Akosha, Making a Difference in the World of Customer Service
As consumerism increases, there is also a rise in the consumer versus brand conflict. Ambiguous customer acquisition contracts, hidden costs, extra charges are some instances of mismatch of expectation between the customer and the company. Customer care as a concept is a recent phenomenon and can be traced back to the beginning of telecom boom in India. Picking cues from the telecom business, most sectors today attach a premium to customer service and know the importance of keeping a customer happy.Started in February 2011, Akosha is one such platform that customers use to redirect their grievances to brands they deal with. YourStory had covered the venture when it launched. Back then they were helping customer's make legal wills for a fee, however two years down the line, there has been a pivot in what the startup does and lots of satisfied customers.
Things so far
From receiving one complaint a day to handling 30,000 complaints today, Akosha has its hands quite full. Customers approach Akosha to help get access to brands who are unreachable through the normal customer care numbers or other routes that they have well publicized through mass media. Customers can submit a detailed complaint to the brand through Akosha by paying a charge of Rs 499. Akosha in turn gets in touch with the brand manager at the brand’s end to help resolve the customer’s grievance.
Ankur Singla, founder & CEO, Akosha says today more than 350 brands are using Akosha to resolve complaints received from customers. Akosha is mostly in touch with the person who heads the customer care function at a company and helps customers get better access to people within an organization to help resolve the complaint.
Ankur says, there is a better resolution rate for complaints where companies understand the importance of keeping customers happy. “Resolution rate of disputes in case of telecom, eCommerce and appliance brands have been really good. They are very responsive and the resolution rate for such companies is as high as at 60-65%,” explains Ankur. Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Airtel & Vodafone are among the 350 brands, that the startup deals with.
However resolution rate in case of disputes relating to real estate, insurance and banking sectors are still in single digits or low double digit numbers.
Beyond customer service
The vast repository of information that Akosha mines, puts it in a good position to understand consumers better. Therefore a better analysis of the data it gathers can help companies understand information like quality of response, turnaround time, actual complaints resolved and ROI on investment done in customer care. This data says Ankur can be helpful for CMOs to come up with marketing insights.
Most customers on the site come from metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai. Chandigarh and Jaipur customers are also increasingly adopting the platform, says Ankur.
While the mechanism for accepting and forwarding customer complaints is in place, Ankur has plans to introduce a mobile app for Akosha, where the handheld device can be used as the interface between the customer and the website. The startup is also trying out its beta version for a crowdsourcing platform, through which it hopes to help influence decision making at a brand’s end. Called Spark, the platform allows customers to create a poll of sorts, to discuss the most common problem they have faced while using a brand, discuss that in detail and vote for its resolution. However the platform is still sometime away from being fully functional says Ankur.
There have also been learnings from the journey so far. And according to Ankur, the startup’s earlier focus on making wills for customers has now been completely done away with. Similarly, RTI is another area the Ankur is sure they will never venture into.