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Start-ups that automated customer support during COVID-19 are reaping the rewards today

Start-ups that automated customer support during COVID-19 are reaping the rewards today

Start-ups that automated customer support during COVID-19 are reaping the rewards today
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By Jude Sannith  Nov 4, 2022 4:58:34 PM IST (Published)

The last couple of years have seen an eclectic cross-section of companies — from new-age start-ups, legacy firms and tiny MSMEs — take the digital approach to customer service, and reap the reward.

A month ago, tech-enabled mobility platform Yulu Bikes announced that it had invested in a new CRM (customer relationship management) software. The company set aside an undisclosed sum to procure Freshworks’ flagship products Freshdesk and Freshchat to give its customer engagement a fillip.

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Ever since buying these AI-powered chatbots, Yulu has reported a 30 percent reduction in customer support volume, which means fewer executives handling customer queries. “These solutions integrated seamlessly with our existing technology and have taken our customer support to the next level,” said Ayushi Mishra, CX Head, Yulu Bikes.
In fact, Yulu is going so far as to predict the eventual redundancy of service executives handling customer queries in the foreseeable future, thanks to new AI tools. Given the three million battery swaps the start-up has executed to date, as part of its battery-as-a-service network, that is no doubt a significant number. But Yulu is not alone.
The last couple of years have seen an eclectic cross-section of companies — from new-age start-ups, legacy firms and tiny MSMEs — take the digital approach to customer service, and reap the reward. In September 2021, Dunzo announced that it was using ‘Freddy’, Freshworks’ customer engagement AI, the delivery start-up automated nearly 60 percent of its customer engagement, cutting down customer support costs by 30 percent.
A similar purchase by PhonePe — the digital payment app that handles 1.5 billion transactions per month by 300 million users — saw 80 percent of its customer query tickets deflected to chatbots, which ended up handling 850 decisions autonomously.
Other names like Curefit, PharmEasy and Byjus have gone on record with their use of chatbots to enhance customer support experience during the pandemic years. Even traditional multi-brand retail outlets like Chennai-based Poorvika have digitised their CRM tools. Freshworks believes more names in legacy business could follow — the company is in talks with two big names in the Indian auto sector to sell its CRM software.
“Today organisations across sectors are viewing better customer engagement as a competitive advantage,” said Karthik Rajaram, VP and Head of India Business, in a chat with CNBC-TV18.com, “That’s also because it falls right in the middle of what customers want and prioritise.” He adds: “The direct-to-consumer platforms that exist today see a large number of millennials that wants responses and resolution instantaneously — and on a medium of their choice.”
While advantages like data-driven decision-making and swifter turnaround/resolution times make for a great case for the adoption of automated customer engagement software, the fact is some companies are making money too.
In September, Zoho Corp announced that one of its enterprise customers, Zoomcar had achieved a whopping 150 percent increase in conversions, which had a direct bearing on the company’s revenue. The start-up has been using Zoho’s unified CRM platform, which brings sales, marketing and customer service onto a single platform. The fact that chatbots were involved in sales meant that Zoomcar not only saved money through automated customer service but made more of it through automated selling.
“By leveraging Zoho CRM, Zoomcar can enhance customer experiences by aligning their teams across functions and establishing greater customer centricity,” said Zoho’s Chief Operating Officer, Mani Vembu, in a recent interview.
For the moment, the approach seems to be helping SaaS companies on the customer acquisition front. NYSE-listed Freshworks reported the addition of 1,700 new customers in the September 2022 quarter alone, along with an integration of its conversational AI software into the company’s CX and CRM solutions. Of Zoho’s 500,000 customers (as of May 2022), the company said 50,000 have got on board its integrated Zoho One platform, where it hopes to double revenues every two years.
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