2019 was the year of hype and snake oil when it came to chatbots. 2020 will be a year of pragmatism and real results – Interview with Abinash Tripathy of Helpshift

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Today’s interview is with Abinash Tripathy, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Helpshift, which provides an AI-powered conversational platform that companies use to resolve service issues more efficiently, boosting customer satisfaction in the process. Abinash joins me today to talk messaging, the gaming industry, chatbots, snake-oil, hype, getting pragmatic and delivering real results.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Fanocracy and building a true human connection – Interview with David Meerman Scott – and is number 328 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with David:

  • People dread calling a brand for customer service and getting stuck waiting on hold. It’s a constant pain in the industry.
  • Customer service operations worldwide are basically still conducted in a very traditional manner.
  • Communication is changing and we are moving away from calling to more of an asynchronous messaging paradigm.
  • 80% of communication in our life is non urgent and doesn’t need to be tethered to another person.
  • Messaging is becoming the primary enabler of the next generation of communication technology for the contact center.
  • Chatbots are essentially automation technology that’s embedded within a messaging framework that allows human beings to interact with machines enabling them to carry out all sorts of transactions and conversations at scale.
  • Helpshift cut its teeth in the gaming industry where they learned how to handle queries from millions and millions of players every day.
  • They work with some of the providers of the most successful games on the planet including Fortnite and Supercell.
  • The scale in gaming is so massive that automation is the number one problem that you’re solving for because they really don’t want to operate an old-school contact center.
  • This is particularly true as only around 20% of gamers are paying customers.
  • Helpshift recently published a report called: State of Customer Service Automation 2019.
  • There’s a lot of hype around automation and chatbots right now and you can trace its origins back to Facebook in 2015 and IBM following that.
  • Many brands’ experience with bots and automation have been less successful than they would have liked due to many vendors over-promising and under delivering.
  • Helpshift has taken a more pragmatic approach and their top customers are automating anywhere from 50 to 70% of their inbound enquiries.
  • Chinese customers are very open to using automation technology largely due to their experience with WeChat, whereas Western audiences are not there yet.
  • Intelligent voice assistants are suffering from even more hype.
  • Right now, Siri is pretty useless. The marginal utility of Siri and Alexa is pretty low as they don’t really work yet beyond basic instructions.
  • Helpshift takes a a very narrow view of problems so they have built a number of bots for very specific problems rather than trying to build some master bot that can understand the world.
  • If you look at all inbound enquiries that a company receives then you can largely split them 80:20. 80% are common and 20% represent the long-tail.
  • We basically advise all our customers not to go after the long tail.
  • If you want to win with automation, you want to really take the most common high volume drivers in a contact center and automate them first.
  • 2020 is going to be a very different year. A lot of projects have failed and there is large scale recognition that platforms like IBM Watson are not delivering. As a result, and people are gonna start looking at taking a much more pragmatic or practical approach.
  • Whether we go to asynchronous messaging or not, I think the key is digital and it is the key to providing the best self service experience. In digital, messaging is probably the most promising communication channel that consumers are using today, it is the one they are most comfortable with and the best way to deploy automation.
  • Microsoft’s decision to adopt Helpshift in Office365 was a punk move. In doing so, they effectively abandoned their voice channel.
  • Each call used to cost them on an average $7 to $20-30. Now, that is down to less than a dollar using messaging and with automation.
  • Another company adopting a punk ethos: Amazon and what they are doing with automation in customer service. It’s brilliant.

About Abinash

Abinash Tripathy is Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Helpshift. Helpshift bridges the disconnect between conventional customer service channels—like email and phone support—and a growing consumer base that does more on mobile phones and has a strong preference for messaging as the primary mode of communication. Through Helpshift’s AI-powered conversational platform, companies can resolve issues more efficiently, boosting customer satisfaction in the process. Companies such as Comcast Xfinity Home, Microsoft, Virgin Media, Square, Supercell, Epic Games, Zynga, Viacom, and hundreds of other leading brands use the Helpshift platform to provide messaging-first customer support. Helpshift is installed on two billion devices worldwide and serves more than 130 million active consumers monthly.

Check out Helpshift, connect with Abinash and the folks at Helpshift on Twitter @abinashtripathy and @helpshift and feel free to connect with Abinash on LinkedIn here.

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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