In a candid interaction with DQ Channels, Sanjay Gupta, Head Cloud Business and Managing Director- APAC/ME and Jagannath Narendran, Senior Vice President, APAC/ME, Aspect Software talks about their newly launched Customer Experience Platform.
What is the scope and potential we see for Do It Yourself (DIY) services in India?
Sanjay: The direction in which customer service is moving, the key driver to that is customer preference. Shift in the technical adoption is making a good way for self-service among every industry that we can talk about and this is being fuelled with demographic changes, proliferation of mobility, millennials, social media and the connectivity. Customers these days are very impatient when dealing with a brand in a traditional way on a call with the call centre of retail store. They prefer to Do-IT themselves. This is something which fits into their day to day life as the consumers are almost all the time on their mobile phones and they would like to do everything through that. We see that for every single segment that is there in the consumers life starting with verticals around banking and insurance companies or for shopping on a retail outlet or on an ecommerce site or when you’re interacting with a utility council or a telecom provider or when you’re going for a movie we can see the scope in every single thing. The goal of our brand that we are looking forward is in two ways, one obviously is improving the customer satisfaction and enhancing the service but also looking at it as a revenue generation scheme as well.
Could you share some light on your platform and USP?
Sanjay: Self-service like Do It Yourself is essentially a really broad term. Many organizations and solutions available today have different meanings. Aspect defines self-service, as a true self service is where the customer truly gets his freedom of choosing a channel which he/she would like to interact with the service provider. This actually means that depending on the time of the day using one particular channel to start a conversation, from question and answers to terminating it on something else such as a call, because during the time of the day they might be in different situation like they might be in a train or be busy in some meeting or might be having lunch so they can choose the way they want to track. The company needs to provide a seamless continuity across this conversation. For instance, if you started a conversation on a text or a social media and let’s say you followed up with a phone call then it is important for the brand to make sure that whatever the person has done as a transaction on the social media the context needs to transfer to the call centre as well so that when the call is answered, the agent has full background of the information that the person is already interacting with so that it becomes a continuation of the transaction and that is the difference Aspect brings out on basis on contextual handover across all the channels which includes voice and non-voice channels. The second thing that we believe is chatbots, DIY services or artificial intelligence based services are only good when you are able to complete the conversation with the customer through that medium. We are not promoting anything which is providing one-way information but we believe that we are connecting customer’s questions to the relevant answers and with a flavour of natural language of understanding which means that the customers can actually relate the way they would do in a live situation. So the natural language of communication and omni-channel experience is the key for us. And on the top of that there will be a variety of choices from the deployment perspective depending on how the customers will want it so we will have models around on premise deployment, models around value services and cloud services.
How do you see DIY channel revolving in India?
Jagan: Any technology is here to solve a problem or a business problem. Let’s look at this from an enterprise perspective, what an organization is actually looking for? Firstly, they want to increase customer satisfaction and secondly, they want to reduce cost and sometimes you feel like they are just the opposite and how they want to do it. From the consumer’s perspective, what are consumers looking for? They are looking for the ease of interaction with their brand and they want to do it themselves. They are moving from a ‘do it for me’ wall to a ‘let me do it’ wall. So what DIY essentially does is, it solves both the problems on both ends of perspective. The consumers want the ease of use and they want to do it themselves and so the platform that we have launched helps the consumers do that. And for the organization as long as they provide that platform, it will help them increase their consumers, and that is the cheapest way to look at the cost of infrastructure. Today, what the traditional way of providing customer service is, you pick up the phone call, dial the toll free number and there is an agent who picks up on the other side. Sometimes you wait for 20 minutes, sometimes for longer than that. From the organization perspective the agent cost, the infrastructure cost is going up in India or Philippines or in Malaysia irrespective of market that cost is going up and does not help in profitability of the organization. What self-service really does is, it meets the requirements of the consumers and therefore, takes the customer satisfaction up at the same time it meets the needs of the organization by reducing cost as well so it is a win-win situation on both side. Now, if you look at any evidence that support why this platform is going to be big is that out of the survey that we have done 92% of the customers that we surveyed essentially tells us that they would like to do it themselves. So whether it is the market sentiments or whether it is a business metric sentiment, this technology solves the problem on both sides of the coin.
What is the nature of collaboration this Aspect has? What are the market strategies used to promote this platform?
Sanjay: There are two ways to look at that. First, having a decent customer base across the variety of various industry verticals in India and those customers are in the businesses of solving customer problem then mainly B2C and B2B companies and that cut across various banking financial, BPO’s, retail companies and customers who are serving around all these verticals as well. So the first strategy is self-service, an additional channel on our traditional platform that the customers have and that is going to work. The second thing that we will do is that we will go and promote this for all the brands who are customer centric where they have variety of customer transaction which is something which can be automated very easily so that they get productivity gain, wherever the customer have volumes of problems which can be solved by self-service, we will go and pitch them. Our platform is independent of any infrastructure that the customer might have so it does not really matter that whether they have an Aspect’s module or something else, we will co-exist with the existing technology that we have. We can integrate with every single platform available in the country like we would go and introduce it to any CRM platform that we have which would give us an edge for becoming one of the top solutions and enable the enterprises without really letting them reinvest a lot on their core infrastructure that they have. The third is the lot initiative that are taken from the government side for the citizen services such as e-services and this platform really plays very well in automating many of those transactions which are directly hitting the customers.
Jagan: In India, with new banking licenses and the fact that there are millions of customer who can be acquired overnight, getting all these customers through just one channel is definitely not the right strategy for any organization because these customers are not from a particular area, they are spread across the diverse region and therefore, giving an option of multiple channel and using their mobile phone where the penetration in India is so high is definitely the best way to serve a great customer experience.
How do you see the rising need for omni-channel customer engagement?
Jagan: If you think of shared economy, there are a lot of examples of companies globally that are a part of this shared economy. You take Uber for example, now in Uber I can use the app, I can use Facebook Messenger, I can call if I need to for help and that service becomes so simple and easy to use. Uber now has an app which is like contact for Facebook Messenger. In India there is only 50% of penetration of smartphone and 50% of feature phone. Now, Facebook Messenger has introduced a Lite version for India called Facebook Messenger Lite. So even if I have a feature phone today, I can still use the Uber service. So this concept of making it easy and reach the customer the way they want to interact is an essential initiative in the shared economy. I think companies like Uber as well as Ola are doing a really great job.
Jagan: Voice as a channel of interaction is slowly going down. I think it will evolve in a different form of speech recognition at a later time but currently voice is giving way to a 2-way natural language messaging and the concept of chatbot which I am sure you have heard a lot about in the news and magazine and I would say that the self-service or the 2-way communication of natural language is the first step for the evolution of chatbot that will slowly evolve into machine learning and artificial intelligence and this is only going to benefit the consumer. It is going to make it easier with the devices that are integrated in the speech recognition that will also become popular. My personal view is that India is at the forefront and actually being a pioneer in these technologies. Organization and start-ups are building new technology in this area. We believe we have great strength in building on the foundation of over 40 years being in the customer experience and taking all the experience across 1000 customers globally and enabling and transition over strength from a voice based customer service to voice and self-service based customer service company.
Sanjay: Aspect has the ability to really walk with the customers, to understand their business cycle, their revenue goals and their aspirations and really guide them through a journey mapping process wherein you can help them build a road map in order to achieve a true omni-channel area starting with voice optimizations and the most preferred channel of choice of their customer. So that is a journey that Aspect can take very well with the customers and I think that is a very strong strength of ours. Otherwise today’s consumers are confused with so many options available in the market place. I think it is important for providers like us to work with the customers and provide a road map to them to make their life easier.