service architecture and auto-scale.
- What tips would you want to give to budding CTOs?
Great CTOs must develop the ability to communicate the business vision to technical people, and the technical vision to business people. It is natural that you won’t have every answer, and don’t be afraid to admit that and get opinions, even from outside your organization. Most importantly, don’t make technology an ivory tower but democratize technology. Adaptability and agility are both traits that make a great CTO.