Seizing the Conversational User Interface (CUI) opportunity – in conversation with Mr. Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder & CEO, Haptik, Inc.

Mr. Aakrit Vaish in conversation with the Kalzoom Team – Haptik provides solutions in the conversation AI space. Here is an inside look into the CUI space through the lenses of Haptik.

1. With the emergence of virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant there has been a lot buzz around chatbots. Is it just a hype? How will the adoption of chatbots be in small and medium-sized businesses? Will the rise of chatbots replace mobile applications in near future?

The hype has now translated into reality. The image below is the best way to think about the evolution.
And at Haptik, we have literally lived this cycle since 2013. The circle above represents 2019 and the next few years are going to be the market adoption phase. We see the power of voice technology coupled with languages (particularly in a market like India) lead the next phase of innovation.

Small business owners cannot afford to have an extra labour like assistants because of limited finances. This is why small, medium business owners need chatbots. They have minimal costs and any investment they ask for brings ROI right away!

Saying chatbots will replace mobile apps is like saying mobile apps should replace websites. Each interface has its own place depending on the application being built. For certain things, apps will work best and for other things chatbots will do better.

2. What challenges did you face in setting up Haptik and what does the future of Conversational User Interface (CUI) look like? Which industries are lucrative for CUI?

The biggest challenge initially was actually evangelism and education. All enterprises wanted chatbots, but had no idea what business problem they wanted to use them to solve. Most of my job even today is just thought leadership about what bots can do, and more importantly cannot do. This also lead to other challenges such as price discovery, no one was aware what is the right price which caused sales cycles to be terribly long due to unnecessary negotiations.

There is definitely there is a lot to learn from each sector which can then be applied to the platform as a whole. For example, in e-commerce, people’s patience levels are lowest because the typical query is for order status. So we had to ensure the platform is optimized for speed even if the answers may not be 100% accurate. Whereas in the case of say healthcare, people care more about accuracy of information so the bot needed to be spot on, even if it took 2-3 seconds extra.

Voice is going to lead the next phase of growth for the industry and subsequently Haptik in general. It just intuitively makes sense, it’s easier and takes lesser time to speak a command than type it.

3. Haptik’s chatbots have been reportedly used by over 50 fortune 500 companies. What has been your sales strategy to tap that kind of customer base? What is your growth strategy for FY2019- 2020?

We’ve tried to focus on solving specific business problems end to end. Instead of selling a chatbot, we have always approached clients with trying to understand their business problems and deliver ROI via one of the solutions we have. We also specialize only in working with B2C brands that have a direct interaction touch point with the end consumer.

For the coming year, we are investing heavily in voice bots as well as vernacular languages. We believe this opens up a huge market for us and something we can really penetrate well.

4. What are your chatbot customers looking for and what is Haptik doing to meet those requirements? What does the chatbot usage in different parts of the world look like?

Every single chatbot built on the Haptik platform is 100% customized, and all of the customization is done by our in house professional services team. This is a strong call we took early on when getting into the business, which was unpopular with a lot of our competitors.

A chatbot is only as good as the data you provide it. It’s also as much a design problem as a technology problem. Each workflow needs to be thought through carefully to lead to the desired outcome.

The market in India is huge, and still only about 10% penetrated. We want to win the market here in our target product-customer segment.

We have started operations in the US in 2018, and UK as well a few weeks back. Will focus on English speaking markets as the next step in 2019 and beyond.

For new age internet first businesses like E-commerce, chat will become the primary channel of conversation, 70%+ of engagement will flow through here. For complex products and traditional offline businesses like Insurance, Utilities, Healthcare, etc. most of the conversation will be on Voice, with chat acting as a good complimentary channel to have. For all others that fall somewhere in the middle, it will depend on the type of end customers they have and the ideal solution for them.