Customer service is critical to just about any business. When it’s good, it keeps clients happy. When it’s bad, it drives them to the competition.
And as Aru Anavekar has seen firsthand: Technology plays a big role.
With many years of experience in the online compare marketplace and lending industry, Anavekar, 35, saw how outdated processes hindered businesses ability to communicate with customers. So she set out to find a better way.
“I started to think about ways to help customer service advance to meet the technological expectations of today’s consumers,” she says.
The result is botsplash, a customer conversational platform Anavekar created in August of 2016 with co-founder Ramu Pulipati that combines the strengths of live chat and bot chat.
A good customer service representative can react to specific circumstances with individual attention to detail. Artificial intelligence can provide instant customer response, even when all the human workers are out of the office. botsplash combines the best aspects of human flexibility and AI efficiency.
One of the things a bot can do is greet the client’s initial outreach with a, “hello.” That “hello” is important, Anavekar explains.
“It makes them feel good,” she says. “When they have taken the trouble to visit your site, have them give some information so you can get back to them.”
Let’s say a real estate office has five realtors; three are showing houses and two are idle. In this case, the “hello” is provided by one of the idle realtors, who answers the phone or responds to a chat.
But if all the agents are busy, a bot can greet the client and solicit specific information. Then, when a realtor becomes available, the initial set of client questions has already been answered, and the appropriate realtor can contact the client.
The botsplash platform is built so a company can connect it across all channels, from SMS and the company website to social media sites like Facebook. As a result, a company can retrieve all client queries from one location, regardless of what type of technology the client used to reach out.
“Whether it is Facebook or Alexa or Slack, we want you to be able to take all those leads so you are taking care of anyone who is interested in doing business with you,” Anavekar says.
The initial target market for botsplash is lending companies and realtors with 100 to 200 agents because both industries employ the same process: A prospective customer contacts the company. Specific information must be solicited before the relationship can progress. Once the customer’s needs are known, the lender or realtor can facilitate the transaction.
botsplash combines chat bots and human service to match a buyer to a seller without wasting either party’s time.
“Our goal is that when someone is new on your website, you don’t have to connect them with an agent until they are ready for a home showing,” says Anavekar. “We are trying to understand when to have the agent connection versus trying to automate some of the processes.”
Anavekar says botsplash is well-equipped to compete in the marketplace. She brings to the company an immense knowledge of lending companies and their customer service needs, as well as a passion for artificial intelligence: Anavekar hosts Charlotte Bots and AI, a monthly meetup for those interested in bots and AI-based applications. Her co-founder, Pulpati, has experience in startups and automation. And the botsplash platform is homegrown and built using open-source software.
“Chat platforms are so new, most of the solutions out there are generic,” she says. “We would like to set up a roadmap for you.”
Part of the roadmap includes customized filters. So if an agent wants to limit her listings to properties upwards of $500,000, that is reflected in the platform, and she only receives leads fitting that criteria.
The company, which was recently named as a Spring 2018 NC IDEA SEED Semi-Finalist, currently has two full-time employees and three part-timers. Anavekar says she hopes to hire more mid-year. And as the technology for machine learning becomes more sophisticated, AI will become more predictive, which will continue to enhance the capabilities of the botsplash platform.
Lynn Trenning is a freelance writer and Legal Assistant at The Law Office of Chris Clark, PLLC.
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