How Exotel, Freshworks and Kaleyra leveraged their technology during COVID-19 with AWS as the backbone
COVID-19 has impacted a large number of industries in India and across the world, but now, more than ever, technology is being used on a massive scale to keep people productive and connected while being miles apart. Organisations are having to re-calibrate their tech strategies to survive the pandemic.
Thanks to startups like Exotel, Kaleyra and Freshworks, who have built their communication platforms on Amazon Web Services (AWS), many companies have been able to thrive in this new environment. Read how they are playing a critical role through their communication technologies in supporting governments, consumers and businesses during the uncertain times ahead.
Exotel - Simplifying customer conversations
Exotel, one of Asia’s largest cloud telephony platforms based out of Bengaluru, works with over 3,000 businesses across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region to help streamline their customer communication.
"We power nearly 10 million customer conversations every single day and help companies move their communication to the cloud. Reliability and scalability are the cornerstones of our platform," says Shivakumar Ganesan (Shivku), CEO, Exotel.
During this pandemic, they are helping companies by enabling them to switch to remote working models seamlessly and powering an effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) by automating some aspects of customer communication. All customer-facing teams, including sales, support, relationship managers, collections, etc. were able to switch to remote working without compromising the customer experience.
Exotel moved organisations’ dependence on on-premise solutions and helped agents use their mobile phones to answer customer calls. For the customers, the experience remained the same and employees were able to follow the due process. In the case of on-field teams like the collection teams, data involving customer communication that were previously not tracked were now being streamlined and tracked to give customers a better experience. For example, earlier there was no way for the manager or the supervisor to know how many calls were being made to customers, how many of them were going unanswered or if the information being given to the customers were right. With Exotel powering the calls, all this information was being captured and gave the managers a complete overview of the work that was being done.
Exotel also works with government and NGO helplines for COVID-19 relief. The COVID-19 helpline of eight states’, including Kerala (Ernakulam district) and Karnataka were powered by them. Using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service, functions such as patient care, medicine distribution, finding hospital beds for the critically ill, daily monitoring for the home quarantined patients, etc. are being carried out efficiently. They also work with doctors and medical institutions to enable telemedicine and teleconsultation. During the lockdown, using Exotel, food delivery services were also able to use automated calls to educate their agents about the steps to be followed for contactless delivery.
Working with AWS
Exotel partnered with AWS because of its ability to help them scale up and down on a need-to-need basis. They use several AWS services like Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances on Auto Scale, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volumes for their datastore and AWS Elasticsearch Service. They also use Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) for queues and Amazon Polly for text-to-speech. Exotel leverages Amazon Polly’s APIs to run automated calls or campaigns. These can be feedback calls, delivery confirmation calls or informational calls regarding COVID-19 awareness. The engagement on these calls improved in vernacular languages, and Amazon Polly helped with this. Amazon CloudWatch also helps them extensively monitor their systems and processes to be able to detect issues much earlier.
The pandemic threw some unexpected challenges at them, but AWS's autoscale feature came to their rescue.
"During the pandemic, it was extremely important for us to optimise our costs and we were able to handle the drop in usage, thanks to Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances. On an average, 40 percent of our Amazon EC2 instances are Spot, and this helps us keep our costs in check, and at the same time allows us to handle the surge,” says Shivakumar.
Freshworks - Bolstering customer relationships
Freshworks Inc is a provider of cloud-based customer engagement products designed to help businesses engage better with their prospects and customers. During the pandemic, Freshworks built a system for StepOne, an ACT Grants-backed volunteer-driven telemedicine initiative to power state helpline numbers, to help doctors remotely triage people calling the helpline. Through their helpdesk tool called Freshdesk, they created an omnichannel platform for the helpline. When the patient calls, an automated response system records their details such as language preference and their reason for calling. Based on these inputs, Freshdesk assigns a doctor to the caller, who gets in touch with them via the app and records the patient’s travel details, contact history and symptoms, offers medical advice, and raises an alert if they seem a COVID risk.
"We are currently enabling over 3,000 doctors across India in addressing queries and offering solutions such as a direction to “strictly adhere to the lockdown” or “visit the nearest hospital". Our goal is to reach 20,000 doctors," says Kiran Darisi, Vice President, Engineering, Freshworks.
Freshworks also has a healthcare bot built in collaboration with AI platform company AI Foundry, to help governments automate the process of screening people for COVID-19. Working as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the bot poses a series of questions about symptoms, travel history, pin code, and other parameters to assess the degree of risk. Currently, the Telangana state government, the ICMR, hospitals attached to All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, and several other private hospitals use the bot, which has so far enabled 7,500 self-assessments.
Freshworks’ field service management module also provides the technology to assist in the delivery of essential services on the ground during the pandemic. They have enabled the creation of ‘tickets’ on Freshdesk which are automatically generated and contain the information required to route service requests received from the public to a volunteer, medical professional or any other personnel working in the field.
Working with AWS
Freshworks leveraged services like Amazon SageMaker Studio, Amazon Neptune and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), to build intelligent routing and chatbot functionality, including products like StepOne and the healthcare chatbot to help citizens in India during the pandemic.
Kaleyra - Building an automatic telescreening service
Kaleyra (rebranded from joint entities Ubiquity and Solutions Infini) bridges the gap between businesses and their customers through powerful communication tools.
“More than 3,000 customers trust us with their data. And we take data security and compliance very seriously. Our enterprise-grade security ensures that your business data is protected at all times,” says Dario Calogero, CEO, Kaleyra.
Kaleyra built a scalable automated telemedicine helpline service leveraging AWS to deal with the COVID-19 emergency. They integrated with the StepOne platform, an initiative by NGOs, startups and governments, to create specialised solutions to protect citizens from COVID-19. Their multilingual inbound IVR system uses questions based on a standardised screening protocol to identify high-risk COVID callers, symptomatic callers, and non-COVID symptomatic callers. The integration with the StepOne platform helps in generating tickets for each COVID symptomatic caller, allowing doctors to view and manage these live tickets or patient cases online. The Kaleyra Click 2 Call feature that is integrated with the helpline system then enables doctors to securely and instantly connect with patients at the touch of a button.
Over 6,10,000 calls a day were processed in the first week of its launch and over 60,000 COVID-19 related queries a day were redirected to doctors. Data generated from the IVR also provides actionable insights to the state administration to effectively manage healthcare resources.
Working with AWS
Kaleyra Cloud or K-Cloud is hosted on AWS. Kaleyra has been running their infrastructure on Amazon EC2 instances which has helped them achieve high availability and scalability of their platform. They chose Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) after detailed research, engaged with AWS to help implement it, and leveraged it to improve stability, auto-scaling and resource utilisation.